We did it!

“Can we drive around the world with two young children in tow?”

“We can certainly try!”

These were one of the first sentences I wrote for this website. Well now we have an answer:

“YES!”

England welcomed us back with a magnificent sunrise, as we arrived into Portsmouth on the overnight ferry. We had done it! 180,000km, 58 countries on 7 continents!
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The week crossing Europe sadly seemed like it was another day, another country. The cost of having spent so much time in China, Tibet and the ‘Stans. We always knew that this last part of our trip would be a bit of rush. With Alisha’s new school’s start of term date looming, we had a “home” ferry to catch.

The coastline of Montenegro and Croatia was absolutely breathtaking: craggy limestone mountains and cliffs dropping off into azure waters of the Aegean below. Every bay, a pretty historic town called out to us for a stop but we had to keep going. We did manage to stop and admire the picturesque former fishing island of Sveti Stefan, now an exclusive hotel. We didn’t stop long enough to take advantage of the €110 beach access just in front! Kotor and Perast made for a nice wander around to admire the winding streets inside the historic fortress towns.

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At the end of Steve’s last blog he lamented that our wild camping nights were probably over as we ventured further into Europe, how wrong he was. Just a few hours after posting we squeezed our way down a narrow, steep track to one of our best campspots in ages. High up on a scrub covered hillside we had a 180° view of the Aegean Sea, it was a perfectly flat spot just big enough for is. Created as a delivery spot for an abandoned half finished hotel, there was nothing else nearby. It was so nice that we abandoned all thoughts we had of moving on a shortish distance the next day to see the town of Kotor and decided to stay an extra day. What was even better was that just over a kilometre further down the track, which got even more steep and rough, was a small pebbly beach with perfectly clear azure water. Watching the sun setting over the sea while eating tea, then watching the stars come out it was sad to think that we we are soon to give this lifestyle up.

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Crossing into Croatia we had an unusual night spot in Kupari, just south of Dubrovnik next to the bombed out remains of 4 huge hotels. You could see the shell and bullet holes in the walls of the hotel’s from the break up of Yugoslavia. It made an interesting contrast with the crowds of beach goers enjoying the sea just in front of it. A stark reminder of a bloody conflict that I can remember unfolding on the tv screen just a few years ago.

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From there onwards it was just 4 days of solid driving: tiring for Steve and boring for the rest of us. Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (for a whole 10km), Croatia (again) Slovenia, Austria, Germany and France all passed by in a blur of motorways. Being delayed by a forest fire in Northern Croatia for over 4 hours and spending 3 hours at a garage to fix a leaking tyre caused far more worry than usual, rarely have we had such a strict deadline. Steve was almost tipped over the edge trying to pay our Austrian road tolls. Being such a big vehicle we needed a special box that beeped on the motorway, we had to visit 8 (yes, 8!) different service stations to sort it out and pay a €60 fine because we hadn’t returned a similar box 5 years ago because it had been so difficult. All that for just over 200km on their roads.

There were lots of poignant moments, it was hard not to feel sad at parts of even our most mundane routine: last day of schooling; last wild camp; last night in the truck; but definitely not the last cold shower (our hot water system broke back in Thailand, fine in India but painful in Tibet). It didn’t seem really real that the trip was coming to an end and that our whole lives are about to change so dramatically.

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It seemed very surreal leaving the ferry and joining the commuter queues of traffic on the south coast. We couldn’t quite work out how we felt about coming to the end. In our heads, we felt it should be ticker tape and a brass band playing but the reality was rather more unglamorous – a garage just down the road from the port. But such is the nature of overlanding at times.

But when is all said and done, we have done it! We have driven around the world and for now we will just enjoy that and celebrate.

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41 thoughts on “We did it!

  1. Dear “overlanding-family”,

    congratulations, you did it! I am following your blog in silence for about 1,5 years. I started reading when my boyfriend came up with the idea of doing a panamericana-trip someday. IF we will do it, we would definately have children by that time. So I ended up googling “overlander” and “family” and soon your blog popped up. I loved reading it! It is unbelievable what an amazing journey you guys have had :-) .

    I espacially had fun with your last posts because I have been in Montenegro, Slovenia and Croatia about the same time like you 😀

    Is there a chance you might write a post especially about being on the road with a family? Like a chapter with focus on being a family in a van for a lot of time? And not that much focus on the country you were in? I am interessted in all the thoughts and maybe some struggeling you have been into, during this long trip. I hope, that is not too personal to ask.

    I hope you get what I mean, my english is not perfect 😉

    Best wishes for all the things you are facing during your re-settlement!

    Jana (from Germany)

    • Thank you for your lovely comment. The pan American would be a great trip and children are not an obstacle, we loved doing it with ours. Not sure what we will be writing going forward just yet or what we will do with our blog but will keep it in mind.

  2. Dear great family! You are really great family! It was a joy for me to follow your travellings! This was an exllent example of not only having the dream but making yourself it happened! What a rich glimpses you should have! I am sure that this journey will influence on all of you ! What an experience! What colours! What difficults! And you are back home!! My congratulations! and thank you for your intersting comments!!!!!

    • Many thanks Irina. We are pleased you enjoyed following our travels. It was a great experience for the whole family and one we will always cherish.

