Holy cow. Since we had kids, these last few years have gone by FAST.

And slowly. Painfully slowly at times. It’s said that when you have children, the days can drag on but the years fly by. So true!

If you have children, I know you can relate.

But sandwiched between the routine of rushing them out the door for school, long hours at work, moaning about homework and struggling them into bed in each evening are moments of fun, joy, completely unscheduled time to just hang out and have a great time together.

What, there are? When are those moments?

When you’re on vacation.

Oh, yeah. That’s good quality time.

But for some of us that’s only two weeks per year. Two weeks out of 52. The only time we get to put the pressures of life aside and really be relaxed and present with our family is a mere 3.84 percent of the year.

Actually, 2.56 percent, if you take sleeping into account.

Do you want more vacation and less coming home just before the kids go to bed? At least, while they’re still young enough to want to hang out with you?

Us too. So we’re taking a year off to spend time with our kids.

The natural first question: how’d we afford take a year-long break? Nope, no trust fund. We cover how we funded our year off in these posts:

– The Best Vacation Savings Account for Our Year of Family Travel

– Saving Up Money for Travel – 57 Easy Ways To Cut Costs

– Is Selling on Etsy Worth It? How I Helped Fund our Family Sabbatical by Selling Vintage Craft Supplies

Our Family Sabbatical

We’re shipping a small motorhome from Canada to Europe and plan to spend the year toodling around looking at castles and vineyards and museums and playing and eating good food and drinking local craft beer.

A white Class C RV
Harvey. He’s a 2002 Class C RV, 26 feet (8 m) long.

We hope to sleep in parking lots (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say), people’s driveways, and assorted municipally-owned free camping spots, and to spend our days touring quaint villages on our bicycles or watching our kids play on the beach.

While the idea of campervanning around Europe is nothing new, what I couldn’t find online (or anywhere else) was much information about how to take a motorhome from North America to Europe for an extended trip.

That might be because it’s a terrible idea. We don’t know! Either way, we’ll tell you. How we did it, how it went, how much it cost, and whether or not it was a stupid idea from the get-go.

I hope you find one of our posts to be helpful or inspiring, and that you’ll follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest! Our research, destination-related posts and trip updates will be here, but our day-to-day adventures are better seen on social media.

Our backstory

Wandering Family Man and I were fun before we had kids. Or at least that’s what we tell one another whenever we turn down an invitation to something because it starts after 9 pm.

When Wandering Family Man and I met I had already traveled to 20 different countries. I’d lived in four different Canadian provinces as well as in Connecticut. I’d attended five universities and switched careers twice.

(Okay, that might not sound fun to you, but I loved it!)

For his part, Wandering Family Man was in a band that regularly stuffed itself into a rented van to play gigs across Canada and Europe. When he wasn’t playing trumpet and ukulele banjo he was hard at work as a freelance web developer or taking something apart with intentions of putting it back together.

We met, fell in love, and so as you do we got full-time jobs in a city, bought a house and had a baby. And then, just to make absolutely sure we had no remaining time and energy to be fun, we had a second one.

For the past five years, excitement in our lives has meant finding a good kids-eat-free restaurant or having the water main under our house burst. 

Perhaps, like us, you’ve locked into a job, a house, and a daily routine that consists of yelling to get the kids out the door on time for school, working all day at a job you may or may not enjoy, struggling to get the littles to and from piano/practice/whatever, putting together some sort of supper and wrangling the kids into bed…so that you can drop into bed exhausted and frustrated.

Picture of a person sleeping under the covers in bed with only one arm out

Family living is both amazing and really hard. But in my view it’s not hard because kids. It’s hard because full-time work doesn’t jive with raising kids.

We realized this pretty quickly after having Wandering Family Boy. But our realization didn’t mean things stopped costing money. Most people have to work. So do we.

We can’t retire, but that doesn’t mean we can’t save up and carve out just a little block of dedicated time to spend together.

For us, it’s a year. We’re know we’re really fortunate. But even a month, two months, six months would be a gift. A month to just relax and look at your kid and your life and re-realize how great they are.

We started saving for a family sabbatical. We figured that a good time for a family gap year would be when Wandering Family Boy is seven. That gave us five years to save and plan.

In the interim we welcomed Wandering Family Girl into our family. Where Wandering Family Boy is our chill, smiley jokester, Wandering Family Girl is our adorable Evel Keinevel, only happy if she’s throwing herself off of something at height.

Through these last five years of parenting, Wandering Family Man switching to freelance work, me nearly burning out at work, and waiting for the last season of Game of Thrones to finally start, we kept socking our “Big Trip” savings away. Now we’re ecstatic to say…

Our family gap year starts in June, 2019!

and also

Look Mom! I’m actually executing a five-year plan!

We bought a small, old RV, named it Harvey, and put solar panels on him. We’ve booked him a boat ticket to Europe. The tenants have just moved into our house.  I’ve given notice at work. Wandering Family boy is seven, and Wandering Family Girl is just about to turn two.

About this blog

I love blogs. I find other people’s accounts of unusual things they’ve done to be really helpful and inspiring.

We got the idea to take a year off from a blog. We got ideas about what to do with our year off from blogs.

We’re writing our blog for two main reasons. The first is to help others by adding to the scant online resources about a) how to take a motorhome to Europe and b) family-friendly destinations in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

The second is to make sure that we chronicle our experience so that we can point our children to it whenever they complain in future that we suck as parents and don’t do anything for them.

(Without public accountability, I’m an inconsistent journal-keeper at best, and Wandering Family Man only writes in html and other languages I don’t understand. Hopefully this blog is the solution to our deficiencies! At least, those ones.)

We hope you find our musings helpful, or inspiring, or just enjoyable to read, and are so delighted that you found us. If you’d like to receive notifications of new posts as we publish them, please sign up for our email newsletter. We send one about every three weeks and in addition to links to our new posts we try to add some fun things like travel-related giveaways from around the web and stories we don’t publish anywhere else.