We spent the summer and autumn of 2022 traversing Ireland and United Kingdom. This wasn’t our usual “let’s explore this country” motorhome trip. Instead, we wanted to meet up with family and friends, some of whom we had not seen in 40 years!
Originally, we had planned a neat anti-clockwise tour around Ireland but this quickly changed to a convoluted figure of eight to make sure we got to see as many people as possible. Likewise, grape harvests and school holidays meant our track around the United Kingdom looked like a drunk attempt at a “La Linea” cartoon cartoon!
We did spend a week as tourists in London (we left the motorhome in storage) to attend the a Worldschool Popup Hub. We got to see and experience the sites of London while meeting new friends. If there is ever a Popup Hub near you, we recommend you attend!
November 2022 saw us say goodbye to Blue Fern, our motorhome. And yes, Gary shed a tear or two when he parked the motorhome for the last time. In just over two years we had travelled 48,000km (close to 30,000 miles) and visited 22 countries. Originally, we had planned to ship our “home on wheels” around the world but plans change. We decided it was best to sell her before continuing our travels. The convenience of having our home right behind the driver’s seat is missed!
Cellphone reception in rural Ireland is poor. We often parked in a Tesco’s parking lot for Amelia’s online classes before driving to a more picturesque overnight stop.
Petrol stations in parts of Scotland are few and far between. We did not see one petrol station on our 200km drive to Balmoral!
Wild camping in England is generally not allowed. We paid for a CAMC membership and stayed in both campsites and their Certified Locations.
Homeschoolers can get discounts to attractions in England. We received discounted entry in the Eden Project and Legoland Windsor (Legoland required that we book ahead).
All in all, we drove over 5,000km (3,000 miles), stopped at many museums and historical sites, and visited Janice’s distant family in Tipperary, her childhood friend in Belfast, and her graduate school friends in Cornwall, Gary’s aunt in Loch Ness and school friends in East Sussex and Devon, our motorhome friends (that we met in Croatia) in Somerset, and our Cayman friends in Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Dorset, North Berick (Scotland), and Tamar Valley (Devon). We helped pick apples and grapes and make cider and wine at Tamar Valley Vineyard. The weather wasn’t always cooperative (ranging from a lucky two-week streak of clear blue skies and warm seas in Ireland to fierce winds and freezing rain in the Isle of Skye) but this did not stop us from having a wonderful time in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
A blog that focuses on the day-to-day practicalities of travelling in Greece (see similar guides to France and Norway).
Once again on this trip we felt fortunate to find guidance and inspiration from motorhome blogs in planning our travels in Greece. In particular, we followed many recommendations from our friends Frenchy Le Van and The Chouters & Bijou.
When to visit: We were in Greece in April and May and found spring to be a perfect time to visit. The weather was warm enough for outdoor activities, everything we wanted to visit was open but uncrowded, we were able to wild-camp everywhere (including areas that would be far too busy in summer), and we experienced an incredible Greek Orthodox easter. We had some high temperatures from mid-May onward but found relief from the heat in high-altitude areas. We could see that summer would be extremely hot and crowded and we have been told that winter can be rainy and cold. Autumn may be another good time to visit.
How to arrive: We arrived via ferry from Italy. Anek ferry line provides “Camping on Deck” on some routes to Greece but we did not experience this as we chose the Grimaldi ferry line to Igoumenitsa. Our motorhome had to be parked next to the trucks in the cargo hold (often with inches to spare) so be prepared to manoeuvre in tight spaces; the deckhands did a good job of guiding us into and out of our parking. We sat in the lounge and brought our own food rather than eating at the restaurant. It is also possible to book a cabin – we noted that you may need to leave your cabin up to 1.5 hours before arrival in port so it wasn’t worth it on our journey. We returned from Greece via Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia which was a fantastic trip, well worth doing in its own right – see our upcoming post.
Where to go: We visited Lefkada, Peloponnese, Athens and its surroundings, Pelion, Meteora, Vikos Gorge, and Mount Olympus. We highly recommend them all but found Peloponnese to be the easiest place for motorhome travel because of its incredible concentration of interesting sites and off-season wild camping in a small area. Our map shows our route (click to make the map full-screen and then scroll to Greece).
