OurTour Motorhome Essentials Packing List

Update – July 2015

Since we bought our new van,  Zagan,  last week I didn’t realise how valuable this list was. It’s been printed off, scribbled on and the links used to stock Zagan ready for our first trip out in him.  So, I’ve republished this, and hope you find it as useful as me.

 

I’ll admit it, before we left for our adventure I had sleepless nights worrying about what to take with us. Would it all fit in Dave? Would Dave be overweight? Would we forget something? Of course once we were on the road we were amazed at just how much stuff we had; so when we returned to the UK for an MOT in September of 2012 we left quite a few things behind. We now have Dave perfectly packed, so we thought we’d share our list of essential items with you. Whether you’re planning a year long trip, or a weekend in the UK, it might be worth having a quick look to prevent some sleepless nights for you!

Apart from the links in the ‘Documentation’ section and those where I ‘ve stated where they link to, all other links will take you through to Amazon.co.uk, to either a specific item if we use it, or search results displaying a range of options. Find out more about Amazon affiliation.

ess policeLegal bits

There are things that you are legally required to carry in some countries that we don’t have to carry in the UK. It’s best to check the AA website for an up to date list of what you need for the countries you’re going to, we’ve also written an article on the subject too.

ess documentsDocumentation

I know it’s boring, but there are some documents you’ll need to take with you and others it will be handy to have in case of a problem.

  • V5C (your motorhome’s ‘log book’)
  • Motorhome Insurance (make sure it covers where you are going for entire duration of your trip)
  • EHIC Cards (if going abroad you’ll need your European Health Insurance Card – you can get one free from here)
  • Travel Insurance (for you in case of accident or illness)
  • Driving Licences (paper and photo part)
  • Passports
  • Photocopies of all documentation (kept somewhere safe; we also scanned ours and emailed them to ourselves)
  • Motorhome Instructions (always handy for the trouble-shooting sections as stuff inevitably packs up while you’re away!)
  • Breakdown Cover (we use ADAC who cover us in Europe and the UK)
  • Mobile Phone Contracts (if going abroad for a long period these are handy to have for bill queries and renewing)
  • ACSI Discount Card (gives you discounted stay at campsites out of season across Europe, not to be confused with the ACSI campsite guides)
  • EU Pet Passport (if your four legged friend is going abroad with you)
  • Spending Book (if you’re on a budget a small book to track all your spending is a big help)

ess serviceDaily Servicing

Once you’re out on the road you’ll need a few essential items to keep you in supplies that you’d normally take for granted in a house such as water, electricity and gas. You can find our motorhome guides to all things to do with daily servicing here.

  • Hose Pipe (we went for a triple core one as you don’t need to unravel it to use it, but it’s not all that great. Any hose will do the job as long as it hasn’t and won’t be used for anything else)
  • Hose Pipe Connector (we have the standard UK one and have been picking others locally at hardware stores, different countries have a wide range of different tap connections)
  • Collapsible Water Carrier or Watering Can (sometimes you can’t connect to or get near enough to the tap to use your hose. When this happens we use a carrier as we don’t have the space for a watering can)
  • Funnel (you’ll probably need one to get the water into your tank if you use a water carrier rather than a watering can. We fashioned a flat, fold-around one from the lid of an ice-cream tub which works very well, allowing an almost full flow of water into the tank)
  • Power Hook Up Cable (buy the longest one you can – we have two that we connect together as the hook-up boxes are sometimes a long way from a good pitch)
  • Hook Up Cable 2 Pin Adapter (loads of campsites and aires still use the 2 pin plug as opposed to the European 3 pin that is likely already on your cable
  • Electric Halogen Heater (save your gas and heat with electric when on hook-up, this type of heater is silent so suitable for leaving on overnight. Note that neither this nor the next heater will protect your cupboards or water tanks in very cold weather – you’ll have to use your blown-air heating/grey tank water heater for this)
  • Electric Fan Heater (we use this type of heater when we are awake and it’s really cold as it’s noisy but quickly heats up the van and keeps it nice and hot)
  • LPG Connection Adapters (we have an onboard LPG/GPL/Autogas tank, when filling up abroad we use adapters, mainly the dish and bayonette type. If you have standard gas bottles you might not be able to refill them when abroad as they use different systems and regulators – best to double check before you go)
  • Grey/Waste Water Tank Fresh (trust me, when it gets hot the grey tank can stink. We’ve used this stuff, but now tend to dissolve dishwasher tablets and pop them in it overnight – not as effective, but much cheaper)
  • Fresh Water Tank Cleaner and Purifier (you need to do everything you can to keep your fresh water tank clean, either that or drink bottled water while travelling)
  • Spirit Level (perfect for ensuring your is van level and to work out which way round to sleep in the bed – there’s nothing worse than sleeping with your head lower than your feet!)
  • Levelling Chocks (as car parks nearly always slope when you want to sleep in them!)

ess mapsNavigation and Finding Places to Sleep

Below are the tools we use for navigation and finding places to sleep, the ones marked with * we personally use, the rest we’ve see others use and cribbed notes from. We’ve also written this article which will give you more information about how we find places to sleep.

