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So, we are thinking about renting an RV for our Europe trip...


Nov 8th, 2008, 02:38 PM
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So, we are thinking about renting an RV for our Europe trip...

Yes, I was one of those that told that other person last year it was a dumb idea. HOWEVER, if you will all remember, he had 1) never driven an RV, 2) Never been to Europe and 3) couldn't drive a stick shift.

I have a 34' RV here. I drive all over Europe (yes even Britain and Ireland) and prefer a manual. We love camping.

Anyway, we were weighing the possibilities and found the idea of RV rental, a small one. It is very inexpensive, like $2,200 for the month, complete (plus fuel). We can go where we want, when we want. Seems that there are tons of camping areas at really reasonable prices. We aren't always packing and unpacking. We don't have to hang around train stations and airports. I'm really having a hard time finding a negative on this.

If we get sick of the RV, we can rent a B&B for a few days. If we don't want to drive into a city, we just park it outside and take the metro in to town.

Anyone else done this? BTW, the RV we are looking at is MUCH smaller than what we have (Globebus Scout), like a 20'. More like a big van, but it has a fixed bed in the back, bathroom and small galley. Oh and what kills me is that the thing gets about 20 mpg. Geez, if I see 6 mpg on my rig I'm amazed.

So, any thoughts from my fellow Fodies in this thought? Remember, we are traveling the entire month of July.

dave and regina
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Nov 8th, 2008, 02:42 PM
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Oops, when I said I drive all over Europe, I should have said I have driven all over Italy and some in Germany and have no problem driving in Europe, actually I love it.
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Nov 8th, 2008, 02:47 PM
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I am greatly impressed with your idea. We have driven in Europe, mostly France and Spain, and I'm not sure I ever saw a place to park a vehicle that size. I wasn't looking for that, so maybe there are plenty of places. And I think your idea of parking outside of cities would be very wise.
Many of the streets in the smaller towns were so narrow, an RV would be difficult to get through.
Still, I'll follow along this thread and see what you find out. Also wonder what sort of "camping" facilities are available.
Best of luck.
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Nov 8th, 2008, 02:58 PM
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I have never done this and would never do it. However, given your experience,and knowing what campground amenities are like in many countries in Europe, I would say go for it! What a great idea for cutting down on costs while still enjoying Europe!

I know several campgrounds in the Dordogne near my house that are absolutely gorgeous! Nice little rooms and cottages to rent in addition to RV and tent space; gorgeous pools, tennis courts, etc.; nice laundry facilities; and sometimes a good cafe/restaurant. We used to frequent a nearby one when my kids were young. We'd do our laundry there while the kids hung out at the pool and we had a glass of wine or inexpensive meal at the restaurant.

I'd say go for it! A trip report will be required, of course.
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Nov 8th, 2008, 03:39 PM
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Driving a 20' vehicle (which should equal 6.6 meters, I guess) is not a major problem, IMO.
Many Europeans own RVs, and it's also not unknown to rent one for a vacation - especially those small campervan types.
You should only pay special attention to signage restricting height or width or weight, though.
RV parking (not campgrounds) is usually designated with the know "P" sign, plus a picture of an RV (who would have guessed that).
For day trips into major cities, Park+Ride lots could be a good idea (not only for those with RVs BTW).
In Germany, many communities have designated RV parkings for free or a nominal fee (€1-2 per night), especially those which are bit off the beaten tourist trails. Sometimes these lots also have basic facilities, but you cannot rely on it. Things can be more tricky in bigger cities, where advance reservations for (the few) campgrounds seem feasible especially during the summer season.
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Nov 8th, 2008, 03:40 PM
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As long as money is no object I suppose it's a good idea. At first thought it sounds like a GREAT idea. However......It seems it would be a bear trying to park that sucker anywhere near a city or a popular historic sight. Anytime you leave the Autobahn or Autostrada you could run into serious problems with low overpasses, narrow roads, wacky weight restrictions, causing traffic jams trying to get up hills or dealing with other drivers trying to get by. From what I've seen of European campsights you don't exactly get a lot of breathing room. I bet you can hear your next door neighbor snore or belch at the least opportune time.