Where we stayed:
We exclusively wild-camped in Greece (it seemed that this would be much more difficult in high season). Park4Night was very helpful in finding sites. When staying in busier locations, we were careful to “park” only – we did not get out levelling blocks, chairs, tables, or anything else that would be considered camping (while parking overnight is acceptable in many areas, camping may not be allowed). An ASCI card is an option for discounted campsite stays in the off-season – a physical book and card must be ordered and posted, though some sites may accept a digital copy of the card which can be obtained after purchase.
Our motorhome is 3.2m tall so we had to watch out for balconies that stick out over the road, especially when driving through small villages. Also be careful of the olive trees on the side of the road; there are often thick branches hidden right behind the leaves which ‘screech’ down the side of the motorhome when you move over to let another car pass.
Food: Greek food was a highlight of our trip and we ate out much more than usual – luckily prices were relatively affordable. Some of our favourites were from restaurants which allowed us to stay the night after having a meal. We also enjoyed the bakeries – savoury pastries filled with spinach or other greens or cheese made an excellent breakfast or lunch.
Groceries: We shopped at Lidl and other large supermarkets such as AB Vassilopoulos. Some of our staples were halloumi cheese, other Greek cheeses such as truffle goat cheese, hummus, beet and yogurt dip, Greek yogurt, and honey.
Water: Water is widely available at no cost; we found all of it to be drinkable.
Dumping: We were told about a few options: bring an extra cassette, pay a fee to empty at campsites, ask at petrol stations if you can dump into their toilets, or dump into public toilets on toll roads (we heard mixed advice on whether toilet chemicals are OK for septic systems). We found finding dumping options somewhat more challenging than in other countries but manageable without staying on campsites (we had a single cassette but moved most days – sometimes specifically in order to find a dumping option). Grey water emptying facilities are also not common so grey water is often emptied into drains or slowly onto the ground so it dries – but be careful not to empty where any grease or soap in the grey water could damage the environment or create a hazard.
Diesel and LPG: We found them to be available as needed.
Public bathrooms: Available on toll roads. Cafes are also inexpensive and nice to visit.
Laundry: We used laundromats from Park4Night – some were coin operated and others required that we drop off our clothes – sometimes for 24 hrs. While we found enough availability of laundromats, for convenience we recommend bringing some extra clothes or quick-dry items.
Historic sites: We visited from 6 pm-8 pm when the sites were cooler and not as busy. In April and May, we often had them to ourselves. See our upcoming itinerary post for favourites.
Internet: Our data SIM from Tiekom worked throughout Greece. It provides 300GB per month; meaning we have to worry about running out of mobile data. This MotorhomeFun thread contains all the details as well as reviews from other motorhomers.
Educational Materials: Amelia listened to the wonderful National Geographic Kids Podcast series “Greeking Out” as well as enjoying the “Wings of Olympus” series (by the author of some of her other favourite series – Heartwood Hotel and Magical Animal Adoption Agency). She also took an Outschool class on Greek mythology, calling in from the foothills of Mount Olympus, and watched videos such as this one available from TedEd.
Our favourites in Greece: Greek Orthodox easter with new friends, running on the track at ancient Olympia, singing at Epidaurus, incredible food, beautiful scenery, great wild camping, and meeting with roadschooling, worldschooling, and other families.
This is a compilation of other blog posts (see here and here) that focuses on the day-to-day practicalities of travelling in France.
Where we stayed:
France-Passion: We stayed primarily at France-Passion sites – over 2,000 farms, vineyards, etc. that allow you to park for free in exchange for looking at their products if they have anything for sale – there is no obligation but we never walked away empty-handed. We bought red, white, and rose wine, champagne, grape and apple juice, goat cheese, pasta, gingerbread, jam, eggs, and vegetables. All the sites we tried were open and welcoming: www.france-passion.com. An annual subscription is approximately €30.
Aires:These are free or paid parking areas provided by the towns and cities. They often include wastewater dumping, blackwater dumping, paid electricity, freshwater, and sometimes bathrooms. We found them through the Park4Night app (can be used offline after subscribing and downloading a regional map). All of the aires we visited were open for parking, but a few had services shut off for the winter, especially high in the French Alps. We did not stay at motorway aires; they are not generally recommended for staying the night but do have services (gasoline/petrol/diesel, blackwater dumping, picnic tables, restaurants, etc.).
