You’ve probably heard this before if you’ve been following our family for a bit.

Our initial plan was to explore Europe for a year or two.

Yup. That’s it. Sounds silly to hear now that we’ve been here for over three years. And just like all of other “plans” over the years, they are purposely never set in stone which allows for flexibility and pivoting without too many issues.

Last winter while on our self-imposed lockdown in the village, we were trying to stay warm in the old stone home that belongs to my father. I remember sitting in the kitchen with Dan, bundled up with extra jackets and beanies, and getting free access to Apple TV. One of the first things we noticed was a TV show that we watched way back when called Long Way Round with Ewan McGregor and Charly Boorman. We watched it back in 2004, as “pre-travel” us. We probably watched it for Ewan and never thought more about it. But in that cold kitchen, we rewatched the show as “today” us, then watched their newer two series, and then re-rewatched the original one that took them east. Hmmm. Some of the roads they took looked pretty nasty but we don’t necessarily have to take those. Why are we planning to ship our van back across the Atlantic Ocean instead of driving east through Central Asia and then ship our van across the Pacific instead? We had no good reasons not to, so that was our new plan.

Village kitchen, on a warmer day, Croatia, October 2020

And just like any new and exciting plans, we kept this one mostly to ourselves. We started inquiring about visas and also making changes to our van. We added a snorkel for the dirt roads, a larger diesel tank to help with long remote stretches of roads, and numerous other things to make life inside the van more comfortable.

And now a year later, we are back in the same little Croatian village again.  We’ve been pushing forward with our plans and have been trying to be optimistic about driving east from Europe. But something changed this week. I think reality has sunk in that those land borders aren’t opening any time soon and that we will have to shelf that drive for now. If you were an optimist, you might hold out some hope for the borders opening by the spring of 2022. Even if it does happen, we would still have to push the drive to at least 2023 as family obligations have us making our first trip back to California in the month of June. By the time we get back to Europe, we will have lost out in the prime traveling window for the year as winter traveling across Russia and Mongolia is a no-go for us in a van.

There’s always more to see in Europe but we feel like we’ve seen a lot of it. If we stay here until at least 2023, we’ll find ourselves revisiting some of the places we’ve already been, for who knows how long. That’s not bad. It’s just not the ideal choice for our family. Waiting around is not our strong suit when we can explore other options.

Little Vanlife kids in their full-time home about to head overseas to overland the world

Kids in our yet to be self-built van, California, April 2018

A huge deciding factor on our decision to postpone our trip east is the kids. Some say that you don’t realize how fast your kids are growing when you are with them all the time but that’s not always true. Maybe it’s because we have a teeny home and notice how their bed seems smaller by the day. I don’t know. But there is a clock and it’s ticking LOUDLY. Our time left exploring the world with the kids is getting shorter and shorter. Should we spend that time, waiting around and revisiting the same places while they grow ever closer into young adults as their college years loom on the horizon? These next couple of years can be the most memorable ones of their young lives and we are poised to make the most of it.

Rethoville, France. Beach wild camping.

Look how they’ve grown, France, July 2021

Our gut says no. Our gut says to postpone Central Asia and ship the van out of Europe this coming winter/spring.

So this week, we will contact our shipper again and see what are our options are.

Thanks for following along on our adventures around the world. Everything we share is free but if you’d like to support us, you can find us on Patreon. Until next time, Marlene.


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