And the costs of waste dumping, extra fuel and campsight fees far exceeds what you might pay staying in bed and breakfasts or pensions. Campsights aren't necessarily near the "action" either. For me one of the prime joys of European travel is the food and booze. I wouldn't feel like cooking my meals in my camper nor would I like to have to figure out how to get into town to wine and dine, then try to deal with getting back to the campgrounds after a drink or two too many.

Definitley not for me, but I know my wife would probably love to do it (because I'd be doing all the driving). I suppose if camping is your thing then all my silly arguments will make no difference, but perhaps buying a tent might be a better compromise? Certainly easier to lug it around on Europe's winding narrow roads.

I just got done reading Bavaria Ben's latest trip report that he just posted on his website. Noting that he didn't spend more than $20 a night staying in pensions and B&B's I doubt any camping sight can match that level of economy. Plus he had hot showers every morning - even if he did have to walk down the hall to get to it!
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Nov 8th, 2008, 04:25 PM
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Well, I was weighing the variations in prices, but that isn't my only thought. Convenience is a biggie for me.

To rent a car for a month, a modest car, would cost about $1,000. That means lugging around luggage, Loading and unloading, packing and unpacking maybe twice a week or more, probably lots more.

Using buses and trains, and I was originally focusing on trains, means going by their schedule. Hanging out in stations waiting and only going where they go, when they go.

While I normally have great luck with apartments, B&Bs and hotels, there is the odd time when things don't work out so well.

The camper is 20' long, 6.5 feet wide and less than 9' tall. Yes, there are still some height restrictions, but that isn't bad. My Bounder is about 11' tall and over 8' wide. I've rented vans in Scotland and England that were not much smaller than the camper and had no problem.

While I believe the overall costs will probably be much less than renting cars, taking trains, renting hotel rooms, even if it is the same, the convenience seems to be a big advantage in this. As I think back on previous trips, I can remember seeing these things everywhere. I didn't think of it before, simply because to me RVs are not a big deal.

Just some reasons behind the thought.


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Nov 8th, 2008, 05:34 PM
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Take a peek at www.soultravelers3.com. They're a family of 3 making their way in an RV.
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Nov 8th, 2008, 05:39 PM
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My DH & I followed the Tour de France for several years and it was wall to wall camper vans & RV's. They never seemed to have a problem in the small villages or on the mountain roads.

If an RV can go over the Col de Galibier and through the small villages of the Pyrenees, I'd say with your experience driving such a vehicle you have nothing to worry about.

Now I on the other hand will be following the tour again next year in a tent. That's a lot harder, having to put up the tent blow up the mattresses and cook over the mini stove. I'd vote for a camper van anyday. If I could just convince my DH.
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Nov 8th, 2008, 05:44 PM
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Did you check leasing a car instead of renting? I would be concerned about the lack of AC in a camper during July.

Have you looked at the camping sites in Italy? Most have bungalows very cheap.

Some on the camping links are ones that Soultravelers have used. I think their blog is a good start to get an idea of what it will be like. I haven't seen her post on Fodor's recently, but I'm sure you can e-mail her for any suggestions or questions. They have been traveling for over a year already.
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Nov 8th, 2008, 05:55 PM
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I didn't mean to come off critical of your plans. I was just blown away by how cheaply some folks are able to stay in Europe these days. Deals are still out there if you want to plan far enough ahead and lock yourself into a rigid schedule. Sine I'm rather anal, that's the way I prefer to go. The camping thing probably allows you more flexibility.
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Nov 8th, 2008, 06:18 PM
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Don't let all the negative opinions get to you!

I have done the campervan thing twice in Europe and would so it again in a heartbeat but DW now prefers apartments and hotels! ;^)

The first time was in 1972 in a VW van that had nothing but a bed and a one burner propane stove. The second trip with DW and DD1 was in 1986. We rented a high top campervan in England and spent 4 weeks in France, Holland and the UK.

Inconveniences were few... we had already spent a week in Paris and spent a week in London after we returned the van so parking wasn't an issue there. It can be a bit tricky to park elsewhere but aside from Monaco we always found a spot.

There are all kinds of campgrounds all over Europe and they tend to be FULL of people which tells you Europeans like to travel like this and it is possible! And we met and talked with more people than we ever have staying in hotels.

In France and Germany there are free places to park and even overnight in many towns. And you can often dump your waste free as well.

