Motorhome storage in Europe and Uk

by , on
Jul 20, 2019


Motorhome Storage in Europe and UK – Long Term parking options for vans and vehicles

Motorhome storage in Europe and UK. You would think is easy to come by right? Well we thought it would be but turns out its not as easy to find storage in as we had thought. Cities storage options are costly and very expensive for intrepid traveller’s touring Europe. Touring Europe in campervan or motorhome is totally wild, we love it and love the freedom it gives us as a family.

The pro’s and con’s to owning a larger vehicle such as a motorhome, campervan or caravan when travelling. If you want to know how to buy a van when travelling to Europe if you are not a citizen then check out our post How to travel Europe in a Campervan

 

 

Lets start with the pro’s:

  • Its a virtual home on wheels
  • You can store your clothes and belongings without having to lug them around everywhere.
  • Affordability – much cheaper to travel long term in a van than staying in air bnb’s and hotels, youth hostels, bnb’s, holiday resorts.
  • You can choose to Wild camp through most European countries  and the UK. Alternatively, if you prefer security of caravan parks and resorts then pitches in off peak are more affordable.
  • Stability of having a permanent home on the road, instead of staying from air bnb’s, hotels, rental homes, or  Youth hostels.
  • Depending on the size of your van it can sleep up to 6 people. This saves huge costs when it comes to accommodation.
  • You have accommodation as well as transport, so you save on care/ motorhome hire, as well as accommodation costs.

Now the Con’s:

If you don’t have a scooter, or bikes, motorbike or small touring car it is more challenging to get around. Because parking in cities parking is limited. And, in London, its virtually impossible to find a park unless you park right out of the city. And they all are generally for permit holders only.

City Parking versus outta town

In the big cities you need to be prepared to park and pay and stay further out of central London. Trying to drive into small European cities with a motorhome/campervan is a no go. Its a nightmare! You have been warned. There is a great app called Just Park,  for UK/ London, this gives you virtually 1000’s of car park options in the city where you can park out front of someone’s home, flat for a fee. Sometimes you can find a space thats big enough for your van. Make sure if you are in a van that you check if the park is big enough for your motorhome or campervan. And read the previous reviews.

Park 4 Night

Finding parking in smaller towns and villages is not as challenging. We use the app Park 4 night . It’s a great source and allows you to find free and cheaper parks. These range from caravan parks, to farm fields, pub car parks and council car parks. Here you can park overnight as well as during the day.

Safety

Another thing to consider is safety and security. Van life is amazing but as you are travelling with all your personal belongings you need to consider that you maybe a target for theft. Take all your personal belongings with you if you feel that you are not in a safe/secure. Make sure your van is as theft proof as possible. Adding wheel clamps, immobilser, Wheel locks, alarm system etc. If you want a full list of recommendations for safe proofing your van then check out our blog here


Storage and Long Term Parking for Motorhomes and Campervans in Europe

Because Big cities charge a premium for long term storage and space is again limited for large motorhomes. Motorhome home storage in Europe and Uk is challenging to find. Thats why Im writing this blog. Our van is 7.3 metres so it can be a challenge to find space to park the beast. Luckily there are a few options we found in UK that may help those of you travelling in Europe.

So you can drop and leave your van if you want a break from van life to get to other destinations quickly that are further afield. Like flying to Cyprus, or Iceland etc. And having some big space time once in awhile. Having some  We recommend a few options like Trusted House Sitters You can also get a generous 25% off your membership by adding this coupon code RAF237366. We also recommend HomeAway, they offer some amazing home rentals worldwide 

Motorhome storage in Europe, Uk and London London Central

We found Buzz Parking  (also called Reed’s parking) near Heathrow to be a fantastic option for us. They facilitate long term parking for cars, vans, campervans and motorhomes for a reasonable price. They will also shuttle you to Heathrow from the car park inclusive of the price and offer a free pick up service on your return to the car park! We paid 65 GBP for 11 days long term parking. Although it is expensive, its the cheapest option we could find near London. They also have great reviews. You can find them here on google maps

We also join Caravan and Motorhome Touring Club, we didnt realise that they also specialise in storage options around the UK. Prices are very reasonable. If you are a club member even better. Check these site out here. Caravan Club and Motorhome Club Storage Options

Another option is Motorhome planet UK

Long term parking and storage Central London and Greater London

There is a great app/website called parklet – long term parking and storage Which gives 1000’s of potential garage sites options for long term parking for those that need van storage.

Motorhome storage in Europe and UK

After much searching and pulling out my hair as there seems to be very little information on long term storage.  Then I came across this amazing website! Listing motorhome storage in Europe and Uk as well as links for any type of vehicles even boats. This website is a gem and lifesaver. It has literally 1000’s of sites listed throughout Europe. You can check dates and locations for long term secure parking, near airports, further out, various locations near major cities.

Park Via website

Not all have facilities for campervan and motorhome storage. But, searching for the dates will let you scour through the various pop ups that are listed and available. From there you can check if they store bigger vehicles when you click in details section. Its amazing! Reviews are also featured. Websites and contact numbers. You can also send for a quote and availability. Click here for all the details  – PARK VIA

Where to now?

Knowing that your van is secure and safely locked away the world is your oyster right? You have a plethora of options on hand. Book a tour, or a cruise, a secret hideaway, adventure travel, a lazy week by the pool somewhere exotic? No matter what you plan you will need some help to plan your getaway (without your van).

How to get there

We love to use Omio and HomeAway. Insight Travel and Trusted House Sitters (if you are on a budget but this needs some forward planning). When we book our travels in Europe and beyond.

