How to tour Europe in a Motorhome-the ULTIMATE guide

Want to tour Europe in a motorhome or campervan? Feeling a little overwhelmed and not sure where to start? Here's everything you need, from what kit to pack, what paperwork you need to carry, how to prepare your van, European road trip itinerary ideas and tips for life on the road.

Don't forget to grab your free Europe in a motorhome checklist below.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Touring Europe in a motorhome blog- our story

I remember the first time we took our motorhome to Europe. There were SO MANY rules and things to pack and what the heck are aires and how do I book one and what route should we take and do we need…

To say I was daunted was an understatement. Everywhere I looked for advice had totally contradicting information. I spent the first few days of our Europe road trip feeling exhausted and terrified that I'd forgotten something vitally important.

If you're also feeling intimidated by the idea of travelling Europe in a motorhome, camper van or even a caravan, don't panic. Since that first trip, I quit my job so we could explore Europe by motorhome as often as possible (let's just not talk about 2020…)

We've travelled nearly 60,000 miles and visited 17 countries. We have made many MANY mistakes… but we've also learnt a lot about vanlife in Europe and what NOT to do. And I'm going to share that with you today.

I promise- it's not as scary as it feels right now.

Today I'll walk you through the various steps you need to take to plan your own motorhome road trip to Europe and, hopefully, you'll feel much more confident by the end of it.

Don't forget to grab your free printable Europe motorhome travel checklist, which will help you remember everything you need.

Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?

Europe Motorhome travel checklist- FREE

GUIDE: Stop the overwhelm with our step-by-step guide. Contains eBook, checklists and more. Complete Europe Motorhome Travel Toolkit

CHECKLIST: Don't forget to grab your FREE Europe motorhome travel checklist HERE

GEAR– If you need any motorhome gear for touring Europe, here's what we recommend.


How to Tour Europe in a Motorhome, campervan or RV – where to start

Let's start with the basics. Before you can head off to Europe in a motorhome, you need a motorhome or camper van! You can either buy one or hire one and there are pros/ cons to both.

TOP TIP: If you're planning a 3 month or more trip to Europe, definitely buy a motorhome- it will be MUCH cheaper. Here's our complete motorhome buyer's guide to choosing the camper for you.

If you don't already own a motorhome and are considering getting one, hiring a motorhome or campervan for at least a weekend, preferably a week, is the perfect way to know if motorhome life is for you, before you spend a lot of money on one.

Also, if you are looking to buy a motorhome for the first time, hiring one is a great way to learn what layouts work for you, what you like and dislike and what you're looking for in your own vehicle.

Having said that, we bought our first motorhome with no experience and no planning and set off to tour around Europe after only 15 days… So do whatever feels right for you.


Motorhome Touring in Europe- where to stay?

Once you've got a vehicle to tour around Europe in, the next thing to consider is how do you want your trip to Europe to be and where are you going to camp/ park overnight?

  • Do you want to stay at a campsite with pitches for motorhomes, campervans and caravans which has loads of facilities and activities for the kids to do?
  • Would you prefer to wild camp in your motorhome and stay at a new place each night, far from crowds and cities? 

Deciding the type of holiday you want to have will make planning your motorhome trip a lot easier. Here's a bit more information about the types of motorhome parking available in Europe to help you decide.

Motorhome campsites in Europe

Campsites in Europe are very similar to the ones in UK- you arrive, are given or can select a pitch with or without electric (depending on what you booked) and that's it. Often, you will need to provide ID when you arrive and some places even keep hold of your passport while you stay.

Campsites often have great facilities- like swimming pools or a beach on a lake, watersports, play area, restaurants, fresh bread delivery, shop etc. Dogs are normally always welcome, but there isn't always a dog walk/ run where they are allowed off lead.

One of the many incredible motorhome, campervan & caravan campsites in Europe
One of the many incredible motorhome, campervan & caravan campsites in Europe

European motorhome travel in the school holidays- or not?

If you're travelling in the school holidays, you'll want to book up the campsite (if you're using one) asap- the best ones get booked up months in advance.

If you're NOT travelling during the school holidays, you might want to consider getting an ACSI camping card– you'll save a lot of money on campsite charges.


Aires in Europe

For us, we prefer to travel around Europe in our motorhome and explore different places during our trips instead of staying in one area. We generally stay only one night in a place (unless we're planning to ride the motorbikes, in which case we find somewhere for a few nights.) 

There are two types of motorhome overnight parking options instead of campsites. The first are approved Motorhome parking places, which are called Aires in France, Stellplatz in Germany and Sostas if you're campervanning in Italy. They're all pretty much exactly the same!

You can find how to use aires and find motorhome parking around Europe here.


Motorhome Parking Tips for Aires

You cannot pre-book Aires- they operate on a first-come basis. We found people tended to move on about 10-11am and most were parked up by 4pm, so try and move within that window for the best chance of finding a space. When we toured Italy, we left a little earlier (around 9ish) and aimed to be parked for lunchtime-ish, which we think helped us get in where we wanted without problems.

We like aires, as we feel happier leaving our motorhome if we want to go off an explore, and don't want to deal with the noise or expense of a European campsite. We tow motorbikes behind our motorhome and love being able to use them without worrying if the van is ok.


