We have researched travel in Europe for the past two years, and couldn’t be more excited to begin the journey BUT our plans have changed! Now, we are starting our vanlife adventure here [in Canada] before heading over to Europe.
This entire planning process has been both exciting and educational! We will continue to post updates as things develop so we can pass helpful information along the way.
Why Change Plans?
Our goal with Forever Abroad is to carve a path towards a new way to approach life. With the hopes to travel the globe, it doesn’t really matter where we actually start! With that, the idea to 1st see more of the country we grew up in is as great a place as any to kick everything off!
We have worked out a budget, done plenty of research, and even tested vanlife in Quebec for a while. Our greatest challenge on the road will be discovering new ways to sustain this lifestyle as we transition away from our traditional jobs, towards full-time van dwelling.
While Europe was part of our initial plan – providing unlimited camper van options – we ultimately decided to begin our travel in Canada for a few reasons:
Purchasing any vehicle where you do not have citizenship is a difficult task to begin with, requiring licencing and insurance. To buy vehicle insurance, you need a place of residence [within that country] to register your vehicle under. Since we will not be staying in once place, we cannot provide this.
We came across many campers we thought were ‘the one’, but without actually test driving and viewing the vehicles ourselves we weren’t able to make a decision to move forward. Despite our seemingly unlimited options, it was still difficult to work within a budget AND find something that we wouldn’t need to make many changes too.
Ultimately, we came to find that European ownership, vehicle certification (Eco. testing), registration, and third-party insurance (for both personal and company asset) is easiest to set up in Bulgaria and could be arranged for proceeding import from its country of purchase. Following countless hours of research and communication with lawyers, we stumbled upon this option. It appears to be the best route for us to continue our journey in Europe following our tour in Canada and The States. If you are looking into something like this, check out Bulgarian Plates. Their licensed lawyers provide detailed information and helped to walked us through understanding import and licensing process.
Our New Plan – Self-build Campervan
We’ve been asked numerous times, “why don’t you travel Canada first?”. Having Europe as our starting point was part of our original plan, BUT starting elsewhere turned out to be a better option for our long-term idea! Truthfully, we haven’t seen much of Canada and every trip we have to Nova Scotia or Quebec leaves us counting down until our next time there!
Starting where we have citizenship brings with it many positives we wouldn’t have during long-term travel elsewhere:
- Building our own van – We can choose what we want to put into it. Everything from insulation, electrical, storage, etc. Having viewed many different arrangements, one of the most exciting things about this is to fully customize the mobile home to house EXACTLY what we need! When we’re ready to head over to Europe, it would be easy to import our van conversion to continue our travel there!
- Travel supplies (lower cost) – No longer having to reduce our initial belongings to a 40 Liter travel backpack each, we are able to re-use many household supplies in our van. Dishes, bedding, electronics, and much more would have been additional start-up costs. Check out some of our recommended travel gear here.
- Health care (i.e access to prescriptions and medical coverage) – Unfortunately, there are restrictions to the length of time you can travel outside of your residence country. You risk loosing your provincial health care benefits if you aren’t physically living there a specific number of days out of the year.
- No language barriers – An obvious advantage, we will be able to ease ourselves into this adventure better.
Through our travels we will be using many different items. Everything we use is purchased for its value and quality. If you’re interested in any equipment we use, this is the place to find it!
We’ve done the research and use everything regularly. We will be writing full, detailed product reviews of all of our favorite products along the way. For now, enjoy the below descriptions for AWESOME travel products and electronics that we truly believe in and rely on.
We highly recommend any of the products on this list. Links to all these items will be available HERE for your convenience!
– The DJI Spark is the most affordable, fully feature drone currently available on the market. At a price point of roughly $549 USD ($699 CAD) you really can’t go wrong with this high-end drone product.
Spark is easy to fly, making it a great option for both beginner and advanced users.
This mini drone has all the fancy features you’d expect in more expensive technology. The camera takes amazing pictures and stabilized 1080 30fps video. It is equipped with everything from return to home auto landing, palm launch/land, automated flight path features, orbiting designated targets, and much more!
The best thing about this drone is that it’s very portable and weighs less than 1 lbs, making it a great option for mobile professionals and world travelers such as vanlife goers or backpackers. The Fly More Combo comes with a convenient shoulder bag to house all your drone equipment together, making for easy transport on hikes. It can easy be packed into a decently sized backpack or carried along side in its shoulder bag.
If you are trying to start off in the drone space, the Spark is by far the best drone for you. If already familiar with drones and looking for something that can do 4k video, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the best option. This DJI drone is priced at roughly 3 times more than the Spark, offering even better features such as a 3-axis stabilization gimbal.
We are super excited about the Spark and its intuitive features leave us with a user friendly device supporting many unique control options. The Spark was a great option for us because of its many protective accessories and comprehensive product warranty.
DJI is the most recognized and respected brand for drones. With affordable accidental crash coverage and fast delivery, you can’t really go wrong purchasing DJI products other than the Spark. For other awesome DJI products. Click Here
This is the perfect travel backpack for us, hands down. Priced at $159.95 USD ($219.99 CAD) it is great for a weekend getaway in the city or the wilderness. The Farpoint 40 has a few key features that you just simply cannot get in other backpacks.
It is not a top loader, and instead has a suitcase-style zipper for loading and unloading your main compartment. This, accompanied by the internal compression straps, allow you to keep things organized and easy removal of items near the bottom of your bag. The laptop/tablet sleeve is lockable in a secure, separate compartment.
The Osprey Farpoint 40 was deigned to fit as a carry-on, on most airlines worldwide. A unique feature is the option to stowaway the backpack
straps, harness, or hip belt in a hidden zippered backpanel. When in use like this, the padded handles allow you to carry your bag as a suitcase, adding to easier transport.
As a 40-liter sized backpack, it can fit everything you need for long term travel while also distributing weight evenly from harness to hipbelt. We find this the perfect sized bag for those traveling as a couple. If each of you have one of these, you are set. It might not be as durable as some others if you are looking for something to use on intense mountain hikes, but it will get the job done.
We have previously used it for back country hikes and camping in the past. This was one of our best bags during our 20km, week long canoe trip in Algonquin. We highly recommend this backpack.
Hello and welcome to Forever Abroad. To be “Forever Abroad” has been a goal of ours for such a long time – NOW we want to make it a reality! We hope to share our adventure through this Blog. Myself (Brian Paquette) and my wife (Christie Kolb) will be making regular posts, updating you with our current travel status.
So much can change from now until our journey starts!
Not only will you get to join along in the fun of our travels, but Forever Abroad will slowly reveal plenty of great posts about tips and advice useful to anyone looking to travel. There will be information for those interested in minimalism, self-sufficient accommodations, a better life balance, or living in a van for travel.
Our current embark date is set for May, 2019. Until then we plan to slowly start gathering our supplies while working full time Monday through Friday and using our free time to research and prepare for our travel. This is no small task and begins with getting rid of all the belongings and downsizing to fit into a van. Before our journey even begins we will purchase a converted Campervan, buying necessary travel gear (i.e. backpacks, clothing), getting our vaccinations, travel documents, and so much more!
As we learn, you can learn with us! We will make slow but periodic blog posts about our preparations, any changes, fun day trips, tips and tricks we find along the way. We want to provide our best advice to those interested in travel and hope to help inspire others to follow their dreams.
Thank you for joining us in this incredible journey! I will have a detailed blog post in the future about what our specific plans are so you can think about maybe doing something similar if it interests you!
Be sure to follow us @_forever_abroad on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! This way you can stay updated when new blog posts are live! All links to social media can be found at the bottom of the page.