Hope this blog has given you some juice to work with.  And, that you find the right storage place for you and your van whilst you are away from your home on wheels. Bon Voyage. Happy travels. Please don’t forget to share this post on Facebook or Insta if you like it or send an email if you have any questions or feedback. Sharing is caring. Its good to share the juice !

 

Best Sim Card Deals in Europe

by , on
Jun 25, 2019

Best Sim Card Deals for Roaming in Europe when travelling longer than 3 months

Finding the best Sim card deals for long term travel in Europe and Uk was agonizing. I deliberated over this for months before we flew over to Europe. Only recently have roaming fee’s been abolished across Europe which is great news. Now we can roam across Europe on one Sim card. I’ll introduce these to you below. If you plan on staying longer than 3 months in Uk/Europe then you probably need to read on.

Need a phone plus data and roaming options when you travel?

Having data and the ability to download and work whilst we are away is imperative! If you’re a digital nomad you hear what I’m saying. I scoured overseas websites for hours trying to find the best options and deals for roaming whilst in Europe. But we also need the ability to make texts and calls back to home as well right?

And, spending hours of time on the phone and in the store with my current local provider Vodaphone for the best options and or solutions. Even they were unsure of our best options as we were planning to travel longer than 3 months complicated things even more. If you want to find out more about how we travel around in Europe then click here for some tips and inspiration.

Have a Contract already back home?

The issue is, I had just not long bought a new phone and signed new contracts for me and hubby again. Under the advice of our trusted sales people in Vodaphone. This proved to be a very costly exercise, one that I regret. So my only option was to pay out our contracts! OUCH! And, costing us a very hefty pay out figure $1800. So we own the phone out right but now we have to find a easy and affordable solution whilst in Europe.

$5 per day only applies to those travelling within 3 months

We use our phones pretty much daily. Vodafone have got a good deal that allows Aussies to travel overseas and use their phone daily including texts, calls and data for an additional $5 per day. But, with the three of us using data and phones this would soon add up! And,  we are staying longer than 3 months so what choices are available to long term traveller’s (not many).

We paid out our contract and bought a pay as you go bundle in the UK from Vodafone.If you want to keep your old number then make sure you add a pre-paid option to your current number which gives you some credit and 365 days to use the credit. Vodafone offers this option. So port your number if you have to over to Vodafone so you can keep it if you need it on your return.

Pros’s of Keeping your home Contract

The pro’s of keeping your contract are you can pay additional $5 per day roam when on holiday. And not have to worry about fair usage policy. You will still be able to use your data and phone as if you are at home with no penalties other than paying the additional $5 per day.

Con’s of Keeping your home Contract

The con’s is the service isn’t great and download speeds are quite slow. Also, latency is also slow when overseas and when travelling out of main cities often you drop out completely. So buying a local SIM does definitely have its pro’s, when staying longer than average holiday. It will work out cheaper on a pay as you go sim card or rolling plan. BUT – you need a UK address and bank account to go on a plan here. If you do not have one then the only option you will have is to purchase a Pay as you Go bundle.

Plans in UK

If you are planning to stay in the UK and have a UK address and UK bank account here are some options. EE has Flex plans that allow you to pay as you go monthly.  Three has a Rolling plan which allows you to roll the plan over without having to lock into a contract. Both allow a great degree of flexibilty. They also allow you roaming whilst in Europe. Beware that you may get caught out with calling back home or texting back home (if outside UK or Europe).

Add On’s

There are add on costs for doing this. Three’s rolling plan is the best I find. It allows you to roll for up to 5 months if staying outside of UK. You will have a max of 19 GB of data. Check for SMS and Call costs as these often are additional if calling back home abroad. But should be included if texting and calling within UK and Europe. For plans in UK and use when in Europe I recommend Three

Fine Print

My advise is to read the fine print and then check in store and then again do your research. If you are looking for a good sim deal, go for the rolling plan if in the UK most of the time. Remember you must have a UK bank account and address to purchase. Otherwise you can buy a pay as you go with Three, Vodafone, EE, O2 and other smaller suppliers.  Remember to check additional costs when abroad and using roaming. 12 month contracts are the cheapest if you’re staying in the same country, with great mobile Sim unlimited data plans. Vodafone has best deal at the moment.

When in Europe

If you do plan to travel over into Europe regularly check the fine print. You should be able to roam with most plans. But, do read the fine print and know that your data will be limited to less than 20 GB per month. You may have to pay additional for phone calls and texts. Best bet is to stick to using What’s App or Messenger to make calls back home using wifi or data.

SIM only options from UK

You can buy a Pay as You Go SIM from Vodafone UK that will allow you to top up each month. This is a great option if you do not use much wifi and can access Wifi on your travels. 35 Pound gives you 20 GB per month, unlimited texts and calls in the UK and most European countries. But if calling abroad to States, Australia, NZ you will pay additional premium prices unless you pay for an ADD ON which currently costs 5 Pounds per month for 50 minutes of International calls.

Still this is a good option as you can top up when in Europe, continue to use same phone number, data and GB’s. There are Bundle packs that are really reasonable and will allow you to use your SIM whilst you are travelling in Europe.  The downside is speed and connectivity. You will lose speed in Europe. But in UK Vodafone is the largest network.

EE UK

These guys do it well too! 27 pounds per month will get you 50 GB of data, roaming in European countries, or you can check out their Roaming on EE plans here. EE also have a fair usage policy, if you use more than 15 per month you will incur surcharges. Just ensure your usage alerts are loaded prior to leaving to avoid any nasty surprises.  If you wish to travel beyond Europe to the States, NZ or Australia it will cost you an additional 10 GBP per month. There are plenty of beefy add on’s you can also choose from to make the deal sweeter but at a cost as always. Again you can only roam for up to 3 months during a 12 month period.