For years I subscribed to MotorHomeMotorCaravanMonthly a UK
publication... you can find them online at http://tinyurl.com/6xtgxg

Over the years there were often requests and trip reports from those who did a swap of motorhomes with people elsewhere... that could make your rental cost disappear altogether!

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Nov 9th, 2008, 03:15 AM
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To all, I don't mind negative comments at all. I like to see both sides of the coin.

As to the tent idea, I was kidding with my wife about it and her answer was "Yeah sure, with your back?"

To ParisAmsterdam, thank you for the link. They have a forum which I will immediately subscribe to.

Thanks to everyone and keep the thoughts coming.

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Nov 9th, 2008, 04:00 AM
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Go for it if it's what you want! Lots of Europeans have or hire campervans for their hols. They manage just fine on nearly all Europes roads. The campervans here are after all(usually)designed for them, and are not the monsters you get in the US.
Maybe you could look into hiring a couple of bikes too, so you can get out and explore a bit more that way, or even just for the trip to the shop/pub/restaurant.
Remember that in some countries you must use official campsites, whilst in others you can also stay overnight in lay-bys or wherever.Also the ajor school holidays start in July so some campsites may be booked up already, though most keep a few pitches for tourers who only want to stay a night or two.
If the lack of AC bothers you then head for Northern Europe rather than Italy/South of France, and take advantage of the long summer evenings.
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Nov 9th, 2008, 04:10 AM
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Wow, we are definitely doing this. From the link that Paris provided I found the forum. The forum linked to several other very useful sites.

A couple of great finds...

Aires = these are free French RV stops, municipal owned that are free. Not for caravans or tents, only motorhomes. Usually a cost for dumping/water/electrical. There are about 1,600 of these in France and another 3,000 in Germany.

French Passions = this is really cool, you pay about $40 for a year membership. It provides you with free access for overnight stays in over 2,000 French vineyards and farms. Membership runs from Easter to Easter.

There is another deal we found, but would not be applicable to us. It is an annual membership that cuts site costs by 1/2. Problem is that it is not valid for July or August.

Wow. Now, while you wouldn't want to stay in the free places all the time or even most of the time, that can be quite the savings. The vineyards are what really interest me.

As to the tolls, the site above also has info on how to use the side roads to bypass most or all of the toll roads, while increasing driving time. Since I have no time constraint, that looks really good.

Geez, I should sell my big rig, buy a small one and just ship it to Europe...maybe someday.

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Nov 9th, 2008, 04:20 AM
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I have never done it and pray I never will. That said, I saw many RV's driving around Norway and many places to park them as well. If you enjoy that lifestyle, great for you!
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Nov 9th, 2008, 04:40 AM
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I have read, and I do not remember where, that RV rentals in Germany is cheaper than anywhere else. You might want to begin your search in Germany.

How much would it cost to ship your RV to Europe and use it then ship it back home or just sell it there when you are through. You would have to arrange the sale before you go, obviously. I do not know the answer to this one, but it might be worth an email or phone call.

Another option is to rent a car with a tow bar, then rent a camper. Gives you the best of both worlds. You have a place to store stuff and sleep plus a car to drive in small towns. This way, if you cook bacon/sausage in the morning for breakfast, you are not smelling it all day as you drive. If I remember correctly, camper daily rentals are cheaper than RV daily rentals.
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Nov 9th, 2008, 04:41 AM
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If you're over the age of 40, make sure that camper has a commode. Nothing worse than getting that mid-night "urge" and having to navigate your way to the outhouse!

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Nov 9th, 2008, 04:53 AM
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Have you every heard of a honey pot? Old folks kept one under the bed.
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Nov 9th, 2008, 05:06 AM
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To the Germany rental question. Yes, we found that doing a RT from Munich is by far the least expensive. Germany rentals are much cheaper than other countries. The one-way dropoff fee is pretty high, like $1,000. So we found that by doing the RT at Munich became the lowest cost of all. For way less than $1,000 we can train/fly from Amsterdam to Munich. Pick the RV up there and head towards Paris.

As to shipping ours to Europe. Yes, it can be done and for smaller units actually pretty reasonably, like $100 per foot. The problem with ours is that it is really big by European standards, gets horrible gas mileage, and in some cases simply would not be allowed on the road due to it's size and weight. Mine is good on an interstate, not good on small, windy roads and in confined spaces.

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