Preparing For A Trip Abroad




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With our French trip getting closer every day, the weekend just gone was one where we really needed to step up our preparations. All too often we leave things to the last minute. In all fairness, I’m normally the one thinking “I’ll do it next weekend” well, we’re running out of weekends!  In my head, at least, there are more things to consider if you’re going away for a longer period. Longer than a weekend, longer than 2 weeks.
Obviously, there are some things you can’t do before you leave, hook up the caravan to the tow car for example. I don’t want to spend two weeks towing the caravan around to save myself 30 minutes on the day we leave. However, lots can be done.
Wash the caravan, check the torque on the wheel nuts, check tyre pressures to name just a few.

Jobs, Jobs and More Jobs

Last weekend, there was a lot to be done, so much, I even had a list. Not just caravan related but life in general related. We’ve never been away for a month and although there will be at least one adult child (that’s a “child” that is now an adult, at least age-wise) there are things I needed to do. Cut the grass ? I did cut 95% of the grass and the lawn mower broke. It’s a petrol lawn mower, we’ve had for over 20 years. I’ve been “make do and mending” the damn thing for the past 5 years, it’s too old, parts are getting harder to come by and I just want to cut the grass, I don’t need an engineering challenge every time I use it. This time, I had 5% of the lawn to do, so I made do and mended it again, leaving the side panel off as a belt kept coming loose. I went up and went down the lawn, all good. Then a metal roller, that I’d never seen before rolled from the lawnmower. Confused, I instinctively picked it up. It was red hot. I swore and ran inside the hose to run my thumb and finger under the cold tap and got some ice.

Lawn cutting aside, I then moved on to polishing the caravan, which, although took ages went without incident. Apart from my daughter saying to me, whilst I had a hosepipe in one hand and my caravan brush in the other, “are you washing the caravan Dad?”. The previous day she had also said whilst looking at the lawn, “Oh looks like you missed a bit”. Of course, I had missed a bit, the lawnmower broke. I suggested she might like to go outside with the kitchen scissors and finish it off. She declined.

Back to the caravan. I decided to empty out our lockers, just to see what we had in them. I tend to just collect stuff and every now and then empty everything out. You have to be mindful of the weight you’re lugging around. We are not taking our full awning, so anything to do with that could be taken out. But, you see, you have to be really careful and think ahead, don’t just discard stuff willy-nilly, but at the same time, you don’t want to take stuff for the sake of it.

At this point, I noticed I had something in my locker already that I have just bought and it had arrived a couple of days ago. It’s a European connector that allows you to plug the caravan into a 2 pin socket. Only £8 but even so, I don’t see how I’d use 2. I only bought it as it’s one of those things that enter your head; “If I don’t get this I’m bound to need it and for the sake of £8….”

Throwing Shade On Me

Last year in France we took our Kampa Air Awning, which we ended up using as a sunshade. I took off the front and side panels. This year, we’ve bought a Fiammia Canopy. This has two advantages, firstly it goes on the caravan awning rail, as you travel, so we don’t need to put the awning in the boot giving us more space there. Secondly, it’s easier to put up than an awning and gives us more space on the pitch. We also added a front shade. We’ve not put the canopy on the caravan yet and have never used it, so I’m hoping it works and is easy to put up.

With shade in mind… Now, this might sound a bit paranoid, but we’ve been to the site we’re going to before and there isn’t a lot of shade to speak of. There are some trees, but they tend to be mainly comfier type trees with high branches and cones rather than leaves for shade. Something else we bought this year, I know, the costs add up don’t they, is a Gazebo. (We’ve been purchasing things throughout the year to lessen the fiscal pain) It’s a Quest Screen House 4. Importantly for us, it has mesh for the sides as well as additional zip on sides that protect from the rain, yes, we intend on using it in the UK as well. Our thinking here is that with the canopy and the Gazebo we have enough protection from the Sun (South of France) and the wind/rain (UK) so the best of both worlds. We wouldn’t normally take the full awning for weekends away in the UK so we think this is an ideal alternative set up, of course, only time will tell. I’ll no doubt do a video whilst on holiday showing both of these items in use.

On the subject of videos, if you don’t already subscribe to our YouTube channel, please give it some consideration, we’ll hopefully be uploading whilst we’re in France. We’ve also recently started a newsletter, which I intend updating monthly with our caravan life.
So, as far as preparations go, I still have a list almost as long as my arm, I didn’t get as much done at the weekend as I’d hoped, oh well, next weekend is a bit of an immovable deadline, so I’ll get it done then!

Last Minute Shopping

With everything else that’s going on, I could have done without a trip to the shops. Mandy and the youngest daughter wanted to go clothes shopping. We went because Mandy needs some clothes and I ended up buying 3 pairs of shorts and 2 tee shirts that I didn’t really need. It seems Mandy enjoys shopping for me more than she doesn’t shop for herself. Having said I didn’t really need them, the truth is, I don’t really know what I’ve got and what I haven’t got. I have no idea what clothes go with what clothes. Colour wise if the top and bottom are the same colour I know they match, other than that I’m lost. When trying to select matching clothes to wear, I like to quote the little ditty about Einstein who is said to have had several identical grey suits as he didn’t want to waste brain power on selecting different clothes. 
With not much time left I am running out of time to do everything I need to get done before we go I still have to wash the car, get my hair cut, check the torque on the wheel nuts, check the tyre pressures, get some euros oh and pack some clothes…

What do I do when there’s too much to get done and not enough time to do it? Well, I sit back, panic and write a little blog. There, I should feel better now of course, but the reality is, I now have less time.

The life of a caravaner is not an easy one!

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