  • Sat Nav* (love or hate it, without a satnav driving just isn’t as easy. We have a TomTom like the one linked to, and love the lane assist feature for when we’re on unfamiliar motorways)
  • Relevant SatNav Maps (check which maps come with your satnav, you may have to buy others if you’re venturing further afield (who knew Greece isn’t included in the Western European maps!)
  • Paper Maps* (don’t ever fully trust your sat nav as they love short cuts, great for cars but not motorhomes! We always have a paper map for the country too)
  • Highlighter Pen* (track your progress on the map and create a great reminder of your trip)
  • Phrase Books* (so you can always ask for directions!)
  • AutoRoute* (useful for offline navigation or as a satnav if you buy a USB GPS Dongle)
  • Points Of Interest (POI) Database for AutoRoute* (there are various databases which will show you places to stay overnight, Lidls, Service Points and campsites. This link will take you to the one we use which is free from EuropeByCamper.com
  • Offline copy of the Camping Car Info Database* – link to our review of it (a French website which you can download. Includes loads of information on – free aires, service points and campsites)
  • All the Aires Guides* – link to Vicarious Books website (these guide books, in English, are great for locating Aires/Sostas/Stellplatz but cover a limited range of countries)
  • Womo Guidebooks* (German language guidebooks each taking a route around a country/part of a country and offering details accounts of things to see and places to stop)
  • Camperstop Book (another stopover book, this time encompassing the whole of Europe)
  • Bordatlas Guide (another great German language guide to motorhome stopovers across Europe)
  • Compass (it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s handy for working out which way the sun will come up and set for when you’re parking your van)

ess outdoorsOutdoors, another room to your motorhome

Motorhomes aren’t huge, but once parked up on a campsite the outdoors becomes an extra room for you – you just need to furnish it accordingly.

  • Camping Chairs (we tried loads of others, but these fold away beauties were perfect for us as their high back supports your neck)
  • Camping Table
  • Foldaway BBQ or Gas BBQ (before we had our LPG tank we used a foldaway BBQ, now we use a safari chef gas BBQ which we run off LPG – link takes you to our review)
  • BBQ Tools
  • Picnic Rug
  • Inflatable Kayak
    (we saw one of these for sale in Lidl and have regretted not buying it ever since)
  • Sunglasses / Prescription Sunglasses
  • Insect Repellent
  • Citronella Candles (help keep the mozzies away and nice to light up at an evening BBQ)
  • Fly Swat (for the middle of the night mosquito cull)
  • Umbrellas (I won’t lie to you, it’s not always sunny when you’re motorhoming – we have a large golf umbrella and a couple of fold up small ones)

D42 002 Dave check up at LlanesTools and things for fixing stuff

Dave is old, bless him. So we’ve needed to do quite a few repairs as we’ve travelled. But even if your van is new, it’s always good to have a few tools and bits to fix to stuff with (and preferably a ‘Jay’ who’ll know what to do with them!)

DSC_0148Kitchen Essentials

We’ve stocked Dave with a lot of items from the kitchen of our house. But there are a few items we’ve bought especially for the trip and a few things we forgot and had to pick up as we travelled – thank goodness they have shops abroad! :)

