Explore Europe with a camper van + tips for road trips

Explore Europe with a camper van + tips for road trips

by Karen Bradbury and Elizabeth Jones
Stripes Europe

Longing to see the wonders of Europe but still leery about boarding a plane or train? That’s understandable. While you could just pile into the car and head to a rental property or camping area, there is a way you can a) tick off the miles in spacious comfort and b) have a safe place to bunk down at the end of a long day.

Yes, we’re talking about the great European camper-van vacation! RVs, camper vans and motor homes are very popular throughout Europe. These vehicles facilitate trips-of-a-lifetime while helping to minimize the time usually spent in shared spaces.

Lovers of the RV’ing lifestyle are quick to tout its countless benefits. With judicious planning, enough gear can be stashed away to be on the road for months. A fridge and cooking facilities on board help to minimize pricey restaurant visits. Best of all, you have the freedom to go almost anywhere, and should your destination change at the last minute, your odds of finding somewhere decent nearby to set up camp are always good.

Parks that welcome these homes on wheels are found in a vast array of environments. There are RV parks by the sea, next to lakes, deep in the mountains and just outside the city limits of many a great metropolis. There are bare-bones facilities exclusive of electricity hookups and sanitary facilities, where an overnight stay comes in at less than a 10-euro note. At the other end of the spectrum are full-service areas with five-star facilities. To seek out a destination and see how it rates, the website campercontact.com allows you to choose from 34,000 possible places to park for the night across Europe.

If you’re looking to invest in your own RV, you will find many different options. But for those whose budgets are not ready for that type of investment, there is another option: renting.

The largest of companies to rent out mobile homes in Europe is called McRent, with branches in most European countries. Models vary in size and comfort category, from a standard “urban” model that sleeps two to a premium luxury model. Prices will fluctuate with the seasons. The company also has last-minute offers promising considerable savings.

Tips for your road trips

No matter where you’re stationed, you can plan an epic road trip whether it’s within one country or across multiple. Follow these helpful tips to ensure your road trip, via car or RV, is a success.

In advance:

  • Ensure everyone has tourist passports.
  • Bringing pets? Get their passports and shots up to date. Check if they’re allowed in countries and if any shots are needed for them to enter or come back to your host nation.
  • Make sure you have your international driver’s license.
  • Research and understand the different rules of the road of all countries you’re driving to and through.

What to pack:

  • Tourist passports.
  • Pet passports, seatbelts and other necessities.
  • Entertainment for kids.
  • Emergency vehicle equipment, spare tire, extra oil and other necessary fluids.
  • Meals, snacks and drinks.
  • Bottled water since tap water in some countries isn’t drinkable.
  • Trash bags for any messes or wet clothing/linens in the car.
  • Necessary electrical adaptors.
  • Pack light for clothing, if possible.
  • Toilet paper for the rest stops that may be out of it.

Planning and budgeting:

  • Contact your bank about all travel plans, including countries you’re driving through in case you make an unexpected stop.
  • Download maps from Google Maps to use offline in case you hit dead spots.
  • Budget accordingly for gas, tolls and vignettes along your route.
    • Carry cash for tolls.
    • Plan your fuel route and gas up in cheaper countries.

Vignettes

Purchase a vignette for each country you plan to travel to. Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland all require a vignette sticker. They can be purchased at border crossings and nearby gas stations for a set number of days, one or two months or even a year.

Favorite road trips within countries

U.K.

  • Ireland - Ring of Kerry, Burren Loop, Wild Atlantic Way, Causeway Coastal Route and Dingle Peninsula.
  • Scotland - North Coast 500, Argyll Coastal Route, Highland Route and Isle of Skye.
  • England - The Great Stones Way, St Hilda’s Way, The Peak Pilgrimage, The Cornish Celtic Way and The Old Way.

Germany

  • Romantic Road
  • Wine Road
  • Fairytale Road
  • Alpine Road
  • Castle Road

Italy

  • Amalfi Coast
  • Tuscany region
  • The Dolomites
  • Veneto region

 

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