Three UK

My pic of the bunch for sim card only contracts in Europe would be with Three Advanced Plans. Now this is a great deal, you can currently pay 22 GBP per month. This includes unlimited data, texts, calls and roaming to over 71 destinations in Europe for no extra cost but it is a lock in contract of 12 months. Be wary though, you are not able to tether or hotspot your data to other devices on this plan. You will be limited to 19 GB when travelling abroad from UK, however the good news is you can do this for up to 5 months.  Otherwise, you could try the pay as you go options.  Please read the terms and conditions again regarding roaming zones, fee’s and allowances. Once you leave the UK your data is limited to 19 GB per month. These deals are changing all the time so check out latest offers.

Its a mystery?

This seems ridiculous to me. Why would all the big telco’s want you to ditch their plan and buy another whilst overseas for your 12 month stint? Beats me. Why would they not offer this $5 additional day for 12 months or longer to keep clients hooked into their service and network? I have no idea why not. I’d love to chat to a CEO of Vodaphone, Telstra or Optus in my home of Australia and ask them why its so difficult to stay with them whilst we are travelling. After all, Aussies do travel a lot and there are tens of thousands that travel abroad for longer than 3 months annually.

So what if I want to travel and roam for longer than 3 months?

Because you can’t go longer than 3 months overseas and continue to use data without paying the exorbitant costs we used to pay 10 years ago. One where you would need to take out an additional mortgage to pay off your mobile phone bill upon your return (used to be me all the time, once I had a $700 bill!).

After 3 months your roaming will not allow you to pay the additional $5 per day. It will revert to charging you hefty roaming charges if you continue to use your sim whilst overseas. Then the only way to get through this dilemma is to choose a pay as you go SIM or SIM only Contract whilst overseas. There are some great deals over here now.

Best Sim Card Deals in Europe if you are not going to UK – lets go shopping

If you are like us and want to travel longer than 3 months in Europe you need to think smart! So lets consider we have a phone, most of us do, I’d imagine that if you are still here reading my blog then you must have a phone and one that you can use overseas. That is to say one that does not have a locked in sim contract.

Most providers don’t make you lock in your sim card nowadays as they appreciate that some flexibility is in order. If you do have a phone that doesn’t allow you the freedom to unlock your sim card and replace with another then it would most likely pay for you to buy a cheaper phone. One that allows you to unlock your Sim card.

Pocket Wifi or Sim only card?

If you’re not one to use your phone much but prefer to keep in touch via facebook or messenge. Or another possibility could be via What’s App.  Then you could also consider not buying a SIM card, but a pocket wifi. There are some options available for Europe if you do not require more than 15 GB per month. This could be a good option. You could check out  hip pocket wifi for their contracts and for European plans.  Or alternatively you could also check out My Web Spot

My Web Spot allows up to 5 other services to link in as well. Roaming all over Europe. To rent the handsets you pay a rental and weekly fee. If you do need a phone and data and reasonable speeds then keep on reading! This is alot more expensive though than using a Sim Card option.

Best Sim Card Offers in Europe when travelling 

If you are travelling from country to country this can get really tricky. That’s why its worth while finding a SIM card that allows you to travel and roam without losing too much data on fair usage. Otherwise you will need to buy a new SIM card almost every time you hit a new country. Silly!

Vodafone is found in many European countries so therefore you can purchase similar deals when in Europe to what UK offers. Again check fine print and be informed. Particularly if you do not speak the language. Here are some other idea’s and options below you might like to consider if you are planning a longer nomadic trip.

You can check out the following providers if planning on European travel

Read the fine print

Remember to read the fine print to avoid disappointment. Digital nomad’s chat over the net and ask questions with the provider. Your data may be reduced to 19 GB per month as opposed to unlimited access from the primary country you bought or signed up.  This is due to the fair usage policy when roaming. Also, check speeds and coverage you can expect when travelling. If its only 3G then it may well be worthwhile doing some more research and shopping around.

Let us know how you go and if you have any other awesome providers you might like to share.



 

 

 

United Kingdom

by , on
Jun 25, 2019

How to travel Europe in a campervan

by , on
Nov 18, 2018

How to travel Europe in a campervan (with your family)