  • Melamine Plates and Bowls (they rattle a lot less when you’re driving and don’t break, we bought ours in the sales at the end of summer)
  • Mugs (any sort, but the more stable the better)
  • Wine Glasses (we didn’t bring any – big mistake, cheap wine tastes so much better from a glass)
  • Plastic/Acrylic Glasses (for drinks other than wine, less glass means less noise and breakages on bumpy roads)
  • Water/Wine Jug (we picked up a small jug in France and decant our wine from its Lidl box into that when we want to feel posh or have guests!)
  • Plastic Storage Boxes (collect as many as you can – we’ve got our pasta, rice, cereal and dry dog food in upright ones, flax box ones are used to house jars and potential leaky stuff to stop them moving as well as fruit and veg)
  • Large Frying Pan (be sure to measure the width of cupboard it’s going in, and the dimension of the pan across the top, not the base. We bought a new pan and used the measurements on its information sheet but because it curves outwards it’s slightly too big for the cupboard -doh!)
  • Small Frying Pan 
  • Double Skillet  (we don’t have one of these, but wish we did – links to their website)
  • Pan Protectors (we use bits of cardboard, but if you’re bringing your best pans from home it might be worth investing in some of these)
  • Large Saucepan
  • Small Saucepan
  • Oven Proof Dishes (we don’t have an oven, but if you do you’ll need some!)
  • Oven Gloves
  • Gas Hob Kettle (for when you aren’t hooked up to electricity) 
  • Low Wattage Kettle (for when you are hooked up to electricity)
  • Cafetiere (a little luxury for coffee lovers as you’ll get fed up with instant)
  • Espresso Maker (Jay loves his coffee, so we picked up one of these in Italy)
  • Chopping Boards (it’s worth having a couple)
  • Cheese Grater
  • Measuring Jug (decent size, plastic or acrylic)
  • Compact Weighing Scales (if you’re planning on baking/cooking)
  • Cutlery (solid metal is best as handles don’t fall off and be sure you have plenty of teaspoons – they always seem to vanish)
  • Scissors (at least a couple of pairs)
  • Quality Tin Opener (we forgot ours and bought a cheap one, it’s faulty, it wouldn’t open tins!)
  • Vegetable Peeler (also handy for shaving Parmesan cheese!)
  • Bottle Opener/Cork Screw (hmm, perhaps this should be at the top of the list!)
  • Bread Knife (we forgot ours and bought one as un-sliced loaves are cheaper and last longer)
  • Sharp Cutting Knife (invest in a decent one and it’ll stay sharp for your entire trip)
  • Wooden Spoons
  • Spatula
  • Serving Spoon
  • Wooden Skewers (good for marshmallow toasting, making kebabs and poking at/fixing stuff stuff)
  • Potato Masher (if you forget yours be warned they don’t sell them anywhere in Italy – trust us, we looked!)
  • Plastic Storage Boxes (collect as many as you can, we use large upright ones for cereal, rice, pasta etc, oils and jars sit in them in cupboards to catch leaks, veg separated into them and food for the fridge needs sealing sometimes)
  • Cigarette Lighter/Matches (for lighting the hob if the ignition fails, or a BBQ)
  • Cleaning Sponges
  • Cleaning Wipes (we use antibacterial wipes for cleaning the van as well as the taps and hoses at water points)
  • Cleaning Scourers
  • Washing Up Liquid 
  • Universal Sink Plug (as every campsite sink has a different sized plug hole)
  • Dustpan and Brush (we’ve taken the carpets out of our van so we brush the floors)
  • Mini Vacuum Cleaner (if you’re keeping the carpets one of these might be a handy)
  • Antibacterial Hand Wash (you’ll want to wash your hands after emptying the loo!)
  • Kitchen Roll
  • Tin Foil
  • Cling Film
  • Freezer Bags
  • Ice Cub Bags or Tray (for those long hot summer days!)
  • Bottle Holders (the free cardboard ones from the supermarket are ideal to avoid clinking)
  • Camping cookbook (for when you need inspiration of something new to cook)

ess teabagsStore cupboard food items

While we’re in the kitchen it’s worth thinking about having a few items always in your van to save you from having to buy them when away, and so you can have a cuppa at any time! I’m not going to list loads of things, as each person has different tastes, but a few tins (soup, beans?) along with some teabags, coffee, stock cubes, gravy granules (we can’t find these anywhere abroad), UHT milk, a bottle of water, a bottle or two of wine, salt and pepper, vinegar, ketchup and chocolate would never go to waste in our van!

DSC_0147Bathroom

  • Towels
  • Microfibre Towel (these dry really fast so less damp towels hanging up around the van)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • First Aid Kit
  • Toiletries
  • Soap
  • Toilet Rolls (you can get special motorhome ones, but we use the cheapest ones we can find)
  • Chemical Toilet Fluids
  • Air Freshener (with the loo so close to the living area, it helps!)
  • Medications
  • Contact lenses
  • Shaving Kit
  • Ear Plugs (even the best campsite can be noisy and free camping places can be very noisy!)
  • Sunscreen / Aftersun
  • Nailbrush
  • Shower Head Holder (some vans don’t have these and expect you to hold the shower head while showering, it’s the same at some campsites too)
  • Bag For Life (in campsite showers 9 times out of 10 don’t have enough hooks to hang up all your clothes. I used a large supermarket bag for life – one of the thicker plastic ones with fabric handles – and hang that on the hook, keeping all my clothes and towels dry)

memory foamBedroom & Soft Furnishings

  • Pillows
  • Duvet (we have a summer tog duvet with an unzipped sleeping bag on top of it, then a blanket on top of that, so we can use whatever combination we need to keep warm/cool)
  • Memory Foam Mattress Topper (beds made from the chair cushions are comfortable with one of these on them, you can imaging how lovely our pull down bed is with one on it – sleep heaven)
  • Bed Sheet (preferably a brushed cotton one if it’s going to be cold where you’re going)
  • Spare Set of Bedding (as it’s not always possible to have a set washed and dried in a day)
  • Sleeping Bags (unzip and use over your duvet, or so you can camp outside)
  • Blankets (great for curling up under when the weather isn’t so warm)
  • Cushions (add a bit of comfort and colour to your van on one go)
  • Sofa Throws (we use these on the seat parts of the sofa and dinette seats as they’re easy to wash and clean – especially with a pooch in the van who doesn’t wipe his paws!)
  • Hot Water Bottle

DSC07266-1024x768Clothing and laundry

This was obviously a tricky one for us as we would be travelling through most types of weather. We have one shelf each in the wardrobe, one hook each and a cupboard each – in it we have to squeeze everything from ski jackets and thermals to swim wear and Jay’s wetsuit (to be fair Jay doesn’t have half as many clothes as me so his wetsuit easily fits in his cupboard).

