So far, it hasnt been a breeze. Not by any stretch of the imagination. We’ve had an absolute blast for a few hours each day. The rest has been pretty hard work. In all honesty, and I like to be honest with you especially if you are considering a similar trip in a motorhome, it isn’t the easiest choice.
At the same time as visiting new places, experiencing new sights and taking pretty pictures, we are also living a completely opposite life to what we were just a few weeks ago. We are living in a 6.25 metre long motorhome, with a bathroom you can barely turn around in and a bed that takes at least 15 minutes to put together or take down, twice a day. Add to that a crawling, inquisitive one year old who just wants attention and food 24/7.
We’ve certainly learnt the art of patience. We’ve learnt to listen to each other, respect each others way of doing things, and have especially learnt that nothing happens quickly when there are three of you to get out the motorhome. This also generally leads to not leaving the motorhome park until around 10.30am to drive for an hour and half to the next town and have lunch. We eventually get out to explore around 2pm, which then proves difficult as Spain has this wonderful afternoon chill period called a siesta between 2 and 5 so nothing is actually open when we reach the town! Again, all a learning curve! Note to self: We must get out of bed earlier and complete the morning routine faster! If we leave by 9am, we may actually get to see inside a palace or two!
In all seriousness, and even though we’ve had a few OMG times, it’s a true blessing to spend everyday together. Waking up without an alarm, snuggled up to our little boy, beautiful vistas out of the window and no solid plans for the day ahead, you just have the knowledge that you’ll do something cool together as a family.
So top lessons we have learnt so far and would love to pass on:
1. Snacks – Sugar works as a temporary respite. Ensure you have enough snacks. Oranges, bananas, strawberries or just general crap like bourbons and puffs. When you are on a journey of 1 hour +, you will need them to keep your baby from going mad. We are on the road as we speak and he’s already had an orange, half a banana, cheesy puffs, a baby wafer thingy, oh and a bourbon. Oh my, just writing that down sounds a lot. I’m now thinking I am a bad mum…oh well, it’s kept him happy so that’s got to be a good thing! Yes, surely I am good mum, not bad mum.
2. Get a routine – The first 2 days were a nightmare. We hadn’t slept in the van before so had no idea how everything worked. Yes, we left the UK with no idea how to empty your waste, fill up your water tank and generally anything motorhome logistics/need to survive related. We decided we needed a routine so we could complete normal day to day tasks quicker and without a row. So now, in the mornings we have a set routine. I take Ethan out of bed and put him in a highchair (number 7 of lessons learnt) and make breakfast for us all. I do all of this whilst Terry packs the bed and front blinds away, de-condensates the van and does a morning security check. Then we take showers and get Ethan ready. Boom ready for the day! Pretty much same routine but the other way around for dinner.
3. Go slowly – Don’t plan anything before 10am and only one thing a day. We recommend planning one activity/city visit in each day and aim to drive no more than 2 hours (timing this with a nap too). You are on a holiday remember so this is the time you are suppose to take things at a slow pace, so embrace it. Babies are better when they are rested, they are hard work when they are tired and had too much stimulation!
4. Motorhome – Now, the list can go on and on for things we have learnt already from living in the motorhome, I feel it needs its own blog. However, for the sake of the top lessons, our top lesson is to ensure you have enough water in the tank. Don’t get left with shampoo in your hair, with a towel around you shivering whilst you work out where the heck to find water to finish your shower. It’s not fun being washed down with a bucket of cold water you just had to spend 3 euros on in the local shop. The other top lesson we learnt is to not fill your tank up over a drain. Yes, a drain as that’s where motorhomers dump their waste so the likelihood is that they also clean their dump containers from that tap. Yuk.
5. Shopping – No need to fully fill your cupboards before you leave the UK. Spain has everything you need including baby milk and nappies. They even have Aldis and Lidls. We bought far too much food with us causing hefty cupboards and some fresh food waste. Need to drive lightly too as will use less fuel for this reason.
6. Clothes – Pack what you want to take and then half it. We brought far too many clothes as we just weren’t sure how the weather was going to be and prepared for hot and cold. However the more clothes you bring, the more items you have to shove somewhere in the motorhome. Plus its tiring and usually frustrating getting them in and out of the cupboards each day. If you add up all the time it takes to do so, that will probably be a lot of time! If you are putting your clothes in the main cupboard, consider getting some (plastic) Ikea drawers, or similar, as it will work out much easier to get to your clothes everyday. We are now on the hunt for an Ikea!
7. Baby stuff – If you can fit it in, bring a highchair. This not only helps with dinner time but also playtime when you need them off the floor. I got mine from Ikea (i’m not being sponsored, promise!) and its great as it comes apart so much easier for storing away in the day. If you can fit in a travel cot, I’d recommend this too. It teams up as an outside nap cot and also a great place for them to play in securely.
8. Overnight stays – Free parking for you and your motorhome is available in most places. We haven’t paid for a campsite yet. Use the Aires books, plus great sites such as searchforsites and wildcamping are brill for helping out. I will also compile a list of the sites we found.
9. Movies – I always said that I didn’t want a TV in the motorhome and that this trip was a time for reading and getting away from trash TV, but if you are into TV, have one or at least a tablet. The evenings start quite early with a baby on board so it’s dark and whispers from around 7pm for us. By the end of the day we’re actually pretty knackered so that’s a great time to get a movie on and relax. Also, they are great for the babies. We’ve had noddy and postman pat on repeat in the mornings whilst we buzz around getting sorted for the day. He just loves it and really helps to distract (and educate as you can tell by his choice of news!)!
10. Don’t bring a hula hoop – Yes, my great idea to do exercise and learn a new skill on the road backfired. It’s too bloody big to fit anywhere and just gets in the way. Consider your extra curricular activities before setting off!
So there we have it, our top 10 lessons learnt from week one! It’s been a great week of sightseeing from playing on the beach to crawling in snow, and seeing some of the most incredible vistas Spain has to offer. It’s exciting that motorhome life is slowly falling into place and its getting much easier now a routine is in place and we are more organised. Its so rewarding spending all day everyday with our little boy and watch him grow by the minute. He’s now pointing at everything (mostly food), and will not stay in your arms as you walk through the local shop (such a wriggler), but hey that’s our Ethan for you, and these are the lessons we have learnt. Hasta pronto todos! Until next time!