This weeks inspiration comes from Russ & Maria, who travel in their camper as well as a bit of posh back packing!. Russ & Marie are full of life and their passion & enthusiasm for travel is just contagious. If you could bottle it and sell it, they would make a fortune!
1. Tell us a little about yourself, like what is your name and where do you come from.
Hi, we’re Russ and Marie Humphreys. We live in a small village called Trefonen on the Shropshire/Wales border. Part time we also live on the Llyn Peninsula. Once we get our act together we’ll move to the Llyn peninsula. That involves finishing and selling our converted Chapel in Trefonen, demolishing and rebuilding part of our house on the Llyn peninsula. So maybe 2018 or maybe not. We could well be somewhere else in the camper😀
2. What sort of camper traveller are you? Full time / part time / short breaks / long stay
We’re complete newbies to this so it’s probably a little difficult to decide. We’ve literally taken the camper to Devon for 4 days to check out if everything worked and then a 3 month trip through Europe. So I guess part time would best describe how we intend to travel, anywhere from 1 to 6 months in Europe, North and South Africa and maybe even ship it over to America. It’s fair to say that its addictive!
3. When did you first start with your camper travels and what inspired you to start?
If you check out our (amateurish) blog you’ll see that it’s called White Van Plan. The “Plan” isn’t based on the van as such, more a change in life style. Inspired by? Well in some respects we were both forced into a radical rethink due to us both ending up in jobs we’d come to dislike or even hate, working for either sociopaths or idiots so ok inspired may not be the original reason but it’s certainly been inspiring since we handed in our notices😀 as the saying goes life really is too short.
Of course we were new to this so it may have been a one off trip but, as above, it really is addictive! It was difficult to settle when we arrived home from our Europe Trip we were immediately planning the next trip, bigger, further, longer.
So our first trip was through France, Italy, Corfu, Greek mainland (Peloponnese mostly) Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia. Around 6,800 miles in 2016. And we survived! Only a few days in silence, a few sulks from Russ, a few navigation “issues”, stopped by the Police in Albania 3 times with zero fines and no divorce😂
4. Tell us about your current camper like make, model, name, age and why you chose it?
It’s a Mercedes Sprinter 4×4. For the petrol heads it’s a 3.0 V6 diesel. Around 217bhp and 493ft lb’s torque (which is nice) the engine has been re mapped to allow use of higher sulphur and or poor quality diesel which we’ll find in some parts of Africa. It’s a little thirsty but taking it easy it will average 26mpg.
It’s part time 4 wheel drive but you can leave it in 4 wheel drive full time in which case it has a torque split 35:65 front to rear.
It’s not a hard core off road vehicle but is rugged enough to take us off the beaten track and to deal with non tarmac African roads or short sections of no road. It’s 120mm higher than a standard Sprinter. Other than that it drives like a normal Sprinter and is compact enough to fit in most places a large car or 4×4 would go apart from the height.
Russ completed the conversion so it suits our needs. A permanent king size bed, small shower / toilet cubical, plus external shower. A small kitchen unit and a compressor fridge for the beer and wine. What more do you need😀 It’s not designed for indoor living but did cope fine with -10 Celsius in the Italian Alps. It was close to being perfect but over the winter we’ll complete a few modifications. Extra ventilation with a powered Fiamma roof vent, additional solar power along with a more efficient solar controller. We’re still struggling to find a decent bike carrier solution. The usual Fiamma, Thule etc. offerings are just too flimsy. It maybe a custom fabrication or a scooter rack mounted on a tow bar.
5. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?
Navarino bay on the Peloponnese. When we arrived the guy on reception asked how long we intended to stay. Answer was 1 maybe 2 nights, we stopped for 14 or so, we’re definitely planning on a return trip. Not just to Navarino bay but to explore the rest of the Peloponnese. It’s as we remember the Greek Islands from 20 or 30 years ago. We love it, easily the best place we visited. A very camper friendly area, at least out of season. It probably gets extremely busy through peak Greek or German holiday periods. Although we drove through Albania, Montenegro and Croatia the ferry from Northern Italy to Greece makes it reasonably easy to access form the UK.
6. Where is the worst place you have ever been and why?
Easy. Naples. Never, ever again. Retarded drivers, arrogant pedestrians who deliberately walk out in front of you, human crap piled in every available space along the road, prostitutes, drug addicts, roads that haven’t been maintained since mount vesuvius last erupted, rip off merchant’s just waiting to scam you, I could go on some more but you get the picture.
7. What 3 places are on your bucket / wish list?
Morocco, spring 2017. We’ve been before in our Mercedes G Wagen, the desert is captivating. The North and the Atlantic coast is nothing to write home about but further south and the Atlas Mountain’s are stunning. The people get friendlier the further south you go as well. We’ve only scratched the surface though. You could easily spend months there.
South Africa, Botswana, Namibia. We’ll hopefully ship the van there in 2018.
Back to the Peloponnese😀
8. What things (apart from the obvious) do you always travel with?
We travel light, given what the Sprinter is intended for weight is a killer so this is a tricky one.
A cadac grill / bbq. No matter where we went, if we cooked it was better than any restaurant/taverna.
Baby wipes. Self explanatory.
A fishing rod. Never caught a thing, but Russ has this mental image of parking up next to a lake or stream in the wilderness and catching dinner. We all need our dreams😀
9. If you could share one handy camper hint or tip, what would it be?
Maybe we’re the wrong ones to ask, one real trip completed! But anyway, never believe sat nav times or routes. Don’t believe you can do northern Italy to Calais in one go! Your mind starts to play tricks on you once you pass a certain point. Pretty dangerous.
Ventilation is more important than heat.
10. Any finally, whats your funniest camper moment?
We promised to never ever mention this incident, but ah well.
We pulled into a car park in Vieste, south east Italy. A beautiful area and a sleepy innocent looking town.
A helpful car park “attendant” directed us into a suitable parking space. We get out and he strikes up a reasonable conversation in pretty good English. We get to how much? He says 6€, not the 10€ he would charge if we were German, oh how we laughed. So I hand over 20€, he says he’ll go and get some change. We watch as our 20€ metaphorically speaking skips/shuffles over the horizon.
Ah the seasoned traveller’s😂
The clues were there. Track suit, trainers, dodgy teeth, the shuffling walk…….
If you would like to check out Russ & Marie’s White Van Plan then click on over!
Thanks folks for the interview, hopefully it helps pass the 11 hour train journey through rain and mist! BTW looking forward to some photo’s from your Asia trip x
If you would like to join in the fun then drop is an email at email@example.com