I’ve got to say, it has taken me a good six months of research to make my final decisions about long term travel and stay in Europe. Some of the questions we have as a family have been the asking are:
How shall we travel? Shall we hire a car? Or lease a car? Or perhaps we should buy a car? Maybe we could travel by bus and train? or Plane? Each time we threw up a question we researched and pondered, considered and then crossed that idea of the list.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS?
When it comes down to it. Travelling is hard work. Being on the road for an extended period of time will take guts, effort, sheer determination, compromise and money. So, what is the most effective way to travel as a family? not spend squillion’s of your hard earnt cash on air bnb’s, hotels, motels, car hire and or train trips you ask? Hmmm this may be a very long answer. So stick with me as I make myself clear.
BECOMING INTREPID TRAVELLER’S 
So, we decided to take the plunge and leave the world as we know it behind to become nomads we took our time exploring so many possibilities. For us the most efficient way to travel would be in a home with wheels. Especially as we have a kid, so some stability is important and needed during a time of constant change.
We also recommend breaking up your van time with some house sits.  We use Trusted House Sitters, who we have found to be amazing. Here is a link for you, by using this link you will get 25% off your membership. Just add this coupon code for the discount RAF237366  . You can read more about House Sitting here.
MOTORHOME OR CAMPERVAN – WHATS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO?
So, we wanted to find a home on wheels that was not too big in size so we can still manage to travel to the European cities.  Big enough that we can have some creature comforts, unpack our bags for the most part for the long haul and kick back without too much fuss. But, not too big! Lots to think about right!
Because we chose to stick to a van that’s up to 3500 KG in weight and allows us to drive on our current driver’s licence (International drivers licence). We bought a Elddis Autoquest 180, which is a motorhome. Our van has a shower, toilet,  bed, gas, etc, more details to help you make your mind up below.
Campervan
Campervans are a smaller home, usually something like a VW or Mercedes.  They are equipped as a self-contained travelling home. And, with campervans there is generally no divide between the cab and the living quarters. Campervans usually have basic facilities for cooking, washing, and sleeping. They usually can fit up to 2 people comfortably.
Motorhome/RV
A motorhome or otherwise known as RV is built on a truck or bus chassis and designed to serve as self-contained living quarters for travel. There is normally a divide between the cab and the living quarters behind, which contain sleeping space, toilet/shower and kitchen facilities.
And, motorhomes come in classes. An A class usually refers to the BIG KAHUNA’s, or otherwise those big suckers you see on the road, longer than 8 metres in length.  B class are often referred to as campervans, smaller and more compact with no cab divide. And, then there is the C class. This class is somewhere in between the A and B. Its what we have a 7.3 metre long,  3 metre high Peugot Elddis Autoquest 180.
A Class – Check your licence
Anything  over 4000 Kg in weight (most likely an A class) requires a different licence, usually a truck licence.  Something to consider. Also heavier vehicles are charged more via ferries, tolls and vignettes. For more details about Vignettes, costs, tolls etc check out this useful website Tolls and Vignettes – Europe
HOW TO TRAVEL? TO BUY OR RENT IS THE QUESTION 
Lets face it travelling with kids is fun in smaller stints when staying at hotels and or air bnb’s, villa’s.  But when you are travelling long haul, all that unpacking and packing up again can become a terrible drag. Not to mention the drag of trekking and schlepping to airports, train stations and bus stations.
Adding additional time to your holidays or long term travel. Even if you have got time, travelling by air, sea or train in public transport is expensive, time consuming and well quite frankly painful. Freedom to travel where you want in a motorhome or van is liberating. Just look out the window and there you are on your tour around Europe, sucking up all the beauty it has to offer. Pull up when you want and where you want (well almost, not is a busy city).
HOW LONG IS LONG?
When I refer to long haul, I mean longer than 3 months. Buying a campervan or motorhome to travel around Europe in under 3 months would just end up being a chore. But, its up to you. Plus there are many logistics to buying and selling to which I will get to eventually. Patience my friend patience. All is coming.
SCHENGEN VISA – WHHHHAAAT?
So if you do plan to travel for the longer haul, longer than 3 months. You have come to the right page. Before we continue on. If its the first time you have starting the Google search online.
And, if you happened to have landed here on my page then you may not even realise anything about Schengen? Because,  if you are not an EU national (hold a valid passport) or hold a valid working visa. And if you are not a student with approval to stay then you should know you are not welcome any longer than 90 days in any of the 26 Schengen countries within a 180 day stay.
HOW CAN LONG CAN YOU STAY IN EUROPE?
So what does this mean I hear you say? If you are new to this I will direct you to some awesome sites that explain these terms very clearly as there are lots of blogs that discuss Schengen visa rules. I’ll just be re-gurgitating all the same same. And, if you are not familiar with Schengen visa rules for non EU Nationals, then please click here.
WHO CAN STAY IN EUROPE FOR LONGER THAN 3 MONTHS?
I do stress that Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, Asian’s, Pacific Islanders are not European Citizens so you all need to be aware that you cannot overstay your welcome. Schengen visa requirements and agreements are different for each country. Please make sure you meet and understand the rules. It is also useful to know and understand Bi-Lateral agreements when you are heading on over for longer than 3 months.  Read on here. 

WHO CAN STAY WITHOUT A VISA?

What areas and which countries are included in Schengen zone? Click here for the list.  Australian’s, Americans and New Zealanders do not need to apply for a visa at this point.  Because things are changing and soon we will be required to apply for a visa to travel into Europe. As of 2020. For now you are ok to travel to Europe, enter and stay for up to 90 days in any of the listed 26 Schengen countries.

MOVING AROUND

Also to note that UK (Which includes Scotland and Northern Ireland) allow us Aussies, Kiwi’s to stay for up to 180 in a 365 day period (you beauty). Ireland allows us to stay for up to 90 days (this is in addition to UK 180 days and 90 days in EU). So really, if you want to schlep around for a year you can. You just have to be prepared to move a lot!

EUROPEAN COUNTRIES THAT ARE NOT PART OF SCHENGEN

In addition to the time you can spend in UK and Ireland you can also legally stay in other European countries. These include Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Romania, Cyprus for up to 90 days in each of these aforementioned countries. Turkey is also another option if you are willing to drive that far. And, further afield you can also travel to Northern Africa, Morrocco, Casablanca, Fez.

SO, HOW DO I WORK OUT THE DAYS??? WHAT IF I OVERSTAY MY VISA?

Well, this is a good question, I was stressing about this one big time I must admit. It’s so tricky to work out the specifics. There is help though. There are other mad humans like us out there that want to travel the world and have some idea’s as you and me. So, thankfully there are some clever peeps who have made App’s that help you calculate you time in Schengen Zones. Phew, I hear ya.

