Camping in Europe

Parent Q&A

  • Camper van in Europe

    (2 replies)

    We are planning a long trip to Europe next summer with extended family. The idea came up of renting two camper vans as a fun and affordable way to get around for at least part of our trip. They are regular-sized vans with sleeping areas, kitchens and maybe bathrooms, NOT large RV-type vehicles. Has anyone done this? Who did you rent from, and where did you stay? We are looking into Germany and Italy, possibly France. Thanks for any insights you may have.

    RE: Camper van in Europe ()

    Hi, I didn't rent a camper van yet, but I am from Germany. So I know about this site similar to getaround, means you rent the private camper directly from other people, friends used it: (Other sites for renting are or but I don't really know about them.)

    Unfortunately there is no such thing as state parks in Germany, they are all run by private. For Germany, I usually googlemaps the places and look for recommandations when we do weekend trips. If you plan to visit Berlin, this is our all-time-favorite place north of Berlin with great nature directly at a lake: (There is also a train connection from there going to Berlin.) You will also find many campgrounds at the coast or at the lakes around Munich (Ammersee, Chiemsee)... But there is no real standard and it really depends. Many campgrounds in Germany are mostly occupied by long-term-renters that use their mobile homes like summer houses – I don't prefere these, but it's hard to find out in advance... Hope that helped at least a bit.

    RE: Camper van in Europe ()

    Possibly you have a lot of experience traveling in europe so I hope I am not repeating knowledge you have yourself, but I just wanted to mention that I have wanted to do this too, it seems so great but in we have never done it because it doesn't seem so doable. I am hoping someone who has done it will chime in and set me straight about that. We've lived in Germany for 15 years now and although we see these small campers barrel down the autobahns, they don't seem so feasible for touring the country - I think they are often heading for a campground they park all summer. The reason is while it would be easy on the autobhan, once off the streets narrow, so going from charming village to charming village in Bavaria for example, the roads are quite narrow, just allowing 2 cars to pass.  And in the center of the these little towns (and even big cities where we live) it can be quite tricky particularly if you have to pass someone in a bigger car too. For example we have a very small size SUV and live in a city and every time I drive it, which is just 30 minutes a few times a week to take my daughter to school, I have a least one time or more of very slowly and just barely being able to pass a car double parked on some street. Also camp grounds are not quite set up the way we have in the States. So although they have them, usually I think people park and stay the summer, at a lake or at a beach in for example Croatia or France. Now maybe I am totally off on this, after all delivery trucks go everywhere, and I am sure there are blogs of people who have done it which would be useful.

    But from my experience of numerous driving trips, I wouldn't want the hassle of anything bigger than a small sized family van as medieval towns usually have narrow streets. One other thought is that you'd miss out on a lot of the european flavor by camping. Another idea is that most hotels have family rooms. And many castles are converted into Hostels with family rooms. Hostels are not like in the States - here they are usually spotlessly clean, are for families too or host events and the hotels/pensions are often family run, and not so expensive.  So for the countryside a castle hostel is nice and in the small or big cities a local pension with a family room is really nice too. Staying in pensions is a great way to get a sense of Europe. I see someone has a blog on it.

    There are other great ideas for a family that we don't have in the States - such as Germany (and much of europe) has great bike paths you can ride across the country - through lovely forests and little towns. You can rent a tandom bike for little ones or an ebike for those who can't keep up. 

    Sorry really hope I didn't burst your bubble but it might be useful to consider.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Sept 2008

RE: Europe on the cheap with teens?

One way to travel around Europe relatively cheaply is by camping! That how the European middle class does it. Europe is full of wonderful relatively inexpensive camp grounds that most Americans never visit. My wife, then 14-year old daughter, and me brought our camping stuff, rented a car and spent 3 weeks driving around France 4 years ago. We were always the only Americans but the campgrounds were full of European families with kids. At one place my daughter made friends with a bunch of Irish kids and we hardly saw her because she was having so much fun with them. Another piece of advice is to stay away from the big cities if you can't camp there. Jon