Wild Camping:Wild camping is legal in France (with some conditions and limitations) but with a big motorhome and a small child we didn’t want to risk having to move in the night, so we were cautious in selecting a spot. One of our favourite sites was a quiet stretch of road on the banks of the Rhine, where we wild camped for two nights at what was originally planned to be a lunch spot; it looked like it would be OK to stay and we confirmed on Park4Night that other people had stayed without any problems).
Campsites:These range from 1-4 stars depending on the facilities available and can also be found on Park4night. We stayed in a few campsites at the beginning of our trip and then stopped using them when we had figured other solutions for internet, laundry, and dumping waste. Many campsites close for winter.
Water and electricity are available on some France-Passion sites (indicated in the guidebook). Otherwise we used Park4Night to find aires – often stopping en route to a France-Passion site rather than staying the night if they had paid parking or were busy.
Our most essential navigation tip for motorhomes is to set your GPS for the size of your vehicle – so you are not directed toward low tunnels, weak bridges, or very narrow village roads. Unfortunately, this is not possible in Google Maps. Our inbuilt motorhome GPS had this feature and when it stopped working during the trip we switched to the CoPilot app. The app works offline on a cell phone and we found it mostly reliable though it has directed us toward a few small streets; if something doesn’t look right, we did not follow it. We saw fewer problems when we used the ‘easiest route’ rather than the ‘fastest route’ setting. We used Google Maps to find bakeries, grocery stores, etc. and downloaded offline maps of each region so we could use it without an internet connection. Tip: If the search results appear limited, search for the foreign language word, such as boulangerie instead of bakery.
Priorité à droite: The French highway code states that when two drivers approach an intersection from different roads, the driver on the left is required to yield unless directed otherwise by signage. This means that a driver pulling onto a road from the right could have right-of-way. In practice, there seem to be signs overruling priorité à droite almost everywhere – but we have seen some villages where it is in place. This article from The Local explains it quite well.
Tolls (Péage):It has always been possible for us to pay tolls by credit card however tolls, in general, can be expensive – one 7km tunnel cost us 17 euros! (as the toll is based on the size of the vehicle). We mostly set our GPS to avoid toll roads and we have seen some beautiful country and villages (and also some terrifying narrow village streets and one-lane roads).
Large chain grocery stores (such as Intermarché, Carrefour, SuperU and E.Leclerc) tend to be located on the outskirts of towns and cities and have parking lots large enough for our motorhome. We have found most of the staples we need (sometimes only after googling “what is X called in France” or “where can I buy X in France” (e.g. baking powder is called levure chimique or levure alsacienne, peanut butter is usually in the organic (bio) aisle). The stores often have a petrol station.
We learned that if you are looking high-quality products in super- or hyper-markets it helps to look for the AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) or the old AOC (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) label – this is a protection for products produced in specific regions using traditional methods. We also picked up lots of delicious cheeses which were marked down to two euros because they were nearing their expiration
The best food we bought came from France-Passion sites, specialty stores (e.g. bread – boulangerie, pastries – patisserie, cheese – fromagerie, goat cheese – chèvrerie, etc.), and local markets. Market days can be searched for on this site (select “chercher un marché” (search for a market) “autour de moi” (around me).
Picard is a French chain that offers good quality frozen food. We would plan to buy a couple of items and end up with a bag full of frozen goodies, including salmon, international foods such as falafels, and surprisingly good French favourites such as gougères (pastry puffs). Amelia loved the strawberry banana popsicles.
Laundry: We have some heavy clothes like jeans that take too long to air dry. We struggled to find places with washers and dryers other than campsites until we noticed the washers and dryers which are available in the parking lots of many grocery stores. These can be found on this website (search “a proximite” – nearby – and be sure to find a “laverie” – not a photobooth).
Homewares: Grocery stores have some housewares and we also visited Ikea when stocking our motorhome.
Clothing/Outdoors: Decathlon was a useful stop for hiking boots and warm clothes.
