So you’ve done it ay! The vans packed and your leaving date is just around the corner, adventure here you come. It can be easy to overlook things being caught up in the excitement but before you go, there’s a few things you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got sorted.
HAVE YOU BEEN ON A TEST?
I would always advise a test trip in your camper before you go, ideally for around a week but aim to at least get a night out somewhere. There’s nothing worse than working out a week into your travels that your mattress feels like it’s made of gravel or you forgot to pack your head torch. If your trip has been planned around a certain hobby, lets say you’re off fishing around Europe, then try and recreate what its going to be like on your test trip. Have you got everything? Your going to be pretty bummed out if at the first lake you get to in France you realise you forgot a section of rod or your favourite ‘never fails to get em’ lure.
Now is going to be the time to ensure your camper is set up right for you or you and your buddies/family
Can you cook okay and is the selection of pots and pans etc. you’ve chosen enough for cooking meals for everyone on the trip? Did you pack enough knifes and forks? If your cooking then bets are you’ve got a gas bottle. How long did it last or maybe its still going? Try and gauge how much you used over the duration of your trip, that way your get an idea how long a bottle will last and how often your going to need to refill. As a rule, if you can, I’d always try and bring at least two bottles if there fit. Running out of gas halfway through cooking is guaranteed to ruin your evening.
What about washing and staying clean? If you got a shower on board then how was the temperature of the water and how long will a full water tank last you? If not and your relying on campsite showers have you packed everything? A pair of old but clean sandals or flip-flops can be helpful if you happen to find yourself on a campsite where the showers are a bit grim.
Most importantly how did everyone get on? Was there enough room for everyone or if your traveling alone, how was it? Did you pack enough to keep you occupied when the weather was rubbish? When it came to going to bed, was everyone comfortable and sleep okay?
On the same note have you packed anything you didn’t use and can get rid of? I guarantee after a few months on the road your be looking at at least one item you packed and wondering why on earth you thought that would be handy. Everyone does and I’m still coming across just such items in my camper. Above all do you feel comfortable in your new home?
Now is going to be the time to ensure your camper is set up right for you or you and your buddies/family. Don’t just head off on the blind hope you’ve everything right. It can be a lot harder sorting problems on the road and knowing everyone gets on together and feels comfortable will get your trip off to the best start possible.
It might be you’re not going away with any financial commitments back home. The house was sold and there’s not a single direct debit leaving your account, if so, good on ya. If not, then have you switched everything to paperless billing and ensured any and all payments can be made online whist your abroad? You don’t wont to get hit with late payment fees and not know about it. If you cant go paperless then where are the letters going to be sent? The last thing you want is to be dipping into your hard earned savings because you overlooked a bill.
If you take any recurring medicine then make sure you have either enough of it with you for your trip or that whatever you take its available in the countries your going through. Do you research, sometimes it maybe called something different abroad. Going to see your doctor can help, maybe they can tell you about alternatives available if you cant find yours.
Being unable to access you money isn’t going to be fun.
What happens if something happens? Do you have a fire blanket or fire extinguisher on-board? A lot of countries will require you too but realising yours is either missing, out of date and doesn’t work or is wrong for the types of fire you could expect could well see your new life go up in flames. Again most countries will require you to be prepared if you breakdown by carrying a warning triangle (two in some cases for the road in front and behind your car) or reflective jackets for every person on board? What about a first aid kit, did you pack it and does it have everything inside to treat the main scenarios your likely to encounter? What happens if you get locked out the campervan? Who has the spare key if there is one or did you leave it in that nice safe place INSIDE your van? Finding out too late can really suck. Its a good idea to get a key lock box. these are small, normally code boxes you can get fixed underneath the campervan somewhere out of sight. Get a good one though and make sure it’s in a position that means no one can swing hammer at, its finger room only.
Have you spoken with your bank? Even if you are not going for too long your going to want to give them a call. If your bank or credit card issuers start seeing your cards being used all over the world then they may well mark it up as fraudulent and suspend the account meaning lengthy and sometimes costly phone calls to sort it out. Being unable to access you money isn’t going to be fun.
By now you have probably had your camper for a little while, hopefully your managed to get out and take your new home for a weekend test camp to make sure your new life works for you so you already have insurance. But does the insurance cover you for going abroad and in every country you go through? A lot of UK policies will give you 90 days cover abroad a year as standard but if your going for longer then make sure you get additional cover. Your level of cover may also be affected depending on your destinations. You may have fully comprehensive insurance across France, Germany and Austria but have you checked it doesn’t drop to third party, fire and theft during your time in Romania. It can really pay to go with a specialist here. Yes, chances are your pay more but a good insurance policy that covers both your vehicle and the possessions inside of it will put your mind at risk should the worst happen.
And what about insurance for yourself or family? Does it cover you for anything you’re going to be doing, for example any sports your be doing on the trip. If you happen to mess up that big air skiing down the slopes in Chamonix and need to get a ride off the mountain with the rescue helicopter then not having insurance could see you smacked with a bill running into 5 figures.
Similar to insurance above, having breakdown cover is really important. Maybe your insurance offers you breakdown but did you check that’s its valid across your whole trip. And what does it give you and who are the foreign partners if any and their contact details abroad. In other words, who do you call in each country if the campervan spits its dummy. Being stranded on the side of a highway arguing in the rain about what to do and who’s fault it is wont be your trips finest moment.
TRAVELING WITH YOUR PET
Its becoming more and more common to see pets tagging along on trips like these and with the creation of pet passports its getting easier too. You may well be heading through counties who have strict quarantine procedures and require your pooch to be up to date with any number of shots and vaccinations. If you cant prove your dogs not had a rabies shot then you may well be facing a long stay in quarantine or worse yet, turned around. Visiting your vet and organising a pet passport and checking on each destinations government website on their particular rules should keep you all traveling together.
With everything sorted, now is the time to sit down and look back on what you’ve done and what your about to do. Remember when you set the intention all that time back? Feels good right about now ay? And what about that camper you almost brought at an amazing price, looked great didn’t it but you were right when you thought it would be too small. In no time at all your be on the road and off on an adventure I guarantee your never forget and will always look back on with pride knowing you had what it takes to give it a shot.
Stay safe and be sure to let me know how its going. Who knows, I might well see you on road out there somewhere.