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Confessions of a Traveler, Europe by Camper

Meet Sophie and Adam, they are a (very) young (and cute) couple that have been RV’ing Europe and beyond since 2008!

They started blogging (Europe by Camper) so their family and friends could keep up with them on the road and found in turn their blog was supplying other travelers with a great deal of information.  Now they try to include the useful information along with some of their experiences on each place they visit.  If you have ever considered or dreamed of RV’ing Europe, this confession just might be the push you needed to make it happen!  So, let’s get to it!

We love your term you use for living off the cord, it sounds so cool: Wild Camping.  Do you have a favorite place you were able to wild camp?

‘Wild Camping’ is a term we wrestle with all the time. Often the places we choose aren’t all that wild at all, it might be in a town centre or near a beach. The closest we got to proper ‘Wild Camping’ was in the Sahara Desert in Morocco with not another person in sight (but strangely 5 bars 3G reception!).

We did pull up at the side of a road in Romania where the locals were camping in homemade tents and we felt a bit out of place in our shiny RV. However locals kept coming over to practice their English and offer us gifts of wine and maps with recommendations on where to visit and invitations to stay. We’ve never had hospitality like it!

In terms of location, Greece was a free camping paradise. We stayed at some breath-taking locations often on cliff tops overlooking deserted beaches as we visited out of season (September – December) when the hordes of tourists had gone home. It was like we had the whole country to ourselves and with the economic climate in Greece being what it is many people had been put off visiting. Aside from a little unrest in Athens, the country was fantastic and it was just scaremongering by the media.

Wild Camping in Greece

You guys have crossed a lot of borders on your Europe travels.  I’m always nervous crossing borders in the USA because I feel we’re going to get busted for doing something we didn’t realize was illegal.  Have you had any border issues with food/booze/money, etc?

We always get nervous on a border and I think because we’re young in a nice RV we’ve been searched a couple of times when leaving the UK or entering Switzerland.

The truth is not many real borders exist in Europe anymore since the European Union created the Schengen Zone and only deserted mothballed border posts remain. These are sometimes reinstated to catch people out on little known laws – such as in Norway you’re not allowed to take in any potatoes! The crossing into Africa can be a little uneasy but on the whole we had no issues at all.

One great thing about traveling the USA is 1 cell phone company can cover pretty much all of North America. Since you’re in different countries all the time, what’s the deal with your Cell Phone?  Are prices ridiculously expensive?  Do you ever lose cell service in smaller towns.  Has this ever been a major problem?  Does your cell phone work as a wifi device?

Cell phones can be and are a nightmare, despite being a European Union the member nations don’t play nice together when it comes to roaming so many people rely on local SIM’s but sometimes these are unobtainable if you are not a resident.

However we had a lot of success using free Wi-Fi thanks to some long range antennas we got that can do a couple of miles under the right conditions. We’ve since setup selling these over on www.motorhomewifi.com and they’re going down a storm with motorhomes in the UK and Europe because the cost of roaming data is just so expensive. Perhaps things will change in a couple of years when the EU becomes more unified. Until then we’ve teamed up with a provider to offer 100MB for €2/day.

RV’s in Europe are smaller than the average RV in the USA.  Have you come across any space issues living in such tight quarters?  I know many roads in Europe are narrow, have you had any close calls with other cars/trucks or low clearance bridges?

We chose a 6 meter (under 20ft) RV for many reasons. In Norway in order to explore the Fjords you need to board a lot of ferries and if you are over 6m you pay double the amount. Europe is just not geared up to large vehicles unless you stay in truck parks and we like to wild/free camp in town centers where regular car parking spaces are marked out in 6m long bays; we fit in perfectly!

Our RV is well designed; we have a fixed bed across the back which means we have loads of storage underneath. The front has a dining area and the cab seats spin round. In the middle is the kitchen area / washroom with a shower and toilet as you would expect. We spent most of our time either driving or out exploring on foot. We have a roll out awning which doubles our space so we sit and cook outside when the weather is nice leaving just driving, sleeping and cooking for inside the van.

Sure, you can’t take as much stuff – but in reality there was stuff that even we brought back unused!

