Advice for first time visitors to Europe

The CamperVanLife.com team love to travel around Europe. We have put together some useful tips that we hope will improve your experience.

  1. Do It – if you are thinking about visiting Europe… then do it! It is one of the best places in the world to explore with a leisure vehicle. Few places in the world offer the diversity of culture, history, food, drink and language that Europe offers. You will no doubt hear horror stories, but don’t be put off. Almost everyone camping in Europe would recommend the experience to your personally.
  2. Avoid July and August – if you can avoid these months, then do. The majority of Europe holiday makers take their holidays during these months. You will find everywhere busy. If you have to holiday during this period then it is worth booking at least the first few nights at campsites, to ensure you have somewhere to stay.
  3. Learn a little of the local language – Europe has so many languages. Learning a little of the language you are visiting will make a big difference to the way people treat you. Most people can learn the basics in an afternoon with a good guide book. In Spain and Italy English is spoken very little, whereas in The Netherlands, Germany and Portugal English is widely understood and spoken. France, more than any other country, will appreciate you speaking the local language. Whilst many French can speak English they do not like to do so. Use any French you have. If you are keen to learn get started as soon as possible. The French will appreciate your efforts so much that you are likely to be invited for drinks and nibbles. See the guide to language phrase books.
  4. Get Road maps or GPS – Having good road maps or a GPS unit is essential. If you are buying a GPS unit make sure it contains maps for all of the counties you intend to visit. Or at least ensure you can buy the maps for a reasonable price. If you are going to use traditional maps invest in a good road atlas. See the GPS section or the guide to maps.
  5. Do research – Do at least some research about the regions you want to visit. The internet has made this so much easier now. Find out about the weather, water, festivals, or anything about your destination that might effect your visit.
  6. Buy guide books – If you intend to visit towns, monuments, beaches, etc then invest in good guide books. A good guide book can instantly inform you of the best places to visit, opening times, history, language, and more. See the guide book section.
  7. Know your vehicles dimensions – measure the height and length of your vehicle. Keep this information at hand in the cab, as you will at some point be presented with a narrow gap or low bridge. Knowing the dimensions can save a lot of hassle and embarrassment. Actually measure your vehicle., don’t reply on manufacturer details, as they can be wrong, and you may have additions which change the original dimensions.
  8. Don’t stop overnight on French Auto Route aires – the French roadside rest areas are great, and a wonderful place to stop during the day to break up your journey. However we have experienced, and heard of many problems from many campers who have stopped at these aires overnight. The main problems being theft. Don’t stop at them overnight. In particularly the A7 and A9 seem to be the worst.
  9. Don’t be scared of free camping – with the above point in mind, don’t be put off free camping. Free camping is one of the best parts of camping in Europe, and people very rarely experience any trouble. Stopping at a beautiful beach, lakeside or mountain rest area, and then stopping for the night, week, or even a month, is a fantastic experience. Thefts are almost entirely occur at busy roadside stops in urban areas. Be careful and be alert and you should have no problems.
  10. Double check your insurance – check your insurance to ensure everything you think is cover is actually covered. You do not want to find out something is not covered once on the road or after an incident. Ensure you have insurance for the vehicle and travel insurance for the people in it.
  11. Take your E117 health care cards (for EU citizens only) – EU citizens should apply for and take a free E117 health care card with them to Europe. The card entitles you to free or reduced cost health care in most European countries. Don’t think you won’t need it. I needed mine, when travelling alone in Spain. I was very glad to have had mine on me, it made the whole experience much easier. In the UK you can apply online at http://www.ehic.org.uk/. Alternatively, you can apply by calling 0845 606 2030, or by picking up an application form from the Post Office.
  12. Choose ferries carefully – If you have to take a ferry do plenty of research. If you are coming from the UK you pretty much have to take a ferry. If anyone in the party doesn’t like being on water take the shortest crossing you can, to avoid unnecessary illness, and drive the rest of the way. Dover to Calais is still the shortest and quickest crossing.
  13. Check your passports – ensure all are in date. Some countries demand that the expiry date on the passport must be at least 6 months beyond your estimated day of return. Take photocopies of all of the passports. At campsites you will have to leave a passport until you have paid. Many accept photocopies.
  14. Use a bank that doesn’t charge for oversees transactions – most banks will charge you for taking money out when abroad There are several banks that do not. Nationwide is one. You don’t need to change banks, just open an extra account for travel money. You can save a good deal of money this way.
  15. Check your home insurance – check that your home insurance is still valid if you are away from home for a long period of time.
  16. Always be respectful to the police – when you are stopped by the police always be respectful and cooperative. I have been stopped several times, always as a routine check. The police are not trying to catch out foreigners. In fact in most European countries the police will not stop foreigners.
  17. Always keep a quarter tank of fuel – don’t let you fuel drop below a quarter of a tank. Many places close on a Sunday, and finding fuel can be hard. If you are twisting around hills for a long period of time only half fill the fuel tank. This will save weight and make the vehicle easier to drive.
  18. Know the law – the road laws vary between each country, and some require you to carry equipment you might not already have. 
    Under French law, vehicles must carry one reflective jacket for the driver, although many French families store one for each passenger in case there is a breakdown and they have to wait beside the car.

