Ups and downs

Nearly there! We leave next Friday. Can hardly believe it.

The last few weeks have been an absolute rollercoaster. The Big Trip List has got shorter, the Oz Box has been filled to the brim and emptied out into four suitcases, and the Big Lap Map has had some more points added to it. Factor in snow and ice, our stupidly small car, heightened emotions and a lot of farewells, and you might just begin to understand how we’ve been feeling! But as the snow has melted, the piles of boxes have moved from the hall to the storage unit and friends have rallied round, we’re finally beginning to look forward to that first drink at the airport next Friday night.

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It’s fair to say that the preparation stages of the trip have taken more work than we’d anticipated. And we’ve had some costs we hadn’t planned for as well. If you were to plan a similar expedition, here are some things you should bear in mind …

  • You’ll eye up motorhomes on forecourts at your destination. Some of them will make it to your Wish List. Some of the mohos on the Wish List will get sold and you’ll forget about them. Some of them will sit on the Wish List for a couple of months and you’ll look at them nearly every day to make sure they’re still there. One or two of them you’ll feel are almost yours, and you’ll start to think about where you’ll store your shoes and whether there’s a drinks holder for the driver. Then one day one of them will have dropped off your list and you’ll feel bereft. Then you’ll remember there are loads of other vans out there and start your search all over again.
    Be prepared! Don’t get too fixated on one vehicle without putting a deposit on it. Don’t put a deposit on any vehicle you want to have some haggle-room on when you go to look at it.
  • You’ll want your home to be in tip-top condition before you hand it over to a tenant, especially if you want it back in the state you left it. You may find you have to install a new oil tank, get electrical items PAT-tested, fix cleats next to every window that has a blind at it, get the carpets cleaned, get spare keys cut for all manner of locks you’d forgotten about or extend the warranty on the dishwasher in case it packs up while you’re away.
    Be prepared! All of these things will cost money – some more than others – so have a back-up fund with plenty in it.
  • Just when you think you’ve anticipated all the costs, there will be others. For example, it costs about £50 to cancel your RAC membership, and about the same to cancel your regular car insurance. Then it costs about £120 for SORN car insurance, plus the cost of storage. And of course you’ll want to tuck your car up under a nice cosy cover, which might set you back another £50. And you might just want to get it fully valeted before you tuck it up …
    Be prepared! Have a back-up fund for your back-up fund.
  • IMG_6327Unless you have kind friends or family with huge amounts of unused, dry space, you’ll want to put some of your stuff into storage if you’re letting your house. You’ll find a storage place and look at a huge empty box and the guy behind the desk will tell you you could get everything from a two-bedroom house in it. So just your personal stuff will fit in there easily because it’s only clothes, pictures, books, some pots and pans, and a few knick-knacks. Right? Wrong! You’ll pack most stuff into boxes and get it into the big box (with the help of kind and generous friends) and then the big box will be pretty full. You’ll jiggle the boxes around and get a bit more in, then you’ll realise that you still have two weeks’ stuff in your house that will need to go somewhere at the last minute and you’ll panic because you don’t really want to pay for another big box and only have a few little boxes in it.
    Be prepared! Have a back-up fund for more storage, or find a friend with a bit of space you can borrow. Make some space in your loft and farm out as much of the remaining stuff as possible. (Huge thanks to Patrick, Claire and Clive for help with this point.)

As well as the points above which might cause worry and stress, there are reasons to be cheerful. We’ve taken great comfort in all the answers we’ve had from complete strangers to questions we’ve posted in Facebook groups for motorhomers in Australia, ranging from help with insurance to tips on which dealers are the best to head to first. We’ve also had support from Australian friends here, and friends out in Australia, including some friends of friends who we haven’t met yet. People really are very kind if you ask for help, and we are very lucky to know so many lovely folk.

So that’s nearly it! Since this post was started we’ve ticked another three things off the Big Trip List (fit blind for Karen’s office (plus requisite safety device), update house manual, replace light bulbs in living room and office). I’m sure there will be a few more ups and downs before we get to Heathrow next week. Stay tuned!

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