OK, I come up with some crazy ideas from time to time, and this one has been wandering around in my head for years now, so I might as well tell y'all about it – goodness knows it's too late to try to persuade the world that I'm a conventional, normal person.
I want to take my Roadtrek RV to Europe and tour the continent, staying as long as possible, then ship it back home.
I have been sending and taking Sharon to Europe as often as possible in our pre-fulltiming days – she went over to visit her friend whose husband was teaching in an American school in Germany way back in the 1990s, and she got the bug. Since then, we took my parents in 2003, went together for a two week driving tour in 2006, and Sharon took her nieces for two weeks in 2009. Sharon says the time for a return visit is way overdue.
The 2003 trip started out as two weeks just for us, but then she invited my parents, and the Female Planning Committee took over. The two weeks turned into a month, and when my father and I had to return to work after two weeks, our bags were out on the curb, and Sharon's friend from Canada, my sisters, and my sister-in-law were flying over – it turned into Girls' Month Out in Paris. Strange things showed up on my credit card statements. If I didn't know better, I'd swear I got beat on that deal. If we take our Roadtrek over, I'm going to have to maintain tighter control over the itinerary than I have in the past.
So far I'm just in the preliminary planning stages. Getting people to Europe is easy – just jump on a plane. RVs are another matter, but there are several companies who specialize in so-called roll-on roll-off shipping of vehicles. You'll see RVs from Europe here if you travel around the major tourist destinations – that's what they're doing. Current rates are 43 euros per cubic meter – about $1900 one way for a Roadtrek. Not bad IF you can stay long enough to make it worthwhile. You can keep your American-registered vehicle in the EU for six months out of any calendar year, so with a short trip over the border around New Years and you could conceivably stay a year, July 1 to June 30 the following year.
Getting there is easy, staying there is hard. The standard tourist visa is three months, after which you have to leave for three months before re-entering. Long-term visas to France require you to apply in person at the French consulate and show you have sufficient income, plus a place to live – a lease on an apartment or similar documentation. I'll have to keep researching that one – renting an apartment would defeat the whole purpose. I may figure out a way to go to Britain or some other non-EU area, but the weather is a factor – you don't want to head north except during the summer months. Because of the difference in latitude, there are very few places you can comfortably RV in Europe in the dead of winter – southern Spain, Greece maybe.
I still dream about our 2006 trip – we rented a little Diesel Citroen and drove all over – Rouen, Normandy, Chateau Cande, Limoges, Biarritz, the Pyrennes, all along the Riviera from west to east, Italy, Geneva, you name it and we were there. I want to do that in my Roadtrek, and stay for more than two weeks. There HAS to be a way. We're looking at early 2015 for a launch date. Still a lot of research to do, but like many of my crazy ideas, with perseverance and a little luck, sometimes they come true. I never thought I'd be spending months at a time oceanfront on the Pacific Coast Highway, but here I am. Fiona wants to hang out with the tomcats in Marseilles, anyway, so she's ready to go. Sharon's BEEN ready to go.
But right now it's just a dream.