Important Information

  • If you breakdown, or are stopped by the police, put the jacket on, or else you may find yourself with a fine
  • In Spain you require a jacket for each person.
  • In France, Spain and Germany you are required to carry a red warning triangle.  Should you breakdown the triangle must be erected 30 meters behind the car.
  • In Spain you require 2 red warning triangles per car.
  • In Spain you are also required to carry a set of spare lamps/bulbs for your car and the tools to change them

    Here’s a quick kit list:

    Greece
    – First aid kit
    – Fire extinguisher
    – Warning triangle

    Italy
    – Warning triangle
    – Reflective jacket

    France
    – Warning triangle
    – Reflective jacket
    – Headlamp adjustment

    Spain
    – Warning triangle x 2
    – Spare bulbs
    – Headlamp adjustment
    – Reflective jacket

  1. Hello!,

    My girlfriend and i want to do exactly what you are doing! i have a few questions. Where did you buy and register your campervan? Im assuming UK? Also what insurance did you end up getting for your campervan? Did you have an address to register all of this or did you use a friend/family address?

    Do you have to return to the country of the insurance once per year to renew your insurance? I was told that you need to go back each year to renew and get any additional paper work done such as the MOT in the UK.

    If you can share this information it would alleviate TONS of stress for myself as for the last few weeks i’ve been tirelessly research this exact information and it’s hard to find. Your experience could change my life.

    Thank you for anything you can help with!

    Reply

    1. Hi

      I bought and sold all of my vehicles in the UK. I am from there, and so it’s much easier for me to that all of that in the UK.
      It’s more difficult in most European countries to buy and sell vehicles. The UK is very straightforward. Although UK vehicles are right-hand-drive, which is not perfect for the rest of Europe, but still doable. UK vehicles are fairly cheap. From what I know, France and German are also options.

      I got 365 day, live aboard campervan insurance by using a broker. I use my parents address.

      Insurance can be renewed whilst on the road, to return home needed. UK vehicles need to pass a annual inspection, commonly called the MOT test. The vehicle has to be in the UK and presented to a station each year, so yes, it has to come back.

      Reply

  2. Camper van companies
    Hi
    My husband and I want to travel by camper van round Europe. (Germany – Scandinavia) Could you recommend any companies that we can hire a van from in Europe. was going to fly out and then travel the rest by camper van and fly back home.

    many thanks
    Maria

    Reply

  3. Motorhome
    Hi there I am thinking of travelling round a few European countries for 2 weeks in the summer with my husband and 4 kids but haven’t done anything like this before and don’t know where to start!!! Any help/advice greatly appreciated!xxx

    Reply

    1. Hi
      Hi

      1. Make a list of the places you want to visit
      2. Check the tips above
      3. Get your vehicle ready
      4. Enjoy yourself!

      Reply

  4. Hi,
    Hi,
    we travelling to Slovakia in motorhome in couple of weeks time. Making a first stop at Cologne and second in Poland Wroclaw. We were trying to find a campsite for overnight stay but not very successful. Where would you recommend us to make that stop and be safe?

    Reply

  5. travelling with a Van (not a motorhome)
    We are a couple planning to do an Euro trip in a campervan and wondering if the car has to be a self-contained vehicle in order to be able to stay in all these free-parks?
    What country do you think is the best to buy a campervan?
    Thanks for your help and all the information mentioned in your article, is very helpful.

    Reply

    1. To wild-camp in a campervan
      To wild-camp in a campervan your vehicle does need to be self-contained.
      You really should just be “parked”, and ready to move on at any time.
      The police often don’t like people setting up camp in the car parks.

      France probably has the cheapest range of used vehicles.
      But, Germany probably has the best quality of selection, as they have so many VW and Mercedes vehicles.

      Reply

  6. motorhome travel questions
    We are a family of 3 + dog & cat planning to travel with a med sized motorhome through Europe for 6-12 months.
    Our question is how do you incorporate large cities into the itinerary? Do you camp outside the city and use public transport or are there places to park in the city?
    Also, is there any free-camping in Switzerland? or year-round campsites?
    Thank you very much for all the helpful information!

    Reply

    1. Yes, park outside of the city
      Yes, park outside of the city and use public transport to get in.
      Quite often campsites on the edge of cities will have a public bus route.
      Some cities have parking areas for motorhomes, but this is rare. France have the motorhome Aires, which are often well places in cities.
      I would recommend researching each city you want to visit, and plan accordingly.

      Switzerland has some aires, which are typically free camping. There might be some year-round campsites, with hard standings, as the weather will be severe in winter.

      Reply

  7. Hi Darren can I just stop at
    Hi Darren can I just stop at any aire or does it have too be designated Motorhome too ..

    Reply

    1. You can normally stop at any
      You can normally stop at any Aire. Some will say no motorhomes, normally in the busy months (summer).
      To park overnight, you typically need a motorhome aire, in the busy months. In the quite months, you can normally park anywhere.

      Reply

  8. Advice for renting a camper in Iceland
    Here are some very sound advice from our clients on what to have in mind when renting a camper and driving around Iceland!
    http://www.rent.is/camperstories
    Happy Camping!

