If you’re looking for a fun, affordable way to travel Europe, skip the planes, trains, and hotels and explore in an RV. In Europe, RVs are called camping cars, motorhomes, or caravans, but just like in the U.S., they are a popular way to travel. In this guest contribution from Army retiree Tony Cerella, learn why exploring Europe by campervan is a great option!
We were assigned to Germany and Italy during my final two tours before I retired. Once settled in Germany in 2017, we purchased a campervan for our family of four. For the next 6 years, we traveled in our camper to multiple countries, including Ireland, the UK, Holland, France, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Spain, and to many lovely spots in Germany and Italy.
Having a campervan in Europe offers numerous benefits, making it a convenient and flexible way for our family to explore the European continent. In this article we want to share eight benefits we learned from our extensive travels throughout Europe.
1. Freedom and Flexibility
Spontaneity: Owning a campervan allowed us to change our travel plans on a whim, exploring new destinations at will and staying longer in places we found interesting.
Flexible Itinerary: Unlike traditional travel methods, traveling with our campervan allowed us the ability to create our itinerary, choosing when and where to go without being tied to fixed schedules.
2. Cost Savings
Accommodation: Because the campervan was our home and transportation during our travels, we saved a lot of money on accommodations. This was particularly advantageous in areas where hotels are expensive.
Meals: Cooking our meals in the campervan’s kitchen was more cost-effective than dining out for every meal. Plus, having the option to stop at rest stops and prepare meals whenever we were hungry was a huge plus and cost savings.
3. Scenic Routes and Hidden Gems
Remote Areas: The campervan enabled us to reach remote and scenic areas not easily accessible by other means of transportation.
Off-the-Beaten-Path: Traveling in a campervan, we discovered hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path attractions not typically on the tourist radar.
4. Comfort and Convenience
Home on Wheels: The campervan was a home on wheels, providing a comfortable and familiar living space as we traveled.
Facilities: Modern campervans often come equipped with amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping quarters, providing a convenient and self-contained travel experience.
Campgrounds: There are plenty of campsites throughout Europe. Most have electricity hookups, recycling points, showers, washing machines, and other amenities to make a stay comfortable.
5. Cultural Immersion
Local Interactions: Camping in various locations allowed us to interact with locals and experience the culture more intimately.
Community Campgrounds: Many European countries have well-developed campgrounds where one can meet other travelers and share experiences. They were a great place to make new friends from all over Europe.
6. Environmental Impact
Reduced Carbon Footprint: Traveling in a campervan is often more environmentally friendly than traditional travel forms, especially if you choose a fuel-efficient or electric model.
Waste Management: Campervans typically have systems for managing waste and encourage responsible disposal practices.
7. Adventure and Outdoor Activities
Outdoor Living: A campervan is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, providing easy access to hiking, biking, and other recreational activities.
Wild Camping: In some European countries, wild camping (i.e., in the countryside or other non-designated areas) is allowed, adding an adventurous element to your journey.
8. Family-Friendly Travel
Family Bonding: Campervan travel is an excellent way for families to bond, as the close quarters encourage interaction and shared experiences.
Child-Friendly: When traveling with children, having our own kitchen and bathroom facilities was extremely convenient.
In summary, our experience showed us that owning a campervan in Europe offered unique and personalized travel opportunities. It allowed us to tailor our journey to our preferences, and we explored the continent in a way that suited our interests and pace.
Get Started With Campervan Travel in Europe
- You can find campgrounds in Europe by simply searching on Google Maps as you travel. Other ways to find and book campgrounds include the EuroCampings website and the park4night and Campercontact apps.
- You generally don’t need reservations except during the busy summer months.
- Most campsites are closed during the winter months except in southern Europe (e.g., Spain and Portugal).
- Prices for camping in Europe range from free (boondocking is easy) to €60+. A large “pitch” (campsite) with electricity typically ranges from €30- 60 per night.
- Popular campervan rental sites in Europe include AutoEurope, Motorhome Republic, and McRent.
Pro-Tip for families living or stationed in Europe: Rent a camper first to see if you enjoy the lifestyle. If you do, buy the camper that suits your family and traveling style.
Author Bio: Tony Cerella is a retired Army officer living in Italy with his family.