Meet Reg – Home Away from Home

May, 2015

Just as there wasn’t a plan for the 13-month adventure through SE AsiaThe Baltics, and Poland, decide on a new travel chapter Reg the motorhome – home away from home for a while!

Travel to the UK

Wroclaw, Poland, Bristol, UK, EuropeThe 3-hour Ryan Air flight from Wrocław (Poland) to Bristol left 20 minutes late although arrives a little earlier than scheduled, so all is well with the world.

Considering this is my first flight with this low-cost airline on this value-for-money trip, you need to watch your luggage weight, otherwise you’re charged extra. You also have to buy food on board, as this isn’t part of the fare.

Landing at 23:15hrs and breezing through immigration, it’s straight through to collect our backpacks, the hire car, and out of the airport before midnight…amazing.

From Bristol, it’s only an hour’s drive to Street, Somerset – the base.

The plan

The sketchy plan is to buy a cheaper motorhome or campervan (undecided) and do some touring through Western Europe, as this mode of travel should keep costs down by staying in campsites – here’s hoping…

motorhome, Fiat, UK, Bude, camping, touring
Reg at Wooda Farm Holiday Park, Bude, Cornwall

The search

After extensive online research for about four weeks on a campervan vs. a motorhome and scouring numerous websites, we decide on a motorhome for the following main reasons:

  • Lower mileage, typically
  • Slightly cheaper
  • Fixed bed
  • Washroom
  • Headroom

Some of the sites scoured include AutoTrader, GumTree, Preloved, and many more, but settle on Reg, as this type of motorhome seems to fit most of the wish list.

Having never owned or lived in a motorhome, to get a feel for what suits and works best, we visit a motorhome dealer and check out quite a few varieties, shapes, and sizes.

For sale privately, Reg is living in Swansea (Wales), which is around a 2-hour drive from Somerset. So off we set, seeking Reg.

On seeing Reg, it’s love at first sight!

Deposit paid, receipt in hand, and the promise to return the following week with the balance of the cash, we drive back to Somerset quite content that the search for our new home is finally over.

Meet ‘Reg’

Reg is aptly named after one of the characters – a photographer’s workhorse assistant, see the similarity? – in the cult movie Blow-up.

If you haven’t seen this 1966 movie of a Mod London photographer that shoots in a desolate park and finds something very suspicious in his shot, then it’s a must-see.

Anyway, I digress. Lets get back to Reg, the Fiat Ducato Autostar 1997 1.9TDI…

motorhome, UK, Bude, camping, touring
Wonderful side awning – thermal screens in place

Reg’s pros

  • 5.6 metres in length so, easier to park, cheaper on ferries and Tolls, easier to drive through congested cities and on smaller roads
  • 3.5 Tonne – requires a regular Driver’s Licence not a Heavy Vehicle licence
  • Ample kitchen room including a 2-burner gas stove
  • 2.2 metres wide, so a great roomy layout in the living area
  • Light and airy inside
  • Fiamma fixed awning
motorhome, Bude, UK, camping, touring
Overhead bed and living area

Reg’s cons

  • Over cab bed’s headroom could be higher
  • A 2.5 TDI engine would be good – 1.9TDI is a little underpowered up hills when Reg is fully ladened with food and fuel, although the 1.9 is supposed to offer better fuel economy
  • Left-hand drive – whilst excellent in Europe, may not be so popular in the UK
  • no oven, but room to install one with the loss of a cupboard

The purchase

Another trip to Swansea but this time with cash in hand, papers are signed, keys handed over, and off we drive back over the ‘border’ to Somerset (UK).

Reg behaves beautifully on the 2-hour drive back and we’re suitably impressed – it doesn’t take much really.

You have to remember that at the moment, Reg is very light due to being bare inside – no crockery, utensils, pots, or food – as apart from a mattress and a few items, the vendor didn’t leave anything in Reg. So, accelerating to 100 kilometres on the highway isn’t too difficult – things are looking good.

Safely back in Street, we send Reg to the hospital to be fully checked over.

I hear you say, “What, you didn’t get Reg checked over before you purchased?” No, we didn’t.

motorhome, Bude, UK, camping, touring
Kitchen area and door to washroom at rear right

The discovery and setbacks

Before collecting Reg in Swansea, we discover that insurance companies in the UK will not insure a UK-registered vehicle driven by a non-UK Driver’s Licence holder.

What a blow!

The moral of the story? Never assume anything.

After some frantic searching online and stumbling across an excellent and extensive post by themacadames, for Australians buying a vehicle to drive through Europe, we learn a ton of great information.

This site also provides the Australian insurance company DUInsure that does insure Australians in this situation. Beware though as insurance for a motorhome is not cheap.

The other setback is that Australians also need an IDP (International Driver’s Permit) to drive in the EU. You need to apply for this permit in Australia and to part with AUD$69, so NRMA is the chosen one.

The permit turnaround time is supposed to take 2 weeks from when the paperwork is received in Australia to having it in your hot little hand – but that’s another story.