We’ve found ‘technical’ clothing to be really good as it’s quick drying, and doesn’t need ironing. Check out the camping and hiking sections in shops or online and you’ll be amazed at what is out there – I even found a shirt impregnated with mosquito repellent! I’ve listed what is in my cupboards, but of course what you take will depend on when and where you’re going.

Don’t forget all those bits and pieces you need to keep your clothes clean if you’re going away for a while.

  • Laundry Sack/Bag
  • Washing Liquid/Powder
  • Fabric Softener
  • Coins for the Machines (save as many pound / one euro coins as you can)
  • Clothes Line (we use this pegless line as well as loads of bits of string
  • Pegs (you can never have too many of them, you’ll be amazed!)
  • Drying Rack (whatever kind you can fit into your van, we use a Folding Sock Dryer
    which we affectionately call our ‘pant chandelier’ it either hangs off the bike rack or in the bathroom if the weather is bad)

DSC01833Entertainment, Leisure and Tech (boys toys!)

  • Books (the link takes you to our books page with a selection of titles, and of course don’t forget to pack A Monkey Ate My Breakfast : Motorhome Adventures in Morocco, our book!)
  • Kindle / eReader (we have a Kindle as we could never carry this many physical books in our motorhome – it’s great!)
  • Board Games (we play Scrabble if you do too bring a dictionary to settle any arguments!)
  • Playing Cards
  • Chess Set
  • Snorkelling Kit
  • Fishing Gear (we don’t have any fishing gear, but Jay has been wanting to buy something like this for months – he’s desperate to catch our tea, but unsure about the killing it part!)
  • Crab Line (this is as close as Jay gets to fishing, but the crabs go back in the water)
  • Travel Journal (notes of your adventures make a brilliant keepsake)
  • Pens and Pencil
  • Paper Pads (you’ll be surprised at how much you scribble notes or lists)
  • Music (CD’s or MP3’s as the local radio stations are generally pants, unless you like the 80’s)
  • TV (we had one and hardly used it, but if you do take one you’ll probably need a satellite system to get anything decent on it – see below under enhancements to your van)
  • Laptop (preferably a long battery life so you don’t have to charge it up so often)
  • Laptop Mouse (we thought we wouldn’t need one so left ours at home, mistake had to buy one)
  • External Hard Drive (to store all your photos)
  • iPad /Tablet PC (we already had an iPad so we brought it with us, but if we were to buy again we’d probably go for an Asus EeePad Transformer)
  • WiFi Booster Aerial (we bought all our aerial, cable, dongle and SIM from MotorhomeWiFi.com – the link takes you to their website – if you contact Adam he’ll sort you out with the best solution for your needs)
    • USB Extension Cable
    • Internet Dongle
    • Multi-Country Internet and Phone SIM
  • Mobile Phone (we have a smart phone so we can pick up the internet using free wifi at cafes)
  • Films/TV Series (either DVDs or electronically saved they’re ideal for long nights or rainy days)
  • Headphones (so you can watch the TV without disturbing others in the van)
  • Handheld Games System (we have a Nintendo DS on which I play puzzles and games)
  • Cameras (this link takes you to our review of our camera – we love it!)
  • USB Memory Sticks/SD Cards (for storing and sharing photos and files)
  • Chargers for Everything – 12v if possible for convenience (but check they are compatible with your equipment)
  • Alarm Clock (we thought we wouldn’t need one, but we ended up sleeping later and later each day – ours tells us the temperature too!)
  • Binoculars
  • Spare Batteries
  • Bicycle (as you can’t always park close to what you want to see)
  • Cycle Helmet (obligatory in some countries)
  • Bicycle Pump
  • Puncture Repair Kit
  • Christmas Lights and Decorations (if you’re going to be away over the festive period)
  • Bunting/National Flag (for special occasions!)

Charlie's new sleeping bag, fashioned from an old quilt and a dressing gown!Pampered Pooch

Charlie is our surrogate child so he gets very pampered. He has his own space in the van – the biggest bench – and his own cupboard for his toys, treats and medication.

