Now they are home after a whopping 6-week European Road Trip. We catch up with our Ambassadors Debs and Alex about their trip through Europe, exploring some of Frances’s finest EWS mountain bike trails and ski destinations.
Can you give us a brief description of your planned holiday, what kind of adventuring were you doing? How long were you away for ? what was your sole purpose for going away – chill – holiday, fun, adventure, family, for the challenge? – tell us, how you planned to get there and what van do you have?.
– One of the only good things to come out of Covid is that Alex and I are now able to work remotely. This allowed us to plan a trip that was longer than the normal 2 or 3 week holiday you can squeeze in if you need to be in the office every day. We had actually planned this trip the previous year but unfortunately due to covid and France closing their borders we had to delay the trip by twelve months.
– We are extremely lucky to have a campervan (SC Sporthomes converted long wheelbase Mercedes sprinter) and it was the plan to spend 6 weeks in the van touring Europe, mountain biking, skiing and running. We have family in the south of Spain so it was always the idea to plan a trip where we could spend Christmas with them. We did a lot of driving but tried to do most of it in the late afternoon/evenings so we didn’t feel like we were wasting a full day. In total we clocked up over 7000km in just under 6 weeks.
– We chose Ainsa, Northern Spain near the Pyrenees for mountain biking, as they have hosted the EWS in 2015 and 2018 so we knew the trails would be ace. They have over 2000km of marked trails and an app (Ztrails) to help you navigate them. For running and some biking, we chose the south of Spain along with a few cervejas and then we planned skiing in Samoens, France and St Anton, Austria.
Can you give us your rough route plan for your European Road Trip? ( doesn’t have to be exact )
Aberdeenshire- Eurotunnel Folkstone – Eurotunnel Calais– Ainsa (Spain)
Ainsa– Mojacar (South of Spain)Mojacar- Samoens (France- Alps)
Packing for two dogs for 6 weeks must of been quite a mission, can you tell us how you managed it and
I would honestly say packing for the dogs was harder than packing for the hoomans. I think I was packing for a month beforehand. We are used to going away in the campervan with the dogs so it was mostly the same kit with a few added extras. Luckily Bark and Ride made sure we were fully kitted out with everything we needed. If it was your first time away in the van with your doggos, a checklist could reduce the stress!!
We would love to see your European Road Trip check list for them, could you give us a sneak peak?
- B & R Harris Sleeping Bag x 2- essential for the mountains
- B & R Trail Towel x 2
- B & R Chillbreaker Coat x 5 (we were going to the mountains so we took all the chillbreakers we could)
- B & R Paw Wax– this was super important for biking but especially for keeping their paws free of snowballs
- B & R Bungee lead x 2
- B & R Wuff Buff x 3
- B & R dog treats x 4
- Poo bags (8 rolls) – badly underestimated how many of these we would need!!
- Doggo First Aid Kit
- Dog Food (1 x 20kg bag and 5 x 2.5kg bags)
- Yumove joint supplement
- Fleece Blanket x 4
- Dog Bowl x 1
- Rapha and Ripper Christmas Presents
- Dog Christmas jumpers x 2
- Froggy the van cuddly toy (very important!)
How long did it take to plan everything for the dogs from packing to essential vaccines etc
Since Brexit, the rules to take your dogs to Europe are much stricter. We ensured we looked at the rules in detail ( which can be found here ) and phoned our vet 6 months before we left.
How did you pack everything in with the space given – did you use specific bags or stuff sacks to reduce the space?
The dogs basically had their own holdall where we knew we could quickly find their kit. They also have their own cupboard in the van for everyday essentials like dog treats and poo bags.
Did you find there were certain items you kept closer to hand after a few days in the van?
Poo bags, dog treats and leads were made easily accessible and everything else went in the back of the van with the bikes. We also kept a small 2.5kg bag of dogfood in the main cabin of the campervan so we didn’t have to keep going outside.
How did you manage to pack enough food and did you use any different storage containers ?
Luckily we have a big garage in the back of the campervan but we did have to sacrifice the paddleboards to fit all their food in. We worked out how much we would need for 6 weeks. We just kept the food in the food sacs it comes in and kept refilling the small 2.5kg bag up from the big 20kg bag.
What did you feed them and how did you know you could manage to get more abroad?
Both Rapha and Ripper are on AVA food. Unfortunately, you can only buy this in the UK. We actually thought that we hadn’t brought enough food so our friends we were meeting in France brought out 3 extra 2.5kg bags for us. It was my worst nightmare that we ran out of dog food.
In the first part of your trip down south, did you find there were plenty of places to stop with the dogs and how did it compare to France or Spain ?
The first part of our European Road trip was a slow one due to the snow storm that had hit the UK. We had planned to head down south via Glasgow but had to change plans and head down the east coast where the roads were clearer of snow. We didn’t plan scheduled stops. If the dogs were awake and got restless, we pulled over. On long journeys add at least 2 hours on the google maps timing for stopping and letting the dogs out. In Europe, there are regular dedicated stopping points on the motorways called an ‘Aire’ – some of these allowed us to give the dogs a good walk.
How did you ensure you had enough water on board for you and the dogs, given being in a foreign country where tap water isnt readily available like Scotland, do you have water onboard your van? Was it easy enough to find places to refill?
We have a 100l water tank onboard. Unfortunately, when we left home it was minus 15 and we couldn’t actually fill up the tank because our outside tap and hosepipe were frozen. We ended up filling up lots of 2l plastic bottles of water to take with us until we could fill up the van at the campsite in Ainsa. From there it was straightforward to keep the tank topped up. Our only top tip here would be to ensure you have a variety of fittings so that you can always connect to the campsite hose or have at least 5-10 metres of hose and a universal fitting. At one campsite, Alex had to hold the hose onto the tank filler whilst getting a shower!
We will continue with Debbie and Alex’s European Road Trip in our next Blog Part 2 – where we discuss getting the dogs through the EuroTunnel, vaccines, passports and how Rapha and Ripper acclimatised to life on the road.