Touring Europe in a Motorhome
Want to tour Europe in your motorhome or campervan? There is enough culture, nature and diversity to last a lifetime; taking a motorhome across Europe seems like an awesome idea!
Find out how to tour Europe in a motorhome with practical motorhome advice, European road trip itineraries, travel tips and hints about living in a motorhome full time and loads of other useful stuff!
Motorhome Hire or Taking Your Own?
Taking your own motorhome to Europe is relatively simple if you follow our complete guide. A lot of your decisions will depend on whether you’re going for a two week motorhome camping trip in Europe, spending a month in the North Coast 500 in Scotland or a year long campervan road trip in Europe (following Schengen rules) You can find lots of useful motorhome tips in our motorhome blogs and advice pages.
If you’re new to motorhoming or or RV’ing in Europe for the first time, then a two week holiday in western Europe is a great way to start, especially if you rent a motorhome. Your campervan hire for Europe will come equipped with what you need to enjoy a few weeks across the channel in July or August, and get a taste for European motorhome life and motorhome tours.
What Equipment Do You Need to Tour Europe in a Motorhome?
Probably the first thing to consider when taking a campervan road trip across Europe is whether you have the right accessories in and on your motorhome for touring Europe. If you’re heading off for a couple of weeks, then you may already be well set up for this type of holiday. If you’re planning a longer tour, then you may want to make some changes or additions.
What you change or add will depend on how you want to travel Europe in a motorhome. Whether you will wild camp or stay on sites, how off-the beaten track you want to be and whether you are touring in summer or winter, or across all seasons.
Have a look at our motorhome accessories page and equipment and options list, which will give you some ideas about what is available and whether you would benefit from it on your motorhome tour of Europe.
Different countries use different connections for gas, so you will need to also think about this for your motorhome or campervan in Europe. We would definitely recommend a refillable Gaslow or Gasit system which can be filled in any EU country (including the United Kingdom) using a set of special adaptors. It is illegal to re-fill Calor gas type bottles in the EU and each country has a different connection to your system, which means they are difficult to swap or change.
If you are planning on free camping in aires or wild van camping in Europe, then you will need equipment to ensure you have electricity when you’re overnight parking off grid. This might include a solar panel and you may want to upgrade your batteries. There is much more opportunity to wild camp in Europe then there is in the UK; if you have never tried it before, Europe is motorhome friendly and the ideal place to start.
What Kit Do You Need in Your Motorhome?
Are you taking a 2 week campervan trip in Europe or longer? Will you be travelling Europe in a camper van across seasons and into different regions of the continent?
Have a look at our essential motorhome kit list for an idea of what kit and gear we think is important when taking a motorhome to Europe. How much you pack will also depend the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of your motorhome and how much storage space you have. As a general observation, if you fill your storage space you are likely to be overweight. Read our easy guide to understand how motorhome weights work and don’t forget to include your toys; bikes, kayaks, gadgets and so on when thinking about weight.
You also need to consider how you’ll get out and about, especially if you intend to remain static on a site or an aire for more than a few days. If you’re in an urban area, the public transport may work, it’s defiantly the best way to get into cities. More remote and you’ll want to be able to get to the nearest village or head off for a day out.
We take bikes and a scooter in our garage, some people use e-bikes and others tow a car or motorbike. If you’re touring Europe in a VW campervan or similar pop up camper, then you can use this vehicle to get out and about too. Read about the best bike for your van tour of Europe to understand all the options. We cannot advise on towing a car, the law about a-frames in Europe is not very clear but you may find some helpful information on the various Facebook forums
What About Documents & Legalities?
This section has been updated to reflect the post-Brexit agreement between the UK and EU on 24th December 2020. Follow the advice to stay safe and legal in your motorhome;
- You will need a valid passport with at least six months remaining.
- A UK driving licence is needed for touring in a campervan in Europe. Your UK licence allows you to drive in all EU countries. If you only have a paper driving licence or a licence issued issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man then you will need an International Driving Permit.
- You will also require a green card as proof of your vehicle insurance.
- A GB sticker on the rear of your vehicle.
- Headlights adapted for driving on the right.
- You may need evidence of a return ticket and that you have enough funds to cover your stay – how much you might need is covered in our post about the costs of travelling Europe in a campervan.
- A GHIC or EHIC card.
- We would also recommend travel insurance and breakdown cover, but these are not legal requirements.
- An Animal Health Certificate, if you’re taking pets with you.
- Any country specific requirements for your vehicle – the AA’s country by country guides contains for up-to-date information about what you need to carry in Europe.
It’s boring, but spend just one day doing the research before you head off, and you’ll be glad you did. If you do get stopped you’ll have all the correct equipment and documentation to show.
Now the UK is no longer part of the EU, you also need to be aware of legislation that limits your freedom of movement in the EU, specifically the Schengen Area, if you’re planning a long motorhome tour of Europe.