    Reply

  9. Robin Poggenpoel March 28, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    motor home travel England and Spain March/April2017
    Hi Madam/Sir,

    About 6 gents from South Africa, average age, 50, are planning to travel through England visiting the football stadiums during the Easter period plus another week. Planning to hire a six sleeper motor home and do the tour in about 14 days, traveling from London to end up In Spain. Hoping to watch two games in England and one in Spain.
    Concerns:
    1. Where do you park,
    2. Licenses
    3. Permits required
    4. Average costs of camping sites, and are you allowed to park anywhere , where legal parking are allowed.

    5. Any traveling tips and guidance for some time travelers.

    Reply

    1. Hi guys
      Hi guys

      The UK is not friendly to wild camping, so you are pretty much going to have to use campsites.
      You can try and wild camp, but with such a big vehicle, you will draw attention from the police, and they will probably move you on.
      Campsites are around £20 per night.

      France has a great motorhome scene, and you will be very welcome. France has Aires, where only motorhomes are allowed to park.
      Also lots of campsites, some cheap.

      Spain is a mixture. Some areas are happy with motorhomes, some are not.
      Campsites are pretty good, some are cheap.
      Vehicle crime is high in many places.

      Have a great time.

      Reply

  10. Hi! Me, my husband and our
    Hi! Me, my husband and our dog are about to set off travelling Europe in our campervan. We don’t have an end date but anticipate being on the road for about 6 -12 months. We’re struggling to find both pet insurance and breakdown cover that will cover us for more than 3 months away. Can anyone recommend any companies please?

    Reply

    1. AA was only company that could insure us for breakdown cover longer than 90 days. They do 365 days

      Reply

    2. Hello Claire, my wife and I are taking our putting a plan in motion to travel Europe in a campervan (yet to be purchased) with our dog. We haven’t had much luck finding pet insurance. Do you have any recommendations or information you’d be willing to share? Thanks!

      Darren – thank you for the article, appreciate the information. In my research so far, this is the only mention of the required reflective jackets and other such safety gear required by countries that may save us fines. Thanks again!

      Reply

  11. Right or left hand drive
    I am going to tour Europe for 12 months is it advisable to get a Lhd vehicle?

    Reply

    1. It’s not necessary. It takes
      It’s not necessary. It takes a week or two to adjust, and then a RHD is fine.

      Reply

  12. One-way Campervan Rental
    We will be venturing to Europe for a 2 week trip and would like to rent a camper van type vehicle to tour the countryside of Switzerland, possibly upper northern Italy, Austria, Germany, and The Netherlands. We fly into Geneva on September 13, but can take the train to a pick up destination in another city if necessary – hopefully not too far – and we could also pick up on Monday, September 14 if that makes it easier. We fly out of Amsterdam early a.m. on September 26 and would love to drop off there if possible; again, we could drop off on Friday, September 25 if works better.

    Does anyone have any recommended companies that provide the one-way rental experience? If not, we have considered renting out of Geneva or Zurich and travelling in a loop to check it back in and then train to Amsterdam. We are having trouble finding an outfitter and would greatly appreciate any and all advice.
    Thank you!

    Arlaina

    Reply

  13. Hi there, this is a great
    Hi there, this is a great article for information thanks. Myself and my husband are off to Europe for a month in the campervan at the beginning of August. I was just wondering if anyone knew if it is possible to only stay for a couple of nights at campsites as the ones I have found so far only take bookings for a full week. Any advice/info greatly received. Thanks Megan

    Reply

  14. So Much Fun
    I am in complete agreement with this article, traveling to Europe is wonderful. I went to the UK and France, and found that in France if you attempt at speaking French, they will appreciate it and help you out. If you are used to Camping in North America, you might find European camping different though as you are not very far from a town or city.

    Reply

  15. TRAVEL
    I am going traveling around Europe at the end of May, hopefully for a month, I would like to catch up will like minded people. Its my first trip of traveling alone, with my trusty dog!! Please can anyone give me some info regarding my travels.
    I hope to go through France, Spain, and wherever lol..

    Thanks

    Reply

  16. Non UK residents motorhome insurance
    Hi,
    We bought a van in April 2014 and had a great trip Spain, France and Portugal for 4 months. The only insurance we could get was cover by Down Under Insurance because we were Non UK residents. We wish to go back again this year and our Son wants to borrow our van but the insurance company will NOT let us have any other drivers even if they are family. Does anyone know any other companies? Ken

    Reply

  17. taking 2 pet dogs
    Hi would very much like to hear from anyone who has toured Europe with dogs? My self husband and 2 kids and 2dogs would be going. But am thinking would it be a nightmare with pets. I.e going into citys for the day. This is worrying me so would love to hear from anyone who has first hand experience. Thank you. Isabel

    Reply

    1. Travelling with dogs
      Hi Isabel
      Just came across your post while researching. Have you started your Europe tour yet and have you got your dogs with you? My husband and I are contemplating doing this probably 2017 BUT I have 2 very loved cocker spaniels and this would probably be what stops us doing this, As much as we would both love to get more travelling done before we are too old I could never leave me beloved 4 legged furry kids 🙂
      We will be setting off from Cyprus or might fly back to the UK and start from there. Still lots to plan but have loads of time to make sure all goes well.
      Regards
      Carol

      Reply

  18. Advice please
    I will be spending 10 months of year I Spain/ Portugal, can I buy a portugese registered motorhome up from port of exit to savethe palava I need to go through with DVla. ?