Wild camping with a motorhome or campervan in Europe

The other option for overnight motorhome stopovers in Europe is wild camping, which is staying somewhere that's not an ‘approved' place overnight and then moving on the next morning. You can find everything you need to know about how to wild camp with a motorhome or campervan here.

motorhome and campervan wild camping in Denmark, Europe
motorhome and campervan wild camping in Denmark, Europe

Rules for wild camping with a Motorhome in Europe

There are many different rules and different stories about motorhome wild camping across Europe. Wild camping is technically illegal in many countries, such as Switzerland – but we've stayed off-grid in our motorhome hundreds of times without any trouble at all. Heck, it was a night wild camping in the Alps in Switzerland in our motorhome which made us decide to change our lives and go motorhome travelling (almost!) full-time!

TOP TIP: You don't need as much kit as you think you do to stay off-grid with a camper. Read our wild camping for motorhomes essential gear guide here.


Wild camping in France in a motorhome or campervan is tolerated, as long as you're not near the coast or in a restricted area. Find out more about motorhome wild camping in France.

My advice is to research the rules for the country you're visiting, and then check out Park4night. Don't park if it says ‘No Overnight Parking'. Also, always trust your gut. If you're not sure and not happy, move on to an approved Motorhome stop point, so you can get a good nights sleep without worrying about being woken up for parking illegally.


How to find free/ cheap Motorhome Parking spots in Europe

So, HOW do we find these overnight stopovers in vans in Europe? There are three apps we use. They're all great but work in slightly different ways.

Park4night (Park4night.com)

This app is what we mainly use when motorhome touring in Europe- and it is BRILLIANT. It's also free, so this is not an affiliate link of any kind- it's just a great service. This is how we use it:

  • Drive to somewhere we want to explore- or a place en-route if we've got a long route planned.
  • As we get closer, open up the app on my iPad or laptop (read more about getting internet in a motorhome)
  • Put in the area you are heading for into Park4night and filter your options.
  • Look at photos and comments to remove any with bad reviews, or which are too small for your motorhome to fit into.
  • Check to make sure the place is open! A lot of places close between Oct- Apr.
  • Then I tend to go on gut feel. I might have two or three options at this point but if I'm honest I'll know which one of those three I like the idea of most, and that's the one we head for first. If we get there and it's full/ closed/ turned into a building site (has happened twice to us!!) then we have other options we can fall back on and we can head to those next.

We use Park4night as it tends to have the most options for places to stay in Europe. However, there are some other good choices too.

Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?

Europe Motorhome travel checklist- FREE

GUIDE: Stop the overwhelm with our step-by-step guide. Contains eBook, checklists and more. Complete Europe Motorhome Travel Toolkit

CHECKLIST: Don't forget to grab your FREE Europe motorhome travel checklist HERE

GEAR– If you need any motorhome gear for touring Europe, here's what we recommend.


Camper contact (https://www.campercontact.com/en)

This site works in a very similar way to Park4night, however, the BIG thing it offers which we love is you can remove all parking spaces which aren't suitable for longer motorhomes. We love this feature when we are towing a trailer behind our motorhome and want to make absolutely sure it's suitable for a longer vehicle.

Camper contact is free on the website but the app requires payment, which is another reason we prefer Park4night.


Searchforsites (https://www.searchforsites.co.uk/)

Search for sites is another motorhome parking app but is better for in the UK. Again, it's a really useful site and well worth checking as occasionally there are different places on here than on the other two. Pretty much all the reviews on here seem to be in English, which can help when you want to read what people thought!

Between the three of these motorhome parking apps, we've travelled around Europe without any problems. Once, in Italy in August, our preferred Aire was full, so we had to move on elsewhere and a few times the place we've been heading for no longer exists!

If you find out of date information, please take the time to update the app so other motorhomers don't do the same thing. They are all great resources and, without them, motorhome road trips in Europe wouldn't be nearly so easy.


Dolomites with a motorhome
Us touring Europe in our Motorhome- the Italian Dolomites

Other parking schemes in Europe

In Europe, there are several schemes similar to Britstops as a great source of free overnight parking stops for motorhomes. In France, France Passion is a similar set-up, and there are others around Europe.

You can find a list of all the motorhome overnight parking schemes and how to find them here.


Motorhome Route Planning for Europe trips

Once you've decided where you're staying, you can start planning a motorhome route in Europe. Obviously, if you're just travelling to one campsite and back again, then the route will be fairly straightforward.

However, if you're planning to use aires or wild camping, then you can decide where you want to visit, what you want to see and if you're going to be using toll roads or not.

One thing to note is that we rarely plan an actual road route until we're driving. or just setting off for the day. I don't plan the roads in advance- just the places we want to visit during our trip. Everything else I do as we travel. If we want to visit a specific aire or campsite, I'll note that in our plan. You can grab our free road trip planner and use that to help you plan your route and things to do.

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    The other thing you'll need to plan is how you're going to get to Europe. If you're in the UK, will you take the ferry or use Eurotunnel? There are pros and cons of both but it's worth deciding quickly so you can book in advance and hopefully save some money.

    TOP TIP: If you want some ideas for where to visit, here are some of the best Europe road trip itineraries for motorhomes and campervans.


