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In 2016, Heath and I premiered our documentary about touring to fifty states and I shared my subsequent dream with him: RVing the world over.
However we had been utterly broke on the time and paying off scholar debt, in order that dream was indefinitely on maintain. Then in 2019, we spent just a few weeks RVing throughout Italy and now we’re RVing throughout France and Spain. (With a splash of Switzerland and Monaco and Italy in there too!)
As we’ve deliberate these main journeys, we’ve struggled to seek out a lot data on-line from different Individuals making the trek throughout the pond and renting an RV in Europe. RVing (or caravanning or motorhoming) in Europe is simply as common as it’s within the States, so we put collectively this temporary information with all the pieces we wanted to know earlier than reserving our RV rental and flying the world over.
Right here’s what we’ll cowl:
- Rental Firms
- Varieties of European RVs
- International locations The place You Can RV
- Finest Instances to RV in Europe
- The place to Camp in Europe
- Paid Choices
- Free Choices
- Driving in a International Nation
- How lengthy are you able to keep in Europe?
There are countless choices for RV rental firms in Europe. Listed here are just a few firms to think about:
And there are peer-to-peer RV rental choices (assume Airbnb however for RVs) like:
I personally have rented twice with Anyplace Campers. I’m fairly positive we selected Anyplace throughout our first journey RVing in Italy as a result of they included sheets, dishes, pillows, and many others and most leases don’t. Plus, they provide limitless mileage, so that you don’t have that added stress of a each day mileage restrict like some leases.
The most important consideration when researching for a rental RV (aside from the plain of if they’ve a rental out there throughout your journey dates!) is the automobile transmissions provided. Most RVs in Europe are guide/stick-shift. We even have an computerized in France proper now, and it’s one much less factor to consider whenever you’re driving down tiny, winding roads abroad. In Italy, Heath needed to rapidly be taught stick shift within the mountains in Italy…and it was traumatic to say the least!
If I may impart one piece of recommendation to anybody who desires to lease an RV in Europe, it might be to decide on an organization that enables one-way leases!
Once we RVed in New Zealand and Canada, we needed to drive all the best way again to the start line to return the RVs and it felt like we misplaced two days of our journey simply returning to the drop-off metropolis. Theoretically, you’d take a distinct route again to the drop-off metropolis than whenever you left it, however we’ve discovered that we at all times spend a lot time exploring and adventuring that we wait till the final second to make the return journey again and rush by it.
In Italy, we road-tripped from Venice to Rome and it was completely excellent!
So whichever rental firm you go along with, I extremely suggest choosing a one-way rental.
Varieties of European RVs
European RVs are considerably smaller than American RVs. Whereas the smallest RVs within the States are round 21-24 toes lengthy, the longest RVs in Europe shall be 24-26 toes lengthy.
The smaller the RV, the extra snug you may be maneuvering it throughout Europe. Roads, campsites, and parking spots are smaller over there! Assist your self out by selecting a smaller RV.
European RVs can have cassette bogs as a substitute of a black tank and possibly received’t have any air-con. They usually undoubtedly received’t have slideouts! For those who’re used to a motorhome within the US, a motorhome or camper in Europe will really feel much more like van life.
Renting an RV (campervan, motorhome, tenting automotive, insert country-specific title right here) may be costly. Common costs vary in every single place from $100-$175/night time. The season you journey in and the international locations you go to will have an effect on your value.
For a month, we’re paying round $4,000 USD, which breaks down to simply beneath $145/night time. This seems like loads (it is loads!) however is considerably cheaper than lodges or Airbnbs, plus it permits us to interrupt away from the cities and see the countryside.
Fuel costs are sometimes increased than within the US (generally twice the value), however RVs are considerably extra fuel-efficient in Europe because of their dimension.
The place you camp shall be one other main price to issue into your journey, however I’ll cowl that in additional element in a minute.
One perk of RVing in the case of price is that you simply typically find yourself consuming in or cooking meals within the RV. Generally that is merely since you’re in the course of the wilderness and there may be nothing round, however normally this can be a small method to economize. Remember that European RVs received’t have an oven or microwave, so that you’ll have the stovetop for cooking or, in case your rental gives it, a grill.
International locations The place You Can RV
The great thing about Europe is you can simply cross most borders in an RV. Your RV rental might even include the motorway permits required to drive in international locations like Switzerland, Austria, and Czech Republic.
Most European international locations are RV-friendly. You could find a whole checklist of nations world wide the place you’ll be able to RV right here.
Finest Instances to RV in Europe
We at all times—ALWAYS—RV overseas through the “shoulder season.” For many international locations world wide, meaning April/Could and September/October. Children are in class, the seasons are altering, and campgrounds aren’t too busy.
With most RVs in Europe not providing air-con, I like to recommend skipping a summer season rental should you can.
Until you’re planning on renting in a really northern nation, like Iceland or Norway.
One factor to remember is what main points of interest you’d like to go to in your camper. Many locations might shut seasonally. Throughout our final go to to Italy, through the first half of our journey seashores had been empty and there have been solely a few eating places open usually. By the top of Could, the seashores had been packed each day and all the pieces (eating places, amusement parks, mini golf) was slowly opening. We didn’t really feel like we missed out on something, nevertheless it was slightly logistically troublesome to determine what companies had been open for the season.