    Reply

  19. Hi, has anyone tried
    Hi, has anyone tried travelling though France and Italy in a campervan through December/ January with young children??? And if so, should we do it?? From Australia

    Reply

  20. Sundance Vacations February 25, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Sundance Vacations
    Sundance vacation is mostly a professional Sundance Annual vacations Sundance Holidays is really an around the country local store outlet shop stash shop store retailer journey firm.

    Reply

  21. Hi, I am planning on hiring a
    Hi, I am planning on hiring a campervan for 2 weeks during august and doing some travelling in france and spain with 2 children (age 6 and 10). As a single female with children I am very daunted about the prospect as well as very excited, can anyone give any tips ablout staying safe or even if it is a safe thing to do with children????

    Reply

    1. France is a country that
      France is a country that loves to campervan and is perfectly setup for it. You’ll have an amazing time,
      There are Aires, which are designated camping spots for campervans, which are often €5 – €10 in the summer. Campsites are plentiful and good value in France. Great for children.
      August is a very busy holiday month im France.

      Reply

  22. Reliable Campers?
    Hey mate,
    So my lady and I are coming to the UK from OZ next year and plan on buying a campercan.. Then driving it around Europe for the year!!!
    I’ve got no idea what make/model to buy though!
    I was hoping to spend (max) around £6,000 on one.
    Only thing my GF is insisting on is that it needs to have a toilet.
    Any suggestions you can give me mate would be well appreciated!
    Cheers bra,
    Chip

    Reply

      1. Thanks!
        Hey dude, thank you for your help!
        Ended up getting a Mercedes 208D 2 berth Elddis, she’s freaking sweet! We land in London on Monday… Then it all begins!!!!
        Cheers,

        Chip

        Reply

  23. Sorry my grandad lives in
    Sorry my grandad lives in Italy where the camper will be stored

    Reply

  24. Hi, I live in England and my
    Hi, I live in England and my grandad who lives in England has given me his camper. How will I go on with a few week insurance at a time and tax and mot. Any info appreciated

    Reply

  25. South of France for 3 weeks
    My friend and I arrive into Cherbourg in August and plan to head to the South of France for 3 weeks to do and see as much as we can! We hope to camp in most places. Any recommendations regarding accommodation, the MUST SEE places and events, festivals etc would be really appreciated. I have googled and googled so have some basic info but it would be great to hear from people who have done something similar!
    Thanks

    Reply

  26. South of France for 3 weeks
    My friend and I arrive into Cherbourg in August and plan to head to the South of France for 3 weeks to do and see as much as we can! We hope to camp in most places. Any recommendations regarding accommodation, the MUST SEE places and events, festivals etc would be really appreciated. I have googled and googled so have some basic info but it would be great to hear from people who have done something similar!
    Thanks

    Reply

  27. Free campervan guide
    Hello!

    I’ve written a free guide for those thinking of a campervan – you can download it from our site if you wish

    W’re just about to go on a French campervan holiday too….

    Enjoy!

    Dan

    Reply

  28. Italian Adventure May 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    UK to Italy
    Hello. My husband, myself and two boys (5 and 6) are planning on taking our motorhome to Lake Garda in August (unfortunately we have to go in school holidays!) Could you possibly recommend a good route for us please? As we are only away for two and a half weeks in total, I guess it would have to be a reasonably quick route to enable us to enjoy Italy. Thanks so much.

    Reply

    1. We do the trek to Italy by
      We do the trek to Italy by motorhome each July from Scotland.
      Generally we will cross Dover – Calais and then head through Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and then the Gottard Tunnel into italy. This skips all the toll roads etc of France.
      depending on the weather we may stop in Luxembourg (diesel is cheap!) or may just keep driving – but we have no kids! There is a campsite just off the Autobahn near Frieburg (Camping Tunisee) on the A5 where we tend to break for the night, then straight through Switzerland into Italy the next day – we like to maximise our time in Italy!
      Garda can be very busy in peak season so Lake Como is also well worth a visit and is pretty much just as you arrive in Italy on this route.

      Enjoy
      DR

      Reply

  29. Thanks for the information
    Thank you very much for all the information. We are planning a 3 week trip.. 4 adults and 2 kids/grandkids. We plan to visit Prague, Vienna, Italy Swiss and paris… looking forward to it and now loaded with all teh good advice from the site… Thanks…

    Reply

  30. Hi Darren,
    Im travelling to

    Hi Darren,
    Im travelling to europe this august. Im looking into camper vans for hire…Now im torn between a camper type van or a motor home? They only thing im concerned about is the size of them, will it hinder me in any parts of europe? I plan to go through france italy germany austria….. whats do you suggest? It just seems price wise to hire for 2 weeks theres not much difference.

    Reply

    1. Where do you intend to go
      Where do you intend to go with the vehicle?

      Will you go from campsite to campsite? If so then get a motorhome, as you extra internal size is great.
      If you will be parking in cities a lot, then get a campervan as it’s much easier to park in car parks.
      If you will be wild camping, a Motorhome is probably better, as you’ll enjoy the extra space.
      Unless you are going down very old and tight lanes, a motorhome shouldn’t be a problem.

