Susan and David Bratt have gone where few American RVers have gone before: Europe. Since 2008, David, retired head of Winona State University's Theatre and Dance Department, and Susan, a retired costumer for the department, have been RVing their way through France, Switzerland, Italy, England, Germany, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands. They share the collective wisdom of their thousands of miles on European roads with their 24-foot RV, Rover, on their website,

The Bratts started their retirement travel adventures in 2008 after coming across the book "Take Your RV to Europe." Even with the initial shipping costs of $4,200, plus continued storage of Rover abroad, the Bratts say they've come out way ahead financially, seeing more of Europe the way they want to -- from an RV.

Q What about reading "Take Your RV to Europe" made you excited? David: It seemed doable and cheaper, and cheaper was important because we wanted to stay for some time and travel a lot.

Susan: It just made sense to us when we read the book. [We thought]: "This will work, we can do this." [But] our thing was we had never owned a motor home, never done any RVing.

Q What was the reaction when you told friends and family you were going RVing in Europe?

David: Well, some of them did remind us that we had never done it before.

Susan: "You're going to do what?!" They just couldn't quite believe it but they think it's really cool.

David: Other friends and people would say "Isn't that expensive to get it over there?" and "Isn't gas expensive?" and "Are there campgrounds?" ... There are something like 10,000 campgrounds in France alone.

Susan: There are campgrounds all over. It's remarkable once you start looking for them.

Q Did you do a test run?

Susan: We did a two-week trip out East [United States] and by the time we got back home, I didn't want to get out. We just really loved it.

Q Any big surprises when you went over the first time?

David: I guess our biggest surprise was getting released from customs in Belgium and we got in the RV.

Susan: And we were giddy. ... "We did it!"

David: And then found our way onto the highway and ran into some road signs with 15-letter words in them and exclamation points and we realized ...

Susan: ... Gosh, we don't know what they're saying!

Q So are there special maps for RVers?

David: There aren't. There are Michelin maps and they are wonderful. They use different colors on the map to illustrate different quality of roads, and so you'll hear people talk about the "white" roads and the white roads are the ones you stay off of because ...

Susan: They're one-lane.

David: And so you stay on the "red" roads.

Susan: There are also a lot of interstate-type highways if you really need to get where you're going.

Q Have you ever gotten into a jam?

Susan: We came very close to getting stuck in Cornwall [England] on what they call lanes, rather than roads, because they are literally one lane. And they have hedges along the side, and the hedges are really stone walls. ... We hit the edge of our awning on one of the hedges, that's how close we were. It was very frightening. We should have never been on that road.

Q And that was because of your GPS?

David: It would keep getting us into situations in towns that we didn't want to be in ... because the GPS only gave you two or three options: Do you want the route that is the shortest in distance? Or the shortest time? Either of those is going to mean an alley or something. ... We sprung the extra money to buy a GPS that is for truckers. It's an intelligent enough database -- you want to go this way and not that way, because the other way is too narrow. It's been more predictable. It doesn't know where there are detours, though, and that makes things fun.

Q Which countries have been the scariest to drive in?

David: The scariest were Italy and England for different reasons. Italy because the whole country is mountains, and they insist on putting roads through the mountains ... In England, actually throughout Europe but especially in England, the roads are very narrow with very high speed limits, and you know it's things like the angle of the turn, and it changes in the middle of the turn. You always have to be alert.

Susan: You get used to driving on the left really quickly because everyone else is doing it. ... I kept reminding David to get into the left lane when going around traffic circles, of which there are thousands.

Q You refer to Rover as a "she." Does she have a personality?

David: She's very reliable, she doesn't get in the way. That's the one thing that we most appreciate is the reliability.

Susan: We had a dog named Rover and she was a "she." We had lost her probably six or seven years before we bought the motor home. And we needed to name it because we kept saying "the motor home" -- it just didn't work. She needed a name. And one day I thought of Rover and it fit in so many ways. But, no, I don't really think she has a personality.

Q Tell us about your website,

David: We're aiming the blog at people who might want to do the same thing. It's not a travel blog really; it's an RVing-in-Europe-what-would-you-want-to-be-thinking-about blog.

Q With gas prices on the rise, is that something that affects your planning?

David: It really hasn't been an issue. ... If you do the arithmetic, 50 miles a day average, 10 miles per gallon, so we're burning up five gallons of gas, which is 30, 40 dollars' worth of gas. That's just another 30-, 40-dollar expense we're going to have every day.

Susan: We're not spending $180 for a hotel room. We're still coming out way ahead.

Q So cost-wise how does RVing compare with taking a usual trip to Europe?

Susan: We are spending more on museums and things like that than we would at home. And we're eating out more. But we're only spending about $2,000 a month more [than at home]. People go on tours [that cost thousands]. ... We don't spend that kind of money at all. It still is a very cost-effective way to see Europe, and we're seeing things that people don't normally see.

Q What would you recommend for people thinking of RVing abroad?

David: Research it.

Susan: Just do a lot, a lot, of research.