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Who hasn’t dreamt of hitting the open road with the family, the dog, and all of Dad’s bad jokes? Traveling around Europe is a great way to explore a continent full of history, lakes, and beaches. Team Campanda hit the road in order to give you first-hand tips on camping with a group in Europe. Here’s our guide on how to plan ahead and what to expect.

If you have particular questions that are not covered here, ask us in the comment section below, and we’ll get you the answers you seek!  

1. Where should I plan to book an RV in Europe?

No matter where you plan on traveling, you should consider getting the cheapest RV possible. We recommend looking for RVs in Germany first. People who rent an RV in Germany tend to save around 20% over other countries. Your next best option is probably Poland. Expect to pay considerably more when you look at renting an RV outside of these two countries. If cost isn’t a primary concern, you’ll be able to rent from the country you want to call home base. Cost of your RV trip in Europe per country cost of camping Europe per country
Country Fuel Food RV
Austria Cheap Expensive Cheap
Belgium Average Average Cheap
Croatia Cheap Cheap Average
Estonia Cheap Average Cheap
Finland Expensive Expensive Expensive
France Average Average Expensive
Germany Average Average Favorable
Great Britain Average Average Average
Greece Expensive Average Average
Iceland Expensive Expensive Expensive
Ireland Average Expensive Expensive
Italy Expensive Average Cheap
Netherlands Expensive Average Cheap
Norway Expensive Expensive Expensive
Poland Cheap Cheap Cheap
Portugal Expensive Cheap Average
Slovenia Cheap Cheap Cheap
Spain Cheap Cheap Average
Sweden Average Expensive Expensive
Switzerland Average Expensive Expensive
Turkey Average Cheap Cheap
 

2. How should I go about applying for an RV in Europe?

You can contact RV dealers directly by phone or online, or you can use Campanda to compare hundreds of motorhomes online. Either way, make sure to ask as many questions as possible prior to booking. It’s also a good idea to submit more than one rental request, that way you get to talk to different dealers and RV owners and get a better picture of the service and what they offer. You’ll want to know things like: what is included in the rental (chairs, tables, kitchen utensils, bed sheets, etc.…), the type of coverage they offer you, the included mileage and all other questions you might have.  

3. What to expect when picking up an RV in Europe?

Many dealerships will offer to come get you from the airport. When you arrive at the location, they will typically give you a rundown of the motorhome. This is your chance to further ask all of the questions you may have. If you have traveled by RV in the US before, you probably won’t have many questions about the vehicle. RVs are pretty much the same anywhere you go. Sure, the electric plugs might look different, but other than that, all should feel familiar. Make sure however to ask questions about the driving rules, road assistance in different countries (typically, they will give you coverage that is valid in all of the E.U and Switzerland) and what countries you aren’t allowed to travel in with the rental (many rental places won’t allow you to travel to Turkey, for example).  

4. Europe is so big, how do I pick a destination?

It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you look at a map of Europe. Find out what kind of European camping trip you want and plan a strict itinerary based on that. Do you want to see historic sites? Do you want to camp on the coast? Find out what’s the most interesting for you and your party and plan ahead. Here are things to consider and trips we recommend below.

Two of our favorite European RV trips

The ring road of Iceland The castle road in Germany  

5. Where can I boondock / dry camp in Europe?

An important factor when planning an RV trip in Europe should be an openness to the camping lifestyle. Some countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia are ideal for nature camping. The law in these countries is that living in the outdoors is completely legal and that visitors are allowed to fully take advantage of that rule. Scotland also allows you to park absolutely anywhere and has actively advertised this fact in campaigns to attract tourism to their country. As long as you are not bothering locals or destroying nature, you are free to park where you please. This is great because you can call it a day when you want and park in the most beautiful places you find on the road! Other countries that are also friendly to campers are DACH region (Germany – Austria – Switzerland) and the Balkans (Croatia – Albania – Macedonia – Serbia – Slovenia – Slovakia). Although the law doesn’t officially recognize your right to live in the outdoors like the countries listed prior, they still have a friendly and tolerant attitude as long as you’re not directly disadvantaging someone else. If you’re interested in Western Europe, you’ll have to be willing to ask around to find free overnight camping in the cities and the wild. These countries are a bit more restrictive than their eastern counterparts and less liberal about RV parking. Don’t forget about rules for making a fire or setting up a tent, as they might will differ from one country to another. A good rule of thumb is to watch other campers and get a feel right away for what is legal and what is illegal in the particular country you are visiting.  

6. What are RVs in Europe like?

RVs in Europe are generally smaller – Rarely do you find type A’s for example. You’ll also find that many people go camping in vans or old Volkswagen buses, which are a great option if it is a party of two. What you lose in spaciousness you’ll gain in mobility. Don’t forget that Europe has many small, narrow streets and having a small, nimble vehicle can allow you to access more places, especially in small villages. You’ll find that most RVs have manual transmissions. If you want to stick with an automatic transmission, you can search only for vehicles by type of transmission (among other things) on Campanda.com. Other than that, you’ll find the same things you would in an American vehicle: holding tanks, generators, inverters etc.  

7. Are driving rules different in Europe?

Yes, here are the most important ones:
  • No right turns on red lights
  • Some intersections don’t have stops – priority is given to the car coming from your right-hand-side
  • Passing is only allowed on the left in Europe. Never pass other cars if you’re driving to the right of them.
  • If no speed limit is posted, then there is no speed limit (Germany only)
  • In the United Kingdom, the driving seat is on the right and cars drive on the left lane – Click here for more info
  • You might find yourself crossing borders without realizing it since there are no border controls and the rules might change from country to country. Stay mindful and stay aware of which country you’re driving in. Also, do some research to find out which countries have more stringent rules, you’ll need to be on higher alert when traveling through these countries, like Switzerland for example.
  • Passing on the incoming lane is more common and more tolerated in Europe
  • Some countries have tolls on highways and some countries don’t. To cross France for example it will cost you approximately 150 Euros in tolls.
 

8. Anything else?

Get a pre-paid sim card Pre-paid sim cards are extremely cheap in Europe (about 10 Euros or $12) and start working within about an hour. You can get them at any small shop, same place you would buy chewing gum. Don’t wait to look around before buying one, do it as early as possible in your trip as it will come in handy. This is probably the most important purchase you’ll make during your RV trip in Europe. Don’t expect everyone to speak English Another reason for having a sim card. Not only will you be able to translate things you want to say, but you’ll also be able to translate road signs and restaurant menus. Some people will understand you in English but still choose to speak to you in their mother language. Don’t despair, stay unwavering in trying to communicate and you’ll almost always come to understand each other. Get a switch for your electric appliances Yes, appliances run on 220v in Europe. For most electronics, a simple extension will do, for appliances that produce heat, however, look into getting a converter if you plan on using them. These are heavy and difficult to transport, so if you can live without it, don’t bring it. Be friendly to everyone This is a given, but a smile can go a long way in a foreign country, especially when you don’t understand what someone is saying. Happy travels!