      Reply

      1. its my first time. ill be
        its my first time. ill be staying in campsites but will still want to explore the cities…i guess the campsites will be a short distance from the cities? will campsites be near enough to get there by bikes? Thanks for ur advice

        Reply

        1. The distance of campsites
          The distance of campsites from cities varies a lot. Generally, the bigger the city, the further the campsite. Paris, Lisbon and Barcelona have campsites quite a way from the city. But they have great public transport links. Normally 1 well priced bus ride. Cycling from campsites in these big cities is only for the dedicated.

          Small cities and towns have the campsites much closer. So for the smaller cities you can cycle in, and sometimes park in the town itself. Most have public transport too.

          I avoid taking my campervan into cities completely. It’s never a nice experience.

          As you are hiring you don’t have much to lose. I would go for the motorhome. If you find it too big, you’ll know for next time. But a motorhome is not much more difficult than a campervan to drive. Modern vehicles are much easier to drive.

          Sounds like you will have lots of fun 🙂

          Reply

  31. We are heading off to France,
    We are heading off to France, Spain and Portugal in July for 6 weeks, with a week in a villa at Alicante. We are travelling in a Mitsubishi Delica campervan which we’ve owned for a year. The only problem is it doesn’t have a fridge, can you recommend one? We are taking our two children who are very excited at the prospect. My main concern has got to be the thefts in the stopping areas as I know we will be using these. Any advice you can give would be much appreciated.

    Reply

    1. Hi
      Are you looking for a

      Hi

      Are you looking for a fridge you can remove from the vehicle?
      This one runs on gas
      http://www.worldofcamping.co.uk/dometic_waeco_combicool_rc_1200_egp_3_way_absorption_camping_fridge__BP1006_3407

      This one runs on electricity from your leisure battery
      http://www.worldofcamping.co.uk/waeco_cf_18_coolfreeze_compressor_fridge_freezer__BP1006_1921

      The later is good if you drive regularly and have good leisure batteries. Otherwise it will flatten the battery, and so the gas is the best option.

      The thefts can certainly be a problem in some areas of Spain, especially Barcelona.
      I’ve travelled these areas a lot and have never had a problem. Leave your vehicle in secure paid parking areas where possible. Or if you are staying in campsites, take the bus into town. Never leave your vehicle alone in a city like Barcelona.

      Reply

      1. Thanks for the advice
        Thanks for the advice regarding fridge. We have now got one that will also act as a freezer and runs off a leisure battery. The battery is very reliable when travelling and we can plug it into the mains.

        Reply

        1. Glad to have helped.
          Enjoy

          Glad to have helped.
          Enjoy your chilled beer/wine/milk!

          Reply

  32. A year around Europe?
    Hi. This website is fantastic. I’ve decided to give up my (teaching) job and travel around Europe from September until whenever…I’ll be free to continue travelling until the following September. I have a few questions and appreciate any answers or advice:
    1. I have yet to buy an actual campervan. I’ve been looking but if you who already have bought could choose a reliable economical van what would it be? There will be no more than two of us in the van.
    2. Have any of you travelled and worked? I’m hoping to stop along the route when possible and do a bit of work (either teaching English or bar work). Is this easy?
    3. Suggested routes? Considering the time I’m leaving (Sept) I’m planning on starting with the Southern part of Europe to catch the end of the summer heat but is this the best idea?

    Basically, I’m pretty clueless but for a variety of personal reasons this is the year for me to do this so clueless or not I’m going for it….but really would appreciate any advice!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks.

    Reply

    1. Hi
      1..Any type od van can be

      Hi

      1..Any type od van can be reliable. I live VW and Mercedes, but I would consider any type. As long as it is looked after, and serviced, any van can be good.
      Most vans are economical if you drive them slowly. Not much in them otherwise. Its the speed that matters.

      2.I work and travel, but I have an online business. I know others who have got work on the go.
      From September to April Europe is quiet. It is winter with few visitors. Not much bar work. Span and Italy are always looking for English teachers, mainly as second language. Otherwise it’s the worse time of year to look for work, but don’t be put off. You can find it if you look. Check the language schools in Andalucia, Spain. Warmest place in winter, and they need English teachers.

      3. Yes, stay south. September France starts to cool. I would start in France, and then drive south then it gets too cold for you. You can either head to Portugal or Southern Spain for the winter, or Greece, and even Italy, but not quite as warm there.

      You don’t need to know a lot to do these trips. Just do it! It’s easier than you think

      All the best

      Reply

      1. Thanks Darren! Appreciate the
        Thanks Darren! Appreciate the advice.

        Reply

    2. How’s the Europe travelling going?
      Hi,

      Just wondered how your decision to go travelling worked out?

      We are in a similar position (teaching) and thinking about hitting the open road.

      Did you manage to find work ok?

      What route did you take?

      Any advice for first timers (campsites?)

      Hope it’s going well and you’re still enjoying it.

      Tom

      Reply

  33. Hi im going travelling in
    Hi im going travelling in july. not properly planned yet but i do intend on having somekind of route through france,italy and germany. Im going for 2 weeks.
    My question is how much is fuel going to cost me?
    how much should i keep for camp sites/ food?

