Our Trip Midway: What it’s Really Been Like

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By Jen

It’s been a year to the day since we started our blog – the preparation for our trip and the trip itself. We have been travelling for 7 months.

We set off in September 2013: mum, dad, 2 hormonal teenagers and their little sister, in a campervan, with only the vaguest idea of where we were going, and with a budget of 10 euros each a day. Complete recipe for disaster. Here’s where we’re at midway through the trip. There’s a separate post about our budget.

That every day is a sunshine and fun-filled frollick is a load of old b*llocks. That they have, combined together, scratched a deep and colourful and amazing mark forever is more like it. Some days are deeper and more colourful than others. There are times when I’d rather be on my own, in a bath, with a king-size bar of chocolate.

We all had different expectations of our almost-year long family trip – I can only speak for my own, here they are, they are not all that out of the ordinary……

I had hoped for……

1. more time with the kids
2. the kids learning stuff that would be useful, interesting and inspiring
3. time to get better at what I do ie teach
4. an adventure
6. as little housework as possible
7. a close up encounter with elephants just because.

More time with the kids…..



Not so very long ago, our kids were very small. I think it’s food related, but now they are not. Matt was 14 today, Adam’s 15 and thinking very much about his future, and Katie, the baby, is already into double figures. Although I have enjoyed every stage of their growing up, I’m not so sure I’m enjoying them getting ready to fly away. And yet I know I am incredibly lucky to have children that will be able to fly away when the day comes.

We have certainly spent oodles of time together this year. In-your-face mammoth time together. And it’s been great for lots of unquantifiably good reasons. We’ve got a bit of a dance that goes on in the morning to pass each other and get dressed and breakfasted in the confines of the van. Usually it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The dance seems to get easier the longer you do it.

The time we have spent together comes at a cost. We see less of family and friends than we would like and that’s difficult. But you can’t be everywhere at the same time.




Living in a small space with someone does help you both see more clearly how you each tick. I look in fascination at our three and how they each tick SO differently. It’s also easier to hide your vulnerabilities if you dot from home to school to bedroom.  We are more exposed in a small box. That’s been good for us all.


What people often overlook when they ask in disbelief about how we manage not to kill each other in such a small area, is that we have that enormous space right next door, called outside. Things might have been more difficult in a cold, wet climate. We missed out winter this year by spending those months in Thailand and Morocco. We also did that because we have no coats with us.

And living with your spouse in a campervan for a year? Tricky. I think that’s normal. What I know for sure is that there aren’t many guys as capable and practical as the one I married.

Adam, Matt and Katie have just done an interview at http://wagonersabroad.com, another travel blog, where they talk about life travelling from their perspective.



What Adam, Matt and Katie have learnt….

I can only speculate as to what our kids have really learnt, but from what they say and write, it’s the cultural and religious differences that they’ve noticed and been intrigued by the most. Something that you can’t really learn from a book. That’s justification enough for us for time out of mainstream school.   They know how to make paper from elephant poop and you just never know when that might come in handy.

I also wanted time to get better at what I do ie teach.


I’ve been trying to follow an online teaching course called a DELTA whilst I’ve been away. Part 1 of 3 is an 8 month course and the exam is in June, for me in Strasbourg. I’ve found it hard to get opportunities to “shut myself away” to study in a campervan with five inhabitants. I’m a bit behind and I’m nervous about the exam.

I’m still working – teaching a week away at a time – but a lot less often than normal.

I get shouted at a lot for having to be online for work and studying. That sucks a bit. Even doing a blog is way more time consuming than I imagined. If it’s a joint travel blog, most bloggers who do the lion’s share of the blog can probably relate to that. But it’s a permanent souvenir for us and hopefully a source of inspiration or practical ideas for other people, so for me a worthwhile investment of time.

And I wanted an adventure….



I’ve come to realise that I’m quite big on adventures.

We all, scientifically and indisputably, have an expiration date. We either have an adventure – whatever that means to each of us – or we wish we had an adventure. And then we die. More or less.

There are some really interesting blogs about travelling, explaining WHY people do it. Especially indefinite travellers. We haven’t had to think too hard about the whys or wherefores because our adventure is for a set period, for reasons we know. I imagine the whys and wherefores will come when we return home and look towards coming up with a new routine or a new adventure.

I had hoped to see and understand more of the world….

Here is where we’ve been and for how long for the first 7 months. Start at 12 o’clock and work clockwise round.


Travelling slowly seems to be the best way for us. Getting to know a place, people, a little before moving on.

Less housework

The reduced housework wish was easy to fulfil. For starters, the tolerance level of five individuals in a small space is much reduced. There are extra hands more eager and willing than normal to remove the desert sand from the campervan floor, or the lumps of possessions on the seat so that they can go to bed.   If I were to lie down on the floor, I’d cover the entire area. Basically I can clean the place without even getting out of bed.

And the elephants?


Getting up close was immeasurably fantastic. Like an elephant, I’ll never forget that. Neither will Katie.


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2 Replies to “Our Trip Midway: What it’s Really Been Like”

  1. Helen Strong says:

    You’re managing to do the DELTA while travelling too!!! Goodness, now I know you’re Wonderwoman! Good luck with the exam 🙂
    PS I’m looking forward to finding out whether you’ve managed to stick to your budget 😉

    1. Yep possibly not my wisest decision about the DELTA but it’s sooo interesting – and there will never be time when I can stop life totally to do it! I need a good poke up the rear to get studying :). Budget post to follow 🙂 xx

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