Using an App to work out Schengen – OH GAH they are all terrible

These guys MSSDevLab have made an app that you can download both on Android and IPhone’s from Google play. The app is called Schengen calculator free or you may choose to pay a small fee for the premium app by same guys. It is not great but its the best one I could find. You can also search for other similar apps available via google play. If you find a better one please send me an email, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

WHAT’S MORE COST EFFECTIVE

Congratulations, you have made a decision. Because, it is the most cost effective way you can travel around the globe buying a van. To lease one for this period of time would cost way too much. Leasing is great for up to 3 months travel as you have the convenience of insurance, car break down, all your amenities on hand, the pick of the bunch. But, if you decide to travel for longer than 3 months, buying is your best bet!

WHERE TO BUY A VAN?

If you are from the USA, UK, Australia or NZ the best bet is to buy in the UK/ Scotland or Ireland. Buying in the UK means you can buy a right hand drive (although a bit challenging driving a right hand drive in Europe which is left hand drive you will adjust). If you are English speaking negotiations is much easier buying from English speaking country.

Then there is also the consideration that if you buy a reasonable van that you might also wish to ship it home to sell? Depending on the cost/value of your van it could be a viable option. And as long as you don’t spend over $66,000 AUD you keep you van under the luxury car import duty tax threshold. If you are not from Australia its worth while checking costs of shipping, duties and other taxes.

UK or EUROPE

There are several companies in Europe (namely, France, Germany and Netherlands) that offer buy back options where you can buy your van from them. Because, registration will be linked to their business address. And you will need to buy insurance still under your name, all you need is an address to link your insurance too. Once you have finished with the van you agree on terms of re-sale or buy back. The longer you have the van the less you will receive, losing a considerable amount of income.

SELLING IN AN ENGLISH SPEAKING COUNTRY 

So we decided not to take this option. Because we wanted to be able to sell our van privately and to be honest with buy backs it seems much like renting really. Because, you end up selling back to they buyer at a premium. And, good van’s don’t depreciate that much over 12 months. The buy back system is convenient, but you will pay for it. I have not linked these companies here as I am not familiar with their practice so don’t wish to recommend as I have not had any personal experiences with them. If you google campervan/RV/Motorhome travel in Europe you will find them easily.

Mobile Home, Hymer, Camper, Vacations

HOW TO BUY A MOTORHOME or CAMPERVAN

If you are buying a right hand drive in UK region then there are loads of FB pages with Campervan’s/Motothomes for sale! These are all private sales, or mostly private sells. Some of the pages I’ve been following are:

@Motorhome for sale around UK

@Hymer For Sale

@Motorhomes For Sale UK

You might also want to check out Auto Trader, Ebay and Gumtree for sales in the UK. Plenty there to choose from if you prefer to buy direct from a business rather than private sale. Please be wary though, not everyone is always upfront and totally honest. Our first van we had some guy say he was the owner of the van. When we went to view it, it was not his van but someone else’s.

BEFORE YOU HAND OVER ANY $$$

Once you have decided on a van, if you are not in the same country its really important you have a representative or friend, family member go and check out the van and make sure the sale is legitimate and all the books, history, motor registration known as MOT in UK checks out. And, once all is checked out if your friend, family member or representative is willing and able they can pick up the van for you.

Buying oversea’s or buying when you are in the country?

And they can store it until you arrive if you are planning on purchasing before you land. If that’s too much of a gamble for you then consider searching for your dream camper prior to landing and then make contact prior to landing with the owners/business and arrange times to view. We felt more comfortable buying Lottie once we landed. We only viewed 3 motorhomes in one day and bingo. We bought a van!

MAKE SURE YOU ARE BUYING A LEGITIMATE VAN

If you have decided to purchase prior to arrival, then make sure you representative/broker friend and or family can verify the legitimacy of the sale before ever sending or wiring any monies through. We preferred to wait till we arrived in the UK to buy our van so we could see it in the flesh. We wanted to view the van before we bought. Our representative went and viewed the van once we have narrowed down our preferences to 1 van that had all the bells and whistles and ticked all the boxes.

PURCHASING

So, once the final decision has been made its time to hand over the DOSH right. So, this is always a bit scary, because lets face it most vans are anywhere between 20-60K. Its an expensive exercise. There are a number of ways you can transfer money from overseas if you decide to purchase and pick up direct prior to arriving.

WIRING MONIES

The safest and cheapest option we have found to date is via Transferwise transactions. or you can also consider opening a HSBC Global account which is brilliant. Gives you the opportunity to load up in currencies and a debit card that doesn’t incur fee’s and exchange rate fee’s. You can check out their terms and conditions, costs as well via Google. Because, you will save you $$$ in transaction fee’s and conversion rates etc. We also use our ANZ Global account and international transfer as its relatively cheap, up to $9 per transaction (if you are in Australia).

REGISTERING YOUR VAN

Ok, so this is the tricky part. To be able to register your vehicle and insure it you need a UK address to register to. So, you need to be living or staying with someone such as a family or friend so that the V-LOG and registration papers can be sent to you. You will not be able to do it any other way unless you ask a family member or friend to insure it in their name which gets really complicated.

So best bet is to see if your family member, friend, or representative is happy for you to use their address when you go to insure your van and register it for the time that you own it. This will include MOT (Ministry of Transport vehicle safety check which is compulsory in the UK) as well as Insurance.

SIGNING OFF

Once you have signed off on the deal you will need to transfer the previous owners name into your’s. In order to do this you need to sign a DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency UK) form and pay the transfer fee if you are purchasing in the UK its around 265 GBP. Ensure you hold onto the transfer slip as this allows you to on sell your van again.

Vlog and Registration

** Please note that you also need to ensure you pick up your V-LOG book if purchasing in the UK as this is a legal requirement and you will need to show this at border crossings in Europe if ever pulled over. This will show the officers that you are indeed the owner of van and you are legally allowed to drive it. Its basically a legal piece of paper stating you are the owner and its the transfer paper for when you sell, or export.

