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You are going to make a few mistakes during your adventure but we share the most common ones so you can avoid making them

A clever question about European motorhome travel from an arriving client

June 26, 2019

Those new to campervan travel in Europe generally arrive with a long list of questions for us before setting off on their maiden voyage but a client who set off for the first time recently had just one question which I thought was very smart. Rather than working through a list of questions, she simply asked “What mistakes do newcomers typically make”.

You are going to make a few mistakes during your adventure but we share the most common ones so you can avoid making them

You are going to make a few mistakes during your adventure but we share the most common ones so you can avoid making them

Needless to say, with about 100 clients circulating around Europe in motorhomes, we get to hear about the mistakes people make so it was a very good question to ask of us. We decided we would share the most common mistakes that newbies make so you can avoid making them if you are planning your first trip. When we came to write the list, we realised we had already written about some of these pitfalls so if there is an existing blog on the topic you’ll see a link to it and where there is not, we’ll give you a brief tip and write more about it soon.

We are surrounded by interesting canals and rivers, this is Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses on The Canal de Briare

We are surrounded by interesting canals and rivers, this is Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses on The Canal de Briare

Here are our most commonly observed mistakes made by newcomers who motorhome travel in France and Europe

Arriving without a working mobile phone and access to data.

Arriving without any maps (or a working GPS/means of navigating) .

Not staying locally for a while when you first pick up.

Coming to collect your campervan straight from the airport after a long flight.

Not buying bikes to take on your tour.

– Not taking care when reversing (or using one of your passengers to see you back if you have any). The vast majority of damage we see to newly collected motorhomes is from exactly this and we’ll write more about how to avoid all types of damage soon.

– Parking in car parks instead of secure campsites when visiting big cities and tourist attractions. Crime is not a big problem here except in tourist hot spots and big cities where it is a problem all over the world. For overnight stays or when leaving your motorhome unattended in these places you should head for the security of a campsite. We will give you many more tips for avoiding being broken into, it truly is avoidable and has never happened to most of our clients.

– Trying to go too far and fit too much in during your first trip. Rushing about causes almost as much damage as not reversing carefully and we know it’s tempting to try and cover the whole of Europe straight away but you’ll get much more out of your trip if you set off without a punishing plan and slowly explore rather than thrashing across the continent at breakneck speed. We’ll give you some tips on how to plan an enjoyable and relaxing adventure instead of a stressful cannonball run.

– Assuming that everything in France will be just like it is back home. It is not but equally, it is not wrong, just different! Accepting that and embracing the challenges of learning how a different culture works from shop opening hours to road signs is all part of the fun. We will give you a list of the things that surprise our clients most when it comes to French culture and traditions.

– Failing to appreciate that English is not the first language of the continent. You would not expect the locals to speak French, German, Italian or Spanish in Australia, New Zealand the USA or Canada (OK maybe a little Spanish in some parts of the USA and French in some parts of Canada) so why would you expect the locals here to speak English in a country where it is not the spoken language? European languages developed a long time before English speaking tourists arrived and therefore English is not that commonly spoken outside of very touristy areas. You need to plan for the fact that you most of the people you need to communicate with won’t speak English when you travel through Europe. We’ll blog more on this topic and give you some tips on how to survive your terrible language skills soon.

There are many pretty villages to see on The River Yonne.  This is Villeneuve just 7kms from our base.

There are many pretty villages to see on The River Yonne. This is Villeneuve just 7kms from our base.

Needless to say, 100% of our clients have lived to tell the tales of the mistakes they made and you will most likely survive any that you make but why not learn from those who have blazed the trail and ensure your campervan ownership abroad gets off to the best start.

Existing clients, if you’d like to ‘fess up to your mistakes, please do share the good, the bad, the funny and the ugly errors you made so we can help our newbies to avoid them.

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