Have to laugh. Sorry.

I was watching a video about American (US) vanlifers crossing borders in South America, and it’s such a big deal for them.

Yeah, it IS!

But Americans have such a huge continent that they can travel around in with so many different kinds of environments without ever needing to cross a border.

So borders are big big deals for them.

They were explaining the steps.

But they’re not that different from what happens when I cross from the Netherlands – or Belgium or France – into the UK or the other way around. You go through customs on one side and when you’ve made it to the other side of the North Sea or the Channel, you go through customs again.

I think it used to be a little bit more relaxed about ten years ago than it is these days, but customs still inspected my van or car on several occasions, asking me to open the doors and let them look at what was in the van or car.

I don’t think they asked me for papers for the van or car, though, or maybe that was because I had to tell them in advance what I was driving when I booked the crossing.

The process is somewhat similar when you take a plane or bus or train. Last time, they aske me to open my suitcase as I had an external hard drive in it – which they could see when they scanned the suitcase, and that drew their attention.

Not when you travel on the continent.

I hasn’t been like that since, eh, the Schengen agreement, I think. Last time I got checked on a continental border was in the early 80s, I think. Border between Belgium and the Netherlands.

What I became very wary of was driving a continental van in the UK if it had no window(s) at the back because it means a) your seat is on the wrong side and it makes it hard to see drivers on the other side – the side where you need to be able to watch – and it makes reversing scary too because you don’t have a good view on what is happening behind you. Once I became aware of that, I picked vans with rear windows. Or I took a passenger along who could serve as lookout. Of course, these days, you can install a reverse camera to deal with such challenges.

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