Travel Tips

We have been camping continuously for over a year in Europe in our VW camper van.
We have a few tips to pass on to any intrepid travelers out there planning a similar journey.

Western Europe       Eastern Europe

Western Europe:

  1. Light tight curtains! If you're traveling in the northern countries, i.e. Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia,... look into light tight curtains for your camper. If this is not possible, be sure to have some comfy eye masks. It stays light 'til 11pm and gets going again after 4am. This makes it hard to get those good melatonin hormones going. You can get tired out or sick pretty quick.

  2. ATM machines beat travelers checks! You get a better rate of exchange. And because you're using local currencies, you avoid all the hassles. There are machines everywhere, even small towns and they'll take both the Cirrus and the Plus network, as well as others. Call your bank to find out if your debit card is part of either network as it is sometimes not written on the back of your card. It is important to know which one because sometimes a machine will take one and not the other, but it's always marked on the machine.

  3. Budget more for Petrol! Corollary: get a camper with a diesel motor. You might think $2 a gallon is bad back in the States, but here it's nothing to spend $5.

  4. Use Web based E-mail (i.e. Hotmail, Yahoo, Juno, etc.). We use a laptop because of our need to update our web page, cyber banking, as well as composing e-mails off-line. But it's a hassle to get access to phone lines, especially in France. But if you must use a laptop, be sure to get hooked up with a global ISP or an ISP that has roaming arrangements around Europe. That way at least when you're pleading for a phone line, you can show them the local access number.

  5. Read up before you come. This makes things so much more fun. A Europe experience is a great time to learn loads about history and art. Some of the books we found useful are on our Books Page

Eastern Europe:

  1. Cross borders at Major Border Stations! I.E. the ones on major roads. Also, do it during the day, avoid the middle of the night. While being suspicious is part of a border guard's job description, these former communist states seem to excel at this aspect of their profession. If you cross at an unpopulated place or time, they wonder why you're there and have all the time in the world to investigate your presence. This can be intimidating and unpleasant. You run the risk of losing any time gains you thought you might make. Be absolutely sure you have all your auto papers -- green card, registration and rental agreement. They're looking for stolen cars.

  2. Stock up on camping gas. Our VW camper van has the 3 kilo butane gas bottles which are handled very easily in the West through an exchange at all camp grounds and some gas stations or grocery stores (drop off your old canister and pick up a full one). However, In Eastern Europe there is no exchange program whatsoever. It is sometimes possible to fill these bottles at a large facility that refills the large 100 kilo bottles for home gas stoves. But in our travels we were only able to do this in Hungary and Romania, after searching for hours and sometimes days. We tried unsuccessfully in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. It's a matter of plumbing: the thread sizes are different. If you know you're coming to E. Europe, discuss it with the person you get your van from, perhaps they have an adapter solution.

  3. Have toilet paper on you at all times!

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