Freedom in a motorhome; what does it mean?

Freedom in a motorhome
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The freedom to travel where we want in our motorhome is important to us.

We call it “The Freedom Trail”.

That is also what we call our newsletter, but what does The Freedom Trail mean?

Firstly, what is freedom? And does the motorhome give us that freedom?

When we dreamed of buying our own motorhome, we wove into that dream the idea of the open road, being able to travel where we wished in a self-contained mobile home. No worries about shelter, food and basic amenities, or concerns about being late for breakfast or sleeping in strange beds with mattresses that have had someone else on. No shared bathrooms! Just our own space where we accept each other and our peculiarities.

That is freedom in a motorhome!

And in many ways, that is how it is. We live that dream. Not as often as we thought we would, but such is life.

Life on the road

But is it truly “freedom”?

What does freedom mean?

In the wider sense, what does freedom mean?

There are three main categories of freedoms:

Freedom TO – to be who we want or need to be without needing the consent or approval of society. To be independent. On a spiritual level that could mean the freedom to follow the calling of the soul. On a personal front it is the freedom to live, act and dress as we choose.

Freedom OF – of speech or thought, expression of self.

Freedom FROM – from persecution, constraint, coercion, enslavement.

But, despite claiming to set its people free, can any organised society allow complete free-will? We have laws and restrictions drawn up to keep the peace. They prevent the stronger willed from infringing the rights of others. They instruct and inform us as to what we should do and how we should do it to prevent chaos. These laws curtail the freedoms of every citizen by general consent. In losing certain freedoms, we protect ourselves.

We compromise complete freedom to prevent the disintegration of society.

So, let’s get into van life! Freedom in a motorhome!

Our definition pertaining to van life implies the freedom to travel where we want. Then to rest there. It is the freedom to be self-sufficient and self-contained – to be independent from anyone else.

But in the motorhome, we are not free to stop wherever we like – especially in England! Nor can we travel anywhere we wish; the height barriers and “No Motorised Caravans” signs soon send us packing. We must obey the rules of the road and we must keep the vehicle roadworthy.

So whatever freedoms we claim must be taken within the laws and boundaries set by our authorities.

Those freedoms could be considered akin to the Wiccan creed

So Long As It Harms None, Do As You Will.

But more, So Long As it Is Within Traffic Law, Do As You Will.

So, what is this Freedom Trail?

Freedom from worry?

You’ll have seen the idyllic photographs of the gleaming vintage campervan parked up at the foot of a mountain. Snow-topped peaks and verdant flower meadows framing the perfect road trip. The beautiful young couple standing, hand in hand, secure in their wonderful life. That’s epic freedom!

It is not always like that!

Look stage left – she actually wanted to go to the beach! And they are waiting for the breakdown truck! There is always some sort of repair looming on an old vehicle. Financial woes go hand in hand with motorhome ownership. But balance that against bed and breakfast costs or the financial implications of other holidays and hobbies.

Security is something else that keeps the motorhome owner awake at night. Either pay for a good storage yard or have that niggling concern that your prized van is hurtling down the nearest motorway with false plates on.

But surely freedom begins when we start the motorhome engine…

So long as we agree on a destination or route!

We were discussing “package” and “coach” holidays where holidaymakers are herded around from landmark to stately home with an itinerary. Not “freedom” at all.

BUT with all-inclusive holidays there is the freedom from responsibility. If anything goes wrong, the holiday provider is obliged put it right. Fast! Too there is no second-guessing which road to take; it is planned for you. You settle back into your seat and let someone else do the worrying. So, there is freedom. The relaxation is complete knowing that you need do nothing other than be there.

If Cree, our motorhome, breaks down or we take a wrong turn, it is our problem to sort out.

In the motorhome we have the freedom to change our itinerary

Yes, we can visit places when we wish, change our minds or stay as long as we like then move on. We can decide to simply drive until we want to stop. Then we have everything we need for a good night’s sleep.

Except the attitude towards motorhomes now means that it is not guaranteed that we can find anywhere to sleep.

No use of motorhomes!
We were using local campsites and supporting the local economy – we just wanted to enjoy the view!

Stopping in a lay by or similar overnight is usually tolerated but there is a growing band of those who take exception. Goaded by tabloids baying for blood, headlines screaming of mountains bedecked in toilet waste and choked with the grey mist of exhaust fumes, they have taken to attacking stationary vans. No, it has not happened to us, and it is infrequent but the thought that we may be woken tends to lead to poor sleep.

Wild camping is not for everyone! We do it sometimes.

The answer? Camp sites of course. Herded into neat lines and lines of vehicles, plugged in, enjoying the same TV programmes they would have been watching at home. Fine if that’s what you want…we don’t.