Money: We make all of our payments using a Revolut card. Revolt is an online bank and will do currency conversions at the Interbank rate. You also get a virtual card (that you can link to Google Pay or your Apple Wallet) for free that can be used for online shopping. You can fund your Revolt account by charging your current credit or debit card.
LPG: Our heater and stove run on LPG gas (called GPL in France). We also used gas designated as GPLc with no problems. Sites supplying LPG can be found on: www.mylpg.eu
Internet: We purchased a sim card from a provider called Free and use it in a mifi device (which provides wifi for our motorhome). For €20 per month, the Free sim gives us 210 GB per month in France (and 25 GB per month while roaming). We purchased the sim from a kiosk (bourne) inside a tobacconist shop. You will need to put an address in France. From what we understand, there is no contract but we have not yet cancelled. Update April 2022: We found that the 25 GB per month outside of France was not sufficient and so have switched to Tiekom.com based in Spain. They offer 300 GB per month for a monthly €40. We have encountered no issues. We learnt about it here and Camino was very helpful. You have to have the SIM card mailed to you and the package must be signed for.
Translations: We use Google Translate and downloaded the French dictionary so we can use it offline. The camera mode (point it at text to translate) has also been very helpful. If you are connected to the internet, Google Translate can perform a real-time voice/dictation translation. Update May 2021: DeepL – is much better at high quality translations
Covid: We used https://reopen.europa.eu/ for information on requirements for crossing borders and this site to search for places offering covid tests in France (in case we needed to get tested before crossing a border). We use The Local for French news in English.
Attractions: We visited many farms and vineyards via France-Passion and we also enjoyed visiting some of the villages designated as the most beautiful villages in France (“Les Plus Beaux Villages de France”). They might be crowded during the summer; during the off-season they have been perfect. We have also – by chance – found ourselves following some driving routes such as the “Route du Grande Alpes” – there are many of these routes promoted by local tourist offices. Information on walking/hiking paths can be found on www.sentiers-en-france.eu.
Because of the uncertainty of travel during COVID-19, we did very little itinerary planning before we arrived in Norway. We were lucky to find some extremely helpful and comprehensive motorhome blogs to help us get up to speed…e.g.
AutoPASS: be sure to order an electronic tag for both AutoPass and AutoPASS Ferry when you are starting to plan your trip so that you can have the tag mailed to you. If this isn’t possible, you can still register online: normally, you will still benefit from the AutoPASS discount when your license plate is scanned.
When to visit: we arrived at the middle of July and left at the middle of September – perfect for outside activities, hiking and picking berries. We felt lucky to stay for the beginning of autumn: attractions were quieter in late August (after Norwegian schools re-opened) and in September, trees were turning orange and red near Flåm. Spring would be an interesting time to visit to see rushing waterfalls, the last of the snow, and the arrival of thousands of puffins, though road conditions and hikes could be more challenging. In winter, there are opportunities for skiing, visiting ice caves, and seeing the northern lights.
Tourist Offices: we found excellent informational materials (including a booklet/magazine for each region) in the various tourism offices along our route. A number of the offices offered free Wi-Fi.
Scenic routes: early in our trip, we picked up a booklet on the stunning Norwegian Scenic Routes. We then prioritized these drives and travelled 14 of the 18 routes: see our itinerary posts above. The scenery is literally jaw-dropping while driving and we snapped hundreds of pictures out the window but you cannot truly appreciate the scale, the colours, and the sensations until you are outside your vehicle. We recommended getting out as often as possible, whether it is to hike or just to stand by the road soaking in the smell of salt or seaweed from the fjords, the sound of bells on wandering sheep, the colour of the fjords or the size of the mountains.
Groceries: we brought a lot of food with us that we had purchased at a discount store in Germany and found that we were able to buy anything else we needed in Norwegian groceries stores ( for a description of the various stores see this post from Life in Norway). Generally we shopped at Coop (in their larger “Extra” or “Mega” stores) or Kiwi. Bunnpris and REMA 1000 are discount stores but we didn’t always find the prices low enough to justify the more limited selection.