    Tolls in Europe

    Many people are concerned about tolls in Europe and like to plan their routes to avoid them. There are pros and cons to this. Tolls occur in nearly every European country which doesn’t insist on a vignette. If you're motorhoming in Germany you can enjoy some free autobahns (same if you're motorhoming in Holland.) 

    When you plan a route in a country without a vignette, you have two options:

    • The quick way (which uses tolls roads when necessary)
    • The cheap way (which doesn't!)

    There is no right answer- it’s whatever’s best for you. If you only have a week for your motorhome holiday, many people will want to get to their destination asap, which means using toll roads.

    If you have more time, you may want to save money and take the slower, but usually prettier, back roads. Do whatever’s right for you.

    If you want to get an idea on how much a toll route might cost, use the website https://www.viamichelin.com/

    This site will tell you the approximate driving costs for your trip, both in fuel consumption and tolls. The fuel setting is annoying as you can’t select for a motorhome/ camper, although you can select the appropriate mpg, but the toll charges & vignette costs (as long as your motorhome is under 3.5 tonnes and 3m tall,) are very accurate.


    Motorhoming in Europe- paperwork you need to carry

    So, you've got a vehicle, a plan for overnight stays and the beginnings of a route. Now it's time for the paperwork you need to carry, both for your motorhome/ campervan and also for you.

    Nobody likes this bit, because it's pretty boring, but it's also essential. We've been stopped twice, both times in France and both times near the ferry at Caen. The police seem to love waiting there and pouncing on Motorhomers and campervanners who might have forgotten something.

    In France, fines for speeding or incorrect paperwork must be paid in cash on the spot, or else you'll be escorted to the nearest police station- not the most welcoming start to your holiday! However, if you have all the following, there's nothing they can do except wish you a ‘bonne journee' and see you on your merry way.

    READ MORE: Essential advice for motorhome touring in France


    Complete list of paperwork needed to tour Europe in a motorhome

    Here are your next steps for paperwork and staying organised (don't forget you can download our FREE Europe motorhome travel checklist to keep organised)

    Europe Motorhome travel- free checklists

    Want to head to Europe with your motorhome?

    Grab your FREE (printable) checklist and discover 25 things you NEED to take with you when you travel in Europe. Make your life easier today.

    Motorhome Insurance

    You need motorhome insurance which covers travel in Europe (and other places like Morocco if you're planning to venture further afield). You also might want to get Breakdown cover which includes recovery to Home- just in case the worst happens. Bring your original certificate with you, not a photocopy.

    Health Insurance

    The rules for health cover for UK residents in Europe have changed after BREXIT. You now MUST have travel insurance. Make sure you read the conditions carefully- many ‘cheap' policies don't cover you for more than a week or two at a time, so if you're planning on going away for longer you'll need to find an appropriate insurer. Ideally, get repatriation cover to the UK- just in case.


    Europe Motorhome Travel- Essential items you need to carry

    Unlike in the UK, there are some things you legally NEED to carry in your motorhome, campervan or car when you're touring Europe. These essentials Europe travel accessories include:

    • GB sticker or GB on your reg plate- with a GB flag, not an EU circle
    • First aid kit– did you know it is illegal to NOT stop at an accident in France and many other places in Europe?
    • Warning Triangle
    • Hi-vis jacket which must be easily reached without leaving the vehicle (or getting off a motorbike!) We recommend carrying one per person, including for toddlers.
    • Spare light bulbs for vehicle
    • Headlight deflectors as our UK headlamps are pointing the ‘wrong way' for European roads-
    • Radar detectors are forbidden EVERYWHERE in Europe.
    • NO- you do not need a breathalyser.

    Useful kit for travelling Europe in a Motorhome or camper

    Assuming your van is already packed with these essential motorhome accessories, there are a couple of things which will make your life easier when touring Europe in a camper.

    Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?

    Europe Motorhome travel checklist- FREE

    GUIDE: Stop the overwhelm with our step-by-step guide. Contains eBook, checklists and more. Complete Europe Motorhome Travel Toolkit

    CHECKLIST: Don't forget to grab your FREE Europe motorhome travel checklist HERE

    GEAR– If you need any motorhome gear for touring Europe, here's what we recommend.

    Motorhome Wi-Fi

    Is wifi in a motorhome an essential? For us it is- we work from the road, so we need a reliable way to contact the outside world (and upload blog posts like this!) Our life just wouldn't work if we didn't have a decent Internet connection. 

    For years, we had a wifi dongle in our motorhome and, quite seriously, it's BRILLIANT. We've travelled all around Western Europe and it didn't let us down once. Oh ok, it's failed to get a signal just once and we were parked on the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps at the time- I'm not sure I can blame it for that!! 

    We use data SIMS with Vodafone, 3 and EE and we find EE and 3 to have the best coverage across Europe. You can buy Prepaid SIM cards of data from Amazon (like this one) or take out a monthly contract (which is what we did)

    More recently, we've installed this internet system in our van and it has been equally good, although we haven't been able to travel much to really test it out.

    Data Roaming in Europe

    If you are travelling outside your home country, you need to make sure that data roaming is enabled on your phone AND that you have a plan which allows you to use data in other countries cheaply. You will need this even if your network says it won't charge for roaming- not all plans allow you to use your data abroad, so check in advance.

