Travelling Europe: What to expect in each country

The route we took in our first 8 months of travelling Europe

Over the past two years of travelling Europe, we have become pretty experienced nomads. We know which countries look more favourably upon wild camping. We know where in Europe to go for cheap diesel. We know which countries have the best veggie fare. But it hasn’t always been like this. So here, I thought I’d share what we learned on our travels.

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Leaky home

Photo by Gabriele Diwald on Unsplash

Have you ever had the roof in your home leak really badly? It’s pretty stressful, right? Every time it rains you freak out a little. And that constant worry about how much it will cost to fix!

Now imagine the leak is right next to your bed. And it splashes all over the place even if you put a bucket underneath it. Your slippers are wet, your walls are wet, the paint is starting to peel off, everything is damp. And you have no heater to dry stuff off. And it keeps raining really, really hard, like buckets of water coming out of the sky.

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Friends on the road

Photo by Kimson Doan on Unsplash

One of my favourite things about travelling is how easily you make close friends with the right people in this environment. Travelling the way we travel, living in a van and leading an essentially dirtbag lifestyle, brings us in contact with like-minded people and we just…click.

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The slow life

Full disclosure – this is not Alsace, this is a photo I found on Unsplash and liked.
It is by Sašo Tušar and I believe it’s Italy.

A couple of weeks ago we really slowed down from our already pretty slow lifestyle. We went to visit our good friends Anna and Lukas in their family holiday home in Alsace – a green and hilly French region close to the German border.

This house is a real hidden gem. Nestled in the midst of a thick forest, it is only accessible via a narrow and bumpy dirt track, on which our Ford Transit nearly bottomed out. The building is off the grid. It is powered by batteries and a generator, with a boiler heating up the water, but has no central heating or electricity. Which meant fires every night for warmth and small battery powered lights to get around at night.

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Climbing in New Zealand

Photo credit: Tyler Lastovich @lastly

New Zealand is not one of those destinations you usually go to solely for the rock climbing, not unless you’re Chris Sharma. That’s partly because it’s so damn far away and expensive to get to from most parts of the world. There are many far cheaper and closer climbing destinations for most of us, and climbers are a famously dirtbag bunch.

But more importantly, New Zealand is far too breath-taking and offers so much for the outdoorsy adventure lover, that to come here for the climbing alone would be worse than sacrilege. So of course, in the four months that my partner and I spent in NZ, climbing was not at the top of our agenda.

Rather, it was dominated by catching up with his family and friends, all of whom hadn’t seen him in years; eating and drinking a lot at these gatherings; and trying to fit in all the sights and do all the activities we could afford (which was sadly a small minority of what’s out there).

Nevertheless, no self-respecting climber would go to a new destination and…not climb at all! Plus, NZ was the old stomping ground of my partner and I was eager to see where he cut his teeth on the rock.

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