The place to Camp in Europe
Similar to within the US, there are an array of tenting choices along with your motorhome—each paid and free.
Campgrounds and RV Parks
A campeggio in Italy, a vacation park within the UK, referred to easily by “tenting” in France—these are what you would possibly name an RV park or campground within the States.
(You will get a glimpse of Italian campeggi on this video ⬆️ )
Usually, RV parks in Europe provide smaller websites which are normally electrical solely. There shall be a dump station and water fill station elsewhere within the park, in addition to a chemical bathroom for dumping your cassette bathroom. Your website could also be nothing greater than a stretch of pretty stage grass.
However what the websites lack, the campgrounds make up for with different facilities.
Swimming pools, scorching tubs, on-site eating places with actual meals (no convenience-store-style pizza is served at these eating places! See the above video for what Italian campground eating places are like), markets, laundry, non-public seashore entry, riverfront campsites, playgrounds, loos for teenagers—utterly with a child bathtub and kid-sized showers, youngsters programming…the checklist goes on and on. We’ve had all of those at campgrounds they usually’ve blown us away.
We’ve stayed in beachfront campgrounds and household campgrounds within the US…however they’ve at all times price upwards of $100/night time. In Europe they’re a couple of third of that value.
Europe has a repute for plentiful free tenting (additionally known as wild tenting) and it’s lived as much as the hype in our ebook. There are just a few choices:
Aires are motorhome stopovers meets relaxation stops meets gasoline stations. You’ll see indicators for aires about each 10 minutes on the freeway in our expertise they usually have various ranges of niceness. Some are like picnic areas within the states—a spot to park and a few tables. Others are full blown gasoline station relaxation stops that join the east and west sides of the freeway with a sky bridge, provide a number of eating places, and all of the basic issues campers want like dump stations and showers. It’s fairly the vary.
These are usually first-come, first-served parking spots. Many aires are free, however some might require a small charge (lower than $10 and normally provided that they provide companies like electricty). You could find French aires and different free tenting on the Park4Night app.
Aires usually confer with free campsites in France, however the time period is commonly used throughout Europe. You may even see Space Sosta Campa in Italy or Space para Autocaravana in Spain.
That is our go-to app free of charge tenting. We tried a number of apps throughout our first time RVing in Italy, however Park4Night had essentially the most choices, essentially the most correct listings, and was essentially the most dependable.
Not a foul view for a free campsite, eh?
Park4Night consists of extra than simply Aires and free campsites. Additionally they checklist campgrounds and agritourism campsites. The app is free to obtain and simple to make use of.
Regardless of what the title would possibly call to mind, this isn’t a French courting app. French Ardour is the equal of Harvest Hosts—a membership program the place you’ll be able to camp free of charge at farms and wineries throughout the nation.
Earlier than heading to France, we signed up for a membership on-line. Their on-line search operate is a bit clunky and laborious to make use of, however they mailed us a ebook with our membership card so we are able to use it to seek out free locations to camp throughout the nation. France Ardour boasts over 10,000 parking spots and a membership is €30. (So not utterly free, however undoubtedly price getting for all of the free tenting choices it gives!)
Driving in a International Nation
Earlier than RVing overseas wherever in Europe, take a second and google “driving ideas in _________”.
Signage and highway legal guidelines will range by nation, so it’s greatest to take ideas particularly for the nation the place you propose to RV. For instance, Italy has ZTLs. Zona traffico limitato means motorhomes can not drive in that space. It is a time period and signal you’ll solely see in Italy and one thing we wouldn’t have identified if we hadn’t learn a free book we discovered on-line sharing driving ideas.
That’s additionally a great way to be taught if the nation you’re visiting (or international locations) require any automobile permits. Switzerland, for instance, requires a driving allow on all automobiles. Throughout our final journey to Italy, we really considered crossing the border into Switzerland for a fast journey. However we couldn’t determine the best way to get the driving allow we wanted! (Anyplace Campers offers one, in order that was one much less factor for us to consider after we go to the French Alps throughout this journey!)
What you save in not needing to buy a driving allow, you’ll rapidly spend on tolls. Toll roads aren’t too frequent within the US (largely within the cities or within the northeast), however many highways in Europe are toll roads. Most of those toll roads will settle for bank cards and have a British flag icon you’ll be able to push in order that the display prompts are in English. So whereas the tolls sound like they add slightly additional driving bother, they’ve been very straightforward to navigate.
One last factor to notice as you may even see it on rental agreements: You most likely don’t want a global driver’s license. It is dependent upon what international locations you go to, however most international locations don’t require one.
I Love RVing in Europe—Can I keep eternally?
You may get pleasure from RVing within the Schengen (checklist of Schengen international locations right here) for 90 days inside a 180-day interval earlier than you might want to:
A) Get a vacationer visa, or
B) Strategically depart for a non-Schengen nation just like the UK or Eire
To any and each beginner to RV life that I discuss to, I give the identical recommendation:
When you hit the highway, you might have an itinerary, however you will see that so many gems off the overwhelmed path whenever you give your self the time to correctly discover. (We’ve discovered the most suitable choice is giving ourselves no less than a month in every nation if we are able to!)
Journey slowly and benefit from the journey!