European Travel > Camping in Europe

Camping in Europe

Published: October 15, 2008

There are many ways to travel Europe, from bus to train to plane, but one of the most rewarding is to rent or purchase a car and do the driving yourself. The freedom that comes with owning your own vehicle in Europe is unparalleled. Being able to choose the road less traveled and take in the sights without 5000 tourists crowding in for the same view is incredibly satisfying. Even as a foreigner it is easy to lose yourself and start feeling (and acting) more like a local.

Most travelers start in the UK, and there are many camping and outdoor stores from which to purchase gear. You can also purchase a car while in the UK, but keep in mind that the car will be designed for driving on the left side of the road, and in Europe they drive on the right (although this is not really a problem).

Insurance is a whole extra ordeal. When purchasing a car in London (or England in general) it is best to have a permanent mailing address. Attempting to insure a car without one is near impossible, and if successful, extremely expensive. If you've been living and working in London on a holiday visa make sure to purchase your car and insurance before you no longer have a permanent mailing address, then figure out a way to forward the mail from the insurance company to a safe address for the duration of your trip.

If all this sounds too much (and at some point it will seem like it is) there is the option of leasing a car from Peugeot or Renault. Considering insurance is covered and the car is brand new this can actually be an incredibly economical way to ensure the freedom or car travel for a European adventure.

A good map is essential for any trip around Europe. Of course, getting lost is inevitable but a comprehensive map really does help. These can be purchased from any large bookstore.

Once in Europe the opportunities are endless. Camping is huge and there are campgrounds located near even the tiniest town. Booking in advance is not necessary. There may be the odd time when a site is not available, but thanks to the flexibility of traveling in a car that is generally not an issue and you can simply drive on to the next camp site.

Prices can vary hugely from country to country and city to city. Some sites are as little as 9 Euro a night, with others up to 30. Having said this, it is still the cheapest accommodation available. Consider that this 30 Euros is probably covering at least two people.

All campsites have shower blocks, and many have washing machines and dryers. Some have small stores where you can purchase a nice cold bottle of white wine or a block of cheese to nibble on - this can come in VERY handy after a long drive in the summer heat!

One thing to keep in mind is that many campsites only operate throughout summer (about May - September) so be careful if traveling outside this period (although it's not very appealing considering you could end up camping in the peak of winter!) Books that list all the campsites, their prices and facilities are also available and will become an indispensable tool in planning any camping trip. The AA guides are a very good place to start for this sort of information, but do not buy second hand. The campsites could be closed or the prices could have gone up - just spend that little extra for a brand new copy of your own.

Finally, if big cities are on your itinerary it is good to remember that the campsites will likely be outside the city centre, and visitors will need to take public transport to visit the core. This is generally a very easy and simple exercise, and shouldn't be a deterrent from traveling in this fashion.

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