In a world where we are used to being constantly connected how do we cope whilst travelling. After 18 months touring Europe in our motorhome, we’ve had plenty of experience of living off grid whilst wild camping and still wanting to be connected, so here’s our hints and tips, but of course we’d also like to hear yours.
WI-FI & MOBILE
Being connected is so important to people now, in the world of electronic communication senders of e mails think there is something wrong if they don’t have an answer within 24 hours. With a portfolio of rental properties and lots of family and friends back home that we no longer get to see every week staying in touch is really important.
When we embarked on our travels in January 2016 there were still roaming charges on mobile phone tarifs across Europe, however after some research we opted for a package from Carphone warehouse their ID Mobile takeaway plan. The plan allowed to use our UK minutes, texts and data without additional charges in Europe, so when I phoned my Mum for our weekly natter it didn’t cost me anything. We already had a phone so just signed up for a sim only package. Our package costs us £25 a month, but this gives us 10gb of data, 2000 minutes and 5000 texts. We share this across devices by using the hotspot on the phone. This means we only pay for one phone and data package. Paul has a pay as you go sim in his phone just so that its active, he doesn’t ever top it up. Although since June this year all mobile companies have had to abolish roaming charges in Europe some of them do not allow you to hotspot (share data) to other devices in Europe so check before you travel. The ID Mobile plan now includes 52 Countries here’s a link which tells you more https://www.idmobile.co.uk/takeaway .
Before we commenced our travels we invested in an unlocked mobile wifi unit from motorhome wifi. The devise allows you to buy a local sim in the country you are travelling in and share the data with your devises i.e. phones and laptops. In our 1st year of travels we did this a lot as only had 1gb of data on our phone package, however we increased our package this year to 10gb and so have not needed to use this as well. If you are data hungry though its a good option. https://www.motorhomewifi.com/product/4g-huawei-e5372/
I Boost Wifi Booster:
This devise is designed to boost a wifi signal., so it can be used on your pitch on campsites or when there is wifi nearby from a bar or restaurant. We also purchased this from motorhome wifi and although its a bit of a faff to set up it does work in boosting the signal. We usually only set this up if we are staying somewhere for a few days. It has meant though when others are having to hang around reception on a site where the signal is stronger we are able to get it in our motorhome .https://www.motorhomewifi.com/product/iboost-d8-directional-system/
We found a really useful app called wifi map which allows you to see wifi nearby from restaurants etc and gives you the passwords to log in.
Charging all our electricals
With Kindles, electric bikes, laptop, i pad, phones, rechargeable razors, MP3 player etc all that need charging , life on the road needs some planning. We love to wild camp, but keeping devices charged can be challenging. We have a 150w solar panel and 2 x 110 leisure batteries. We have a couple of 12v sockets in the habitation area and a couple more in the cab which allow us to charge things whilst driving. Paul fitted a 1000 w inverter earlier this year which has made the world of difference as we are now completely self sufficient. The inverter allows us to charge at 230v which means it not only charges quicker than a 12v socket but we can also charge our electric bike batteries (which we couldn’t do before, other than when plugged into ehu). We have plenty of 12v plugs and also invested in a 12v charger for our laptop which works really well (we discovered recently that you can also buy fast charge versions of the 12v plugs so have ordered a couple for next time). Our inverter is not powerful enough for a hairdryer or straigtners though so if this is a must have you will need to do some research and ensure you have one that’s man enough to do the job. Note though that we don’t have a TV so are not draining much power once the sun has gone down. Instead we copied a few hundred films and series onto our hardrive (with the help of a program called handbrake), and so if we want a TV night we just make sure our laptop is charged during the day.
Kindles & Apps
Hindsight is of great benefit and if we were starting our travels tomorrow I would not bother buying any books for campsites or camperstops other than ACSI. There are more than enough apps which give you all the info you need to know and it means you don’t have to lug around a whole load of heavy directories. Next time we travel the books will be staying behind. This is with the exception of our maps which have been invaluable when planning routes. Here’s a link to a previous blog I wrote on how we find places to stop https://followourmotorhome.co.uk/2017/04/13/a-round-up-of-resources-how-we-find-places-to-stay/
We both love to read and really would be seriously overweight in our motorhome if we had to carry all the books we read between us, so instead we both have kindles. There are lots of ways you can get free books (I don’t think we’ve paid for a book for over 12 months). If you join kindle unlimited you can get a 30 day free trial each. We do this periodically, but just make sure you cancel it before the trial ends. We also signed up to Book Bub which has some free book offers and e mails them to you. There are also lots of other sites that offer ways to get free books https://ebookfriendly.com/download-free-kindle-books/
Last year we used our Tom Tom sat nav that we’d bought previously for our car, but after some dicey moments having to reverse in a city in France when it tried to send us under a 2.5 meter underpass and having to do what felt like a 76 point turn on a far too narrow road in Spain we decided to invest in a sat nav that allowed us to enter our vehicle dimensions. We opted for the Aguri, but as they all use a similar mapping system I don’t think it really matters which one you opt for. Having used it for a year we know now not to trust it 100%. Although on the whole its been good, in certain countries (Greece was one) it was hopeless. We have maps as a back up and also use the off line mapping system maps.me which we have on both phones.
We’d love to hear other useful tips and hints so please drop us a line if you have any.