A Brief Guide to Renting an RV in Europe

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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.

But we have been utterly broke on the time and paying off pupil 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 search out a lot info on-line from different Americans making the trek throughout the pond and renting an RV in Europe. RVing (or caravanning or motorhoming) in Europe is simply as widespread as it’s within the States, so we put collectively this temporary information with every thing we wanted to know earlier than reserving our RV rental and flying the world over.

Here’s what we’ll cowl:

  • Rental Companies
  • Types of European RVs
  • Costs
  • Countries Where You Can RV
  • Best Times to RV in Europe
  • Where to Camp in Europe
    • Paid Options
    • Free Options
  • Driving in a Foreign Country
  • How lengthy are you able to keep in Europe?

Rental Companies

There are infinite choices for RV rental corporations in Europe. Here are just a few corporations to think about:

And there are peer-to-peer RV rental choices (assume Airbnb however for RVs) like:

I personally have rented twice with Anywhere Campers. I’m fairly certain we selected Anywhere throughout our first journey RVing in Italy as a result of they included sheets, dishes, pillows, and so forth and most leases don’t. Plus, they provide limitless mileage, so that you don’t have that added stress of a day by day mileage restrict like some leases.

The largest consideration when researching for a rental RV (apart from the apparent of if they’ve a rental accessible throughout your journey dates!) is the car transmissions supplied. Most RVs in Europe are handbook/stick-shift. We even have an automated in France proper now, and it’s one much less factor to consider once you’re driving down tiny, winding roads in another country. In Italy, Heath needed to shortly be taught stick shift within the mountains in Italy…and it was anxious to say the least! 

If I might 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!

When 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’ll take a unique route again to the drop-off metropolis than once 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 means of it.

In Italy, we road-tripped from Venice to Rome and it was completely excellent!

So whichever rental firm you go together with, I extremely advocate choosing a one-way rental.

Types of European RVs

European RVs are considerably smaller than American RVs. While the smallest RVs within the States are round 21-24 ft lengthy, the longest RVs in Europe can be 24-26 ft lengthy.

The smaller the RV, the extra snug you may be maneuvering it throughout Europe. Roads, campsites, and parking spots are smaller over there! Help your self out by selecting a smaller RV.

European RVs may have cassette bogs as an alternative of a black tank and doubtless received’t have any air con. And they undoubtedly received’t have slideouts! If you’re used to a motorhome within the US, a motorhome or camper in Europe will really feel much more like van life.

Related: 16 Differences between RVing Abroad versus Rving America

Costs

Renting an RV (campervan, motorhome, tenting automotive, insert country-specific title right here) might be costly. Average costs vary in all places from $100-$175/night time. The season you journey in and the nations you go to will have an effect on your value.

For a month, we’re paying round $4,000 USD, which breaks down to only below $145/night time. This looks like quite a bit (it is quite a bit!) however is considerably cheaper than inns or Airbnbs, plus it permits us to interrupt away from the cities and see the countryside.

Gas costs are sometimes greater than within the US (typically twice the worth), however RVs are considerably extra fuel-efficient in Europe as a consequence of their dimension.

Where you camp can 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 just typically find yourself consuming in or cooking meals within the RV. Sometimes that is merely since you’re in the midst of the wilderness and there’s nothing round, however generally it is a small manner to save cash. Keep in thoughts that European RVs received’t have an oven or microwave, so that you’ll have the stovetop for cooking or, in case your rental presents it, a grill.

Countries Where You Can RV

The fantastic thing about Europe is you could simply cross most borders in an RV. Your RV rental could even include the motorway permits required to drive in nations like Switzerland, Austria, and Czech Republic.

Most European nations are RV-friendly. You can discover a whole listing of nations all over the world the place you may RV right here.

Best Times to RV in Europe

We at all times—ALWAYS—RV overseas throughout the “shoulder season.” For most nations all over the world, which means April/May and September/October. Kids 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 in case you can.

Unless…

Unless you’re planning on renting in a really northern nation, like Iceland or Norway.

One factor to bear in mind is what main points of interest you’d like to go to in your camper. Many locations could shut seasonally. During our final go to to Italy, throughout the first half of our journey seashores have been empty and there have been solely a few eating places open commonly. By the tip of May, the seashores have been packed on daily basis and every thing (eating places, amusement parks, mini golf) was slowly opening. We didn’t really feel like we missed out on something, but it surely was somewhat logistically tough to determine what companies have been open for the season.

