Summer Vanlife Travels Return
Well, what a year it’s been and hasn’t it gone quick? Now, before the return of our Summer vanlife travels, we had a rather strange time of it. That’s because like most things in our lives, we hadn’t planned one little bit for what happened last year!
First of all, we got ourselves a job working at the Caravan and Motorhome Club as Assistant Site Managers! To be honest, we really rather enjoyed it and for anyone wanting to immerse themselves into work whilst still enjoying vanlife, then it could be the job for you. In fact, it’s something that we do miss and may want to go back to it at some point if we can.
An Unexpected Project
However, soon family circumstances brought an unexpected life change. Yes, we’d no plans on selling our previous home, but an opportunity arose for a house move and a major renovation project beckoned.
Luckily our roots in house-building meant relative ease coping with endless dust, debris and sheer hard graft. Despite being tied up 24/7 for six months, we knew there would be an end in sight by late Spring.
A place for family
Thankfully the hard effort was worth it. Above all, it reminded us that a house is very much a part of our family life. For us, it’s a place for all our family to be together and as much as we love our vanlife, it is no replacement for our house life.
Time For Vanlife Inspiration
After all the upheaval of selling, buying, moving and renovating it was time to think about relaxation. My goodness we needed it! So, as the campervan got polished and the travel guides dusted off, we began to think about where our return to Summer vanlife travels should take us.
Sometimes, it’s really difficult to know just where to head for, and for us, this Summer was no exception.
I don’t know how many times we looked for inspiration. Just attempting to find that one spark to ignite a “must go” flame, but nothing came. No matter how much we thought about it, there was just no real direction in mind.
Why is that? I’ve no idea but all we could think of was that we’d begun to get a little uninspired in general.
East or West? Summer Vanlife Travels Return
By now, we’d spent weeks deliberating over which way to head. Surely, campervan travels shouldn’t be this difficult? Maybe, we just needed to get up and go, arrive at Calais and then decide?
Several visits to Waterstones and armed with numerous Lonely Planet guides, Best Drives books, maps and Instagram screenshots still didn’t bring us any closer to a decision.
So, all we could do was to look back on where we’d been since that first van trip abroad in the 90’s. Then, we narrowed it down to places we hadn’t been to but wanted to get to, as well as those that needed a re-visit.
Gosh, doesn’t that sound exhausting!
Finally, it was all down to should we go East or West and what sort of trip did we really want this year? The punchline – we were already in Calais, driving off the Eurotunnel with no idea of where we were going
A Greek Odyssey
If we’re honest, we really wanted to go to Greece this year but to go that far meant leaving home in April or May. After all, it’s no fun driving in the intense heat of July, which was now well and truly upon us.
One thing package holidays of the 80’s taught me, was that South East Europe gets super hot in Summer! Too many red Brits on sun loungers, baking under a blistering sun still brings back vivid memories of hellish hot!
So, we would save our Greek odyssey for next year, when hopefully we’d be ready to leave Blighty in Spring.
Keep It Simple
At the end of the day, our motorhome moto of “keep it simple” sprang to mind. Why not just stick to an easy couple of months this year? After all, there were a couple of regions in Southern France which we’d never toured, but had been on the radar for some time. On top of those, there was a whole bunch of regions of inland Spain that were quietly in the back of our travel minds too.
So, as Nige drove us off the Eurotunnel, I quickly loaded the Sat Nav with last minute directions. Yes, we were heading West. Finally we’d made a decision, but out of necessity more than any form of planning!
My goodness me, are we the only ones who really can’t make our minds up?
Summer Vanlife Travels Return in France
Finally, we had a destination, now all we needed was a good night’s rest. Under a clear moonlit sky, we skirted the French coast ready for our first night away this year.
Now, our minds were set. As we arrived at the Aire near St Valery Sur Somme, finally we were ready to relax. Or were we?
Over the next 2 months our travels take us on a voyage of discovery and re-discovery. We’d be starting our journey some 8 hours further South in a region first visited in 2005 – The Dordogne.
Then we’d venture further South, not over but under a bridge we first crossed a year after it was completed back in 2004. This was the exciting part, as Millau would lead us to a region we’d been wanting to visit ever since – The Gorges du Tarn. An incredible landscape of deep cliffs, crystal clear shallow rivers and the most spectacular scenery.
From here, we’d venture into The Cevennes. A dramatic region of vast, arid vistas stretching for miles before reaching the Mediterranean coast.
Spain Comes Calling
Next, the route would lead us across the French coastal border at Cerbére into Spain. Now we’re in new territory, driving through volcanic Catalonia towards the high mountains of the Pyrenees. Yes, Spain comes calling and we’re off!
It’s a journey that takes us East to West along the length of this remote mountain range. Here, we find life in many parts has stood still.
We cross desert like plains and drive off road on dry lake beds, hike cliff-hanging walkways above steep gorges and plunge into inviting swim holes.
Then we reach the North coast of Spain at San Sebastian. Here we reflect on our Spanish travels but what would we think – good, bad or unsure? Our travel diaries will reveal all over the coming weeks, so stay tuned to find out.
Last but not least, we take a last minute detour at the end of our trip to a place we know, love and missed. It’s one of our go to destinations, a location that has everything we need but will it live up to expectations again?
Finally, on the last week of our travels, there’s unexpected news, so once again our journey changes. This time it’s a more sombre occasion that has us joining thousands of others on this historic occasion.
Summer Vanlife Travels End
Then, it’s over, as quickly as it begun. How time flies, so much packed in yet so much more still to do. We need a lifetime to see all that we need to, but we’re grateful to have the time we have and experience the real Europe that is so often overlooked.
Our Summer vanlife travels end in an unlikely location. This year we’ve come to a conclusion about vanlife travel that we never really anticipated. We’re lucky to have done this for so long, but the big changes in recent years are bringing ever more disillusionment.
How can we bring back the magic? Has it gone forever and are we able to get the enjoyment out of motorhome travels for years to come?
We’ll go into more details as we write, in the meantime, let’s hope the spark hasn’t gone indefinitely!
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- Espot – Parc National d’AiguestortesJust when you think you’ve seen the most beautiful destinations, along comes this incredible and intoxicating location in the Spanish Pyrenees.
- Driving into Andorra from SpainA quick glimpse into the duty free haven that’s Europe’s sixth smallest country.
- Queralbs and Nuria in SpainA beautiful and historic pilgrim route involving a train up a mountain and huge sanctuary complex, where we start a stunning 8km walk down to the most rustic hamlet in this delightful part of Catalonia.
- Volcanoes of Garrotxa SpainDiscovering a region of 40 extinct volcanoes where a circular walk brings us to the heart of the crater and a very unusual find.
- The Last Aire Before SpainAs the border of Spain awaits, our choice of Aire sees us re-visit the fishing town of Port Vendres, but it’s not quite the sleepy location we’d hoped for!