  3. Greetings,

    As a former Geography teacher I have greatly enjoyed following your lovely family around the world since I found the blog two years ago. Your perspective and photos offered a unique way of seeing things and I am grateful that you shared it. I wish you happy traveling for your future journeys. Welcome home!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your exciting adventures! We are from Canada but met you all at a coffe tour in Boquete, Panamá when we were there for several months. I enjoyed watching your children experience new cultures and sights and the photos are amazing. Looking forward to seeing what is next….

    • Many thanks Dawn. It’s great to know so many wonderful people we met along the way have continued to be interested in our journey.

  5. How wonderful. It has been a treat following your journey. Thank you for all the posts and best of luck with reentry!

  6. Congrats! I’m going to miss reading about your adventures. I missed a few of the weekly blogs so I’ll have to go back to catch up on the reading. Think about a hard cover table book😉

    Have you decided what’s next? I think you’ll be climbing walls if you stay out too long. Keep in touch!

    • No idea what next but that’s quite exciting as it’s an open book. We are already missing travelling but Alisha starts school soon so future adventures may be shorter for the next few years. Definitely let’s keep in touch.

  7. Amazing !! Really enjoyed reading your blog posts throughout the trip !

    You’ve been an inspiration to our family. While we “only” did a 9month trip to Central America, it was your blog as well as several other blogs that helped us make the first step, and we’re eternally grateful for that. Good luck to you all !

  8. I’ve really enjoyed following your story! Welcome back and best of luck with readjusting to being “home”

    Blessings! Liza

  9. Cheers Snath Family. Steve and I enjoyed every kilometer with you. We’re a bit disappointed the journey has come to an end. I can only imagine how you feel. Maybe you will continue with your blog, keeping all of us ‘arm chair travelers’ updated as to what comes next. Whatever you do, we wish you the best as you settle in to the next chapter of your lives.
    Fondly,
    Steve and Chris Booth
    (New address)
    1656 Wisconsin Ln.
    Sarasota, FL. 34239
    (We moved to FL 6 mo. ago from Boulder, CO)

    • Glad you enjoyed it. We still remember the wonderful hospitality in Colorado. Lucy still has an imaginary Dillon and Lily. Hope we get the chance to catch up again so do let us know if you come to England. I hope you are enjoying Florida.

  10. Fantastic Gilly, glad you have made it and got back safely. It has been a brilliant blog and I have really enjoyed it. Good luck to Alisha with her new school. Please send me your email so we can keep in touch. I will miss following you every few days. Lots of love Leanne

    • Thanks Leanne. I’m so glad you got back in touch this way as I have had a couple of emails to you bounced back and I’ve lost your phone number, I was worried I had lost contact with you. Now I have your details I’ll send you a proper catch ups email once the dust has settled a bit.

  11. Congratulations Steve, gilly and family. It was great to be a very small part of your world tour. We have been in awe of your sense of adventure and your persistent posting. I hope you post about re-entry as I reckon that could be the hardest part of the adventure. Good luck for the school year ahead, wishing you girls lots of good friends and a gentle landing. Love Janet, Richard and joe xx

    • Thanks Janet. There may be the odd post about reentry but I doubt it will be as exciting and you are right I am sure it will definitely be the hardest part. Hope to see you again soon so do let us know if you are coming to England. Lots of love to all from all of us.

  12. What a fantastic adventure! It’s been so inspiring following you along the way – we shall miss this blog. The great thing about having written it is that many more people will now find it for themselves and think about adventures of their own. Good luck with re-entry and then of course deciding, where next..?

    • Thanks Richard, it has been great for us to share our journey and have such lovely feedback. I think the harder question is how we can whittle down our wish list of places to go next. Travelling for 4 years hasn’t diminished our wanderlust but increased it.

    • Thank you Philippa. It’s been wonderful to share and be supported by such like-minded readers along the way. There will definitely more family adventures, I think our wish list is longer now than when we went.

  13. Oh, Gilly, I’m so moved by this! I recall you telling me about this back in Prague 6.5 years ago. It was so exciting to see all your plans come to fruition and follow you along on your adventure. And now it’s come to its proper conclusion … and I can’t help but feel wistful for you four well as the rest of us.

    Be gentle with yourselves as you navigate re-entry. And absolutely enjoy and celebrate!

    much love,
    Kate xoxo

    • Thanks Kate and thanks for reading and your comments. It was so encouraging to know that we had friends cheering us along the way. As you say, I think reentry might be our hardest challenge yet. Good luck with your next chapter, I’m excited we might meet again soon in Prague. Gxxxx

  14. I quite happy for having the opportunity to follow you for the last 4 years..almost right at the beginning of your great trip! A gas station story! :) Wish you the very best ! Your blog was very useful in my classroom! Congrats for what you achived as a family!

    • Hi Michel. Great to hear you are still following. We remember that chance meeting at the petrol station. Glad the blog was useful in your classroom. Those chance meetings were one of the joys of the trip, meeting so many people from different places.

  15. Fabulous. I didn’t realise you were so close to he end. I can’t blow a trumpet but I can tear up paper and in my head I’m doing both for you all. Life changing for you all but especially for the girls who will have memories and aspirations for he rest of their lives. Hope the transition to normal isn’t too difficult. Loved following you all. X

    • Many thanks Jem. It’s been a great adventure. Don’t know what next but just enjoying the moment for now and as you say the trip will always be a part of us.

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