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Extended Travel by RV in Europe
Old 10-14-2009, 03:46 AM   #1
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Extended Travel by RV in Europe

I recently read Take Your RV to Europe: The Low-Cost Route to Long-Term Touring by Adelle and Ron Milavsky. They shipped their 1987 Dolphin, a 22-ft motorhome built on a 4-cylinder Toyota pickup, to Europe for a tour of 3 months in 2002. Leaving it in an RV storage place in Holland, they came back for another tour in 2003. Taking a break in 2004 to write the book, they then made another tour in 2005 and at least another in 2006, according to info I ran across on the Web. The RV shipping charge is high, but this arrangement is worthwhile for multiple tours, each of extended duration like they did. The travel must also be of long duration to make it worthwhile to make arrangements for shipping, insurance, etc... They showed that it was a very economical way to spend a summer traveling in Europe and mingle among the locals. Sounds like FUN!

Intrigued by the Milavsky's story, I have been looking for a used class B motor home; one WOULD not want to take a behemoth class A or class C to Europe for many reasons. The idea is that when we have satisfied ourselves with touring North America and the RV depreciates even more, we would follow in their footsteps. So far, I have no success yet in finding one at the right price. Small class B's in clean conditions are snatched up at relative high prices compared to the used larger class C's and even class A's. I am getting discouraged and may get a used class C just for domestic travel for now.

I looked into RV rentals in Europe and found that the fees aren't cheap. Has anyone here done travel by RV in Europe? It is interesting to hear from Americans traveling in Europe, but if you are a European RV enthusiast, please share your experience and tips with us too.

I know Dex has done RV travel in Egypt, but do not know if he wrote about the experience. Any forum search with the word RV was rejected due to it being "too short".
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:16 AM   #2
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When I lived in Europe almost everyone in my family spent the summer RVing, well we all had travel trailers to be exact. I haven't done it in a while, but my aunts and uncles are still avid RVers and, now that they are retired, they are on the road 3-4 months a year.

If you are really serious about doing several tours, you might want to consider buying a used RV and keeping it in storage between tours. I know you speak French so I am including a link to this website specialized in the trade of used RVs:

Camping car occasion Annonces camping car , les petites annonces de camping car d'occasions !

I don't know what your budget is, but it looks like you could easily find a used class B RV for 20,000-30,000 euros. I don't know how it compares to rental fees or charges to ship your own RV from the US but I will let you compare since you have already researched those alternatives.
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Old 10-14-2009, 08:24 PM   #3
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Our current long-term plan includes RVing full-time through Europe once we're done with this continent.

I haven't done a lot of any research, but it seems to me that buying an RV in the states and shipping it to Europe isn't the best way to go. In addition to the shipping cost, I don't think US RVs are 100% compatible with European facilities. I think they can be modified, but why bother? Wouldn't it be easier to just buy an RV in Europe?
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Old 10-14-2009, 08:33 PM   #4
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When my ex-boss retired he and his wife put their furniture in storage and leased their house for a year. They flew to Germany and purchased a small class C, toured Europe, Scandinavia, and part of North Africa (he's nuts) for a year, then sold the RV and returned home. Said they treated themselves to a nice hotel two or three times a month to get a little breathing room.
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:21 PM   #5
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The only other continent I'd consider RVing is Australia, and not for an really extended period either.

European travel for me would be more culinary/cultural, less "nature" oriented, so I'd just as soon as use sticks-and-bricks lodging. Europe also has such great public transportation, you don't even have to mess with your own wheels.

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Old 10-15-2009, 05:08 AM   #6
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The Milavskys discussed the option of buying an RV in Europe, but still chose to bring their own. I do not remember all the trade-offs that they discussed. However, it is true that even if one saves a bit of money with their way, there are logistic problems that most people would prefer to avoid. If I remember correctly, they had to bring their own oil filter as the local mechanics could not be expected to stock one for their vehicle.

Thanks, FD, for the link on used RVs. The prices appeared to be a bit high compared to the US, but most things are more expensive in Europe. Still, it might just be the way to do it when I get to that point.

About my French, I learned mostly by reading in my youth, hence never spoke that well, and it has been 38 years since I stopped. Though I constantly amaze myself what I still retain in memory, to say that I can speak French now is too much of a stretch. But I grew up reading Tintin, Spirou, Schtroumpfs (Smurfs for Americans), and Lucky Luke in French. In my early teen years, I did read a few "grown up" books in French such as Les Misérables, and Le Petit Prince. I even read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in French before the original English version.

Regarding RV'ing in Europe, it is true that it makes as much sense taking a car into Paris, London, or Madrid as it does in Boston or NYC. The intercity Eurail was also very convenient; we have used night trains between Nice and Rome, and Venice and Paris, for example. To tour the countryside, one still needs personal transportation. We once drove down the Loire River in a rental car all the way to the sea; there were no train stops at each of these chateaus along the Loire Valley.

