Europe by Campervan: The Basics

Ever wanted to drive a campervan around Europe? We have our top tips from choosing your campervan to planning the itinerary, making reservations and what to pack.
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28 April 2022

Finding the right rental company and campervan for your needs can take quite a bit of research. You first need to decide what type of campervan you want and then start emailing for quotes. Some things to take into consideration:

  • Budget – very important! Keep in mind the cost of fuel and campsite fees as well.
  • Size – think about who you’ll be traveling with. Will you need car seats, strollers and other gear for babies and children? Do you plan to take along bicycles or other sport equipment? Will you need a hitch for extra equipment? It’s a good idea to make sure you have a campervan with room to store these things.
  • Maneuverability – Europe has some particularly narrow and bendy roads and if you’re going to be taking the campervan into the mountains or on a ferry, you want to make sure that you pick one that you can fit into tight spaces.

You’ll also want to ask about cleaning fees, what’s included such as kitchen items, outdoor seating, bedding, tools, which countries the vehicle is allowed to be taken, and specific details of insurance.

Starting in Germany is the cheapest (and probably the easiest) option from Luxembourg. Some rental companies to look into include:

To avoid being stuck on a too narrow road or going through a town with too low bridges (they do exist!) you can purchase a TomTom Go Live Camper & Caravan GPS, which factors in overhead clearance and width restrictions.

A tip for the road is to bring extra towels. With each bump, the dishes in the miniature kitchen will rattle and the cupboard doors will shake. Putting rolled up towels in the empty spaces will help with this.

The rental will companies usually give you some practice time and lots of pointers: pull all the way up when turning at a junction, leave lots of room between other vehicles, and always work as a team when backing up. Here is a short video on the basics of driving a campervan:

Making an Itinerary and Campground Reservations

Unless you have no limits to the amount of time you’ll spend on holiday, taking a campervan through and around Europe involves detailed planning, yet a great deal of flexibility. Start by making a list of your must visit destinations and how long you’d like to stay at each place. Is the goal of your trip to see lots of sights or to go slow and really enjoy the camping experience? Determine how far you’re willing to drive in a day and work out a schedule.

Europeans love to camp, and campgrounds are just about everywhere. They range from resort-like with swimming pools, tennis courts, bars and restaurants to very rustic with just the basics. Eurocampings.com is an amazing resource to find and make all of your campground reservations. User friendly with relevant and up to date content, you simply begin your search by country and you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds of campgrounds with ratings, reviews, maps, and information on how to make a reservation. Eurocampings offers a discount card that lets you camp for 50% savings during the low season, and an app that runs without an internet connection and provides detailed information for over 8,000 camping destinations in Europe.

During the high season it’s not uncommon for popular campgrounds to reach capacity and reservations aren’t available. Most have a waiting area at the entrance and will allow you to hook up to water and electricity and wait for a space to become available. If you find yourself out on the open road and exhausted, there are plenty of “stopover” sites where it’s legal and safe to stop for the night. Take along a copy of Facile Media’s Camperstop Europe, which gives detailed information, including GPS coordinates for nearly 8,000 stopover spots in Europe.

What to Bring

There’s no need to fret over what to bring as it’s easy to stop and pick up any forgotten items and a lot of campgrounds have stores on the premises. After determining what your rental company provides as a part of your package, here are some additional things that are found useful when camping:

  • Matches
  • Plastic bags and/or aluminum foil
  • First Aid Kit
  • Insect Repellant
  • Flashlights (torches) and extra batteries
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Ropes
  • Shovel
  • Tool Kit
  • Road flares
  • Rubbish bin and bags
  • Jumper Cables
  • Tire Pressure Gage
  • Gloves
  • Extension Cords

Make sure to download and upload everything on your electronic devices before you leave, when you have a good internet connection. Even though a campground advertises wifi, it isn’t always reliable or convenient. It’s also important to make sure you have prescription medications to last the duration of your trip.

Record your Memories

We promise you will take hundreds of photos with memories to last a lifetime. Travelling Europe via campervan is not only a great way to travel with kids (what kid doesn’t love camping?) but it’s also perfect for ticking off many of your bucket list items all in one fell swoop.

Ibn Battuta once said that traveling leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller. We couldn’t agree more!

Happy Travels!