So what did we think of the campervan?

Over the past 7 years, we have travelled on motorcycles around the world and in Australia, in a four wheel drive camper in Australia and Southern Africa, a car and camping equipment in Scotland  and a 7 meter long campervan with bells and whistles in Queensland.  The last one being the most recent and only time we’ve travelled in this way.  I’ve had a dream to travel long term around Australia for some years now so after the most recent experience is a good time to review the pros and cons of each mode.

Motorcycles with camping equipment – in our case, 3 man tent

Pros

  • Total independence
  • Always clean and safe
  • Everything has its place and easily packed
  • Cheap accommodation and meals
  • Can pick remote and quiet spots

Cons

  • Long or hard days’ riding make camping at the end of the day harder
  • Limited space for fresh food and water
  • Exposed to the elements (including evening mosquitoes and flies)
  • Limited space in the tent to keep riding equipment away from elements
  • Awkward to get dressed in the tent
  • Limited recharging capabilities
  • Ground can be uneven/sloping making for an uncomfortable night

    Some days are just exhausting

     

    Remote camping – bliss

     

    Remote camping – more bliss

Motorcycles without camping equipment

Pros

  • Travel lighter
  • Minimal packing in the mornings
  • Can travel anywhere
  • Can dry out riding clothing overnight
  • Easier to do hand washing
  • Can recharge all cameras and devices in hotels/motels

Cons

  • Have to stay in hotels/motels = cost
  • Beds may be uncomfortable
  • Have to eat out = cost
  • Cheaper places might not be the quietest
  • I miss not camping!

    Our recent 3 day trip with just those 2 panniers of stuff.

Car and camping equipment

Pros

  • Can go anywhere the car can go
  • Can take as much as on 2 bikes 
  • Can share the driving

Cons

  • Can’t be quite remote enough
  • Ground can be uneven/sloping making for an uncomfortable night

    Our car was born for country roads

     

    Our week end cabin, the old village school.

     

    Cosy evening by the fire

    One of our camping spots in Scotland – so serene

4×4 camper 

Pros

  • Total independence
  • Consistent sleeping comfort 
  • Can carry more clothes
  • Can carry more and fresh food
  • Can travel anywhere and be as remote as one wants
  • Easy to boil water/cook
  • Can eat out of the elements
  • Can keep devices charged
  • Can share the driving

Cons

  • Roof top tents can be tricky in high winds (as happened to us in Namibia)
  • Some campers might mean cooking outside (with the flies, heat/rain)

    Surrounded by wild animals – the night symphony of animal sounds is unforgettable

     

    In our wild camp spot in Botswana

     

    This where our rooftop tent folded itself over us in Namibia so we spent the night in the driver’s cab. A most memorable night!

     

    The downside of the central desert of Australia when the flies are desperately thirsty and go for your eyes and mouth.

     

    In one of my favourite places, Docker River, Australia

2 wheel drive hire Campervan

Pros

  • Consistent sleeping comfort 
  • Can carry more clothes
  • Can carry more and fresh food
  • Easy to cook fresh meals
  • Can heat/cool main cabin when plugged in
  • Can eat out of the elements
  • Easy to pee in the night
  • Can recharge all cameras and devices
  • Can share the driving

Cons

  • Need to find powered site every 3 days
  • Cannot drive on tracks/dirt roads
  • Have to empty toilet and refill water every 3 days
  • Length and height constraints 
  • Packing sleeping area time consuming before moving off (the bed is made by placing the table top and some planks over the storage cupboards and moving cushions to make the matress)
  • Storage not that easy to access
  • Powered sites feel like being in a car park
  • You take more than you need and end up filling the storage space!

    Farm stay off grid in Central Queensland

     

    “Car park” camping in a commercial camp ground

On our last trip, we had the opportunity of talking to people travelling with different modes of transport and sleeping arrangements:

  • Motorcyclists staying in cabins/hotels
  • Motorcyclists with Elite camper trailer with Queen size bed etc etc
  • 4×4 towing large caravan
  • 4×4 towing offroad (dust proof) campertrailer
  • 4×4 with home made sleeping arrangement 
  • Campervan with bed that did not have to be collapsed and remade daily

They all had some great features and and tips and more pros and cons.

I think ultimately, the choice will depend on where you want to go and what comfort means to you.  Can you guess my favourite?

