|Morocco Free Camping|
We would highly recommend both this route and similar timings to anyone who wants to get a flavor of each country with a view to perhaps re-visiting their favorites in greater depth in the future as we do.
This post contains:
- Route Overview
- Camping Strategy & Van Choice
The map below contains all of the information for where we have stayed during our 2011-2012 trip. The best way to view this map is to click here to open Google Maps where you can click on the icons and navigate back to the relevant blog post concerning its location.
If you would like to download this information plus almost 230,000 overnight locations for use with Microsoft Autoroute please see this blog post (click here).
View Europe By Camper 2011 In Full in a larger map
|Skagen - Northern Point in Denmark|
The first country on our hit list was Denmark, deliberately missing out France and Germany for anything other than a pit stop. Our reasoning for this is that as a UK resident these countries are fairly close to home and could be explored fully in the future, with our time better spent in slightly more distant countries.
After approaching 4 weeks in Norway we reached Nordkapp which for the sake of argument is the most Northern point you can access. It is here you meet all the motorhomes you didn't meet on the rest of your trip and you realise just how vast Norway is.
While in Helsinki we stored the van for three days while we took a visa free side trip to St Petersburg via the St Peters Line ferry. Driving to Russia wasn’t an option as fully comprehensive insurance is virtually unobtainable and besides, have you not seen all the Russian car crash videos on YouTube!? This side trip should be very seriously considered, its well worth three days out of your schedule to follow it and fellow travelers who have contacted us who followed suit also agree.
There is a well trodden route through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joining the capitals Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius - all offering safe havens in the form of City Camps. Should you deviate off this route (and we highly recommend that you do) then the roads do deteriorate, so its worth doing a bit of research about which sights you wish to see. As a rule of thumb, roads deteriorate faster the closer to the Russian border you get, but motorways are very good indeed.
Poland is a country we didn't warm to especially, but that could have a lot to do with the timing. It was August by this point and the roads and towns were busy. Auschwitz is somewhere I think everyone should visit. We entered Slovakia since we've already visited Czech, but if you haven't Prague is well worth a visit.
|Transfăgărășan Pass, Romania|
By now our pace was slowing, we had traveled 3/4 of our total mileage (almost 16,000) and arriving in Greece in September was perfect timing. The weather was warm (as much as 40 degrees) and the beaches were totally deserted with not a package holiday maker in sight. In all we spent 10 weeks in Greece, spending just two nights on a campsite to visit Athens and to do some washing. It was an idyllic life which felt like it could go on forever, but by December it was cooling off and so we board the overnight Ferry from Patras to Ancona, Italy.
|Wild Camping in Greece|
|Wild Camping in Greece|
Having visited the east coast of Italy before and with the weather cold and foggy, we spent just a week travelling up through and across to the south of France. Here we met Adam’s mum and dad in their Autotrail and hugged the coast into Spain where we joined Sophie’s mum and dad for a family Christmas reunion at their rented villa (we parked outside!).
|Christmas Reunion, Puerto de Mazarron, Spain|
|Erg Chebbi, Morocco - Paradise!|
What would we have done different?
Had we been able to get Fully Comprehensive vehicle insurance for Albania and Bosnia we would have traveled up through here and into Croatia rather than getting a ferry from Greece. Of course, had we owned a cheaper van, then we could have risked it on Third Party / border insurance - but with our vehicle that wasn't an option. Insurance for Serbia is now included on many policies, but it wasn't on ours in 2011 - so we missed that out for the same reason.
Aside from that, probably not a lot!
Our Camping Strategy & Van Choice
Largely due to our budget of under £10,000 we engaged in a lot of wild / free camping. By having a vehicle under 6 meters (2mm under, at 5.98m!) we saved about £300 on tunnel, bridge and ferry tolls alone, but more then that being able to fit into a regular car parking space massively opened up our wild camping and day parking opportunities.
We did use campsites in cheaper countries, for visiting some capital cities and when we ran out of clean clothes and a launderette wasn't practical. It’s all about what you feel comfortable with but we believe once you close your blinds you could be anywhere!
The vehicle we went for was a 3 year old Adria Twin based on a Fiat Ducato. This was a fairly expensive vehicle (about 3x the cost of the trip itself) but paid for itself in as far as we only lost £1k in depreciation thanks to buying private out of season and selling private at the start of the season.
The van we used for this trip was a 2007 Adria Twin. We opted for the 2.3 (120bhp / 6 Speed) model fitted with Cruise Control and Air Conditioning however the feature we were most impressed with was the fact is wasn't white! Being 5.98m long we also passed for the lower tolls in Norway and Denmark meaning we saved over £300 since prices double as soon as you exceed 6m.
We wanted a fixed rear bed as we find having to make up a bed all the time really tiring and the under storage for two peoples clothes for all weather conditions, shoes, coats and general supplies were excellent. We made a number of Modifications and Improvements to the van prior to leaving to give us a little extra space and to sort out some of the niggles and we have found that the van has stood up well to being used daily for the last 7 months. We will be writing a full review of the van shortly!
2.3 (120bhp) 6 Speed
Custom Interior Fabric (from a 2011 VW Jetta)
Custom Dark Grey Carpets
Customised Dashboard Navigation System
Fiat Headlamp Protectors / Deflectors
Remi Windscreen Blinds
Rotating Cab Seats
Permanent Fixed Bed
Two Forward Facing Passenger Seats
Twin Heki 2 Rooflights
70L Dometic Fridge
Smev Two Ring Hob
Twin 11Kg Gaslow Kit (44L Capacity) LPG
Additional LED Lighting
Twin 86AH Batteries
2100W Inverter mounted under passenger seat.
We covered the full breakdown of costs here:
Touring Europe For A Year - What did it Cost?