Harvey is a 26 foot Class C American RV, circa 2003. He’s going to be our home for the bulk of our family sabbatical touring Europe in a motorhome, which starts in June of 2019.

The white Class C RV in which we are touring europe

Harvey started his life with a motorhome rental company in Ontario, Canada, and after a number of years of faithful service, he was refurbished and sold to a couple who, we are told, took him on a trip across Canada to see the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and BC. He was then sold to a family for the purpose of taking trips to the US, but upon discovering they couldn’t take their pet macaw across the border, they decided to sell him. To us!

We bought Harvey specifically for our 2019 family gap year in Europe. He’s the smallest pre-owned Class C we could find in our (low) price range that had a permanent bed in the back as well as over the cab. We did not want the hassle of taking apart a bed every morning and setting it up again every night.

Harvey has a small bathroom with a toilet and shower. The main living space has a small washroom sink, a Norcold fridge that can run on electricity or propane, a stove (no oven), a microwave (used for storage), a banquet with table (which is where the kids sit when we’re driving), a small chair, and assorted cabinets.

Although Harvey is small by North American standards, he’s wide and tall compared to European campers. Driving a wide, tall and long American RV on the narrower roads in Europe will be a challenge! To (hopefully) keep us from getting stuck on a too-tight turn in some medieval village somewhere, we’ve equipped Harvey with a Garmin Camper GPS which will route us according to Harvey’s height, width and length.

In Europe we plan to park outside of campgrounds as much as we can, in order to decrease our costs. To prepare Harvey for Europe, we modified him in a few ways.

Modifying an American RV for Use in Europe

We’ve made the following modifications to Harvey:

  • Plugging Harvey into European campground power was going to involve a large and expensive inverter, and most European campgrounds do not offer enough electricity to power Harvey’s microwave and air conditioner in any event. We want to free camp anyway, so we installed solar panels on Harvey’s roof to provide us with off-grid electricity.
  • We added a 12 V outlet beside each bed for Wandering Family Man’s CPAP machine.
  • We installed a Fantastic Fan in the bathroom to provide air flow through the RV while also taking washroom smells out.
  • We plan to handwash our clothes most of the time, so we installed a portable clothesline in the bathroom. The aforementioned Fantastic Fan will help the clothes dry.
  • There aren’t many places in Europe to empty a black water tank (European campers use cassette toilets) so we removed Harvey’s RV toilet and replaced it with a Thetford 365 cassette toilet with a 5.5 gallon waste water tank.
  • We converted a clothes closet to a pantry by installing a DIY shelf and some plastic storage bins.
  • Because we will often have to park on the outskirts of towns due to Harvey’s size, we are bringing our bicycles, a tag along for Wandering Family Boy (7) and a Chariot bike carrier for Wandering Family Girl (2). We removed Harvey’s rear-mounted spare tire so that we can carry the bikes on our Yakima Roadtrip RV bike rack.
A four-bike Yakima brand bike rack affixed to the rear of the RV we are using to motorhome around Europe
We are feeling really lucky that the bike rack extended past the spare tire

We’ll provide regular updates throughout our family gap year as to our choice of RV and our mods. Feel free to ask us any questions by using our contact form below!