One needs personal transportation to linger in a small Provençal town square out of the typical American tourist path, in a late summer afternoon, nursing a pastis. I want to visit little distilleries making Cognac and Armagnac. I want to see remote Etruscan ruins in Italy like Frances Mayes described in her books. No, one does not need an RV; a small car and local lodging would do, in fact would be more convenient. However, an RV would allow lower-cost touring, as the Milavskys have pointed out in their book. Same as Frances Mayes, they are seasoned Europe travelers who like to go into nooks and crannies rarely mentioned in tour books. One needs a lot of time to do that, and extended travel costs money!

Milavsky said that compared to the Americans, the Europeans camp out a lot, and travel by RV is also popular. Camaraderie in the RV parks is the same as elsewhere. In France, they would make friends with English or Scandinavian campers. In Europe, people must have freshly baked bread every morning, which is available even in camp stores. Another difference with RV'ing in the US is that they need to tow no toad. They once paid a mere 20 Euros to stay in an RV park in the Bois de Boulogne in the suburb of Paris, and took the metro into town.
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:16 AM   #7
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About my French, I learned mostly by reading in my youth, hence never spoke that well, and it has been 38 years since I stopped. Though I constantly amaze myself what I still retain in memory, to say that I can speak French now is too much of a stretch. But I grew up reading Tintin, Spirou, Schtroumpfs (Smurfs for Americans), and Lucky Luke in French. In my early teen years, I did read a few "grown up" books in French such as Les Misérables, and Le Petit Prince. I even read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in French before the original English version.
He who can read Les Miserables in French gets my respect...


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One needs personal transportation to linger in a small Provençal town square out of the typical American tourist path, in a late summer afternoon, nursing a pastis. I want to visit little distilleries making Cognac and Armagnac. I want to see remote Etruscan ruins in Italy like Frances Mayes described in her books. No, one does not need an RV; a small car and local lodging would do, in fact would be more convenient. However, an RV would allow lower-cost touring, as the Milavskys have pointed out in their book. Same as Frances Mayes, they are seasoned Europe travelers who like to go into nooks and crannies rarely mentioned in tour books. One needs a lot of time to do that, and extended travel costs money!

Milavsky said that compared to the Americans, the Europeans camp out a lot, and travel by RV is also popular. Camaraderie in the RV parks is the same as elsewhere. In France, they would make friends with English or Scandinavian campers. In Europe, people must have freshly baked bread every morning, which is available even in camp stores. Another difference with RV'ing in the US is that they need to tow no toad. They once paid a mere 20 Euros to stay in an RV park in the Bois de Boulogne in the suburb of Paris, and took the metro into town.
Travel trailers seem to be much more popular in Europe than in the US. People drop the trailer at camp and use the car to tour the area. So transportation into neighboring towns is usually not a problem. Another popular mode of transportation between camp and town is the bicycle.

RV parks can be found in small towns and villages with otherwise few accommodations for tourists. So traveling by RV gives you an opportunity to visit out-of-the-way places you wouldn't necessarily find in guide books. And, as you pointed out, the big plus of RV travel is the unsurpassed camaraderie. But Europeans chiefly love RVing because it is the cheapest way to vacation in areas that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. A month-long vacation in Biarritz or Saint-Tropez would be ruinous if one had to rent a condo or an hotel room. RVing offers a much more affordable alternative to vacationers on a budget.
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Old 10-16-2009, 09:51 PM   #8
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He who can read Les Miserables in French gets my respect...
Well, I don't know if I deserve any. I certainly didn't read the unabridged version. It could have been a condensed version for adolescents, for that matter. I do remember now being so engrossed in Jean Valjean's doings that I sneaked the book to class to read in 9th grade, and was caught.

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Travel trailers seem to be much more popular in Europe than in the US. People drop the trailer at camp and use the car to tour the area. So transportation into neighboring towns is usually not a problem. Another popular mode of transportation between camp and town is the bicycle.
Are those small pop-up camping trailers? The average European car is fairly small. Even with my SUV that is rated at 5000lbs tow capacity, after deducting 1500lbs for safety margins and the car content, I would have to settle for a smaller and lighter travel trailer than I had envisioned.

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RV parks can be found in small towns and villages with otherwise few accommodations for tourists. So traveling by RV gives you an opportunity to visit out-of-the-way places you wouldn't necessarily find in guide books. And, as you pointed out, the big plus of RV travel is the unsurpassed camaraderie.
Those were the points that the Milavskys repeatedly stress. It would work for me!

