If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Europe, renting or buying a camper van to travel round the continent could be a fun way to see the sights. You won’t have to rely on trains or buses to get you where you want to go and there won’t be any hotel bills either. And with many camper vans to rent (check Wicked Campers or Origin Camper Vans to get started) or buy plus great roads few destinations in the world are as easy to visit this way.
So what are the advantages and potential pitfalls of traveling around Europe in a camper van?
The first thing to decide is when to go. The weather is a major factor here. In the summer months, especially July and August, parts of Southern Europe can reach very high temperatures. And of course these are also the months when many people from European countries take their holidays so expect tourist attractions such as museums and art galleries to be busy. On the other hand, sleeping in a freezing camper van in the depths of winter in Northern Europe isn’t much fun either. Spring or autumn may be better bets.
In many European countries you can camp for free in your van. Waking up next to a wonderful beach, lake or mountain can be a fantastic start to your day, much better than a tiny room in an anonymous hotel.
You should keep at least the petrol tank at least a quarter full as you don’t want to run out of fuel miles from anywhere with night drawing in. Having said that, when filling up it’s best not to put in more than half a tank full of petrol as this will keep the weight of your van down and make it easier to steer, especially on mountain roads.
To make sure that you comply with all the local laws about driving a camper van in Europe, it’s best to take the following with you: reflective jackets for each passenger (mandatory in some countries) in case you breakdown as well as red warning triangles, spare headlight bulbs, a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.
Many people rent a camper van to travel round Europe in but when you add the cost of fuel and campsites this can make for an expensive holiday. Rental prices of a standard 17 foot long camper van range from around £350 to £500 per week so if you’re planning a long trip it will certainly cheaper to buy a vehicle. While a new one can cost up to £20,000 (which might require you get a bank loan for it), buying an older model second hand works out a lot cheaper with a basic VW for example costing about £1,000. You can of course also resell your second hand camper van before returning home at the end of your holiday, thus recouping some of the cost. The only real downside is that older vans tend to be smaller, have fewer facilities and are less fuel efficient (18-20 miles per gallons compared to around 25 miles per gallon for newer models) but if you don’t mind roughing it slightly – and potentially having to do a couple of roadside repairs – then go for it. You could save yourself a lot of money.
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