About Go Motorhoming Buying
a camper van or motorhome and setting off
on an European
road trip is a big decision. The following
is an abridged version of Chapter 2 from Go
Motorhoming and Campervanning
and should help with campervan purchase and
road trip planning.
What is a motorhome?
Legally a motorhome is a self-contained vehicle.
It must contain living accommodation including
seats and tables, a bed which may convert
from the seats, cooking facilities and storage
facilities. In addition, if you wish to use
motorhome stopovers you will need a toilet
and contained water storage.
Compromise is the only word that explains
the motorhome living accommodation. Thousands
of motorhome layouts have been designed and
continue to evolve, but there is no easy way
to squeeze a kitchen, bathroom, dining room,
lounge and bedrooms into a motorhome, so try
not to be too rigid, as none of them will
Bathroom - Not all motorhomes have a separate
shower or a toilet, those who can rough it
will survive without, but in reality this
is inadequate. To be considered a 'self-contained
motorhome' in Europe you must have a toilet,
even if it is a free-standing porta potty.
Public toilets vary in availability and cleanliness
in Europe, not taking a toilet with you may
prove embarrassingly costly!
Bedroom/sleeping - Poor sleep can
be a big problem when away in your motorhome.
Roughing it for a week can be fun, but after
a month you may not be laughing. If you have
more people than can sleep in your camper
van you will need to use campsites. You are
not allowed to use tents at the motorhome
Kitchens - Can be cramped so ensure
there is enough space to prepare a meal but,
as with bathrooms, motorhome kitchens only
need to be just big enough.
Where you choose to stay has a great impact
on your holidays. A motorhome is an excellent
tool as it allows you to get out in the wild,
off the tourist routes. Suddenly you are not
dependent on tour operators, train and bus
timetables, or hotels, there is simply the
freedom of the open road.
Campsite guides vary widely too. Caravan
Europe guides produced by the Caravan Club
consist of entries submitted by its readers,
Rogers produce guides listing the largest
campsites which are inspected by the Alan Rogers
team of inspectors. ACSI
produce a DVD which is a searchable database
of campsites which are annually inspected by
the ACSI inspectors. ACSI also publish the very
Card ACSI which details campsites which
offer its readers a reduced rate in low season.
There are even campsite guides based on specialist
subjects, for example Sea
View Camping Scotland and Seaview Camping Wales which just feature campsites with a sea view.
Spain is Europe's most popular winter destination
for both caravanners and motorhomers. This
is mainly due to it being the warmest place
to spend the winter. There are plenty of campsites
open all year, those in the north tend to
be around Barcelona, but there are plenty
in Southern Spain. These campsites cater well
for the long stay winter visitor. If you want
to been even warmer Morocco has 100 campsites
open all year, all detailed in Camping Morocco.
Motorhome Aires vary from parking areas in municipal
car parks to gardens, farms, and sometimes even
inside campsites. In France the scheme France
Passion has over 1800 participating farms
and vineyards offering motorhomers the opportunity
to say overnight and some very enjoyable experiences
can be had sampling local produce. A similar
scheme also exists in Spain (Espana
Discovery) and Italy (Fattore
In the UK we predominantly use Calor Gas in
our campervans. Wherever you are in the country
you are never very far from a Calor Gas supplier,
often the local petrol station, and they are
also likely to have both large and small bottles.
If you intend to take your motorhome across
the channel, you need to be aware that exchanging
or refilling Calor Gas bottles is not possible
because every country has its own gas supplier
and bottles. The only gas available Europe-wide
is camping gas, but unfortunately these bottles
are so small they are only viable for the
When choosing a motorhome you intend to use
abroad, don't overlook the gas locker and
bottle size. Consider how you will use your
gas, especially if you intend to use the oven,
heater and shower regularly and calculate
how much you will need. From this calculation
you can work out how much gas you will need
to take with you and will ensure your foreign
foray is remembered for all the right reasons.