INSURANCE

There are very few insurance companies that are willing to insure your van if you are not a resident of EU. We found that Down Under Insurance  DUinsure.com.au are willing to provide insurance for Aussies Nomads whilst travelling in the UK. We chose Herts Insurance instead as they were considerably cheaper by around 400 GBP which is $800 in AUD. That’s a huge savings. For the same insurance.

Please**note Hert’s Insurance and Down Under Insurance will not cover your vehicle in Morocco, Montenegro, Turkey and further afield countries. However, when crossing over into these countries purchase insurance for the time you are there at the border. Border controls are stationed at each of these above mentioned crossings

INSURANCE INCLUSIONS AND EXCLUSIONS

Because there are limited options available premiums are very high. So, you want to travel on a budget for an extended amount of time, you have to pay the price. Make sure you check the policy, read the fine print and ensure it covers you for your whole intended stay and travels! **Note that you will not be reimbursed by either of the above underwriters if you do not have an immobiliser installed if your van is stolen. READ THE FINE PRINT ALWAYS.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ANY FRIENDS OR FAMILY IN THE UK?

That’s what we were up against, so all this research only to come to another dead end, hence why I’m writing this blog to you good people out! You may instead nominate a representative instead. Please send me a quick email to find out all the details. We are really happy with our guy Mike or find Mike @Ukmotorhomefinder on FB

And, he is totally amazing and legit and really helpful to assist you on-selling your van (for a fee) and helping you to store it as well should you need to store it for a time. And, Mike will do all checks, ensuring that the van has not been stolen, or in a major accident, all the MOT registration checks and general inspection. If all checks out you are in the running for a new van!

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A VAN

Time of the year you are travelling. If you will be travelling in winter, its so important to have heating! As well as cooling for hot summer days down the south. Consider seat belts. If you intend to have an extra friend stop buy or travel with you then having more than 2 seated belts is imperative. Check this out first. Storage, so you need to consider how much you can bring with you. If you have kids then you need to bring a lot less. You can buy when you are over there so make sure you are brutal when choosing what to bring.

Security – A safe is really important, if you buy a van with out one, then consider buying a good one to install, you wont lose money on this, it will be an added bonus on re-sale. Also, an Immobiliser is a must, an alarm, wheel clamp or steering wheel lock at the very least.

Strap to ensure the doors can not be opened. Vans do get stolen all the time here so it pays to ensure you secure your precious belongings and expensive investment. We also found these nifty window and door alarms that are really handy and cheap. You can attach to windows and doors and they will go off (loudly) if someone tries to tamper or enter your van.

Bike Racks & Bikes – vans are usually longer than 5 metres in length, travelling in and out of ancient and old cities and villages can be really challenging. You want to make sure you stay outside of the cities. Park up in a RV campervan ground and then catch public transport. Better yet, get some exercise in and hit the road on your bikes. A great way to get around smaller cities and villages, you can lock them up and then just cruise back to your van when you are ready to hit the road again.

And, bikes will save money and time in the long run as you won’t be waiting for public transport (buses in Italy can be very unpredictable) as well as paying the extra costs to travel. Plus you are getting in your fitness as well. Bonus! We love walking everywhere and buses are usually great as well.

EXTRA’s and MUST HAVES on YOUR VAN

Below you will find some other must haves when buying your van. If it doesn’t already have them, these items will keep you safe, sane and savvy on your trip!

  • Solar panels to save on costs
  • USB ports
  • Refillable LPG Gas bottles/cylinders and fittings/external nozzle
  • Reverse cameras
  • Central heating
  • Truma Boiler
  • Electric Hook up and food grade water hose
  • Freshwater tanks
  • Thermal screen covers to keep out heat and or keep in warmth
  • Bolted down digital safe is recommended or an immobiliser
  • wheel clamps
  • inverter for when you are on battery if you are not on mains
  • Pump for additional water carriers to pump water from carrier into van (40 kg when full so cant lift the carrier to the water nozzle)

CLASS A, B, or C CAMPERVAN/MOTORHOME

As mentioned above, you need to check your current drivers licence and make sure that you are qualified to drive the van. Usually C class licences cover weight of the van for up to 3500 kg. Some drivers licences cover over this weight, make sure you check what you can drive before you purchase. Campervan’s/motorhomes that range from 5-7metres sit within this range and 3500 weight.

INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS LICENCE

You need to apply for your international drivers licence prior to leaving your country.  Valid for up to 12 months.

We hope that you find this blog useful and would love to hear your comments or thoughts, or any feedback you might like to share!

Enjoy Van life. Its pretty magical. If you want to learn more about camping in Europe and UK and Home sits why not click here.

Buying One Way International Flights

by , on
Nov 9, 2018

Buying One Way International Flights

Buying one way international flight tickets can be tricky nowadays. So you want to travel and see the world and you think, hey I want to go for longer than 9 months. Or there is this legitimate quandry. My mates are meeting me in Vietnam but they have yet to book their flights. Yep, so I don’t want to book yet either until I know when they are arriving.

What if I want some Flexibility?

What if I want flexibility to return, I’m not yet sure of my return date as its down the track? BAD LUCK! Yes you can change your ticket and pay hefty change fee’s. Yes you can cancel your ticket but will have to wait months until you receive a reduced refund.

Once upon a time ( no I’m not about to read you a bedtime story).  You could book an open return flight within 12 months. Nowadays, you have to know book your return date, otherwise you risk getting sent back home or even worse refused to board your flight!

Why can’t I book a one way flight if they are offered online?

