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A dream shattered....

Since I saw my first American R V (Recreational Vehicle) back in the early Seventies I have had this a dream of buying a RV of some sort and wandering from country to country like the gypsies of old.

I have purchased hundreds of magazines showing various styles of caravans, motor homes, 5th wheels campers and everything in between. I have studied them for Layout livability price and every thing else.

Whenever I have been in various countries that make these various R V's I have a when ever possible looked at as many different models as I could and assessed them for my dream of traveling.

The object was to eventually sell the business and then to spend the next 20 or so years wandering slowly from country to country absorbing its culture and its history. 

Please be aware that in my comments, I am not criticizing the various vehicles, but simply listing my personal weakness

My first attempt happened the year I sold the business when we went to England and looked at all of the motor homes and caravans available for sale. We sort of decided on a caravan so it bought a four-wheel drive Shogun and started deciding on which Caravan we'd would. At the last minute I got cold feet so we took up off in the Shogun and toured throughout Ireland staying at bed and breakfast establishments.

After three weeks Rose and I looked at each other and in unison said that's enough and returned to England and purchased an Avondale Harrier which to my recollection was about 17 ft long. We then set up off for Europe and in retrospect I became more and more frustrated the more we traveled. First there was the length of the vehicles and our ability to turn around when we found ourselves on the wrong road which happened more times than we would care to admit.

Then there was the setting up when we found a campground, and I stress the words found a campground because that was not always easy. We had to level the caravan then traipse and get water set up the waste container and on a daily basis renew the freshwater supply and dispose of at the waste water. Every second or third day the toilet had to be emptied. A then there was the shower, which was designed for a slim 5 foot person and not a 6 ft 220 pound person like myself. The refrigerator was almost the size of our icebox at home and the beds had to be made up each night.

We did however enjoy ourselves and we still talk of the delightful places we went on this holiday. We decided however to sell the caravan at the end of out trip which we did for a small loss.

The next trip was again to Europe and this time we went to Belgium and purchased a 24ft Hymer 694 motor home and decided tour through the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland and Hungary before returning to England to place the motor home into storage for the following year.

Again in retrospective whilst we carried our own water and waste it was still a constant chore to make sure there was enough water and to dump the waste tank on a regular basis and again empty the toilet every third or 4th day. However it was much easier to set up when we arrived at the campground has we just drove to the location and stopped it almost required no other work.

We still had to find the campground of course which again was not always easy and the size of the motor home was such that parking in the small villages of Europe was not easy so we missed a lot of sights we should have been able to see.

This played on my mind substantially so I decided to purchase a C class motor home and place our A class into storage. The thought was this would be substantially easier to Park in the small villages that we would encounter and to some degree this was correct however what we gained in that ability we lost totally in livability on at a day-to-day basis.

The C class was eventually sold at a substantial loss and we returned to do a major trip in our A class. We did purchase a Peugeot 204 and A frame and toed that through France, Belgium, Holland, Sweden to the top of Norway through Finland, Sweden, Germany and back to England.

This trip worked extremely well except for the length of the vehicle the double cost of registration, the extra costs in the ferries, the in ability to stop on routes because of our length in confined spaces along with my frustrations in the ablutions blocks of the motor home which I have only perceived at this time.

Through all of these ventures I was there not as relaxed as I should have been partaking of my long time dream and instead of looking at my self I looked at the vehicles I had and decided it was the vehicles problem and at no stage did I consider I had a problem with camping.

The A class and car were eventually sold again at a loss and at this stage I was having problems with my knees and was scheduled to have both of them replaced this gave me a three year gap in my dream, but gave me the three years to carry out my re for my next R V.  

The travel we had done the top of Norway was rather rapid again in retrospect because of my frustration, but it created major problems for my wife Rose which took her two years to recover from and naturally she announced no more traveling for her.

I decided however that I still had to lots of countries to take an R V through and this time decided that the American R V's were much more designed for living comfortably and they had all of the amenities that were lacking on the European caravans and motor homes.

So after the three year re it was off to the States to buy a three-quarter ton pick up to tow a 5th wheel through America for the next four months before placing it into storage, returning the following year to do the Alaska's trip finish off America and take the rig on to Europe.

After all of the lessons I had learnt above I feel that the operations I had on my knees must have affected my thinking ability because how I related the length of the rig I had bought with a the ability to travel through the town's of America let alone Europe I have no idea.  

The 47 ft rig on the first country road that I encountered had to be driven 20 miles before I found a spot that I could turn around.

Yes it was wonderful to live in with lots of space and every amenity you had at home.  

However on a traveling basis I would not be able to accomplished my objective of wandering through the country side and avoiding the city's and sticking to the minor back roads of America and Europe. It would have been perhaps possible in America, but for me impossible in Europe. I realized within four days of owning the rig again I had made a mistake and again I blamed the rig.

cont at top


Are you Considering going full timing and considering selling your house and buying a R V? Stop think about it you are going to sell a house that is maintaining its value and buy a R V that will depreciate in value the moment you buy it. But you want to travel you want to see the world perhaps you should be considering the home exchange programmes. 