Where to Camp in Europe

Just like within the US, there are an array of tenting choices together with your motorhome—each paid and free.

Paid Camping

Campgrounds and RV Parks

A campeggio in Italy, a vacation park within the UK, referred to easily by “camping” in France—these are what you may name an RV park or campground within the States.

(You can get a glimpse of Italian campeggi on this video ⬆️ )

Generally, RV parks in Europe supply smaller websites which can be often electrical solely. There can be a dump station and water fill station some place else within the park, in addition to a chemical rest room for dumping your cassette rest room. Your website could also be nothing greater than a stretch of pretty degree grass.

But what the websites lack, the campgrounds make up for with different facilities.

Pools, sizzling 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 seaside entry, riverfront campsites, playgrounds, loos for youths—utterly with a child tub and kid-sized showers, children programming…the listing goes on and on. We’ve had all of those at campgrounds and so they’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 few third of that value.

Free Camping

Europe has a repute for plentiful free tenting (additionally referred to as wild tenting) and it’s lived as much as the hype in our ebook. There are just a few choices:

Aires

Aires are motorhome stopovers meets relaxation stops meets fuel stations. You’ll see indicators for aires about each 10 minutes on the freeway in our expertise and so they 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 fuel station relaxation stops that join the east and west sides of the freeway with a sky bridge, supply 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 typically first-come, first-served parking spots. Many aires are free, however some could require a small charge (lower than $10 and often provided that they provide providers like electricty). You can discover French aires and different free tenting on the Park4Night app.

Aires usually check with free campsites in France, however the time period is usually used throughout Europe. You might even see Area Sosta Campa in Italy or Area para Autocaravana in Spain.

Park4Night

This is our go-to app totally free tenting. We tried a number of apps throughout our first time RVing in Italy, however Park4Night had probably the most choices, probably the most correct listings, and was probably the most dependable.

free camping italian dolomites
Free tenting within the Italian Dolomites

Not a nasty view for a free campsite, eh?

Park4Night consists of extra than simply Aires and free campsites. They additionally listing campgrounds and agritourism campsites. The app is free to obtain and simple to make use of.

France Passion

Despite what the title may call to mind, this isn’t a French relationship app. French Passion is the equal of Harvest Hosts—a membership program the place you may camp totally free at farms and wineries throughout the nation.

Before heading to France, we signed up for a membership on-line. Their on-line search perform is a bit clunky and onerous to make use of, however they mailed us a ebook with our membership card so we are able to use it to search out free locations to camp throughout the nation. France Passion 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 presents!)

Driving in a Foreign Country

Before RVing overseas wherever in Europe, take a second and google “driving tips in _________”.

Signage and street 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. This 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 nations) require any car permits. Switzerland, for instance, requires a driving allow on all automobiles. During our final journey to Italy, we really thought of crossing the border into Switzerland for a fast journey. But we couldn’t determine easy methods to get the driving allow we wanted! (Anywhere Campers supplies 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 shortly spend on tolls. Toll roads aren’t too widespread within the US (principally 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 may push in order that the display screen prompts are in English. So whereas the tolls sound like they add somewhat further driving hassle, they’ve been very simple to navigate.

One ultimate factor to notice as you might even see it on rental agreements: You in all probability don’t want a world driver’s license. It will depend on what nations you go to, however most nations don’t require one.

I Love RVing in Europe—Can I keep perpetually?

Nope.

You can get pleasure from RVing within the Schengen (listing of Schengen nations right here) for 90 days inside a 180-day interval earlier than you could:

A) Get a vacationer visa, or

B) Strategically go away for a non-Schengen nation just like the UK or Ireland

Final Tips

To any and each beginner to RV life that I discuss to, I give the identical recommendation:

Travel slowly.

Once you hit the street, you will have an itinerary, however you can see so many gems off the overwhelmed path once you give your self the time to correctly discover. (We’ve discovered the best choice is giving ourselves at the very least a month in every nation if we are able to!)

Travel slowly and benefit from the journey!

Questions about RVing in Europe? Drop them within the feedback!

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