Well that is a good question, one that I am still yet to find a legitimate and legal answer for. So, we inquired about round the world flights. Those departing from Australia and then open ending flights ex Europe to America. Stopping in Bali and then onward to home. Although, we wanted to stay in Europe for longer than 9 months. We were advised that you can only book up to 9 months in advance and you had to nominate return dates. WHAAAAT??

Travelling on one way flights internationally

When I worked in travel open ended tickets were allowed. And, bookings of up to 12 months return were also acceptable. Why would you need to book your return ticket you ask? Still a mystery to us, but, mainly because of border control. When you board a flight its up to the airline to ensure you are returning back to your country of origin. Not intending to stay illegally.  We did not get asked if we had a return ticket when boarding with Qantas. Mainly because Qantas check in now is all done via computer we think.

Better to be safe than sorry? Not willing to take the risk

A number of people advised that we would be stopped upon entry into England. And, we should have return tickets, and if not we may be sent home. That we may be questioned on our travels and how long we intended to stay. So, when we did arrive we were asked about our trip. We told them we were staying in Camden which we were.  And meeting with friends in London, also true. So best to have some plans on arrival at least proof of accommodation.

Be Prepared to answer any questions upon going through customs

But, we were not asked when we were going home, how long we were staying. Just what plans we had. However, we could have and people do get asked.  Questions via customs such as when they are returning home, dates and what the purpose of their stay is. Particularly, if you are under 35 and have the potential to work or have a working visa. You are most likely going to be asked if you have a return ticket and your means of supporting yourself.

Answer questions honestly

At customs we did not go into a spiel about us buying a campervan.  Nor, our intentions to travel for next 12 months. Had we, we could have spent hours at customs potentially being questioned by immigration. Showing them our finances, how we could support ourselves. How we intended to travel, where and when. As we are legally allowed to stay in Europe and travel if we have the means to. Keeping within the rules of the EU countries or independent countries.

Sticking to the rules

Not over staying your welcome basically. I have heard people stay longer in Europe and get away with it. We have a child so not willing to risk overstay. And we are not advocating to do so. It is your life so we will not tell you what you can and can’t do! Our intention is to stay less than the allowed 180 days in UK (Northern Ireland and Scotland) in 1 year. And, we intend to stay no longer than our 90 days in (180 days in Europe). There are many variables though. Stick around to find out the details below.

Staying within the legal visa allocations

Yes you could try to get away with overstay.  But,is it worth the hassle and the stress at customs? Probably not, maybe for some it is. There are so many options. You can stay as mentioned before for up to 180 in UK legally, this includes Northern Ireland and Scotland. You can stay in Croatia legally for 90 days. Montenegro for another 90 days, Cyprus for another 90 days. Morocco for another 90 days and Turkey for up to 30 days if you’re Australian, NZ, American and Canadian.

Schengens Visa and Bi-lateral Agreements

To find out more about Schengen Visa’s and length of stay, you can visit our blog here Check your visa restrictions and requirements with your local consulates or go directly to Schengen Visa. Another good idea is to check the countries you are travelling to individual consular websites. Email them with your query.

Check in with Consulars

Australia has Bi-Lateral agreements with many EU countries. If you are wishing to stay a little longer places like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Austria, Netherlands, these countries allow some citizens to stay another 3 months longer on top of the 90 days in EU countries. You must however, check in with them upon arrival and negotiate these terms. Thereby after your stay you must exit the EU for another 180 days before re-entering. You cannot then go back to another EU country.

Back to One Way Flights

So why cant we fly one way if we do not know when we wish to return?

There are many reasons why we did not wish to book a return flight, here are some you may also be thinking:

 

 

  • I might change my mind and wish to travel a different leg home?
  • I do not wish to spend that much money on a return flight home when I am not sure of travel dates?
  • I am meeting up with friends in 10 months and have no idea where I wish to exit from?
  • I am a digital nomad, self funded employee, semi retired or retired traveller with no fixed plans?
  • I have decided to take a year long break from the busyness of life?
  • I simply don’t know my travel dates?
  • I don’t know my onward travel journey dates yet and wish not to pay for change fee’s
  • These are all valid reasons for not booking onward travel flights right?

So what can you do to ensure you don’t get questioned or refused entry on arrival

  • There is no assurance
  • Buy a return ticket and just know that you may have to pay change rates, or cancel fee’s
  • Have some idea of where you are staying and what you plan to do for the next couple of weeks, book these dates in. Have an address of where you are staying.
  • Book onward overland journey, this is not always satisfactory proof. But, if you are arriving into UK and book train travel onward to Italy, or Paris for example it may suffice. Depending on who you get at customs on the day I suppose.
  • Be prepared to be refused boarding your aircraft and have enough funds to buy a return ticket (sorry worse case scenario)
  • Arrive at the airport early and prepared with your credit card loaded in case of any delays. And in case you need to buy a return ticket there and then just to get on that plane
  • Make sure you are prepared.

If you plan on travelling for longer than 3 months. Be sure to keep copies of rental income, income invoices, pay slips, returns on investments etc. If you don’t have any means of proving you can support yourself and no return ticket you may need to seriously reconsider your trip.

If you are not certain when you are returning your options are:

  • Buy a return ticket but check with airlines the terms and conditions. Make sure you can change your airfares or at least get a refund. Refunds can take up to 3 months to be sent. Check the fine print or call your airline.
  • Buy a one way ticket and be prepared to answer any tricky questions on arrival and through customs. Make sure you know the rules and regulations, visa restrictions etc.
  • Know what visa you are visiting on. Or, if you don’t need a visa, make sure you know how long you can stay in countries without having to apply for one.
  • Lastly, you can also choose to buy a one ticket from a legitimate travel agency that is a ‘hold’ ticket. Its not a paid ticket, yet it’s real reservation.