  • Bed
  • Blankets
  • Non Spill Water Bowl
  • Food Bowl
  • Travel Water Bowl
  • Sleeping Bag (when it gets really cold we pop Charlie in his sleeping bag to keep him warm as we don’t tend to have the heating on overnight. The one on Amazon is an example since I made one for Charlie – see photo above) 
  • Dry Food (we buy the cheapest stuff in the supermarkets, less additives and he loves it, and somehow swapping between foods seems to have no affect on him)
  • Tinned Food (again super cheap and super tasty – we haven’t found any that he doesn’t love)
  • Tick & Flea Treatment (check with your vet so you get the best medication for where you are travelling to – Charlie is on Advantix at the moment as it repels ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and importantly protects against leishmaniasis, which is prevalent in southern Europe)
  • Tick Removers (even though his treatment repels them, he still gets the odd tick so we need these to remove them with leaving the horrid head parts in him)
  • Worming Tablets (again check with your vet, and make sure you stock up with enough for your trip – we struggled to get worming treatment in Italy as they only treat worms if the dog has them, unlike in the UK where we give the medication to prevent them getting worms)
  • Claw Clippers (there isn’t always a dog groomer on hand, so we do him ourselves)
  • Fur clippers
  • Comb / Brush
  • Ear Cleaner
  • Shampoo
  • Dog Towel (microfibre for quick drying – trust me you don’t want you pooch borrowing your towel after a day on the beach!)
  • Lead and Spare Lead
  • Collar
  • Identity Disc (ensure it has the UK dialling code before your phone number if you’re going abroad)
  • Harness (an alternative to a collar but can also be used to restrain your pooch while you drive)
  • Muzzle (in some places larger dogs will need one when in public places or on public transport, for smaller dogs the rules are usually ignored)
  • Coat (pampered pooch never likes being cold)
  • Toys (even though he’s a pampered pooch he doesn’t have too many toys as he mainly chases sticks and stones)
  • Treats
  • Travel Bag / Cage (we don’t have one, but if you want to restrain your dog while driving or take him on public transport in some countries you’ll need one of these)
  • Bike Trailer (Charlie hated his, but then it wasn’t a proper doggie one and he could escape from it – we’ve seen loads of happy pooches whizzing along behind their owner’s bikes in one of these)
  • Poo Bags (never underestimate how many of these you’ll get through on a trip! Some of the more affluent countries do provide them for free in parks and cities so keep your eyes peeled)

DSC_00661Enhancements to your van

You can add numerous things to your motorhome to make life more comfortable on the road. The ones marked with * show what we’re using, the others we’ve seen people with and while they are not for us, they might be right for you.

  • Non Slip Matting* (for every cupboard)
  • Blackout Thermal Curtain Linings* (our curtains are thin so lining them with this helps keep the sunlight out in the morning and the temperature warmer/cooler)
  • 12v to 230v Power Inverter* (for charging all your gadgets that don’t have a 12v charger, running clippers and the like – do your research to ensure you get the correct specification for your needs)
  • Windscreen Thermal Cover* (the least insulated part of your van so internal or external screens  help keep your van warm or cool, we have external ones which work well for us)
  • Solar Panel and Charge Controller* (for topping up your leisure battery on sunny days)
  • Leisure Battery(ies) (an alternative or addition to adding solar panels is adding another leisure battery. Ours is actually a starter battery and has performed flawlessly for 16 months and counting)
  • Habitation Door Fly Screen* (we have the net type, but it keeps getting broken when trapped in the door, if we were to buy again we’d get a chenille one)
  • Power Extension Cable* (for when you need to power something not in your van – we used ours to power stuff in a nearby tent)
  • Power Plug Adapters* (our van has a couple of two pin plugs so we have one of these permanently plugged in and a spare in case we need to plug in while out and about)
  • LPG Tank(s)* (refillable tanks which take LPG.GPL/Autogas are a big help on a multi-country trip as there is little gas bottle standardisation across Europe. We’ve met people with several bottles in their vans having had to buy a new one in each country, there are a few solutions on the market so try Googling ‘Motorhome LPG’ – ours was already fitted when we bought Dave)
  • Satellite Dish and Decoder (we don’t have a TV, but if you need your gogglebox fix while travelling there are several options from basic satellite dishes that you point yourself, to ones on the roof of your van that automatically seek the channels for you)

Finally, as your reward for working your way through this long list (I never realised we had so much stuff in Dave, and I suspect we’ve still missed a few things) below is a link where you can download a PDF packing check list. It lists all the things above with a box to tick when you’ve packed it for your trip. There is also a space for comments and a sheet to add your own essentials. Simply right click on the link and choose the save option so you can store it on your own PC and print it off whenever you need it!

OurTour Motorhome Packing Checklist

Have a great trip, wherever you go!

 

 

 

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50 Comments

  1. Great list I think we are nearly there with our bits for the trip but I just need to know what is the best mobile network and internet to use for Europe – at present we will be mostly travelling in Belgian but may also go to Holland and France and suggestions would be greatfully received.

