4 months with the kids

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by Chris Peake, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. Chris Peake

    Chris Peake Funster

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    Hi,

    I'm planning to take a 4 month sabbatical next year (May-Aug) to spend some quality time as a family before the kids start school. We've got two girls who will be 3- and 1-year(s) old by that point. The current plan is to buy a motorhome and travel around Europe for the whole 4 months, but we've never had a motorhome or camper van before. More than happy camping though. As a newbie, I've got a few questions I was hoping the kind people of this forum might be able to answer! So here goes:

    - We're planning to buy privately rather than through a dealer as we may choose sell (or at least swap) the motorhome when we get back. Of course, we might love it so much that we won't be able to part with it. Does that make sense as a plan?
    - Given the length of time we're travelling for, would a 6-berth give us much needed space over a 4-berth, or is a decent 4-berth plenty big enough?
    - Are there any features/layouts that would be particularly useful for a 4 month holiday? Bearing in mind the 2 small children as well (e.g. beds in certain locations, garage for "stuff").
    - As we'd be travelling almost exclusively on the continent, would LHD make sense over RHD?
    - Anything else important we should

    Thanks in advance!
    Chris
     
  2. Anthea M

    Anthea M Funster

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    Hello and welcome!
    @Triple7 is selling a Hymer which may suit have a look on the for sale section
     
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  3. DavidG58

    DavidG58 Funster

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    A major consideration will probably be the weight you can drive on your licence, unless you have taken an extra test you will be limited to 3.5t, this will restrict your size choices to some degree

    nice plan though, hope you make it work (y)
     
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  4. Spidey

    Spidey Funster

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    Goto lots of dealers and look at all the vans. The layout is one of the most important factors. Decide how the kids would sleep, there are some models wit h bunk beds at the back. You could also goto the nec show in october and look at them all. Then at least you would know what you are looking for :). Don't dismiss dealers for 2nd hand vans you may just pick up one at a good price.
     
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  5. Puddleduck

    Puddleduck Funster

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    Yes, but go away for lots of weekends and a week or two in advance to iron out any snagging. There is ALWAYS snagging and stuff you will need to adapt / sort / buy.

    I would go for bigger and check out table size - our grandchildren like to play with trains and the like and Buffy's dinette table was a wee bit small, Jemima has a bigger yet lighter table and all the Brio will go on it.

    I would suggest the children go to bed at the back so you don't have to go to bed when they do. A transverse rear double could easily be temporarily divided down the middle to make shorter longitudinal child beds. You would then have the dinette to relax in and if you have a drop down (either over cab or central) or an over cab you all have your own space. Own space and privacy is important when living in a small space.

    Probably cheaper to buy LHD in the UK but you would also get less when you come to sell it. You might consider buying abroad if you are going the LHD route.

    What about a stand alone awning - or any awning? Just gives you more space and the modern light but strong awnings don't take long to put up or take down.
     
  6. Puddleduck

    Puddleduck Funster

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    And get some sort of warranty plus LHD models can sometimes be had for less than an RHD in the UK.
     
  7. Riverbankannie

    Riverbankannie Funster

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    What a lovely idea. As the children are so young, you will want to be able to put them to bed whilst still having somewhere to stay up yourselves for any evening when too inclement to stay outside. A drop down overcab bed for yourselves would seem a good layout. You might also need one with a larger washroom so that one adult and one child can get in together! Many campsites on the continent however have designated parent and child rooms with baths.
    Certainly a garage will be needed for "stuff" I know what goes with small children. It would be less hassle if you can leave your child seats strapped in place permanently ( I know what a faff these can be to set up) but if that is not possible then a good garage space just to store them when camped. Think about what you might need to take to explore any area you stop in. If you have been used to camping, you will have been used to having a car for day trips. Are you going to take bicycles with child seats or trailer for example. The MH with best storage are those with fixed rear bed raised up.

    Don't worry so much about LHD or RHD as it is easy to drive on continent with either.

    Good Luck, I am sure you will have a fabulous time and won't want to come home!
     
  8. jumartoo

    jumartoo Funster

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    Although I think this is a great idea, take on board the advice about the weight of motorhome you can drive. If you eventually purchase a motorhome with a garage be careful about the weight of the rubbish you'll fill it with.

    A motorhome with bunks may be the best option for you. It was for our friends when their kids were small. You can get a shorter van, ease of parking, etc. but space enough to spend time in.

    Hope you find what you want and let us know all about your travels.
     
  9. Chris Peake

    Chris Peake Funster

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    Thanks Anthea, I'll take a look.

    Thanks DavidG58. Yes, both our licenses are restricted to <=3.5t unless we get C1 licenses, so this is a real consideration. Hoping to find something suitable in 3.5t otherwise its ~£2k for a C1 license each!

