Planning our European Road Trip 2019: Background
This page explores how we went about planning our European Road Trip.
The whole purpose of building a motorhome is to provide the flexibility to reside anywhere. Consequently, this opens up the possibility of visiting many exciting new places whilst having a safe and comfortable base to return to at the end of a hard days exploring!
Both Erica and I are keen travellers and we wanted to explore Europe in the motorhome (Gadget2) after spending so long building it. Hint! Don’t forget to read my guide for building a motorhome.
In summer 2019, a family member was due to get married in Southern Greece and another was going to be celebrating their 80th birthday in Italy. We decided that we should combine attending these events with a European Road Trip. Our route would need to take us to both locations and on specific dates!
Planning our European Road Trip 2019: Duration?
Luckily, I am self employed and able to plan my work around travel plans. Erica on the other-hand is an employee and therefore limited to annual leave. This was a major factor in deciding upon the length of our road trip. We allocated 5 weeks for our road trip, this was all of Erica’s annual leave in one go.
In December 2018, 7 months before we intended to go, we sat down with the laptop, a diary and a bottle of red wine. This would be the first stage of our planning! After opening a new text document, a map and the wine, we began to talk about what exactly we wanted to do.
There were four important things for us to think about.
The route that we would take in the time available
What we wanted to see
Preparations for our motorhome, Gadget2
In addition to the wedding and birthday, we needed to agree on a further 3 specific dates. The day we caught the ferry to France, the Ferry to Italy and the Ferry back to England. It was important to pre-book the ferries, especially when travelling in a motorhome during the school summer holidays! To ensure we were not under pressure, we allowed three weeks to get to Greece and two weeks to return via Italy.
Once the ferries were booked, we had two clearly defined blocks of time to plan for. The route to Greece and the route back to England, via Italy.
Planning our European Road Trip 2019: Route Planning
Greece is a very long way. Consequently, we decided to plan in two long days of driving at either end of the holiday. This meant that we wouldn’t visit countries close to the UK in any depth, but instead have more time further into Europe. Driving these initial miles meant we only had to average 100 miles per day rather than 150 for the rest of the trip.
Originally we wanted to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania. Sadly, Gadget2’s insurance company would only cover us third party. As you might expect, we were unwilling to drive Gadget2 without adequate cover, especially on our first long road trip. This limited our route to countries within the European Union. However, one advantage of this was that we didn’t need to think about Visa’s or Customs.
Early on, we decided to avoid driving through France. This decision was based on past experience that the French Toll roads could be very expensive! Furthermore, we were aware that the Belgian and German roads were completely free. We just had to work out how to get from Germany to Greece.
After lots of scientific research (scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest), we began noting down specific places that would form our ‘must see’ list. The first of these was Lake Bled. Neither of us had been to Slovenia, and both really wanted to visit. Another place we both wanted to visit was Belogradchik as pictured below. The rest were plotted onto a map and used to form our daily route. Consequently our route was a mixture of our ‘must sees’ and spontaneous discoveries.
Planning our European Road Trip 2019: The Chosen Route
After lots of discussion about potential routes, we agreed the outward bound route would be:
England, France (short distance from Calais), Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece.
The return route would be: Leave Greece from the port of Patras and arrive in Bari, Italy. We decided to plan the remainder of the route whilst away as there would be plenty of time to do so. Realistically this would involve driving north through Italy, through Switzerland and back a similar route avoiding as many tolls as possible.
Planning our European Road Trip 2019: Maps!
We both love maps. Therefore, we decided to use the google My-Maps tool to plan and track our travels. This tool enabled us to create layers containing all of the different places of interest with our ‘must sees’ highlighted. Consequently we ran two maps whilst we were away; Our planning routes and our actual route taken.
Planning our European Road Trip 2019: Packing!
Packing for 5 weeks meant that we had to consider what activities we might be doing (from weddings to hiking) and what the climate would be like (from beaches to glaciers). Furthermore, there are minimum legal requirements for equipment that needed be carried in our vehicle. Preparing everything that we needed was the most time consuming aspect of the planning.
To find out more about how we packed Gadget2, read our article!
Planning our European Road Trip 2019: Starting the engine!
After all the planning, it was finally time to start the engine and begin our adventure. Follow our progress in the blog!
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