    Also, be aware that the data limit you have at home will probably NOT be the same as your allowance abroad- so be cautious with how much you use. It's hard to track data usage, but things like using maps, watching TV in your motorhome, streaming videos or putting photos on Facebook can all use up a LOT of data very quickly.

    Ever wanted to tour Europe in a motorhome but were unsure how to even start! This incredible guide had everything you need to know- all laid out in an easy to follow manner. It's HUGE and packed with information- perfect for planning your motorhome trip around Europe.
    Touring Europe in a Motorhome- wild camping in Germany

    Sat-Nav

    We highly recommend investing in a proper motorhome sat-nav before your start driving around Europe, especially if you have a larger motorhome, RV or campervan. You want something you can put your vehicle dimensions into and be able to avoid narrow roads, low bridges or weak crossings.

    Here are some of the best motorhome and campervan sat-nav systems on the market- have a look and make sure you know how to use it before you set off.

    Never, ever rely entirely on the sat-nav; keep an eye out for road signs and height restrictions as well. I also use my personal iPad or phone to find us an alternative route should we hit a traffic jam- both of those have ‘traffic' setting enabled on them so we can see where the traffic is and how to get around it.

    I often end up navigating our motorhome down tiny country lanes in the middle of nowhere- after all, it's not a proper adventure unless there's grass growing in the middle of the road!

    Also, be careful where you mount your sat nav, especially if you're using an ipad. Many countries now say it's illegal to have the satnav mounted on the windscreen or blocking the driver's view. We use this mount and mount our iPad on our dashboard, where it's low enough to not cause any problems.


    Campervanning in Europe – POWER!!!!

    One of the joys of touring Europe in a Motorhome is the freedom that you can find on the continent which you just can't get in the UK. Being able to stay off-grid in our van gives us that freedom. But, in order to do that, we need to manage our motorhome power requirements.

    Inverter

    The solution to this is an inverter (and possibly a power pack, depending on how power-hungry you are!) We are VERY power hungry- we have two laptops, two iPads and 4 phones! (Don't ask!! Yes, I know there are only 2 of us!!)

    We charge as much as we possibly can whilst we are driving the motorhome, including the laptops. We do this by running the invertor as we drive. The inverter is connected directly to the motorhome leisure battery and then we added a 2-plug extension lead, which allows us to charge our laptops on a drive, saving our precious battery power while we're camped. 

    We fitted and love this inverter but there are many other options out there if you need a different size/ power output.

    Motorhome Parking Apps for touring Europe in a motorhome. Ever wanted to tour Europe in a motorhome but were unsure how to even start! This incredible guide had everything you need to know- all laid out in an easy to follow manner. It's HUGE and packed with information- perfect for planning your motorhome trip around Europe.
    Motorhome Europe Travel- use motorhome parking apps to find some incredible places to stay!

    Generator

    I didn't want a generator on our motorhome. I didn't want to be THAT van with the generator going all evening, ruining everyone else's peace and quiet. But, as my husband said, if we're going to camp in the middle of nowhere for days at a time, we need an alternative power source ‘just in case'.

    We've agreed that we will NEVER use it except in an emergency or for servicing, and we did a lot of research to find the best one for us in terms of noise levels and size. I have to say we're really pleased with this one. It's small enough to fit in a tiny cupboard under our seats and I can lift it with one hand.

    We've used it several times of the past couple of years, including while touring Norway and Austria. We're really impressed at how quiet it is and how well it works even after months of not being started! 

    Take a look: Clarke 1.2kw Generator, Amazon


    12v Hairdryer

    Whilst we're on the subject of power, both Jade (our daughter) and I have long hair. We love letting it air dry on hot summer days, but if we're motorhoming in winter it's essential for us to have a hairdryer.

    Believe it or not, we actually carry TWO hairdryers onboard (much to my husband's ‘delight'…)

    One is a good, powerful but lowish wattage one we use when we have electric hookup, and the other is a 12v one, which plugs into a cigarette lighter socket in the cab. Honestly, it's not the best hairdryer we've ever tried, but better than nothing on a cold winter's day.

    Alternatively, this rechargeable hairdryer looks AMAZING- it's on my Christmas list!!


    Solar Panel

    We do have a solar panel onboard our motorhome- we believe it's an essential motorhome wild camping accessory. It keeps the battery topped up whilst we're camping and allows us to stay off-grid for a little while longer- at least if it's sunny!

    Ever wanted to tour Europe in a motorhome but were unsure how to even start! This incredible guide had everything you need to know- all laid out in an easy to follow manner. It's HUGE and packed with information- perfect for planning your motorhome trip around Europe.
    How to Tour Europe in a Motorhome- us wild camping in Austria!

    Gas

    One of our very first motorhome trips to Europe almost ended after 2 days due to…err… gas. Or rather, a lack of it and an inability to get any more! There are some important lessons we learned and things you need to know about how to find LPG (gas) in Europe.

    To combat that ever happening again (we hope!!), we fitted Gaslow refillable bottles. These went easily into our existing motorhome gas locker and we were able to fit them ourselves. We used them for the first time last week and we're really happy with them. Filling took a little while to figure out- turns out you need to TWIST the nozzle clockwise, but so far, so good! We've now had these installed for a year and wouldn't switch back- refillable gas is SO MUCH cheaper and easier while travelling Europe in a motorhome. 

    Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?

    Europe Motorhome travel checklist- FREE

    GUIDE: Stop the overwhelm with our step-by-step guide. Contains eBook, checklists and more. Complete Europe Motorhome Travel Toolkit

    CHECKLIST: Don't forget to grab your FREE Europe motorhome travel checklist HERE

    GEAR– If you need any motorhome gear for touring Europe, here's what we recommend.


    Motorhome Touring in Europe – Other items which might be useful

    ACSI card

    ACSI is a scheme you can buy a membership to (like a motorhome club), which then gives you massive discounts on campsites for motorhomes, campervans, RVs and Caravans- as long as you travel outside the peak seasons.

    Toll Pass

    We LOVE our European toll pass. It's sooooooo satisfying being able to sweep past all the huge queues at some of the tolls and go through the automated toll pass lane in France. It also works if you're motorhome touring in Spain & Portugal. The best bit for us is not having to worry to find the change at each toll- it just sends you a bill at the end of the month which is paid automatically by Direct Debit so its one less thing we need to worry about!

    We bought ours at Sanef Tolling, although they have now changed their name to Emovis-tag.

    Tyres & Snow chains

    If you are planning to go motorhome skiing or tour Europe in a motorhome in the Winter, think about your tyres and snow chains. It's compulsory in most countries with Mountains (France, Germany etc) to have winter tyres fitted and to carry snow chains which will fit onto your tyres. This is usually enforced between 01 November and 15 April. This list by the AA gives a great guide for you.

    Red and White reflective warning backboard for motorhomes/ campers

    If you have anything extending past the back of your motorhome/ camper (like a bike rack or a tow bar), you MUST have a red and white striped backboard on the back. Make sure it's the aluminium one, not the cheap version- the cheap version is not legal in Italy.


    Travelling Europe in a Motorhome or campervan- Safety

    Here are some important things to know about travelling in Europe

    Emergencies

    112 can be dialled anywhere in Europe in an emergency, accident or distress situation.

    Security and theft

    We have several things we do to protect our vehicle and our possessions whilst we're travelling. We also have several things we do to safeguard ourselves if we're back in the UK preparing for our next trip. Be sure to grab our FREE guide to motorhome security.  

    We have been lucky to have never been the target of theft, but it does happen. Most thefts are opportunistic- if you leave something outside unattended there's a chance it will be taken- just like in the UK. Also, if you park in busy, built-up areas, there is more chance of ‘unsavoury types' spotting the van and taking their chances- just like in the UK.

    We strongly believe that touring Europe in your motorhome is no more dangerous than touring in the UK, but common sense should be used. We've chosen to fit an additional motorhome door lock which can be locked from both the outside and the inside.

    Europe Motorhome travel- free checklists

    Want to head to Europe with your motorhome?

    Grab your FREE (printable) checklist and discover 25 things you NEED to take with you when you travel in Europe. Make your life easier today.


    Euros

    Try and get your Euros in advance as you'll get a better rate than if you use the ferry/ tunnel. You can get money out of cash machines abroad- but, of course, there are charges for that.

    Also, don't forget that not every country in Europe uses Euros. Here are some popular ones which might catch you out!

    • Bulgaria – Lev
    • Croatia – Kuna
    • Czech Republic – Kurona
    • Denmark – Krone
    • Hungary – Forint
    • Norway- Krone (See how expensive our trip to Norway was!)
    • Poland – Zloty
    • Romania – Leu
    • Switzerland – Swiss Franc

    There are others in the East as well- make sure you check in advance- but nearly everywhere has a cash machine so you can always get money out if you need to.

    Spare Keys

    We think it's sensible to carry a spare set of keys for the motorhome with us. We hope we will never need them, but a spare set is going to be completely useless sitting back in the UK. So we decided to bring them with us and keep them well out of the way.

    Medication

    Make sure you're carrying enough Medication for you and any pets you have. We always carry a little more than necessary- just in case! Be prepared to explain your medication and prove what it is with a doctor's note or something similar- just in case customs question you.

    Mobile Phones

    Using a phone whilst driving is illegal in many countries. It is also illegal in some countries (such as France) to use a headset with an earbud whilst driving. Your phone must be completely hands-free.

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    Travelling Europe by Motorhome- and staying in some stunning places!

    Driving in Europe- what to do in the event of a road traffic accident

    You should have a European Claim Form provided by your insurer before you leave. In the event of an accident, all parties complete and sign the form at the scene and then send a copy to your insurer for assessment.

    What to do at the scene:

    • Stop your vehicle immediately but safely- out of the flow of traffic if possible.
    • If a vehicle is blocking the road, use hazard lights and put the red warning triangle 30 metres from the scene to warn approaching traffic
    • Exchange your details with the other involved parties. Be sure to get:
      • Name and address of all the people involved in the accident
      • Vehicle registration numbers of all parties
      • Insurance company details of all parties
      • Take photos of damage using a camera, GoPro or phone

    For more details, read our step-by-step guide on dealing with a road traffic accident in Europe


    Motorhoming in Europe- Other Things to know

    Sidelights must be switched on in the following countries at ALL times: Croatia, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden & Switzerland

    Daytime lights MUST be switched on for Motorbikes at ALL times in all conditions in ALL countries. Ours are wired so they automatically come on with the engine- saves us forgetting!