European fuel is ridiculously expensive compared to the States.  Do you know an average of how much you spend at each fill up, and how much you spend per month while traveling?

One of the big reasons for choosing a 6m RV was gas mileage, our RV did 33MPG (US gallons are smaller, so that’s about 28MPG) which makes a big difference when the average price of fuel is $7 a US gallon or as much as $12 in Norway!

That means a 23 Gallon (US) tank cost from $160 to $275 to fill!

Over a year and 23,000 miles we spent £4,000 on fuel – so roughly $6200 – that averages out as $500 for 2,000 miles a month. Given American RV’s on average do less MPG than ours I’d be interested to know how that compares like for like.

(In 2011 we drove 15,000 miles and it cost us $5,525, so it averages out because your EU RV’s get better MPG than US RV’s) (here are links to our costs and mpg reports)

It seems in the USA people don’t even think of RV’ing until they’re retired.  As a young couple traveling in Europe what types of RV’ers do you find on the road?  Are they all retiree’s?  Does the RV industry in Europe like the fact that you’re a young couple with an RV blog?

Sure, most of the RV’ers we see on the road are retirement age.  You call them Snowbirds and European Motorhomers do exactly the same thing – migrate South from England to Spain, Portugal and Morocco over winter. We did meet quite a few people our age and of those we did the majority seemed to be Australian and New Zealanders. They can’t believe that we (English) have the whole of Europe on our doorstep yet people our age (I’m 27, Sophie is 23) much prefer to go on a package holiday and sit on a beach for a week and get drunk every night! We couldn’t think of anything worse!

The RV industry in the UK isn’t really geared up to social marketing and most of the approaches we’ve had are from different sectors. We’ve not had any offers of a free RV yet! Nevertheless our blog is a great tool as it adds credibility to our business and we’re hoping to revamp it over the coming months.

Follow Sophie and Adam on Twitter or their blog www.camperbyeurope.com or drop them a note to say hey in the comments below.

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (26)

  • Great article, thanks for the read!

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  • Phil DeGrood

    Hi Adam and Sophie,
    We have been traveling since 2011 in various parts of Europe in our 2006 Winnebago View, 24′, Mercedes diesel, with 1 slideout. We leave Aug 26, 2015 for our last time to pick up the RV in Amsterdam where it is in covered storage and see more of northern Italy. It is up for sale. It is in very good condition with only 42,000 miles on it and is licensed and registered in the State of Florida, USA. If you know of anyone who loves or is considering RVing in Euorpe this is the ideal RV, let us know. We can be reached by email noted above or by phone +727-389-0757. We are in our early 70s and are ready for another type of traveling adventure. The storage costs about 500 euro for six months. Hope to hear from you. Your journey sounds terrific.
    Cheers……….Phil and Pat DeGrood

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    • Yan

      Hi Phil, do you still have the view at Europe for sale? Can you let me if still available , can reach me at 6509486372, thank you
      Yan

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    • Guy Faber

      Hi, Phil

      Please text me +61 416116111 if you still have the Winnie View for sale. We are interested in something similar.
      Guy & Siani

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    • Guy Faber

      Hi Phil… if you still ahve the rV for sale, please drop me a line – [email protected]

      We are seeking something similar for Europe, June/July 2016.

      Guy

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  • Jay V

    Jason- Live in Ohio with a 25′ Class C diesel Mercedes 3.0 V6 engine. I assume your fuel costs are based on
    on diesel prices? Am “tinkering” about shipping it over to either Italy or England, plus my wife and a frisky
    Labradoodle. Any idea of transit companies (shipping) that you could recommend to do this? Obviously cost
    could be an object and want to know if you know of the approx. cost of round-trip RV shipping and if they allow you to reside in the RV while on the high seas? What kind of restrictions with the pooch in Europe proper that you know of? If you can’t get it all in on this blog then simply refer me to the links. I know Europe from having lived in Italy\Germany for 12 years a while ago and can get around…thnx…Jay

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    • Guy Faber

      Jason, if you transported the mrec C class, & still have it in Europe AND would like to sell or rent if out for July 2016, let me know.
      Guy & Siani

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  • Emma Ray

    Really good to hear about your travels – I’m 39 and bought the same vehicle (Adria Twin) as Jason in March so I’m off in August to explore! I’ve put a bike rack on one of the doors at the back and a roofrack is going to be fitted also.