Make sure your driver’s licence is valid for at least one year as this is a one-year permit, or it only lasts as long as your current licence.

motorhome, Bude, UK, camping, touring

The fit-out

As Reg was sold bare, this sees many trips to the Op(portunity) shops to buy good quality kitchenware – crockery, pots and pans, cutlery, plus more – which proves invaluable.

Several online Groupon purchases for bed linen and towels, and Reg is fitted out for comfortable living.

The previous owners did leave a few things in Reg. A couple of yellow chocks, thermal screens, a jack, the original EU number plate, EU safety pack, water hose, electrical lead, and a couple of other bits and pieces – not much really.

Reg’s return

After 2 new rear tyres, a full service, rear brake cylinders, and a few more fixes, Reg is home after a week.

At lest we didn’t need to outlay to much cash at the van hospital.

Minor maintenance

A further week sees more minor maintenance checks, including a good scrub inside and outside.

Removing loads of stick-on hooks and accompanying tough glue, re-caulking the kitchen bench-top area and the bathroom as the silicone is old, yellow, or mouldy, and Reg is ready to go on his maiden trip for a weekend away.

With a stock-up of food and the Freshwater Beach Holiday Park in Dorset booked, it’s finally time to go on a road trip – at long last…

Visit my Nilla’s Photography England gallery for more images. More posts on United Kingdom at Image Earth Travel.

motorhome, Bude, UK, camping, Fiat, touring
Wooda Farm Holiday Park, Bude, Cornwall
motorhome, Burton Bradstock, UK, camping, touring
Freshwater Beach Holiday Park, Dorset



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42 responses to “Meet Reg – Home Away from Home”

  1. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Reg was amazing. You really should write a book. “The last explorer”.
    No insurance for Aussies? Wasn’t the Queen also Queen of Australia? Tsss.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      I loved Reg and was so sorry to see him sold. Love the lifestyle. Ha, ha, maybe in my dotage. 😉
      Ha, ha, yeah, tell me about it, sometimes yes, sometimes no…did you read my post on when I was detained at Heathrow for 6 hours? I found immigration hostile towards Australians.

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Just read it. Most of these people are frustrated. They’re not real police. Pay is ow, and they abuse their authority. Or sometimes they even have quotas. So many detentions a week. Or a month. And God save our gracious King… (Yours. Not mine… Hehe!)

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Exactly! Totally agree and yes, they do have quotas, which is ludicrous really – they need to justify their existence.
        Ha, ha, not mine, thanks!

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        I imagine. 😉

  2. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Fantastic. Must have been quite a trip. Compliments.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes, bought Reg in the UK and did a few trips to try everything out. Then took the boat across the channel and drove through France, Spain, Italy then back to the UK – a trip of only 3 months.
      Did a couple of Glastonbury Festivals with Reg and more small trips in the UK then sadly, sold Reg as there was nowhere to park a motorhome in Cosenza. Miss the lifestyle. 😉

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        You really are an adventurer… Compliments.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Nahhh, thanks but just try and enjoy life – experience as much as I can while I’m able to as we never know when it can be taken away from us at a moment’s notice.

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        Very true. Have a lovely week-end.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Hope you also have a lovely weekend.
        It’s miserable, grey, and loads of rain all weekend, so good time to catch up with my writing. 😉

  3. melaniamatuzic5 Avatar

    Reg looks like Tardis. Small outside,big inside.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha, that made me laugh but you’re right. Sadly, we sold Reg last year after the last Glastonbury Festival. Miss Reg a lot.

      1. melaniamatuzic5 Avatar

        Ohh. I am sorry. Why?

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Why we sold Reg? Long story but we’re living in Italy and there is no parking close by. Also, to transfer the UK registration to Italian was expensive and time-consuming, plus insurance here is expensive. One day there will be a Reg II.

      3. melaniamatuzic5 Avatar

        Oh. Good reason. I will do same.

  4. The Year I Touched My Toes Avatar

    I’m not sure that I will ever see Blow-up… can I guess that Reg in the film has a quiff? Is that the similarity?
    This is a very comprehensive post and very useful to people with motor-homes.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Louise, sometimes I’m not sure if I add too much detail. As my site is for travellers and photographers, I like to give a lot of detail and suggestions; probably due to also being a Technical Writer!

      No quiff. Reg was the photographer’s ‘assistant’ or more like his workhorse as he used to carry everything everywhere. The photographer was very demanding. And so, Reg is our workhorse and very reliable. 🙂

      1. The Year I Touched My Toes Avatar

        No I think informative posts are the way to go.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Excellent and many thanks for your valuable feedback.

  5. christie jones Avatar

    Such a nice way of traveling! Wondering how is with the parking/camping through the cities you’re traveling to? Do you find them easily?

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Christie, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Yes, it’s a great way to travel and there’s loads of pros but also some cons.
      Some pros include, you don’t have to lug your backpacks from A to B; don’t have to eat out if you don’t wish to as everything is set up; you’re not reliant on public transport for everything; and much cheaper than hotels, as you know. Travelling in a motorhome is not too dissimilar to travelling in a boat – same principle but a motorhome can’t sink!

