“Our Client’s Tips For Those Planning A Long Term Campervan Trip” is locked Our Client’s Tips For Those Planning A Long Term Campervan Trip

Our Client’s Tips For Those Planning A Long Term Campervan Trip

December 2, 2016

In act of incredible generosity, our dear clients, The Milwards from Australia (who purchased a Blucamp Sky 20 from us for their trip) have taken the time to outline their advice for those planning to buy a campervan and explore Europe.  Their 11 month trip (done in two visits over two years) ended earlier this year and you can read their great tips before following in their wheel tracks…

Beth and Graham Milward’s Top Tips for Touring Western and Eastern Europe

  • From Paris, France Motorhome Hire is 1 hour by train to Sens and then about 10 minutes by car to the lovely little village of Veron. This was a great place to get acquainted with our motorhome and for us, learn to drive on the opposite side of the road.  There is a very large supermarket with easy access within a few kilometres of Veron.  You can buy just about anything in this supermarket that you may need for your vehicle/holiday.
  • We travelled early in the season, prior to the European holidays of July/August. We never booked camping or tourist attractions ahead, except for Gaudi’s Cathedral in Barcelona
  • If buying a motorhome and you come from abroad, fly with an airline that has a heavy baggage allowance.
  • If flying to France, stay overnight in Paris, then catch the early morning train to Sens. This gives you time for vehicle paperwork and shopping to be done before the day gets too late.
  • France is easy to travel in and you can access huge numbers of camping sites, including both camping grounds and free “France Passion” sites. ‘France Passion’ books provide the details of farms and businesses that allow Motorhomes to park overnight for free.  There is often farm produce, food or other items to purchase if you wish, however there is no obligation to buy.
  • We purchased the following books, which together with our navigation system camping sites, provided for all of our camping requirements throughout our trip. These are as follows:    France Passion book – farms, wineries, shops etcetera for free camping.  The business benefits from what you may buy.   2.  ACSI Camping book for European Camping grounds.  3.  Caravans & Camping 2012 for European Camping grounds.  4.  Norwegian Camping book, available from campgrounds in Norway.  5.  Our Garmin Navigation System for Motorhomes, had a comprehensive list of camping grounds.  We ended up using all of the above to provide our overnight camping throughout Europe.  Where one method failed we were able to use another.  This was essential in countries in Eastern Europe, as we travelled as far East as central Turkey.
  • Buy a spare gas bottle if buying a motorhome. You can buy an adaptor kit from Motorhome supply businesses.  This is essential when travelling as each country has a different type of gas bottle.  We managed to travel using 2 French gas bottles and the adaptor kit, however we rarely used the space heater.  If buying a motorhome, another option is to have an LPG tank fitted.  A third option is to purchase a refillable gas bottle and fill up at the pump.  Note: Norway (and perhaps some other countries) does not have pump gas readily available throughout the country.
  • Check requirements for safety items required for your vehicle in each country. They vary from country to country and you can be fined for not having them.  Camping books have these requirements listed for each country.
  • Bring a good European map book with you to use in conjunction with your navigation system. We found the Garmin 760 Navigation system for Campers was fantastic. Either search for a camping ground on the navigator or log in your camping ground details from your camping book and press GO!
  • Bring a power board if you have a number of technical devices. Motorhomes often lack power outlets.  We needed to recharge items such as cameras, computers, phones, translators, batteries and so on.
  • We also had an inverter to convert power from the vehicle battery, when electricity was not available during free camping. This was great because I am a keen photographer and I like to organise my photos on a daily basis.
  • We used Lonely Planet books for information on attractions etcetera. This worked out well and we rarely used Tourist Information Centres, which can take up valuable time.  Mind you we were moving fairly quickly and didn’t have sufficient time to see everything.  Well you never see everything.
  • Bring some form of translator, either smart phone using google translate or another digital translator that does not require a network.
  • If you are planning on staying longer than 3 months, be aware of the Schengen rules. Some countries allow you to stay a further 90 days after your initial 3 months has been used. 
  • Identification in camping grounds is required. This can vary but includes a passport, international camping card (available from RAC in Australia), ACSI card and international drivers permit.  We preferred not to hand over our passports and therefore used one of the other documents to prove identity.
  • You need and international drivers permit to drive, but you must also take your own driver’s license. In Australia contact RAC to get an International Permit.
  • A number of countries require that you purchase a vignette to use the roads. Some only require the purchase of the vignette to use major roads, other require a vignette to use any road.  This is particularly applicable in Eastern Europe, however sometimes in Western Europe.  The vignette can be purchased occasionally from the border crossing, otherwise from a fuel station.  In Norway, the only practical way of paying your tolls is to register your credit card and vehicle online and the government deducts the toll as you drive through the country.
  • Be careful when parking your motorhome on wet turf in camping grounds. It is easy to get a front wheel drive motorhome bogged.  We purchased a pair of plastic tracks and a spade after getting stuck in mud.
  • We did free camping in a number of countries. France and Norway allow free camping in most places.  Many countries allow 12-24 hour stops.  Some countries do not allow any free camping.  Always choose your camping spot wisely.  In countries where we felt that safety may be a problem and a camping ground was not available, we often asked a business, eg. a restaurant that was set off the main road, if we could camp in their parking area.  We would then purchase drinks or food from that business as a thank you.  We were never refused and this helped considerably when we were travelling through Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and other Eastern European countries.  The people we met who offered us a cheery “Hello” in these countries made us feel welcome.
You can park your campervan just about anywhere in France
  • We had an ample supply of toilet chemicals for our trip. Some of the countries we visited would have no stores that catered for tourists travelling in motorhomes.  France was a great place to purchase these items.
  • If you buy a motor home and intend to travel through Eastern Europe, we would recommend you purchase a spare wheel. Much easier than trying to work out what to do when your tyre is flat.
  • Some countries provide dumping points for your wastes. These may be at set locations where you can park for the night was well, or they may be at a service station.  Many of the Fuel stops on Motorways have dump points.  Most camping grounds have a dump point, but not all.
  • Some cities and large towns in Western Europe provide 24 hour parking in assigned camping spots in the centre of the city, within walking distance of attractions. The Garmin Navigation System for Campers often display these parking spots.
You see wonderful natural views on a European campervan trip too

It’s time for our annual sale of our own two-year-old ex-rental motorhomes and campervans and clients’ brokerage vehicles.  If you are planning to buy a motorhome for a trip in 2017, now’s the time to buy one so give our English speaking team a call to discuss your needs. Here’s a link to our current list of motorhomes for sale:  Second Hand Motorhomes For Sale Not sure if you have the right to own, register and insure a vehicle in France?  Read our webpage that explains all: Buying and Registering a Campervan in France

Like this blog? Share it with friends