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But Europeans chiefly love RVing because it is the cheapest way to vacation in areas that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. A month-long vacation in Biarritz or Saint-Tropez would be ruinous if one had to rent a condo or an hotel room. RVing offers a much more affordable alternative to vacationers on a budget.
Yeah, budget traveling is what I need in order to afford to wander for several months at a time.
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Old 10-16-2009, 10:21 PM   #9
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Are those small pop-up camping trailers? The average European car is fairly small. Even with my SUV that is rated at 5000lbs tow capacity, after deducting 1500lbs for safety margins and the car content, I would have to settle for a smaller and lighter travel trailer than I had envisioned.
My parents used to have a pop-up camping trailer and I wouldn't recommend them for an extended vacation. The typical European trailer looks more like that:



The model shown above is designed for 2/3 people. It is very similar to what my aunt and uncle have. They tow it using a mid-size European car which is still quite compact by American standards.

Such trailer usually includes a kitchenette, small bathroom, a dining/living room area and a full size bed. The dining/living room area can often convert to a full size bed too.




In Europe, people usually attach an enclosed awning in front of the trailer which effectively doubles the living space. People cook and eat under the awning and only use the trailer proper for sleeping.

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Old 10-16-2009, 10:53 PM   #10
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After a bit of research, it looks like trailers like the one pictures above are about 15-16 ft long and weight about 1,500 to 1,800 lbs empty, and 2,000 to 2,300 lbs fully loaded. You can buy them used generally for less than $10,000 euros.

Check those out:

http://www.annonces-camping.com/annonces/1.html
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Old 10-16-2009, 11:00 PM   #11
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Why, the interior looks significantly roomier and longer than the exterior! I have looked at some travel trailers recently, so know that I cannot get something like that interior that I can tow.
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Old 10-16-2009, 11:11 PM   #12
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Why, the interior looks significantly roomier and longer than the exterior! I have looked at some travel trailers recently, so know that I cannot get something like that interior that I can tow.
The roominess might be an optical effect.
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Old 10-17-2009, 06:09 AM   #13
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I do remember now being so engrossed in Jean Valjean's doings that I sneaked the book to class to read in 9th grade, and was caught.
For me it was Peyton Place... and it was the 8th grade. You have my respect also.
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Old 10-17-2009, 06:11 AM   #14
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The roominess might be an optical effect.
Like the cabins on The Love Boat.
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Old 11-03-2009, 11:44 AM   #15
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I recently read Take Your RV to Europe: The Low-Cost Route to Long-Term Touring by Adelle and Ron Milavsky. They shipped their 1987 Dolphin, a 22-ft motorhome built on a 4-cylinder Toyota pickup, to Europe for a tour of 3 months in 2002. ....

I looked into RV rentals in Europe and found that the fees aren't cheap. Has anyone here done travel by RV in Europe? It is interesting to hear from Americans traveling in Europe, but if you are a European RV enthusiast, please share your experience and tips with us too.
My friends Tom and Nancy rented an RV in Europe and traveled. See the tom and nancy roadshow, on the road East still ... Click on 2007 to see their entries.

Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

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Old 11-09-2009, 01:25 AM   #16
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Thanks for the link, Jaimie. I will have to read this kind of blogs in moderation, else would go crazy not being able to take off right away.



Knowing no Italian, I looked up the following from the Web.
Via Con Me - by Paolo Conte

Via, via, vieni via di qui,
Niente più ti lega a questi luoghi,
Neanche questi fiori azzurri…

Via, via, neache questo tempo grigio
Pieno di musiche e di uomini che ti son piaciuti,

It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, it’s wonderful
Good luck my babe, it’s wonderful,
It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful, I dream of you…
Chips, chips, du-du-du-du-du

Via, via, vieni via con me
Entra in questo anore buio, non perderti per niente al mondo…
Via, via, non perderti per niente al mondo
Lo spettacolo d’ arte varia di uno innamorato di te,
It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful…

Via, via, vieni via con me,
Entra in questo amore buio pieno di uomini
Cia, via, entra e fatti un bagno caldo
C’è un accappatoio azzurro, fuori piove un mondo freddo,
It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful…


English Translation (Found on the Web)

Come on, come on, come away from here,
nothing anymore is holding you in these places,
not even these blue flowers

Come on, come on, not even this gray weather
filled with music and of men you liked

It's wonderful....

Come on, come on, come away with me
enter in this dark love
don't miss, for any reason in the world, ...

Come on, come on, don't miss, for any reason in the world,
the multifaceted show given by a man in love with you

It's wonderful....

Come on, come on, come away with me
Enter in this dark love filled with men
Come on, come on, come in and take a hot bath
There is a blue bath coat
Outside rains a cold world

It's wonderful....
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