Food: popular snack foods include hotdogs, svele pancakes (folded in half to make a sandwich with brown cheese and butter or butter and sugar; often served on ferries), waffles, and tacos (a Friday-night favourite; we love tacos and we were happy to be able to buy taco ingredients – though only ‘Old El Paso’ style brands). In addition, we also enjoyed eating salmon and wild berries, and apples and plums from the many orchards on the side of the fjords. We snacked on spring rolls and churros while exploring Trondheim but otherwise we didn’t eat out in Norway.
Where to stay: we found this link to be a helpful summary of rules for parking (vs camping) in Norway. We used Park4Night and spent most of our nights wild camping. It is also possible to find your own sites. Marinas are also a good option for paid sites with facilities; many campsites seemed crowded and expensive but we enjoyed staying at Oldevatn Camping which offered free boats to explore a glacial lake.
Diesel prices: Diesel pricing baffled us (and a lot of other motorhomers too). We drove past one station in the morning and the price was NOK14.49/litre and when we drove past again after lunch it was NOK17.49/litre (50 litres would be €15 more expensive!) From what we could gather, diesel prices are generally cheapest on Sundays and first thing on Monday mornings.
Propane: It is true that LPG/GPL is not as widely available as in countries such as France but we found that we would drive past a pump twice a week. We would fill up when we could instead of when we needed to. It also appeared that filling ‘foreign’ gas bottles was possible. Both Park4Night and MyLPG helped us find filling stations.
Dumping/water etc: there are many options on Park4Night.
Laundry: we only found laundry facilities at campsites and marinas. Some will let you use the facilities without an overnight stay.
KID bank account: There were 2 occasions when we needed to make a wire transfer (to pay AutoPASS until we changed to charging a credit card and to pay a parking ticket). Both times the SWIFT payment/wire failed. It appears that this happened because a KID (“kundeidentifikasjon” or customer identification) is needed. You need to request the details of the bank account for non-KID payments.
Internet: Norway has excellent cell phone coverage so it is easiest to use data rather than depending on campsite Wi-Fi (often poor signal strength) or free Wi-Fi. If you are looking for free Wi-Fi, grocery stores, gas stations, and tourist offices seemed to be the best places to check.
Public bathrooms: abundant and very clean. Many had stunning views or were uniquely designed.
Swimming pools: due to cool weather when we visited, the warm indoor public swimming pools were a highlight for our daughter. She loved them so much that we visited about one pool per week. Depending on the size of the facility, they may have waterslides, diving boards, climbing walls, and even whirlpools and wave pools. These are public pools not luxury spas, but for adults, there may be designated lanes for lap swimming, jacuzzis, steam rooms, and saunas. Two favourites: Lustrabadet and Atlanterhaven but the smaller pools (in nearly every large town) are also fun and generally less expensive.
Hiking: we did some amazing hiking in Norway, including the extremely popular hikes of Preikestolen/Pulpit Rock and Reinebringen. If you search for “hikes in Norway” you will see many challenging 10 to 12 hour hikes but during our trip we naturally came across many easier family-friendly opportunities e.g. a short walks to Briksdalsbreen Glacier and Torghatten.
Our favourites in Norway:
First of all, the incredible scenery. The fjord region was how we imagined Norway – but more spectacular – and we were surprised by the variety of the landscapes even within this region. The inner fjords, far from the sea, are classic ‘fjordland’ with dramatic views around every bend in the road. We especially loved seeing the different coloured water – ranging from ice-blue glacier melt to dark black reflecting the autumn leaves. The outer fjords, near the ocean, are lower – but they have incredible sea cliffs (such as Hornalen) and bird islands (such as Runde). The “top” Norway places truly are stunning: Preikestolen, Lofoten islands, Geiranger fjord, Trollstigen, and Flåm scenic lookout. We were lucky to see them in an unusual year when they were not too busy. Otherwise, they would be best off season or there are many other uncrowded and spectacular areas to explore. Some of our other favourites: amazing wild camping; hiking – particularly Reinebringen; picking wild blueberries and raspberries in the forests and along the edges of the fjords; glacial rivers and lakes; fjord horses; wild reindeer near the Arctic Circle Centre; drinks on a floating dock in Trondheim; and swimming in the fjords, including a “polar plunge” in the Arctic Circle.
And Amelia loved the swimming pools and making friends with other children at wild camps and campsites.
We couldn’t possibly recommend a Norway road-trip more highly.