12 months of family van life - French views

It’s been 12 months of family van life – wow! Nick and I are feeling pretty tired at the moment, but what an achievement.

When we set off 12 months ago, we always said – 2 months or 2 years, whatever this journey became, we were happy with that. And here we are a year later having come so far. No, we haven’t seen as many other countries as others have in 12 months. But we have come far as a family, and as individuals.

In celebration of 12 months of family van life we have compiled a list of statistics from our time on the road. Some are simple facts: how many nights, how many kilometers travelled, etc. Some are a bit of fun, some are just silly guestimates based on things we’ve enjoyed (or not!). We’ve also added a selection of our ‘favourites’ and ‘least favourites’ from 12 months of family van life.

12 months of family van life – the stats

Places and distances

  • 18,971 kilometers travelled (8,000 of those kilometers were travelled in the first 4 months – we really slowed down!)
  • 3 countries visited (excluding England)
  • 240 days spent in France (that’s 8 of the last 12 months!)
  • 62 days spent in Italy
  • 17 days spent in Slovenia
  • 45 days spent in England
  • 127 number of different places stayed (including free aires, campsites, Airbnb, housesits, gites, hotels, houses or drives of family/friends)
  • An average of 2.8 nights in any one place
  • 161 nights spent on aires, France Passion, camper stops etc
  • 127 days spent living in houses (renting gites, housesitting, Airbnb)
  • 48 nights spent on campsites
  • 15 nights spent in hotels
  • 4 housesits completed
  • 19 chickens, 8 goats, 6 horses, 6 cats, 4 dogs, and 3 sheep looked after

Things broken, lost, fixed, survived

  • 1 mystery solved with our fuel supply issue (turns out the supply and return fuel pipes were the wrong way round!!)
  • 1 burst water pipe
  • 2 snapped alternator belt
  • 2 oil leaks (still leaking…)
  • 2 new leisure batteries
  • 1 fuel filter replaced
  • 1 new solar panel (bought and fitted in Slovenia!)
  • 1 broken gear lever
  • 1 new door hinge
  • 1 new voltage sensing relay
  • 1 dodgy ignition wire (solved by sawing out a section of the plastic steering wheel cover)
  • 1 failed attempt to drain the wee part of our compost toilet into the grey water tank
  • Damaged awning (ehem…Charlie…some angry driving into a tree)
  • 1 shattered cab bed window (ehem…not Charlie angry driving this time)
  • 2 rolls of Gorilla tape used
  • 2 kids sandals left on a beach in Italy, one recovered (totally unhelpful!)
  • 1 water cap and set of keys left on a campsite outside Paris and 12€ spent to get them sent to England
  • 2 heat waves survived (France & Italy Jul/Aug 2018;  France, June 2019)
  • 2 big storms survived (France, Aug 2018; Italy, Oct 2018)

Just for fun guestimates

  • 567 croissants eaten* (Nick’s probably pleased we didn’t keep count as it’s likely an obscene amount of money…)
  • 109 playgrounds played on* (like most vanlife families, we spend a lot of time in playgrounds!)
  • 343 flies and mosquitoes splatted* (343 too many!)
  • 80 times Nick’s emptied the wee pot for our compost toilet*
  • 50 times Nick’s emptied the poo bucket for our compost toilet*

*These aren’t accurate statistics, but perhaps we should have kept count!

Stroking donkeys in France

Whilst putting together the statistics, it got us thinking about what we’ve loved (and hated!) from 12 months on the road. So here are some of our favourite and least favourite things from 12 months of family van life:

Favourite Things From 12 Months On The Road

Least Favourite Things From 12 Months On The Road

  • Mosquitoes
  • Mosquitoes inside the Baby Bus
  • The (small) size of the van
  • Flies
  • Leaks
  • Strong winds
  • How slow we go
  • Google maps
  • Low bridges (thanks Google maps)
  • Lack of space and somewhere to just have a lie down (without making a bed first)
  • Whispering once the littlest is asleep
  • Super fragrant washing liquid in laundrettes (Italy especially!)
  • How hot it gets inside the Baby Bus
  • “Driving” – our eldest daughter
  • “Not having space to myself” – our eldest daughter
  • “Living in a van with my family” – Nick…hmmm…

So there you have it – our 12 months of family van life in Europe condensed into a handful of bullet points. Whilst we are back in England at present, we are still figuring out the ‘what next’ and ‘where next’ of our journey. Do come find us on Instagram if you haven’t already for more regular updates.