Well, we had a budget of 6-7K, and after much deliberation, visited a dealer with an old 6 Berth Merlin (225 miles away). Assured good condition etc. What a pile of crap. Ended up coming home very hacked off. We had taken 4 weeks off, Me the Wife and 4 Kids, and only 2 months to go and no prospect of anything within our budget. In the end we compromised with a mazda bongo MPV, but with an elevating roof. We bought an awning, rear towbar storage box, mains lead, small frige, some picnic stuff and the plan was 2 kids in the roof, 2 people on the seats made into a double bed and two in the awning. We also took a pup tent. All a bit of a squeeze.
The time came to leave, put on the rear carrier, attached the lighting board to find the towbar was wired wrong so the indicators went on when the brakes were applied and when indicating the brake lights flashed. 2 hours to departure. I phoned the RAC who were there in 1/2 hour and clipped some wires, rejoined them correctly and we were off. Dover to Calais.
First stop Rambouillet near paris, 4 nights. Nice site, nice town and got the train to paris for the day. Everything worked, we were all able to sleep relatively comfortably. We then drove to Geneva, and camped by the lake -good swimming etc but need a mortgage for just a loaf of bread. Then off to Bogliasco by the med in italy -43c but brilliant location on a hill and a free minibus ride to the coastal village. Next stop lake trevignano near rome - again brilliant swimming, and got the train to rome where we took in the colloseum, forum, trevi fountain and st peters.
Next stop near venice, very crowded site, and experienced a tornado which uprooted a tree which landed 10 feet from us, and upturned caravans etc. Did get to venice on a boat across the lagoon, but very hot and crowded. From there we drove to lake bled in slovenia, brilliant site but expensive. Got a boat out to the island, and drove to lubliana for supper.
After a few days we moved on to camp near vienna, and again got public transport into the city. also took a bus to Bratislava in slovakia for the day.We then had to start making our way home - via nurnberg, holland and belgium where the weather turned awful and we came home with everything dripping wet. Nearly 4000 miles covered and not a mechanical hiccup. We would never want to do such a trip in a small vehicle again, but could not fault its performance. Have now taken the plunge with a new elnagh clipper 20, and unfortunatly have to sell the bongo. Off to the south of france this year, but we are considering further big trips when we can take a month off again. Ideas include Istanbul, Morocco, and Norway-driving to the Arctic Circle.