    • Thanks for the comment on the list, Ju’s worked hard on it :). As for the Internet and phone networks, there is no easy answer! We tend to use 3G SIM cards instead of trying to find WiFi as we want access to the Internet every day, but don’t need huge amounts of data. We make very few voice calls, so have done little research onto the best voice SIM, sorry. Our solution is to use a EuropaSIM for Internet access when we’ll be in a country for less than 10 days or so. This gives us 100MB of data per day for €2.50, although I think the price has since increased for new customers. When we’re in a country for a couple of weeks, we get a pre-paid local SIM from whoever is providing the best deal (or whoever happens to have a shop where we are and speaks English)! Local SIMs are always cheaper than using a roaming deal, and we have always found someone would sell us one without having a local bank account or address. Just take your passport along and you’ll get one. One word of warning if you do this: make sure you know which APN to use (ask the telecommunications shop to tell you it) and know how to set it on your phone or 3G dongle. Cheers and have fun! Jay

    • Great help, steadily reading through your blog as we are planning our two year trip which starts in January 2017, we are heading down to Dakhla in Morocco… Can’t wait

  2. Thanks for that, just sold are house and are taking a year round Europe starting July Aug time, me the wife and are 3 year old!. Been folowing your blog for a while now and it looks like you are having the time of your lives.

    • Thanks Adrian, we are indeed old chap, it’s awesome! Few motorhome folks travel with nippers from what we’ve seen (almost everyone’s retired) but we did meet a French couple in Morocco travelling with two small boys after selling a business and moving to some remote island somewhere (I forget where). They were having a great time, the biggest problem being tripping over small dinosaurs rampaging about the floor of the van! We hope you have an awesome time, it’s a fabulous feeling being on the road and Europe’s a gem of a continent to travel. Jay

  3. that is bril! well done if we forget anything we’ll blame you! (only joking)
    cant wait to get away

    • We think that’s everything, but still not sure how it all fits in here! If you spot anything we’ve missed please let us know.

      Have a great adventure.

      Julie :)

  4. Hi Julie & Jason,
    I have just recently discovered your blog & have gotten hooked reading it. At age 72 I was overwhelmed with questions & had pretty much given up my dream of living in a motorhome in Europe but after reading about your adventures and all the great information so well presented I am now thinking I can really do this.
    The various links are so very helpful. The internet is such a fantastic source of information.
    Can you tell me please of some places I can look for motorhomes for sale ? I think it better to look for people selling direct but a dealer is not out of the question. As I will be traveling alone I would like to find something around 6 +/- meters in length with a good shower & toilet and kitchen. If possible I would like to find an older model that has been well cared for & is in good condition.
    I would like to find a diesel Mercedes engine and have seen a brand Hymermobil that looks quite nice. Also an Orbiter looks quite nice.
    Thank you for the nice job you do with your blog. Thanks to you I think I can do this !
    Best regards,
    Tom

    • Hi Tom

      Great to hear from you! 72 years – a perfect time to head out onto the road, we’ve met a fair few folks travelling in motorhomes who might look at your age and be jealous of your youth. If you want to do it, we’ll certainly help in any way we can, just ask and we’ll reply (you can email us direct if you want: julieandjason@ourtour.co.uk).

      We’ve only bought two motorhomes, one from Oaktree motorhomes who are now just off J26 of the M1 in Nottinghamshire, and the other from eBay. Both turned out to be good buys and both vans were fairly old, over 15 years apiece. With this age van you have to expect and budget for some problems, especially if you’re planning on doing some serious mileage. Van #1 was a Talbot Express-based Autosleeper Harmony (a panel van conversion) and #2 is Dave. Oaktree sold the van with a 12 month guarantee and cam belt change, which swung it for us although we didn’t need to claim. I would image they made perhaps £1500 from the buying price of about £9000. We bought Dave for £10,500; the previous owners had recently bought it from Hambilton Engineering (www.hymerdirect.com) so it had been well serviced before we got it. It’s based on a Fiat chassis and has over 180,000Km on the clock, but also has a full service history. The clutch failed in France which cost over €1000 to replace, but otherwise it has been reliable – impressive considering the mountains and rough roads it’s had to contend with. Buying a diesel-engined vehicle makes sense to me as in Europe diesel’s almost always cheaper than petrol, by a long shot.

      It’s hard for us to recommend any particular source, since it depends a huge amount on your budget and level of risk you’re prepared to take. Also, we’re not exactly experts at sourcing vans! You could have a look at the vans from http://www.hymerdirect.com/ to get an idea of prices/age/quality from a specialist Hymer importer. Hymers Dave’s age (20 years now) have a good reputation for build quality – which we can attest to. Also, don’t exclude eBay, our van has proved to be a great find from there but it of course carries the risk of a private sale, with no after-sale guarantee.

      Good luck, don’t give up on your dream, just imagine that Greek beach, a glass of filthy-cheap wine and the daily warmth of the sun. Jay

  5. Hello, just wanted to say thanks for this site, I am planning a trip (our first) for next year and was trawling around for books etc, when I stumbled upon your site. seems i’ve found almost everything in one place. Amazing that you have the time and patience to post everything up.
    Good luck to you guys,
    Peter & Vendula

    • Hi Michael

      The short answer would be: I don’t know fella, as we’ve only done it by motorhome. I’ve certainly no regrets going the motorhome route, we found it easy enough to get around and find places to stay. Your best bet might be to contact Margaret and Barry, or read their article here: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/1389/318/. They’ve been travelling by both methods for years, are rather cantankerous, but the information they give is normally good.