    On-the-spot fines are common in all countries, although if you're campervanning in Ireland the Police are not authorised to collect fines. Some places, like Croatia, give you 8 days to pay. Other places, such as if you go touring in Portugal, equip their police officers with an ATM to ensure fines are paid immediately!!

    Be careful of low-emission zones and areas which require a congestion charge or something similar, such as Paris and London. These places are often clearly signed but it can be worth Googling requirements before you visit an area. Also, don't forget you need a Vignette for Motorways/ toll roads in Switzerland and Austria. For a complete list of rules in each country, here's the AA.

    Ever wanted to tour Europe in a motorhome but were unsure how to even start! This incredible guide had everything you need to know- all laid out in an easy to follow manner. It's HUGE and packed with information- perfect for planning your motorhome trip around Europe. #motorhome #europe #roadtrip #travel #tips #hacks #ideas #touring #guide
    Free Motorhome Parking in Europe

    Touring Europe in a Motorhome – Final thoughts

    Phew!!! There is a LOT of information in this post- and at first glance it can be overwhelming. None of it is ‘difficult', but it will take up a bit of your time as you get it all organised. Here are some final tips to help you make the most of your big adventure!!

    • Driving on the right is not as terrifying as it seems! Don't forget- all the roads are set up for it- you don't have to remember to go around the roundabout the wrong way- it naturally happens as that's the way the road system works.
    • Learn a little of the language. In France, Germany, Belgium and Holland, English is widely spoken, but they love it if you make an effort. After al, you are in their country and if you show a little respect to them they will really help you when you need it.
    • Accept that you are a tourist- you will make mistakes and probably look like an idiot. But that's part of the fun of travelling!
    • Learn to ‘slow travel'- travelling by van is about the journey as much as the destination. This can be hard when you're on a tight schedule, but try not to overbook your time so much that you can't relax a little or explore random things that you find along the way- like an ice cave we randomly found in France…??!!
    • Having said that, do a little research as you travel so you don't miss some amazing places. We like to pick an area and then Google it to see what great adventures are waiting for us.

    I hope you have the BEST adventures- be sure to tag me in your posts and show me where you end up! Let me know what you think of the guide in the comments below- I'd love to hear your thoughts.

    Want to save this list for later? Here's the pin. Enjoyed this post? We'd love it if you shared it on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Thank you!

    Want to tour Europe in a motorhome or campervan? Feeling a little overwhelmed and not sure where to start? Here's everything you need, from what kit to pack, what paperwork you need to carry, how to prepare your van, European road trip itinerary ideas and tips for life on the road. Don't forget to grab your free 'Europe in a motorhome checklist' below.
    Want to tour Europe in a motorhome or campervan? Feeling a little overwhelmed and not sure where to start? Here's everything you need, from what kit to pack, what paperwork you need to carry, how to prepare your van, European road trip itinerary ideas and tips for life on the road. Don't forget to grab your free 'Europe in a motorhome checklist' below.

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    51 thoughts on “How to tour Europe in a Motorhome-the ULTIMATE guide”

    1. This is fatastic Kat and very timely. We are travelling in September to France & Switzerland in a hired van (before we buy our own yipeeee) so we were just starting to get our heads around all the planning. This is perfect as you have done all the work for us, so thank you so much for that. You are a star 🙂 x

      Reply
    2. Great information – thanks!
      When you were wild/free camping, did people have much camping stuff out in the off-season? As we’re going to be in a fifth wheel it’ll be a bit cramped if we can’t push a slide or two out!

      Reply
      • People happily sit outside and enjoy a campfire and dinner, but don’t get awnings and things out when they’re wild camping. Those places are more designed to be a one night stop. I think you’ll be fine with the slides, though I admit we haven’t seen any fifth wheels on our travels- you’ll probably have loads of people wanting to come and have a look inside!! 🙂 I think as long as it looks like you’re not planning to stop for a week, you’ll be fine. Of course, if you end up somewhere really remote,you won’t have a problem as no one will see!!

        Reply
        • Yes, we’re basically hoping that in the off-season it’ll be quiet enough to pop the slides out and the support legs down. We’re thinking that keeping the truck attached will make us a bit more ‘ready to go’ should the need arise on the aires – though as you say, if we’re somewhere remote and out the way we might stay a bit longer 🙂

          Reply
    3. Thank you for sharing this journey with us! We would love to pack up and head off in an RV but were hesitant with (coming up) teenage children – I can’t wait to follow your journey and see how you go 🙂

      Reply
      • Hi Ange- thanks so much for reading and commenting. Honestly, if I had my time again I’d take my daughter out of school at 12/13 or maybe even a few years younger and travel with her- I think it’s such an amazing way for them to learn and grow. Hope you enjoying following our travels. 🙂

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    4. Hi Kat

      We are from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. My family (me, wife two kids 11, 9) will be hiring a camper for 20 days in December in Munich and plan to drive the black forest route and down to Rome via Switzerland and back to Munich. Do you have any experience of the cold in that time and how hired campers hold up? Will we find sites open that time of the year and do you know if there will be any exciting activities for the kids, with exception of viewing architecture and views? Any other advice?