Then can you find a site in the school holidays which has spaces at short notice? Booking months in advance hardly smacks of freedom – it sounds more like the package holiday than the freedom of the open road!

But at least we can leave the campsite and visit whichever local towns and attractions we want to. When we want to. You think? Parking a motorhome within walking distance of many town centres and attractions is a nightmare! Some are fantastic with designated spaces provided. But others are unfriendly at best.

So…FREEDOM trail?

This all sounds terribly gloomy doesn’t it? Like we are in some kind of dictatorship. What freedom does our motorhome give us?

Actually…loads!

Despite all the above – and more – the main feeling we get once we are on the road is freedom. Sure, Cree will throw us a curved ball, but breakdowns and home-remedies are what the best road trip stories are made of.

We sit higher than the workaday traffic and travel slower. We watch people racing along. The whole world is in a hurry. It’s crazy!

We don’t need to rush.

The freedom from that self-imposed sense of getting from A to Z via the fastest route, racing against your personal best, is invaluable.

We don’t have to open the bag labelled “STRESS”.

The Freedom to travel where we wish

Stress free travel!

It is our space, our stuff. Just us two. If something isn’t clean, it is our dirt. If it’s broken, we broke it. Everything is where we left it. Bliss!

Pulling over for a brew or using the “onboard facilities” is sheer luxury, especially if the view is decent. If tired, we can stretch the sofa into a day bed and rest. We are not anxiously scanning the horizon for the next services area with cafe and toilets. That is freedom in a motorhome!

As for camp sites, we just don’t try to book the club sites – especially during August! Once the holidays are over, there is usually a space to be found – sometimes half an hour before closing time in our case! And if we don’t find one, we’ll drive until we find somewhere to sleep. No, it isn’t always the best night’s rest but if things do hot up, we are free to move on.

The smaller independent, certified or affiliated sites often have a space, even during school holidays – especially if you can live without electric hook up! Those are the ones we prefer!

On those, there is usually a list of requested behaviour to follow. But that applies to everyone and “No Loud Music” is fine by us!

So yes, there are restrictions and regulations. But those maintain order and safety. In fact, they keep us free!

In all honesty, we find the “no rules” sites a little disconcerting. There are usually one or two people who embrace the lack of restriction and make others uncomfortable. It’s hardly “Lord of the Flies” but generally where there are no rules, the dominant personalities will prevail.

Freedom comes from consensual restrictions.

Consider it this way, a kite flies freely but only whilst it is tugging at its string. Without the tether, the kite lays dormant or just skids along the ground. No string, no freedom.

What is YOUR definition of freedom in a motorhome? Let us know in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “Freedom in a motorhome; what does it mean?

  1. Monty McMontfase says:

    Hi Trudi and Gav.
    Love this post. Thanks for sending me a link to it on fb. Heres what I think freedom in a motorhome is….
    For me freedom in a motorhome is about being able to change plans at the drop of a hat because more often than on other travels I’m not being tied down to a place or a time or a date. Other holidays and overnight trips away will usually involve booking accomodation (unless you are carrying a tent or just sleeping under the stars, and that doesnt happen very often). Booked accommodation means sticking to a shedule. Who books accomodation (be it hotel, b&b, self catering, or a campsite) for a certain date and then doesn’t turn up on that date for a day or two because they’ve found a place they’d like to overnight at on the journey to that destination. Having to keep to a shedule is exposing yourself to stress, say if you get held up in traffic or miss your flight. You have to make extra arrangements and compromises on the go to get back on schedule. Very stressful! And unless your motorhome journey involves ferries then it could be that your only deadline for the entire duration of the trip away is your due date back home (where you are committed to return to inescapable shedules).
    So it’s about ‘Wild camping’ or arriving at a campsite or pub unannounced (or at short notice). These things allow for a lack of a shedule.
    And…your if your destination doesn’t come up to scratch, you can just move on somewhere else. Perfect.
    Travelling in your own accomodation sets your day free.
    Btw I really like your wiccan quote “so long as it harms none, do as you will”. Not heard that and I will keep that handy 😊

    • motorhomehobos says:

      We agree that a lack of schedule allows for spontaneity. That is our definition of freedom. It can lead to worries if there seems to be nowhere to park up as we only have one driver. THOUGH…we’ve never not found a site or lay-by or street space!
      Lack of schedule did cost us dearly last year when our insistence on “no set plans” meant we could not travel to Bardsey Island. Sold out. That led to a bit of a sulk until we found somewhere else to go.
      We’re happier to travel without sites booked these days. We let the van and the diversion signs lead the way!!
      Freedom is an interesting concept to study…a short blog post is a starter for ten! Society needs rules to keep us safe and free!
      Happy – and free – travels!
      Trudi and Gav

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