      Cheers and happy wanderings, Jason

  6. Hi both
    I’ve just committed to the purchase of my first motorhome (a 2001 Autocruise Vista) and want to thank you for such a useful list. I’ve just retired and am taking my gap year and don’t want to go off into the wild blue yonder unprepared. No chance of that now – thank you!

    • Hi Penny

      You’re welcome! Don’t worry about being un-prepared, almost everything can be picked up on the road without too much trouble.

      The Vista looks a cracking little van, fabulous design, compact and easy to get into tight spots. Have a wonderful time on your gap year; just be careful, it might turn into two gap years, or three, or four…

      Cheers! Jay

  7. Hi. Love your site We are two Aussies in London ready to head off of a two year trip. We have an Autotrail Cheyenne and are looking to find warmer weather in January. Southern Spain sounds nice and then we hope to follow the sun and see all we can.

    We had a devils time getting insurance for the van and suspect we paid too much, we have Aussie licences and no resident status even though my husband was born in London. Anyway happy with the van and insurance and can’t wait to head off

    I have been studying the list of essentials to take and it’s been very helpful.
    cheers and merry Xmas to all. Wendy & Brian

    • Hi Wendy

      Insurance is daft expensive, but it’s irrelevant really as long as it doesn’t really hurt your plans. The main thing is to do it, regardless! Have a fabulous time, live, love, learn and laugh (as a great mate of mine loves to say).

      Cheers, Jay

  8. Cracking info on here guys! Just put our deposit down on our mh and looking for an idea of things we’ll need, so your site has come up trumps.
    Well done.

  9. Hello Julie & Jason,

    Just found your site a great read and very very helpful. myself & SWMBO are planning a trip to France in september in our mh (this will be our 1st as we have just bought it)so your check list is just what we need.
    Thanks very much and if half the people we meet on our travels we are going to have a fantastic time.
    Thanks again.
    Regards,
    Iain

  10. Hi, this information is great, we are planning on setting off next month with our 2 old cats. Can I ask, I am worrying about this but did you experience any safety issues with the van being broken into? It’s my fear we will be away from the van & the cats get stolen. Thank you

    • Hi Danielle

      We had the same fear but in all our time away we heard of very few people where the van was broken into (and there are tens of thousands of motorhomes roaming Europe in summer), and even fewer where the van itself was stolen. My feeling is the chances of your cats being stolen is very small, and others must feel the same as plenty of people we met had pets.

      There are some things you can do to improve your security. Locks and alarms are helpful to some degree, but to be honest most motorhomes can be easily broken into by popping out the plastic windows or breaking glass in the cab. The best approach IMHO is to be careful where you park. On-street parking in any city seems to increase risk, as does parking in popular tourist site car parks and sleeping in motorway services, especially non-toll ones.

      Weirdly, we felt more at risk in the UK staying outside friend’s houses than we did in many of the poorer places in Europe and North Africa (there seems cars less alcohol drunk outside the UK!). You’ll work out your level of comfort for yourselves, but we found aires to be fabulous, and we did a fair bit of free camping in car parks and along quiet roads and had zero break in problems in 500 different places.

      Cheers, Jason

  11. We own a Fiat Ducato Swift Motorhome, watching Rip Off Britain on the tv we were surprised to hear that a man had his car broken into. ALTHOUGH HE WAS FULLY COMP, THE INSURANCE COMPANY REFUSED TO PAY OUT, stating that he never informed them he was going abroad and because he didn’t have a green card from the insurance company, they refused to pay him out. We contacted our insurance company and have been told that we need a card and sent it by email. So folks, just for peace of mind – check. Happy motoring.

  12. Thank you so much for putting together such a comprehensive list. It’s fantastic that you took the time to do this and to linked it to websites – great idea!!! I will print out the check list and use it when we go off on our next trip as there’s always something I forget!!

    We have two small dogs (very pampered!) and it’s surprising how much stuff you need for them too. This is all very helpful – the tick remover is a definite must as they are nasty little things that can cause problems.

    Keep up the good work.

  13. Hi, we have literally just bought our first motorhome ( about an hour ago) so finding this blog is brilliant. Thank you so much for compiling the list and links. I look forward to reading more and staying in touch.

    • Hey Sue! I can feel the excitement from here! We’re on the hunt for our next one and I’m like a big kid. We popped a load of info on this blog, which we hope will be of some use, but you’ll find the motorhome community as a whole a very helpful folks. Welcome! Just drop us an email if you have any specific questions, thanks for getting in touch, Jay

  14. This will be a brilliant guide when we are packing up for the “off to Europe trip”, so I have saved the post to my favourites. In the words of John Denver “don’t know when I’ll be back again!”. But that is not until 2016. We have bought an old motorhome and are in the process of bringing it up to date with internal decoration, new bathroom, new solar panel and batteries etc. After that it will be trotting around UK and Ireland to get used to it before the big tour. It is 30 feet long on a Mercedes lorry chassis.