    Reply

    1. Fuel in Europe is about €1.30
      Fuel in Europe is about €1.30 – €1.40 for diesel.
      This website is good for calculating costs:
      http://en.mappy.com/#p=itinerary_homepage

      Be sure to fill in all of the details to calculator the cost properly.

      Campsites cost from €10 per day in summer. Some campsites are a lot more, so get a campsite book, or use websites to find cheaper ones if you want to.
      Food costs the same as the UK. Although we find we spend less when in the campervan, as meals are simpler, and we don’t stock up on anything.

      Reply

  34. jonny sanderson April 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    First time
    hi there,i am just after a little advice.me and my wife are hiring a campervan for 5 weeks for our first trip in Europe,i was just wondering is 5 weeks long enough ?because lots of people on here seem to be taking months to travel rather than weeks.We just want to have a tester to see how we enjoy it, because if we do we would like to travel furtherfor longer in the future.
    Thanks,jonny.

    Reply

    1. Hi Jonny
      5 weeks is plenty of

      Hi Jonny

      5 weeks is plenty of time, especially for a taster.
      The people spending months traveling have had their taster, and have committed to longer term traveling.
      Even a week away is fantastic fun. You can do a lot in a day in a campervan.

      I hope you have a great trip.

      Reply

  35. Europe
    Hi,
    My wife, 7 yr old daughter and I are looking at travelling troughout Europe next april time. We are looking at starting in germany, heading in a clockwise direction taking in Prague, Austria, Itly, Switzerland ( I want to do mont blanc tunnel !!), France then onto Denmark and Norway if we have time, do you have any advice ? This will be our 1st real camper adventure, but we are seasoned campers and outdoor lovers.
    Thanks Morph

    Reply

    1. Sounds like an amazing
      Sounds like an amazing trip.
      My only advice would be to perhaps get breakdown cover. That is a long way with some mountainous roads.
      You’ll have mixed weather in April, so take a good selection of clothes. Maybe a heater is a good idea in your camper?

      Reply

  36. meet you all nordcamp
    meet you all nordcamp 2012
    have fun

    Reply

  37. Does anyone know the
    Does anyone know the procedure involved in wanting to take my dog travelling with me? I will be starting from Dover/Calais then who knows? Is 3k a reasonable amount to get me going? Is anyone aware of any working farms etc where its possible to park up and camp while maybe working for a few weeks? Great site, thanks. K

    Reply

  38. +1
    +1

    Reply

  39. camper
    hi, my girlfriend and i are going to the south of spain via west coast of france so i can do some surfing. have no set route other than west coast down, over the pirinese, then hug the portugal border to grandada, back up east coast spain, alicante, valencia barcelona then back through central france.

    anyone recomend any must see landscape, art museums, great surf beaches and campsites along this ‘route’. also want to avoid motorways

    thanks, awsome site

    Reply

    1. Hi. Sounds like a great
      Hi. Sounds like a great trip.
      West coast of France has lots of great surf spots. Maybe check out Dune de Pyla, Europes biggest.
      Check out the Aires, wild camping/ almost free car parks where you can stop in a camper van. Some charge a few Euros. You need to know where they are though, this book is good:
      https://www.vicarious-shop.com/All-the-Aires-France-3rd-edition.html

      The Basque Country in France and Spain is great for surfing, little towns, great beaches, good food, great views.
      Northern Spain has loads of places to surf and little towns to hang out.
      Portugal is great throughout. If you stay away from the biggest surf breaks you can have the place to yourself.
      Peniche in Portugal is great for surfing, beaches in every direction.

      Barcelona is a great city to visit.

      Motorways are annoying as they are paid, and they can be expensive. I generally try and find a almost-as-good free road, but switch to the pay road if the free road is too windy.

      Try these pages which are my notes from a few years ago.
      https://www.campervanlife.com/camping

      All the best

      Darren

      Reply

  40. europe and morocco
    hi my wife and i travelled around europe and over to morroco in 5 months we went to france ,belguim,holand,denmark,norway, sweeden,estonia,latvia, lithuania,poland,germany,chec republic, switzerland,austria,italy,san marino,monnaco,spain,gibralter,and portugal,drove all the way in a 1975 vwt2 camper van had loads of free camping and wouldent change a thing glad we did no research and never made our trip into months of research before hand as it was excellent the not knowing mafe it a great adventure,only downside was seeing the old people staying for months in 1 nite stay aires in most of europe,and being proud of it,THE OLD PEOPLE DOING THIS ARE GOING TO DESTROY THE FUTURE OF FREE CAMPS .some are now charging for water as a result!

    Reply

    1. Great to here you had a great
      Great to here you had a great trip.
      It is a shame to see so many white plastic motorhomes taking up all of the room at great wild campsites. Some places are creating new wild camping spots to allow people to camp, so this is a good thing.
      Lets hope wild camping continues in the future.

      Reply

    2. Hi there, I see that you did
      Hi there, I see that you did a van tour through for europe for 5 months. My parnter and I are going to do the same, was just wondering how much it cost you in the end? Have no idea how much money we need to allow!!!

      Thanks

      Reply

      1. aprox £4.500
        aprox £4.500

        Reply

      2. ps it would cost alot less
        ps it would cost alot less with a more economical vehicle and a more modern camper fuel alone was over £2500 the rest was tolls, ferrys, and food …not eating out and staying on very few sites only for showers to keep the cost down ,but depends on how much you want to see and do,weve seen places we will probably never see again but well worth it….we talked about doing it and a month later we left our jobs and did it ,the more you think about it the less likley you will do it,my thoughts anyway ….just do it!