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  • hi guys

    Enjoyed this article as Europe is on our list too… One day!

    Fyi – the last link to their website in your article is a dud link, you might want to fix.

    Happy trails!

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  • Rocio Hernandez

    Rving in Europe sounds amazing!!! Do europe by camper have a facebook or intagram to follow? They should consider youtube. We would totally follow!

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  • Cool!!! 🙂

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  • Okay, now I want to go RVing! I work for an RV company, but this really made me want to just buy one and go traveling to all those cool places! I loved the interview!

    -Brandon

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    • Brandon what are you waiting for??? Take that gig on the road and join us! See you around.

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  • I think I am being inspired to buy a campervan and start road tripping around Europe.

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  • Hey guys, just spotted a typo. Its http://www.europebycamper.com/ not camperbyeurope.com
    Trying to convince my wife we should buy Windy. She pointed out we are about $128,000 short of the asking price!

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    • Hey Andy, Nice Catch! We’ve got it fixed…whoops! If you decide to purchase Windy I can knock off a grand no problem…so you’re now only 127,000 short! ha.

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  • Brian: It’s a difficult question to answer because, as a EU resident, we have never had to deal with this issue. You could split your time between EU and Morocco, Turkey and Croatia all of which has a good camp ground infrastructure (and a maximum of 90 days limit themselves). You also have The Balkans consisting of Bosnia, Serbia, Macadonia, Albania, Montenegro but these countries do not have the camping infrastructure you might be used to and are undeveloped by comparison.

    The biggest challange you will face is likely to be insurance and vehicle registration. Apparently this is possible in The Netherlands but we did see one or two US registered RV’s in our time in Europe.

    After a quick google on the subject, this blog might be of interest: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-to-legally-stay-in-europe-for-more-than-90-days/

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  • Hey Europe by Camper,
    Having crazy thoughts of downsizing to something your size….think we can do it? 2 adults plus 2 cats living full time on the road? HELP! We need your advice https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/downsizing

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  • Yea – I’ve a degree in film production and a bit of experience in TV news. We knew what would be entailed in such an effort and quickly realized we had nothing to gain and everything to lose from it.

    Mainly we don’t have much drama in our life (past OH NOES, the COFFEE IS GONE!!) so we worried about how they would create enough drama for the show to be interesting enough to sell advertising.

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  • I want to point out their RV gets nearly 30 MPG! Why can’t our class B motorhomes get anything close to that? I’d consider downsizing for TRIPLE the fuel economy!

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  • mil1lil

    My husband and I have a dream to travel Europe but never thought about doing it in a camper.
    We just started full-timing in a 5th wheel so doing something like that in Europe would be a dream come true! We will be following you, for sure.

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  • We’ve already turned down 2 reality TV show offers..;)

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  • This post is so timely for us as we begin to think about what we’ll do once we’re finished RVing the U.S. We’ve thought about touring Europe in a “campervan” but haven’t done much research. I expect http://www.europebycamper.com/ to be a huge help.

    One of the things that we know we’ll confront, and maybe if Sophie or Adam check back in they could discuss, is how to deal with the Schengen area visa restrictions. As non-EU citizens, we’re limited to a total of 90 days in something like 27 EU countries every 6 months. I guess that just means spending half the year in non-EU countries, which is doable.

    In any event, thanks for directing us to their site . . . we’ll definitely want to check it out.

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  • MsBoyink and I were *just* daydreaming about a UK leg on our adventure this morning, so thanks for the post and the links.

    Just for comparison, we did 23K miles on our first year and spent roughly $9000 in fuel (gasoline) in our truck/fifth-wheel trailer combination. We get MPG in the 7-10MPG range normally and saw per-gallon costs from $3 – $4.20 over the course of the year.

    The big puzzle for us would be fitting 4 adult-size bodies into an RV that size…2 of them being 6′ +….

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