      Thanks for the awesome info!

      Peter .

      Reply
      • Hi Peter,

        What an exciting adventure you have planned! Funnily enough, we’re going to Munich in December too! 🙂 As you probably guessed, your experience is going to completely depend on the weather and how much snow has fallen so far. You will DEFINITELY need a camper with heating, so make sure your rental has that fitted (you’d be surprised how many don’t!) You will also need snow tyres/ snow chains- even if it hasn’t snowed. This should be provided- but please check. Also, do you know that most hire campers don’t come with bed linen/ towels and sometimes not even pots & pans? It depends entirely on your rental company of course, but it’s something to check.

        If it’s a relatively modern camper with heating, you should be just fine in the cold. You are right that many campsites shut, but if you check out the sites I listed, you’ll be able to find the ones which stay open. Regarding activities for kids, it depends what kind of things they like. Our daughter is quite happy sitting in the van, listening to her music and watching the world go by. There will be plenty of walks- just be careful with the weather. Also, places like swimming pools, leisure centres and bowling alleys will all still be open, as will most theme parks- but please check in advance. You might find many roads in the mountains have been shut but there should always be an alternative route which is open. Hope that helps! Have a great time. 🙂

        Reply
        • Hi Kat

          So just a report back. We didn’t see you
          In Germany but what an adventure we had. Munich, Black Forest, rhine falls, Lucerne, Italy all the way to Rome and back up to Venice, finishing in Rome. 3300km.

          Your advice re the heating was spot on. I can recommend Indie Campers to your readers. They were amazing and friendly. The episode on the parking apps was a game changer. We used Park4night- amazing for piece-of-mind.

          Come tour South Africa! It’s great here. It’ll blow your mind!

          Keep on camping!

          Peter, Susan and kids

          Reply
          • AMAZING! Thank you so much for giving me an update- it’s so fun to hear it’s all gone well. So glad you had a great experience. We would LOVE to tour South Africa- what’s the best time to visit to see big cats (a dream of mine!) Take care x

            Reply
            • No real best time, they are always around but June, July, August is great for Kruger Park (dry season) which is a must do. It’s a huge reserve which requires at least a week or two to properly see. There are many many sanctuaries though, where they have rescued cats and cubs (cheetahs and lions). Good opportunity to cuddle little hand-reared cubs. If you go camper vanning here, and you have the time, I would begin and end in Cape Town.

              Our Neigbours also offer a lot in spectacular views and wildlife. Namibia ?? , Botswana ?? , Zimbabwe ??, Mozambique ?? , not to mention the kingdoms of Lesotho ?? (incorporating the beautiful Drakensburg mountains) and Swaziland ??

              We live in Port Elizabeth which has amazing beaches and lovely world class private game reserves and is the gateway to the garden route which takes you back to Cape Town.

              I’m presently researching camper hire beacause I haven’t even seen a lot of what I’ve just described to you. I imagine a full round trip would require between 6000 and 10000 km so not for the faint hearted. We drive on the lefthand side (previously a British colony). Van Hire options seem limited (bobocampers, and Maui seem the best) and strangely more expensive than Europe.

              If we do take on the endeavor, I’ll let you know.

              Stay safe

              Peter

    5. Great info, thanks for the effort. Lots of details still for us to consider and heating has now become an important one for me.

      I assumed the dashboard heater was the only one available and would require you to be driving or idling. What kind of heating is generally available which I should insist upon? Like fuel pellets or gas?…or electric heater to use when plugged in?

      Reply
      • Most motorhomes have gas heating and this is preferable if possible. If you have electric heating you won’t be able to use it unless you are plugged in at a campsite- and not all campsites with electric will be open at that time of year. The dashboard heating at the front won’t be enough to heat the back so the kids will freeze- and it will be COLD in December. Like, really cold. I assume the rental company has modern (ish) vans, so they should all have heating throughout. Make sure you have the appropriate attachments to be able to refill with gas in the various countries you are going to- each country in Europe seems to need a different attachment!!

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    6. last week i make a tour of europe and get guideline throgh this channel. that is best way. so here i will recommend to others also that before travel please read this article.

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    7. Thanks for this Kat – we are traveling from Paris to Rome in October. Our family (2 adults and 2 children who will be 8 and nearly 7) are flying in from Australia and renting a van from Indie campers. We want to stay at the cheaper aires in both France and Italy but we will need power/water, as the van only has 50L of water in it, and we’ll have our iPads and phones to charge and no inverter as we are traveling from overseas, is this possible? Can you suggest in particular?

      Reply
      • Hi Heather- that sounds fun! You’ll find many aires/ sostas have fresh water available. Also, you can always pull into one during the day to refill, then drive off again. If you’re careful, 50L might last a couple of days- you may want to buy bottled water to drink. You should be able to pick up a cheap 12v phone/ipad charger- maybe from a garage or hardware shop- this should allow you to charge phones etc as you drive- leaving you free to camp wherever you like! Hope that helps!