The Schengen agreement means you may only stay in this area for 90 days out of 180 days – overstaying your welcome can result in fines, refusal to re-enter and even deportation. This comprehensive post about motorhome travel in Europe post Brexit explains all the details and offers advice and insight into how long-term motorhome touring in Europe is still possible.
Want exclusive subscriber resources & top tips to make life on the road a breeze?
European Motorhome Destinations
How on earth do you choose where to go when touring Europe by campervan? How do you fit it all in? You could spend literally years in a camper in Europe and not see it all. If you don’t have years (which many don’t now freedom of movement rules have changed because of Brexit) you need to decide what to prioritise. Is this a break from work to chase the sun and chill? Are you a culture vulture looking for Roman ruins and ancient worlds? Or, like most of us, looking for a bit of both?
Check out our destination guides for motorhome friendly places with information about sites and wild camping spots as you RV through Europe. Be inspired by stunning landscapes, mountains and coasts and incredible motorhome road trip ideas. Maybe you just want to find one of Europe’s best sandy beaches to flop on for a few weeks holiday?
If you’re thinking of touring in your campervan in Europe over winter then this post about the best European places for winter sun in your motorhome has lots of ideas and information.
Europe is your oyster, you and your travelling van just need to go and grab it! You’ll find some of our best campervan trips in Europe in our destination pages, whether you’re looking for a 2 week European road trip itinerary or campsites for motorhomes in France. We also love the Lonely Planet guide books and find they consistently provide the best advice for the sort of trip we want to have.
Motorhome Route Planner Europe
Ok, so now you’ve got some ideas about where to go on your motorhome trip of Europe, you need to actually plan your Europe travel route.
Check out our motorhome touring guides for specific information about culture, food, driving and overnight stays including wild camping and aires (campsites for motorhomes in France) to help with your camping trip in Europe. Or read this post about life in a campervan in Spain?
Our travel blog for Europe page has loads of great ideas and country specific information, head on over and find some inspiration. Why not take a look at our fifteen top European road trips for some ideas?
Planning a route for touring Europe in a campervan can be as complex or as simple as you want. Some people like a clear plan and a short amount of driving time per day with overnight stops booked or planned in advance, others like to just go with the flow and see what happens. It’s why we fall out every time we look at a map or start planning our campervan around Europe routes!
Check out our road trip planning advice for taking a campervan to Europe for loads of tips, advice and information to help you on your way.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of motorhome routes through Europe. Make sure you have a sat nav that has European mapping, or use a navigation app such as Google Maps. Yes, it’s possible to use a paper map but ideally you want up to date information and in a perfect world, to be able to set your dimensions in the sat nav and avoid things like toll roads. This avoids the inevitable detour of miles when you reach a low bridge and contemplate for fifteen minutes whether your 3.1m high van can fit under a 3.1m low bridge.
Also check out which campervan and motorhome apps to use to find overnight stays and wild camping spots on your motorhome tour of Europe, and decide whether you want to join France Passion or ACSI for example, a scheme which gives discount on site fees in low season.
It’s worth getting all this sorted before your camping trip to Europe as some schemes will provide books and cards for which you need a postal address and others require a good broadband connection to download apps and maps. Talking of which, have you thought about staying connected with loved ones back home and social media when you travel Europe by campervan?
Living in a Motorhome in Europe
You’ve done it…you’re on the road and starting your motorhome Europe tour, although adventure is probably a better word! Whilst we all have views about living in a motorhome, there are some topics that crop up time and time again. See our post about the questions we always get asked – if your burning question is not there then feel free to email us. We’re always happy to give an honest answer if we can and we love questions.
Sometimes, things can go wrong when you’re travelling in a motorhome. We had a disaster with a bed and drove around France for weeks with acro props holding it up, you can read about that here. The point is that most things can be overcome, sometimes with a little bit of ingenuity, sometimes with patience and usually with a large wad of cash.
Make sure you have emergency funds accessible to you, whether that’s cash stashed in a secret place (not our recommendation) or an emergency credit card. Read more about general safety and security in your motorhome for ideas.
Prevention is always better than cure. These two posts discuss how to manage water and waste and deal with smells and condensation in your touring van. In our experience, these are the two areas where people have most problems. Often it’s a simple issue, but the first time something goes wrong can be challenging and if you don’t know, you don’t know.
And what about being with your other half 24/7 on your tour of Europe by motorhome? This may come as a shock if you’re both used to rushing in from work at 6pm, collapsing in front of the tv before bed and then repeating for five days of the week.
Read our guide about relationships on the road, the ten truths we have learnt after campervanning in Europe for the last two years. You might also want to check out how to get tv in your motorhome for when you just need an hour of something other than each other!
And finally, because we always have more to say, read our post on what NOT to do in your motorhome. I wrote it three months and 4,000 miles in to our first tour of Europe in a motorhome, when we’d had our fair share of mishaps and surprises about travelling in a van and decided to start a touring Europe in a motorhome blog!