        Reply

  41. Alone traveller any suggestions?
    Hi all, firstly I’d like to say thankyou for all the great info, I am currently planning a trip on my own through France and Spain in a van conversion – Do you think it is safe for me to be alone? I am a 30 yr old woman but I do look alot younger and am slighly built. I am used to camping and festivals and am a bit of a hippy so does anyone also know of any ‘new age’ type sites also?
    Thanks 😉 x

    Reply

    1. You should be fine.
      Lots of

      You should be fine.
      Lots of women travel on their own.
      If you camp near other people, and away from shady areas you should have no troubles.

      Reply

  42. My wife and I are new to
    My wife and I are new to campervanning but are keen to travel to Italy via France. We are not sure yet about the route but keen to take advice. We are looking for breathtaking scenery and as much of the quaint aspects of French and Italian life as possible. Is there a well known route over the Alps or any must sees along the way that anyone could recommend. Amazing road, spectacular views are the priorities for us.

    Reply

    1. I guess it depends on your
      I guess it depends on your schedule and where you want to visit.
      Try some of these websites for ideas

      http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=scenic+routes+to+italy

      Reply

  43. campsites November to feburary
    Firstly great website Darren.
    Myself and my girlfriend are trying to plan a 4 month trip covering most of mainland europe from november to feburary. We had planned a mixture of free camping along with staying in some proper campsites to charge the batteries, clean up etc. We know this isnt peak time for sites etc but so far we are finding through are planning most of the sites close for the winter?? from your experience are most of the sites closed or have you any other tips of where to camp and charge up safely?? thanks

    Reply

    1. Hi Kieran
      Glad you like the

      Hi Kieran

      Glad you like the website 🙂

      In warmer areas at the time of year, such as Portugal and southern Spain you’ll find plenty of campsites open. These places get camping visitors all year around.
      Colder places such as Germany will have less campsites open, as they don’t get many visitors in the snow.

      I’m assuming you’ll be sticking with the warmer weather. Therefore you’ll have no problem finding campsites that are open.

      In France you’ll find Aire de Service. These are service areas designed for motorhomes and campervans. They are normally tarmaced or concrete areas, sometimes in woodlands, with parking spaces. Many have electricity, fresh water and water disposal sites.

      The French take camping very seriously, and these Aires are great places to stop and refresh your vehicle. They are generally free outside of the summer. Charging about €5 in the summer.

      You’ll find similar things in Italy, and a few other countries are starting to make such things.

      You can find out about them if you search

      http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=aire+de+service

      Reply

  44. female traveller security
    I m thinking of buying a WV or converting a small ‘stealth van’ and just taking off for a while. Starting from the UK and going for as long and as far as suits me. Any comments welcome but especially: How safe it it to free camp as a single female (all of 5ft2′!)?

    Reply

    1. I have done a lot of wild
      I have done a lot of wild camping in both a rascal van camper with windows, and a transit stealth van. You will find people will worry about you far less if your vehicle looks like a camper van.

      Reply

  45. france trip
    im looking to drive from bilbao,through france and back to england in a t4 campervan,do you know any way that i can plan a route with campsites on route or routes that are pre planned as to make it as stress free as possible as me and my gf are not looking to have our heads in a map all day.many thanks

    Reply

    1. I think you definitely need
      I think you definitely need to plan your route in advance. Be conservative with your estimated daily mileage and plan your stops accordingly. See Darren’s advice (against) the Aires de Repos on French Routes Nationales (N roads). I’ve done many trips over the whole of France, it makes a big difference to your route plan if you will both be driving or just one of you.
      Maybe a couple of days with Google Maps &/or Google Earth before you go, there’s a “business” search option where you could type “campsite” or “camping”. You can print out the google maps and details of the campsites.
      http://www.campingfrance.com/ (also in English)
      Buy a french (ring bound) road atlas. Along the coast through France are loads of campsites, school will be starting soon so maybe not so crowded. Check the date of ‘rentrée à l’école’ in France, looks like 1-2 September (http://www.education.gouv.fr/pid184/le-calendrier-scolaire.html).
      Bon Voyage!

      Reply

  46. two weeks in october
    four of us with one child would like to travel around Europe in a campervan we have never done this before could anyone give any advise????

    Reply

    1. Are you all going to travel
      Are you all going to travel in the same vehicle? if so you’ll need something big. Probably a motorhome, but you may be able to find a van conversion that will accomodate you all.

      Reply

  47. europe for 6 weeks
    my partner and I are planning on travelling around europe for 6 weeks in a vw T4, Ive managed to plan a bit of a route but dont know if there are any well followed routes out there that let you take in spain, france, italy, germany, scandinavia?

    Reply

    1. It all depends on what you
      It all depends on what you want to see (cities, country side, beaches), how much time you have, and your budget, as toll roads are quicker but cost more.

      I would recommend highlighting the places on the map you definitely want to visit, and other places you might want to visit.
      Then make a route that takes these in. As you travel your route is likely to change based on your remaining time, and how you feel about the things you visit.
      It’s always good to be flexible about your route. Don’t make it too fixed.