    Thanks Spidey, all good advice. Bunk beds are definitely worth looking at. Tempted to go to the NEC show in October, my parents live nearby so could combine a visit.

    Thanks Puddleduck. Definitely. We're starting to look now with the intention of buying in plenty of time to get out for trips before the May start. May be some cold weather testing!

    Good point, not something I'd thought of at all.

    That's definitely a layout that could work, we were trying to work out what would give us our space in the evening when the children have gone to bed.

    Good point about potentially being cheaper in the UK. I'd considered buying abroad, but working out how much effort it would be to travel to look at motorhomes. Could be worth it though...

    Thanks Riverbankannie :) This is a good point. I'm a keen cyclist so definitely planning on taking bikes, but that means taking a couple of children's bike seats or trailer which will take up some space!

    Thanks jumartoo, I can see that happening. Any available space tends to get filled with something!

    This does seem like a good option with small children, and Spidey mentioned it as well.
     
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  10. f6c

    f6c Funster

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    Welcome aboard;)
     
  11. Ralph-n-Bev

    Ralph-n-Bev Funster

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    What a lovely idea. Everything what everyone's said above, is great advice.
    IMO layout is king. We had a ci mizar gtl living top class when our kids were younger. A 2006 model you can still pick them up.
    We've three children. We chose that particular model because of the layout. Having had several caravans in the past , having three children we needed space. We knew what we wanted, plus we got it right first time. Saving thousands.
    One thing you will have to watch is the pay load. If you've got kids and are taking bikes and all the other junk that you end up with kids of all ages you'll have to watch out that your not over weight. You two , plus the kids, full tank water, clothes , food , toys soon builds up , weight wise.
     
  12. NickNic

    NickNic Funster Life Member

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    Given that then the only thing to add to the advice above is to be very very careful about actual vehicle weights.

    There are not all that many big 4 berths and even fewer 6 berths that will work at 3.5t. Manufacturer's weight figures have a tendency to be completely made up hopelessly optimistic and dealers will have no hesitation in lying to you about it.

    If you find a vehicle that you think might be the right one for you then insist on a new weigh bridge ticket. Arrange it and pay for it yourself if you have to. If the dealer won't do it then that tells you all you need to know. No matter what they tell you don't trust weight figures from any other source.

    For a family of four on a long term trip you need to be looking at a payload of 600kg as an absolute minimum, especially if you want to fill the garage with all the crap essentials we all think we can't do without.
     
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  13. wigster

    wigster Funster

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    :welcome4:
     
  14. big map

    big map Funster Life Member

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    My advice would be to buy a decent travel cot, which can be used outside as a play area during the day and set up with a sheet and baby duvet at night for sleeping. We travelled throughout Europe with our two when the youngest was 8 weeks and the older one was 20 months, in a vw camper van. Happy days. Enjoy your trip.
     
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  15. Chris Peake

    Chris Peake Funster

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    Thanks Ralph-n-Bev, I found a video which gives a good idea of the layout and I can see how it would work well. Will add it to the list of potentials!

    Agreed, there's going to be some careful adding up to do!

    Thanks NickNic, this is really useful. I hadn't thought to get a new weigh bridge ticket. And the payload of 600kg makes sense.
     
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  16. Barclaybasher

    Barclaybasher Funster

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  17. Chris Peake

    Chris Peake Funster

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    Thanks big map, we've been trying to decide whether we'd need a travel cot for the (to be next May) 13 month old but in all probability we will. Well done fitting it into a VW Camper!

    Thanks Barclaybasher, I'm starting to get the feeling we might not be able to avoid taking the test. Shame, it's not just the money but the time commitment as well, especially with two small children!
     
  18. Barclaybasher

    Barclaybasher Funster

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    If I wanted to spend 3 months in a van on my own I would choose the Laika or an A class Hymer but I gave up my C1 licence. My van is a 2 berth coachbuilt 5.5m and still weighs in at 3 tonne. As regards values, if you buy 'right' you might lose nothing or even make a profit.............

    (y)
     
  19. Puddleduck

    Puddleduck Funster

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    If you are going to do your C1 just do the full C license and get an American RV :)

    If not maybe look at the cabbunk idea as well. http://www.cabbunk.co.uk/ I have no affiliation with the company.

    Also just a reminder that you have used up your free posting allocation and will need to pay a subscription to post any more questions. Paid membership gives you discounts on all sorts of stuff from insurance via AiB to alarm systems and so on - so worth considering apart from the help and advice from us Funsters!
     
  20. Chris Peake

    Chris Peake Funster

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    I hadn't spotted that. In for a penny... I'll speak to a nearby driver training company today and find out what the difference is in terms of cost and time, may well be worth it!

    Really interesting idea. I think the problem with it might be having our adult space in the evening when the kids are in bed but will have a think if there are layouts that would work with this as it's a berth "for free".

    I was wondering why I couldn't post any more, thanks (y)
     
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