      To be honest, we try and avoid cities and usually drive around them as Reg is not small to zip in and out of crazy traffic. Typically, a bit of prior research goes into where we decide to stay, which depends on cost, location, and facilities.

      If you’re from the UK, pay for subscription to the Caravan Club (better for the UK) and an ACSI card (better in Europe) as these will save you a lot of money for campsites. Also, you can show your ACSI card to many campsites on arrival (not in Italy though) in lieu of your passport, which is handy. Hope this helps! 🙂

      1. christie jones Avatar

        thanks a lot for the info! Happy travels:-)

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        No problem, always happy to help if I can. Hope you buy a motorhome/campervan soon and try this life.

      3. christie jones Avatar

        not yet hehe.. I wish I could do it! But thinking maybe in few years to try something like that:)

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        It’s definitely worth a try! Here’s another post: Reg’s new adventure – Leaving the UK🙂

  6. Sartenada Avatar

    Very nice. We have many years thinking of buying a mobile home, but it never came true. Last autumn we decided to buy a second home “far” in the north. After half a year, we have enjoyed it. To buy a second home has come more and more popular in Finland.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you! It’s a more economical way of travelling through Europe and gives you more freedom than relying on public transport.
      A second home sounds like a great get-away idea also! As long as you use it and enjoy it, then that’s all that matters. A motor home next? 😉

      1. Sartenada Avatar

        It seems that we will spend half-and-half in our homes. This second home is quite small, but it is a new one on the fifth floor. It has “big” living room, huge windows to the south and west. Bedroom opens to the west. Bathroom enough big to have washing machine and shower. Of course, we have sauna, which it is usual in Finland. Also walk-in wardrobe and long hall. At this moment we are in our holiday home!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Sounds wonderful – much larger and more comfortable than Reg! A great way to retire and still enjoy life.

        I didn’t realise you have been blogging since 2009 – amazing. I only started with WP nearly 15 months ago and as we’re still travelling, I find it hard to catch up with posts.

      3. Sartenada Avatar

        Thank You. I for to mention, that we have a glazed balcony which size is 12m² / 129.2ft² to the south.

        Hppy weekend!

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Sounds lovely! Hope you also have a great weekend!

  7. SitaRasa Avatar

    What a beautiful little home! Love it 🙂 Wish we still had our VW-bus, good memories. I’m happy for you!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Sita, yes it is and very comfortable for the size and a great way to travel.

      Sadly, we may have to sell it when we fly back to the UK mid-May as an Australian, I only get 90 days in the EU (Schengen countries) then have to stay out for 90 days. So it’s too expensive to keep driving back to the UK with ferry costs, tolls, fuel, storage, etc. I’m researching other ways so stay longer so tuned, as a Reg II may be on the way 😉

      1. SitaRasa Avatar

        Ah, I see… Well happy travels and good luck with finding a Reg II 🙂 Also hope you’ll have great weather! But I think it will be nice this time of the year.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        It’s Thailand for 3 months volunteering as had to get out of the EU – Reg is in storage in the UK. We’ll pick him up in May and use him for a couple of months before deciding whether to sell 🙁 I hope that it will be nice, only had a handful of sunny days last year in the UK and there for almost 6 months (summer also).

        I appreciate you taking the time to comment, thank you.

  8. Rashminotes Avatar

    Wow Nilla; I had never heard of a ‘motor home’. Sounds so adventurous.!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      It’s a fantastic way to travel and cheaper than hotels/hostels (for 2 people). The nice thing is you can keep your daily costs down by cooking meals in the motorhome, which means you can travel longer.

      Depending on which country you’re touring in, the facilities are great at campsites. I have many more posts on touring yet so stay tuned 😉

  9. Jim Avatar

    Great insight into the pitfalls for a seemingly simple exercise of buying a motor home and driving around Europe. I haven’t used an international driving licence for years. A good tip for any one thinking of driving on the continent. Thanks for the useful information Nilla. 🙂

    1. Image Earth Blog Avatar

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! Yes and it pays to really do your research if you’re thinking about travelling as an Australian in a motorhome. I have some blogs I need to upload with regards to Schengen (another problem for Aussies), so keep checking back here. 🙂

      My IDP arrived in the stated 2-week turnaround. However, my partner’s IDP took 5 weeks as the first 2 applications were lost somewhere between the UK and Australia. The 3rd one finally arrived in Australia but then this took 2 weeks to process and delivery to the UK. So, my advice is apply before you leave Australia or if that’s too late, then make sure you have a few weeks up your sleeve of valuable travel time. The 5 weeks set us back so that we were travelling more in the winter, which is pretty cold in a motorhome.

  10. Wendy pittendrigh Avatar
    Wendy pittendrigh

    Whoop! Whoop! Go Reg!

    1. Image Earth Blog Avatar

      Indeed Wendy! Great to share Reg with you guys! 😉

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