If you are considering such a trip, here are a few practical tips that we’ve learned along the way:
1) Speak the language. Just knowing a handful of words (please, thank you, hello, goodbye etc) makes a huge difference especially in more remote countries. A smile and a clumsy hello goes a long way.
2) If you are from Australia and in Europe, make sure people know that! Locals are so impressed at the distance and have nothing bad to say about the country.
3) Take some keyrings to give away. We bought keyring koalas and kangaroos in bulk and, wow, they made such an impact. People loved them and it was a great way to say thanks (something we needed to do a lot!)
4) Wildcamp everywhere – aside from the cost savings, it really opens up some wonderful spots to spend the night! You hardly need to worry about security or even legalities. Being considerate and moderately mindful of the area is much more important!
5) For phone and internet we got a ‘Togglemobile’ and a ‘Europasim’ from Motorhomewifi.com. Simple, good value and did the trick.
6) For gas, refillable LPG is the go but failing that, make sure you are well-equipped with adapters and be prepared to buy new bottles in new countries. Plan very carefully to arrive in new countries with full tanks.
7) Shop at local shops when you can. Might be a little pricier per item than the massive Carrefours but by buying smaller amounts often, you waste less and the little shops give more local variety. The locals will appreciate it and be much more welcoming.
8) Travel with kids if you can! Kids are a great way to break down barriers with the locals and often get the conversation started.
9) With driving, take your time and you can get almost everywhere. Whilst other drivers can be crazy at times, they are generally very considerate with large motorhomes from overseas.
10) Take lots of USBs for music and movies. Kindles were perfect for reading. Buy board games along the way to keep everyone entertained (Rummikub is a favourite)
11) Pack your stuff in duffel bags rather than suitcases which can be squished down in the van to save room.
12) Be considerate and remember you’re a guest in the country, especially when wildcamping. Don’t park up, stick up the blinds and hole up for the night. Keep the blinds & doors open and smile and say hello to any curious locals who might wander by. Pop to the local bar for a drink. Show them you are human, friendly and bring out the kids!
13) Although we hated it at first, going for a morning run became a nice part of the routine. Gave some rare solo time, a chance to check out the new surroundings and it replaced our usual exercise regimes back home.
14) Keep a blog, like this one. It’s a lot more work than it looks but is/was a great way to keep friends and family in the loop. More than that, it will be an incredible keepsake for us in years to come.
15) Be aware, flexible and resourceful when it comes to shopping and services. Some places completely close on Sundays, siestas may last 4 hours and out of season all camperstops and campings may be closed.