European road trip in a campervan or motorhome

If you are planning to visit and tour Europe, then an European road trip is one of the best ways to do it. On a road trip gone are the confines of public transport, the waiting around for the next bus or train, limited by where and when they depart and arrive. You have your own transport and you can go anywhere, anytime you want. The open road is waiting.

Driving around Europe is relatively easy. Outside of the UK every country drives on the right, and many of the borders no longer exist so there is no waiting or visa checks. Not only do you have one of the best tools for independent travel, a vehicle, but a road trip can also prove to be a cheaper way to travel.

The best way to travel around Europe is by campervan. Many people enjoy campervan road trips around Europe every year. A campervan might not be your first choice but a campervan gives a freedom unparalleled by any other vehicle. A car can get you around but in a campervan you can prepare and cook food. Think of all those coffees and teas you don't have to buy in cafes. Looking for and staying in hotels and hostels, can be a pain, but camping works out much cheaper. Why stay in someone else's bed when you already have one with you in your camper? Now you could just take a car on your road trip and chuck a tent in the back so you can still stay in campsites, but campervans have one last privilege. Across Europe there are special places where campervans can be parked and slept in for free, called Aires. Suddenly the road trip has just got a lot cheaper, with only fuel and food costs you have a few more tourist Euros to spend.

When buying your chosen camper you need to think carefully about fuel efficiency and comfort. You will only need a 4x4 if you intend to off-road. In Europe it is surprisingly difficult to drive off road as most land is private, so a standard vehicle is adequate, a 4x4 will just add to your fuel bill. In Morocco there are roads to most of the tourist destinations, though there are also some roads only for 4x4 vehicles. If Morocco is the only African country you intend to visit in your campervan, then there is no need to have a 4x4 vehicle. If you wish to travel through more African countries it would be worth joining an expedition. Some overlanding expeditions take individuals without their own transport, whilst other groups lead expeditions and provide support to groups driving their own vehicles. There are more buying tips here.

No road trip is complete without guidebooks and maps. Once you're on the road a good guide book will enable you to find a good place to stay wherever you end up. Most people undertaking a road trip of Europe use the  Michelin Maps, especially in France, Spain and Portugal. Even if you have a Satellite Navigation system you should have a map of Europe to help plan your trip. For campsites the essential guides are the ACSI DVD if you plan to travel with a laptop and if you are travelling in the low season (excluding last two weeks of July and all of August) you should have an  ACSI Camping Card which gives discounts at participating campsites. For the motorhome stopover Aires the popular guides are in the All the Aires series which have guide books for Aires in Europe including France, Spain and Portugal, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. With these maps and guides you are sure to have the best road trip possible.

Road Trip Tours of Europe

With so much to see and do anywhere you go in Europe,  you'll have a great time.

The Great War and More - This is the first instalment of a new series of Road Trip Europe driving tours from Vicarious Books. This tour encompasses five cities, four countries and two world wars. Taking you from the highest point in the Netherlands to below the streets of Arras with all the key information you need along the way to ensure this is a road trip to remember.

Other tour ideas include:

Beer and Chocolate - A simple road trip ideal for a short holiday is to visit France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany in a circular tour of 7 days or longer. This road trip tour is possible from most UK east coast ports. Take in Bruges, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf and Lille in a circular tour and enjoy a road trip of four different culinary countries. This road trip is ideal for people who like beer and chocolate, so make sure you have space in your camper to bring some back!

Van Tour - There is an unofficial road trip tour of Europe known as Van Tour. Every year numerous campervans depart the UK and party their way around Europe from July to October. First they head through France to the first stop - Pamplona, Spain, for the Running of the Bulls in early July. From here many Van Tour campervans head south to Lagos in Portugal where there are sandy beaches and surf waves. From here the more adventurous head to Morocco. Most campervans then drive around the Mediterranean to Italy and Croatia before heading north to the final stop on the Van Tour trip - Oktoberfest in Germany, in October. There is no set itinerary on Van Tour and people detour to wherever they choose between the two major events taking their campervans to other festivals and locations. To join Van Tour simply book in at a campsite near Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls and you'll meet likeminded Van Tourers.

Italy - With so much to see and do, with a good guide book Italy makes an excellent road trip. You can camp beside the lakes of Garda and Como. Visit the cities of Venice, Florence and Rome, and drive through the Tuscan hills. Not to mention the food! The Italians are camper mad so you can't fail to have an excellent campervan road trip in Italy.

The Grand Tour - Anyone with more time on their hands should attempt the ultimate road trip, a European 'Grand Tour'. Traditionally the route took travellers through France and Italy in search of art, culture and the roots of Western civilization. Whilst some travellers made it as far as Greece or Sicily, most travelled North after Rome heading for the Alps before returning home. Whilst France and Italy still feature in most modern day Grand Tours, the countries travelled have become more extensive. The four compass points of mainland Europe are a popular option where road trippers drive North to Norway, Turkey, Southern Sicily, and Southern Spain and Portugal.

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