      Obviously main toll roads/motorways are quickest, but are generally the least interesting roads and often the most expensive.
      The country roads are more interesting but slow.

      Reply

  48. my vw campervan and 2 kids
    just planning a 6 month trip with my 6year old girl and my 2 year old boy around france, italy spain and portugal everthing seems positive but can anyone tell me is there places to shower in service station its my first trip pleeese help.

    Reply

    1. Hi Diane
      Some service

      Hi Diane

      Some service stations on the main roads have showers. But there are not lots. Campsites obviously offer showers, but I guess you are looking to free camp?
      Have you considered a solar shower? They work OK in hot weather. Fill with water and leave on the roof of the van for a few hours. Or even part boil the kettle and fill the shower with your own water.

      Reply

      1. shower
        Hi . You say here that one could use a solar shower. myself and my girlfriend are planning a trip starting in march that will last for 8 months. we have 2 brand new solar showers bought. we havent got a camper yet, still looking. my question is – if we get a camper with no shower room, how can we use the solar shower? i presume outside the motorhome. any ideas from you? thanks.

        Reply

        1. The easiest way is to use the
          The easiest way is to use the solar shower outside. Fill the solar shower in the morning, and let it warm all day. Then shower in the afternoon.

          Another way, although it can cause splash, is to stand in a large bowl inside the van, then use the solar shower inside. Be careful not to splash too much though.

          Reply

          1. solar shower
            U can easily hook up a solar shower to the outside of ur vehicle.
            If you want some privacy (not all of us do :-)) you could look at purchasing a small toilet/change tent from numerous camping stores or caravan.camping outlets around the country. They are easy to erect, light weight and pacl down very small.

  49. Van Insurance???
    Hi, my partner and I are planning to travel Europe for 6-8 weeks this August. Can anybody please give me a rough idea of what van insurance would be and the best place to get it? I know it varies with what vehicle you have but just after a rough idea of price before we plan to much. Thanks heaps.

    Reply

    1. For a professional conversion
      For a professional conversion expect to pay from £50 per month. But things vary greatly.
      Try the insurance page for more information
      https://www.campervanlife.com/insurance

      Reply

    2. Hi there. Try Sureterm
      Hi there. Try Sureterm Insurance, they specialise in campervan isurance and convertions They seem quite reasonable, friendly and can offer european breakdown cover as part of a package (pretty essential I would say). Very friendly and extra discounts to be had by joining a caravan club – they will recommend one that costs nothing. good luck and enjoy.

      Reply

  50. First timer – planning a trip from UK to Spain
    Having read through the above comments, am a bit worried about HAVING to travel at the end of July because of school holidays. There will be 2 adults and 2 children (almost 6 & 9) and will have 4-5 weeks to do our trip. Would love any hints, tips and/or recommendations from those who have already done this sort of thing.

    Reply

    1. You need to avoid the peak
      You need to avoid the peak problems.
      Try to always fuel your vehicle during quiet times (evenings).
      Try to travel during quiet times – very early and very late in the day.
      Try and book places on campsites, or choose very quiet spots for free camping.
      Essentially you need to avoid busy areas, and especially avoid getting stuck in traffic jams.

      You will have a great time, you just need to plan a little more.

      Reply

  51. Under French law, vehicles
    Under French law, vehicles must carry one reflective jacket for the driver, although many French families store one for each passenger in case there is a breakdown and they have to wait beside the car.

    If you breakdown, or are stopped by the police, put the jacket on, or else you may find yourself with a fine.

    In Spain you require a jacket for each person.

    In France, Spain and Germany you are required to carry a red warning triangle. Should you breakdown the triangle must be errected 30 meters behind the car.

    In Spain you require 2 red warning teiangle per car.

    In Spain you are also required to carry a set of spare lamps/bulbs for your car and the tools to change them

    Here’s a quick kit list:

    Greece
    – First aid kit
    – Fire extinguisher
    – Warning triangle

    Italy
    – Warning triangle
    – Reflective jacket

    France
    – Warning triangle
    – Reflective jacket
    – Headlamp adjustment

    Spain
    – Warning triangle x 2
    – Spare bulbs
    – Headlamp adjustment
    – Reflective jacket

    ends

    Reply

  52. legal stuff
    sounds like good advise ,we are off to spend the next few months in europe in our van mainly in Italy looking for a new home (hopfully)is there any things that you legally have to have ie warning triangles etc?

    Reply

  53. Sometimes…
    I have parked in gas station car parks, and truck stops, in Spain and Portugal. It is worth asking if it’s OK first, before you park. Truck stops are almost always OK, but its worth asking as you need to park in the right place.

    Some supermarkets also allow it, but again, ask first. There is nothing worse than a knock on the window once you are settled for the night, especially from the police.

    Reply

  54. Very usefull text, do you
    Very usefull text, do you people usually park in gas stations ?
    Mainly those with restaurants and sometime with hotels.

    Thanks, and great site.

    Reply

  55. Camper van trip alone.
    Thank you for the encouraging words on this article. I am in the very early stages of plannikng to take a camper van – alone except for a dog maybe – into France. It was encouraging to learn it has been done, safely, and enjoyably. x

    Reply

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