        Reply
    8. Hi, just a brilliant article for all all first timers. You covered everything that one needs to be aware of and I’m extremely grateful. Thank you.
      One thing though, what is the ‘approximate’ cost of taking this trip? I maybe missed this, so apologies if this was the case. Best of wishes and happy trails for 2019.

      Reply
    9. Great blog… we plan to travel with 4 young kids for a year around Europe but scared we need a biig vehicle and don’t think it would take well to the roads in Europe

      Do you have any experience with American style winnebagos over 8m in length and if we could still get around without too much trouble?

      Reply
      • Hi Devon. I don’t have any personal experience with Winnebagos but we have seen a few whilst touring. You’ll need to be very careful where you stop. Length isn’t an issue (we’re over 9m with our trailer), but width might be a problem at aires and even on some campsites. Also take into account toll costs- if you are over 3m in height it increases the toll costs considerably. Good luck!

        Reply
    10. What’s up to all, because I am truly keen of reading this web site’s post to be updated
      daily. It consists of good information.

      Reply
    11. Hi Kat ,
      It’s me again ….picking your brains !
      We are touring for a year but doing it in 4 and 3 month chunks , coming back for 3/4 weeks inbetween each chunk for Xmas and to see elderly parents and sons , grandkids , really struggling to find travel insurance for this type of tour , can you recommend a company that could accommodate us ?

      Reply
    12. Hi, Really enjoyed reading the advice. We are planning a trip late summer 2020. What is the protocol/experience with a Motorhome for large cities. Where do you park, is it safe to leave at a campsite all day, should you find a campsite near a train station. Is this easy to do, or am I complicating the planning? Thanks

      Reply
      • Hi! So pleased you enjoyed the article. We recommend not trying to drive your motorhome into a city (we did that in Edinnburgh- it wasn’t pretty!) Instead, find a campsite (or aire if in Europe) which is near a bus or train station and go in that way. Campsites are generally safer than aires, but take your valuables with you, including passports. We’ve left our motorhome in both campsites and aires all day without any problem whatsoever. Have a great trip!

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    13. Thanks for all the info, really helpful. I am planning a trip through Europe August 2020 for my parents and I and we are planning on getting a campervan, we have one here in NZ so we are comfortable with the set up and all that. Just wondering what you think would be best for going into the bigger cities with a Camper, is it best to find a spot outside a city (Rome, Paris etc..) and then train/bus in to sightsee for the day of is it not too difficult to navigate and find parks in the city centres? I figure if we do this we would need to pay for a campgroud so the campervan would be secure while we are sightseeing…???

      Reply
      • Hi Kelly! Absolutely- we try to avoid driving into cities at all costs. We went into Edinburgh with our motorhome and trailer… it was not pretty! Most cities in Europe have a campsite nearby or near a train/ bus station. In Europe you can probably find an Aire, where the van should be fairly safe (of course, nothing is guaranteed and read the reviews of the Aire first.) In the UK, you’ll probably need a paid campsite as there aren’t many aires sadly. I hope you have a wonderful time! Let me know how it goes!!

        Reply
    14. This is so helpful to someone inexperienced (like me). Can you please tell me if winter tyres and/or snow chains are necessary to travel through France and down through Spain leaving before Brexit and returning in March? I am so confused.

      Reply
      • Hi Debra, I think I already answered this in an email to you, but if you need more help please feel free to ask. 🙂

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    15. Looking forward to planning a year out around Europe in 2020/2021 and have already learned so much from your extensive information, thank you. Now planning to buy a motor home and will be taking all your advice. This will be our travel Bible.

      Reply
    16. This has been a long read but very helpful, informative read it all dont skim through it.
      Brilliant every thing you need to know this is my first time , going to France I am 74 so
      have no worries now. Thanks.

      Reply
    17. Hey there! We’re about to embark on our first campervan trip in March driving from Tuscany through Italy and France to England. We were going to just use google maps, but do you think a sat nav would def be better? We live in Australia and have done lots of campervanning in Oz and NZ – but never in Europe / UK!

      Reply
      • Hey- great question! I think it depends on the size of the campervan. If it’s a small van, no higher than 2m, then you should be fine with a normal car sat-nav or Google maps. If you want to avoid low bridges and tight roads, a proper sat nav is essential- especially in Italy where roads can be a bit… crazy!! Have an amazing trip!!

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    18. Hi Kat,

      thanks so much for all this info, we’ve been on the road now for a few weeks and really enjoying it!
      Would you have any tips for insurers please? We’re currently on our basic insurance that allows us to go abroad for three months but we’re looking for an insurance to cover us for a year or more.
      We’ve tried Adrian Flux already, which didn’t work.
      Thanks 🙂

      Reply
    19. Loved reading this and was hoping to get some help as you guys are pros .
      In a few months its tge euros football finals and I’d like to do so e of it by campervan.
      Passing through countries I never would before and watching random games to .
      Any thoughts on how to plan my route.

      I’m guessing get dates of games and do it that way but you might have a better idea,

      Thank you any help would be great

      Reply
    20. I have been reading several articles on this topic for a while now but the points on which you have built this post are totally awesome. Thanks for that.

      Reply
    21. Your advices for tours in Europa are very good. We are from Germany and I think you have absolutely nothing forgotten in your guide.

      Reply

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