It all started by spitting into a glass tube.
At the urging of our niece, Diana and I purchased DNA tests through Ancestry© while they were having their Black Friday sale. Diana received her results before I did and it was almost exclusively from the United Kingdom and Ireland. As she began to work on her family tree, she uncovered places we never knew existed. Generation by generation, she stepped her way back past the reign of King Henry VIII to the end of the Middle Ages. It didn’t take long for me to say to her “We need to go over there.”
Having never been outside the US and Canada, we were not sure how a trip like this would even look. A visit to AAA to speak with a travel agent quickly eliminated joining a tour group, as we are going to need time to explore in each of her ancestral regions. Would we rent a car and find lodging in each locale? If you’ve followed us for any length of time, you know that is not how we roll. 🙂
Enter a YouTube video by the RV Geeks.
There is a link to it at the end of the post. In it, they talk about their trip around the United Kingdom in a small motorhome. The video even addresses the one issue with motoring on the British Isles…
…which is driving on the opposite side of the road while sitting on the right hand side of the vehicle. 🙂 According to them, it is more of an adjustment for the passenger, as that person is in the spot where there should be a way to drive the motorhome! No worries, as it is said that if you can get through the first fifteen minutes, you’ve got it made. We will see about that…
Let the planning begin! First thing we did was establish the time we had available to go. As we will be returning to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (news flash!) for the months of July and August, we set aside most of September and early October. We quickly discovered that the monetary exchange rate between the British Pound and the US Dollar is currently favorable to us, which might change in the next few months because of the Brexit issue. The more things we can purchase now, the better.
First order of business was round trip tickets between Chicago and London. We booked flights on British Airways, which includes a ride on the new double-decker A-380 on the way there.
Once there, we will spend four full days touring the city from an Airbnb in the Chelsea district. After that, we take a train to the motorhome rental facility outside of town and head off for a month of exploring new vistas!
We will cover most of what is seen on the above map. While is seems like a huge area…
…it looks a lot more manageable when you compare it to Texas. Although, as most of us know, Texas is a big state!
To plan the route, we gathered several reference books and maps, and Diana pinpointed the places where her family came from.
We grabbed a study room with a view at the local library and mapped out our route. We have found that detailed planning actually offers us more flexibility than just winging it, as we don’t need to burden ourselves with finding a place to spend the night while we are there. We decided against boondocking as we want to be plugged into electric each night, so we want to nail down our campgrounds now. As said earlier, we don’t know what the exchange rate will be in September, so we are paying in full now. We are also booking the ferry between Scotland and Belfast at this time, as that price will go up as the passage nears. We did purchase trip insurance, which makes us feel more comfortable with making all of these reservations.
So, in early September, we are going to store our rig and vehicles in Grand Rapids at a friend’s home in the country. Many thanks to them for their hospitality! Also, our friend Ron tipped us off to the money-saving idea of renting one way cars to Chicago and back, as compared to the cost (and worry) of parking the Escape near O’Hare for a month. Huge score…thanks, Ron! We’ve also asked for some tips from our friends Linda and Steven, as they are going to be living across the Atlantic for the next several years and motorhoming in Europe. If the stars align, we may even find time for a pint at a pub with them while we are there.
Be sure to follow along with us as we discover places new to us, using a mode of travel we are familiar with. Of course going from our usual 5th wheel and two vehicles, to a small European motorhome will be an adjustment. Maybe we will find we like it better. Also, if you’ve done the math, we sort of skipped over what we are doing in April, May and June. We are going to save that for our next post, as that is still in the rough draft stages. And future years may have us exploring my French, French-Canadian, and German roots, along with Diana’s family’s path across Colonial America. Lots to explore, for sure.
Until next time, safe and happy travels to all!