**All text and photos are provided by Jenny Billett**
Our adventure, code named Jexit, started in March of 2018.
The planning, of course, started well before that. Jase and I have always loved traveling. In addition to some long haul trips, we have spent our 20+ years together camper vanning around both the UK and Europe in Volkswagens. Firstly a lovely (albeit money pit) of a type 2 Bay, and now in a Westfalia California Exclusive (T4). So, way back in 2015 or so, we started saving like mad in order to pay off debts, quit both jobs and head off on an 18 month trip around whatever Europe could offer.
We had savings (around £18,000) and the house rented out. With our lives packed up into various family loft spaces, we hit the road. Of course, it was sad to say all those farewells, but at the same time, we were both bubbling with excitement and for our life on the road to begin.
Before leaving, Jase had made several key improvements to the van. This included installing a solar panel, hot water system complete with shower plus an LPG tank. These would make our “off grid” experience much easier.
The first part of Jexit (March – December 2018) was spent following many of the classic cycling events in northern France and Belgium.
From there we headed into Luxembourg, more of Belgium, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland covering 16,000 kms and spending over 300 nights in the van. Our places to stay covered everything from campsites, through free and pay Aires, plus the more remote spots. We had a short break back in the UK over Christmas and now we find ourselves in Spain, down to the final 6 months.
There have been many amazing experiences along the way.
I think being on the road long-term takes away some of the pressures of the “two-week break” and allows you to try different things. If they don’t work, you simply move on. Our highlights include a week a the Le Mans 24 hour motor race, attending a local bread festival in the Ardeches, a great couple of weeks following the Tour de France, and various places to indulge a new passion for bird watching. but over and above that, it’s been the places we’ve stayed. On top of mountain passes, having a glacier, river or mountain as your back garden. Being self-sufficient in the van allows you the freedom to explore it all.
The lessons along the way haven’t always been easy!
I’ve realized that weather really can drag you down! Also, make sure you sort out that annoying cupboard, or rattling plate. If you really love your cuppa from your “special” mug, take it. It’s home from home after all, and you pretty soon realize, it’s all you’ve got!
Looking to the future, and the inevitable Brexit looms large on our horizon. Although I’m writing this in early March 2019, we still don’t know what it will mean for us or the lifestyle we’ve chosen. I know that for now at least, I am so grateful we headed off when we did.