    The picture of tea bags is a poignant reminder. I drink a ton of tea. We went to live in Spain for 3 years and when we were shipping over our belongings, one of the essentials were 20 catering bags of our favourite local tea bags! Every time we had family visiting, the requirement was that they brought an extra catering bag of 440 with them. We never ran out once! I can see that being an issue in a motorhome, but luckily we will have plenty of storage space and I will be filling every crevice with them :)

  15. Hi Julie and Jason,
    Im on my third motorhome so l can concur with your list – the only thing l’d added that was priceless for me was a washing machine. I picked up a wonderful single gallon washer that did 2 speeds and had a 1-15 min cycle. This saved me sooooo much money along the way (£24) that it paid for itself in the first month on the road. With each campsite or public laundry charging £/€ 5-6 per wash, it became my second best friend only to the Vicarious Books guides! ( Love that shop :-)
    However, as much as l love my single barrel washer, what l really wanted was the twin barrel washer sold through Argos. It was sold out at the time but it maybe available now ( 3 years later).
    Thanks for the list down memory lane and the enjoyable articles, and if you’re ever in the Algarve again (Portugal) please drop in for a cuppa and a chin wag.
    All the best from sunny Portugal ( Vilamoura),
    Anthea & Gerard

    • Thanks Anthea. A few folks have suggested a small washing machine, and we’re thinking about getting one this time around. Last time we managed to find places we could wash, and enjoyed a bit of ‘downtime’ on campsites while the stuff dried! Thanks for the idea, much appreciated. Jay

  16. Hi you two, been reading your blog on and off for the last year. Thank you for the list, am glad to say that most of it is already in my 4 berth Suntor 100 for myself, wife and pooch. Although our van is a bit on the small side, it gets to places and parks where bigger vans can’t. Am toying with the idea of a couple of months in southern Spain after Xmas, unless I missed it, should snow chains be included on the list as a requirement if in France/Spain in winter along with florescent vests for all in van? Enjoy your next trip, Cheers Tony.

  17. Absolutely awesome list thanks. Not planning on buying home on wheels till Feb time but am enjoying reading up on stuff to think about in preparation for our adventure !!

  18. Ah the life of Reilly,fantastic blog ,came by your site while researching what way to go about fitting a gas system in our motorhome for a upcoming trip to France and Spain .the gas fit system looks like the best way to go ,I didn’t realise that system was available.So glad to have found your website.It’s very informative,well put together and a joy to read..thanks for all the tips .safe and healthy travels to both of you and Charlie ,,regards Declan

  19. I haven’t bought my motorhome yet but can’t wait now after reading your fantastic blog. On the subject of washing machines, SuperU in La Châtaigneraie, Vendee France has just installed 3 washing machines in its car park next to the Motorhome parking up area, full water and waste disposal available as well. I think the largest was 28kg so ideal for duvets
    I don’t know whether others will be doing the same but might be worth a new book or inclusion in the Aires bible!

  20. Hi both. Brilliant blog. Off on our first European adventure late in March. List was so helpful as because we have done UK in our motorhome with hardly a care. Would have been short of so much without reading your story. Many thanks just got to squeeze it all in…

  21. Guys, thank you so much – absolutely brilliant. Just printed your list off and will be using it as a reference going forward. We have just bought our first motorhome- a Burstner 680G and are so excited…. We are busy trying to think of all the things we will need and up to now its clear it won’t ALL go in – and most of it isn’t bought yet!!!! We pick it up in 3 weeks.

    Honestly I could retire now…….hmmm

  22. We are on our second camper, which is a VW T5 but want to go further for longer and are looking at Dethleffs and Hymers. We have grown up children so are looking for a van with 4 seatbelts and a drop down or permanent bed.

    The areas your blog has helped are the LPG, solar and Internet issues.

    One thing that intrigues me is did you consider LH drive vehicles? We are a scant hour from Portsmouth and even closer to Poole so don’t imagine RHD being an advantage.

    • Hi Steve, both our Hymers have been LHD.

      I do the majority of the driving and I really like being positioned in the middle of the road (we spend most of our time on the continent). We know folks who use RHD for long trips, without problems. LHD does put you in the right place for overtaking though, which we don’t do much of on purpose, far too slow, but are often forced into – tractors, people broken down, folks parked in weird and wonderful places, lorries doing 3 mph on mountain passes and the like.

      Cheers, Jay

  23. Your list is a godsend! SO many things I’d never thought of. We were ready to learn by (possibly bitter) experience, but this will be an excellent guide for us, as new to the campervanning fraternity.
    Thank you very much!
    David and Chris

  24. Hi, thank you so much for this list. I was just about to sit down and go through the arduous task of firstly thinking what I had to write on a list and then actually writing a list and the probably missing important things off and this list saved me hours and hours of work, so THANK YOU!!

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