On our way to Paris through the autumn rain, let me start with a hymn to the country of autocaravanisme: Vive la France! Camping cars are so popular here that not only do you see them in hundreds almost everywhere you go, but every city, town and even the smallest village assigns special car parks just for them, which also include water and discharge facilities. Fabulous! If ever you are looking for a camper van in Europe, France is the place to go.
Here’s the promised list of equipment which has enhanced our past two months irrefutable.
- Wilson, our FIAT Ducato.
- Two children – can’t imagine travelling only with one. Their mutual company seems so invaluable. No kids, on the other hand, would make lots of things much easier, but living this adventure as a family is what makes it all worth living for us.
- Dried legumes – whether it be chickpeas, lentils, mung beans, Dahl – you name it – sprout or cook them, it’s always an excellent way to stay healthy on the road and, especially as a vegetarian, keep your iron levels up (Mix it with orange juice or another good source of Vitamin C to make best use of it.).
- Headlamp (Coleman) – invaluable for finding stuff at night, turning on the gas bottle, storing the bikes, seeing things underneath cupboards or vans etc.
- Water hose adaptors – without a suitable one in every stop, no water. Without water, no life.
- Fiamma Levellators – as if your van isn’t levelled, you are up for the worst night’s sleep. You might think a few centimeters of to one side or the other doesn’t matter, but your body system will.
- Chemical Toilet product – goes without saying…
Lastly a neutral observance which, I find, has to be included in any slant on travelling Europe.
Paying highways in France, Spain and Portugal can quite easily bust your travel budget (talking from experience here!). Switzerland and Austria (where you pay highway fees on entry) aside, there is generally a non-paying alternative (autovia in Spain) which runs parallel. If you opt for the milkman’s route, going through every village and town, you will definitely take longer. But you will also be able to grasp the beauty of your surroundings, take in the culture of the places you travel through, meet people and boulangeries you would never have dreamt of… in short, the old fashioned but more authentic way of travelling.
Only in Germany you can combine speed with no-extra expenses as the Autobahns are free. Besides the obvious advantage of getting to where you want quicker, we’ve noted that traffic jams are, however, much more of an issue than further South.