I love remote camping but sleeping in a tent is getting less comfortable as we age.  While in Australia, we are very unlikely to hire a monster campervan again but are glad we tried it.  My favourite mode would definitely be a 4×4 camper although nothing beats the feeling of being on the road on bikes, so that would mean bikes with no camping equipment… Luckily, we both feel the same. But that is not going to happen for some time now.  We are glad we seized the opportunity when we could.  Stay happy and safe everyone  🙂

– Anne

A week in the south of France

There are times when being cheerful and funny is not funny or appropriate.  One such time was 2 weeks ago, when the ambulance I called at 4:15am for Anthony arrived.  Anthony calmy woke me up saying “I need you to get up”.  Did I miss the 5:30am alarm clock for our day trip to Calais with my mum? No, it was much earlier and Anthony is writhing in agony.  Not his heart this time I hasten to add.  But what?  He tries to vomit when he never ever vomits.  His body is trying to expel something.  The pain on his side is relentless.  So once again, as he likes to joke, I call the ambulance.  By the time the ambulance arrives, the pain has subsided somewhat, he is dressed, can walk and I am ready to accompany him.  The paramedics are surprised to see him walk.  So Anthony jokes that whenever I call 000 or 999, the operator says they recognise me as a regular caller, do I want ambulance or helicopter?  Shut up Anthony I tell him, annoyed, then immediately feeling guilty as I know how much pain he is in really but he is putting a brave snd cheerful face.  Many basic tests and prodding later, and the pain now bearable, the ambulance leaves us behind having told us they suspected kidney stones and if the pain came back, to drive to the hospital emergency department and wait to be seen.  Over the next few days, the pain came and went, gradually in lesser intensity and I can happily report that he has had no pain whatsoever for about 10 days.

So we spend a week holed up at my sister’s home, waiting and dreading for the pain to return then both nursing a bad cold and cough at the same time.  We recover in time for our week in the south of France.  But this was not about touring in Provence but something completely different.  A retreat if you will.

A number of our kind followers and friends have often asked us when we were going to write a book.  We never thought our sedate travels would be of interest to the wider public but after so many questions and much encouragement, we have thought well, maybe. Maybe we could inspire others.   I recently read that a very well known writer and motorcycle traveller, Ted Simon, was opening up his home to aspiring writers and artists.  Ted is very well known amongst overland travellers and especially motorcycle travellers, mostly through his first book, Jupiter’s Travels which narrates Ted’s four-year journey through 126,000 km across 45 countries on a Triumph Tiger 100 500 cc motorcycle from 1973 to 1977. His book was first published in English in 1979 and I first heard about him and his book from fellow travellers in our hotel in Karthoum in 1982. An opportunity to get feedback from a successful writer who has inspired thousands of travellers over 49 years?! Inespéré!! 

We had met Ted in the US a few years ago and had had a few discussions with him.   I had read many travel books including his of course, read a book on how to write a book, spent quite some time thinking about our potential book and knew the blog would be useful for reference but that was it.  After about 18 months, I finally worked out a structure, and the first chapter.  Time to get some honest and early feedback.

We organised to visit Ted and stay in his 5 bedroom home in Aspiran, a tiny village in the south of France.   It was great to see him again, exchange stories and experiences – such a generous and kind man.

Well, I wanted brutally honest feedback and it was brutal!! The book structure and concept was sound he told me but I had better learn to write because how I wrote was bad!  Brutal but exactly what I needed.  Ted explained what was wrong and it all made sense. I went back to my first chapter and proceeded to work on it.  What Ted said was correct of course, I could see it clearly now.  I gave him examples of what I changed and it seems I have understood.  It doesn’t mean I will manage to achieve what is required, but I have been given some invaluable pointers.  I have always believed Anthony writes better than me anyway so we’ll see what happens now…  

Anne with Ted Simon in Aspiran

Aspiran, France

Walking outside Aspiran, France

While in the Provence area, we could not resist visiting a few historical and beauty spots on the way from and to Marseilles. It is amazing how much one can see, how much history and stunning places one can see when one travels slowly.  Medieval villages, roman bridges and viaducts, 12th century abbeys.  3 Unesco sites in one day!!   We could spend months in that region alone!

Camargue horses

Arles Coliseum

Arles obelisque and town hall

Frank Gehry’s aluminium Luma tower, Arles

Parc des Atelier with Frank Gehry’s aluminium Luma tower, Arles

Roman necropolis Alyscamps, Arles, France

Roman Pont du Diable outside St-Guilhelm-le-Désert

View from Pont du Diable

The back of Gellone Abbey, St-Guilhelm-le-Désert

Medieval St-Guilhelm-Le-Desert, France

Benedictine Gellone Abbey, St-Guilhelm-Le-Désert, France

Medieval St-Guilhelm-Le-Désert, France

A thistle, the shepherd’s barometer in the south of France

1st century Roman Pont du Gard, France

Pont du Gard, France

View from the Pont du Gard towards Nîmes

Gordes, Provence

12th century Cictercian Sénanque abbey, France

Sénanque abbey, France

Village des Bories, 18th century shepherds’s stone huts, Gordes

Borie stone hut, Gordes

On the way to Ted’s, we stopped in Arles and met up with one of my brother’s ex-girlfriends.  We had been in correspondence ever since his death so it was special to finally meet in person.  She and her husband even decided to stay at the hotel we were staying so that we could spend more time together.  Very special… Alan would be so happy…

Finally meeting Eve

-Anne