We used to be able to reserve tickets and then pay for our tickets. You still can technically, but nowadays travel agencies make you pay full fares upfront. You cant hold a seat anymore like you used to unless you pay for it. So, I found this great alternative.  Keep on reading below.

Renting a ticket – or Pre-Book your Ticket as proof of return flights

There is a great solution, to travel with some degree of flexibility. For those of us that do not wish to commit to return dates if we do not yet know them. Who legally and legitimately do not wish to pay $1000’s of additional dollars on return flights if we do not have a firm plan yet. Thank god for these sweet people.

One Way Fly

These little beauties decided to start an agency just for people like you and me! They understand that in this day and age, the fast life or perhaps the slow life, we just want to take it all in. Not to have planned everything to the very last.  And, that somethings in life just can’t be thought through 9 months in advance. Not even 3 months in advance. Hell not even 3 weeks in advance. In a world of ever increasing stress and anxiety. Should we not have some level of freedom over our own travel plans for gods sakes!

Peace of mind

Provides the nomadic traveller with some skerrit of relif. You can purchase/rent/ pre-book your flights in advance. This is an awesome service. I was a bit dubious in the first instance. But, after having purchased our return flights was very relieved that I had. A simple, easy and efficient, quick transaction. Choosing a random return date, booking online our return tickets. We were sent our confirmation of return flights with Emirates within minutes.

Pre-Booked/Rent a Ticket

Not a fake booking by any means. But, you have pre-booked and reserved your flights, not paid for them in full is all. You get an email confirming your flights a booking number. You can even check with the airline and add your details etc, passports. Your address and full names. However, you do not receive an e-ticket. Because its not paid in full. Jump on board and check our onewayfly

Buying a One Way Ticket

One Way Return tickets are registered travel agency. You can read all about them at the link above. For as little as 30 AUD (price varies with currency or stop overs). You can book your return ticket. After 2 weeks this ticket (or pre booked ticket ) will expire unless paid for. There are other services similar to this one. Google is your best bet. But,I can highly recommend these guys! One Way Flight.

Wrapping Up This Blog

So, I guess the moral to this story is to be informed. Be prepared, make sure you know the risks you are taking. And, as I mentioned before, its not illegal to have a one way ticket only. They are available to buy after all. They are not always the cheapest option, they can end up being more expensive. However, if you are not sure of your return travel and plan on winging it then it can be better to buy a one way. Rather than forking out for a return and not using it, or having to refund it or cancel it.

Are you a Risk Taker? 

Not a big risk taker? take the safer option.  Rent a ticket and make sure you are adding dates that are realistic, or close to the time you think you may wish to travel home on. Do have somewhere to stay on your arrival to your destination, or ongoing travel booked for the first couple of weeks.

Thanks for reading this blog

Like this blog? please share any feedback or comments. Anything you wish to add or share I’m all ears. Thanks for reading and staying focused. And don’t forget to like us on facebook and instagram and follow us on You Tube. See links.

Amsterdam

by , on
Nov 9, 2018

Home is where the heart is! My Mum was born in Amsterdam and my Dad in Nymegen. I have not travelled back to the Netherlands since I was 27. It didnt disappoint. We were pretty jet lagged this time. Ella basically was falling asleep everywhere we went. So we just carried a 6 year old around the cobbled stones of Amsterdam for the most part.

So if its your first trip to Amsterdam

France

by , on
Nov 7, 2018

TRAVEL FRANCE WITH KIDS

Ella was only 6 when we took four weeks to tour France. I’ve got to say, now I look back at how tiny she was and how patient she was on this trip, I feel pretty in awe of this kid. It was 2. 5 weeks on the road, one week in Paris, 5 days in London, 4 days in Amsterdam. Layered with downtime. We found the right balance but we covered some miles.

Travel Tips

France was pretty cruisey to travel around by car. The roads are amazing and the freeways well signed.  I highly recommend France as a travel destination with kids if you are planning a European tour.  Its a large country, yet easy to get to from one end to the other with minimal fuss. We flew into Paris and then caught the fast train  from Paris Noord station on the Thalys straight into Amsterdam station.

Side trips

Train ticket costs vary but at the time we managed to book our tickets and pay around 78 euros each for an adult return ticket.  Kids under 12 tickets start from a single price of 15 euro. And children under four are free. So, there are around 12 trains daily and run every 2 hours or so. The trip is 3 hours from station to station.  So we just chose standard economy class.

You could move from 1st to 2nd class easily as there were no conductors checking our tickets so we sat up in first class for most of our ride. So not to be mistaken for Premium class, this is not first class, this area is not accessible for 1st and 2nd class ticket holders. If you’re planning a trip to the Netherlands then why not read my travel tips here.

Driving France

So we chose to hire a car for 3.5 weeks. Because the longer you hire a car for, the better  the rate and we did our homework! We booked  Don’t bother with a car in big cities. Its just not worth it as public transport systems are great and walking is must to see all the amazing buildings and main sites. Make sure you pack your kids Heely’s. If you have’nt yet heard of these gems you should get right on to it. Makes travelling fun and kids want whine as much about getting tired of walking. Buy them online or in store. Amazon sells a huge range of them.

When to travel with kids

by , on
Oct 22, 2018

When is a good time to travel with the kids?

Maybe instead of asking when is a good time to travel with the kids? A better question could be, when isn’t a good time? Our lives don’t stop because we have kids. Yes there is the budget and the family home and the new car and the new couch and the new hair do and the new eye lashes we all need right? So, the question is can you take any of this with you when you leave this heavenly big bright bauble? I can hesitate a guess your answer would be a big fat ba bow…nup.

Santorini

by , on
Sep 30, 2018

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