Confessions of a Traveler, Europe by Camper

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 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 or drop them a note to say hey in the comments below.