I traded the 5th wheel in on a Camper which would fit on the back of the pick up and could be left at the campgrounds whilst I traveled the scenic areas with the pick up. The unit still had more amenities than the Europeans cousins that I had had, but the pick up with the camper was not relaxing to drive like the equivalent motor home and did sway a little, the bathroom was tiny but the and other amenities were quite adequate. Because of its smallness it was unable to carry as much water nor were the waste tanks as large as on the 5th wheel, naturally, so again I was faced with the continual water problem.

However been by my self I had no distractions and was able to review my experiences with the other R V's that I had owned and reviewed all of my perceived problems and was able to decide that I was changing the wrong thing.

I did not like camping and the activities involved and no matter what R V I ended up with it would not equate to staying in a simple motel with the amenities I would find in such a place.

It would not equate to driving a normal car around the sights, and whilst, once purchased the RV would save considerable money on day to day living expenses and give you the ability to cook your own food and not have to rely on finding restaurants etc. It could not balance the conclusion that I came to that I did not like camping.

It was quite a shock after all of my a planning for 30 odd years to realize that the dreams I had of wandering in a R V vehicle of some sort would not take place but once this realization had occurred I wasted no time had disposed of the current vehicle at again a considerable loss and returned to New Zealand to lick my wounds.

I published this saga because from what I understand there are many people every year that buy a RV of some sort and sell at it after the first trip. They are obviously smarter than the writer to realize their limitations so fast, but hopefully somebody will learn from a my experience and instead of blaming your selection of R V's consider whether you actually like camping.

Probably if I added up what I had wasted on the above purchase and sale of the five different R V's I have owned I could have probably stayed in a first-class hotel on these various trips.

So where do I go from here I guess I will start looking at the Home Exchange programmes and perhaps look at the Bus-about transportation with the budget hotels, but that is all in the future and again you can look forward to see the results of my blundering in to the unknown.

In spite of all I have said above, today, when I drove past a yard full of motor homes I still have gazed at them wishfully, when the Escapees magazine arrived I still looked at the articles and thought that could it be me, when the British Caravan Magazine arrived I still have gazed wistfully at the caravans so it appears that the love hate relationship that I have with R V's and camping in that order will remain until I  discover the perfect R V and then I will be away, until then if you see somebody wishfully gazing at your RV it might be me.

To summarise I found that any a R V that was comfortable enough to live in for a three to six month period was too large to drive through the interesting streets to interesting locations and was certainly too large to turn around easily when one found oneself going in the wrong direction.

If you get one there was small enough to be comfortable driving through the above interesting streets to interesting locations then the kitchen facilities and bathroom facilities were so small to make things uncomfortable for day to day living and you did not have room to move about.

Even the large R V did not carry enough water or have enough waste tanks to make them self contained for periods longer than three or four days so you were always concerned as to where you would get your next water and find a dumping location and of course the small ones were worse.

I have left all of my re of RV's on the Web because it is still basically all sound it is only the writer with the problem......so I hope someone out there benefits from these thoughts!!!!

Just had a note from a friend on my comments above...

He says...We just returned from 10 days in southeast Arizona.  Some good.  Some bad. We camped by the road several times.  Got snowed on one night.  In Sedona, we had to stay at a campground.  Felt we had to get there early to assure a place to stay so there was that pressure.  Found a campground and barely, in the dark, managed to get the Trek into the assigned spot.  The next day, we had to maneuver the Trek back out of the spot to drive around.  Got back late that night, only to find the campground host had forgotten we were staying 2 nights and had given our spot away.  We ended up just parked in the road.  At $15/night.

There are chores associated w/ camping.  The biggest problem is dumping the waste.  The Trek has enough water for about a week, but the black water seems to be filling in 3-4 days.  Can't just dump in any bathroom like we did w/ the rv in NZ so there is always the small concern of finding a dump station.  Other than that, the Trek is working as advertised.

Size will be a problem.  I remember driving (in a car) through a very nice small village in New Jersey thinking about how I was going to have to be towed backwards if I tried to do the same drive in the Trek.  No way was the Trek capable of fitting the small roads.

Another comments.... just loved your piece - I sometimes think the same myself, but the thought of cheap B&B's or expensive motels in UK and Europe sway me back to a MH.

Another comments.... I'm afraid my idea of roughing it, is no room service.


Don't feel sorry for me, but it think of me often when....

  • Your are wandering around a strange area trying to find the motor camp with instructions that would beat a rally driver.

  • When you are standing in line for at the dump station and the person ahead of you has not cleaned up their mess.

  • When you are in Europe, in a pay as you go shower, and you have used your last coin, and the shower goes cold.

  • The when you run out of water and there is no water to be found.

  • When your black tank is full and there is not a dump site within a hundred miles.

  • When next you are going the wrong way on a narrow road and you have to drive 20 miles to turn round.

  • When it your bottled gas tank runs out and there is a cold snap or you are in the middle of cooking the dinner.

  • When any of the 1000 other things happen you may understand, I do not mind excitement, I just hate camping.


2002.... looking at some of the prices I am paying for accomadition I am beginning again thinking of a RV of some sort.... still just thinking!

2013 Yes I have done it, have been back with motorhomes for 9 years read Tour