Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Camping favourites, 2015
We are now 2 months in to our trip (we're half way through, eeek!) and I wanted to talk about our findings so far and how we have found camping in Europe…
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
First of all, camping is obviously a really cheap way of travelling. On average out of season it has been costing us about €19 a night, sometimes a couple of euros more or sometimes less. Even with the price of the euro going up for us... We have an ACSI card which was recommended to me before I left, you order it online for about £16 and it arrives from the Netherlands a couple of weeks later. If you are travelling around Europe before July and after August, I highly recommend you get one. We have saved SO much money with this card and the app is great for finding campsites (they also send you a book). We have found that if we stay at a campsite for 3 nights using the ACSI card we will pay a bill of about €51 instead of €72, which is more than a nights camping! (They didn't pay me to say this, its just a really good thing to do!)
Inside Our Inflatable Home
So camping is fairly cheap but the tolls are not. To be honest we didn’t do our research on tolls and we really should have. We got completely stung getting off the Eurotunnel at Calais on the drive down to Normandy, it was toll after toll and a 4 hour drive cost us over €22. We have found they are often unavoidable though, as we regularly do 4 plus hour drives in between campsites, this would take 6-8 on non toll roads and when you have to put a tent up in the same day, we’d rather take the quicker option! Tolls have definitely been one of our biggest expenses on this trip, which has really surprised us. Also, as we have just arrived in to Austria we have had to buy a vignette which you display in your car window, it costs just over €8 for 10 days so not too terrible and they do check you have one (you can buy them from petrol stations). When we head in to Germany later this week we'll also need to buy an Umweltplakette to have on display so they know our car is of low emissions. 
Our Inflatable Home Dordogne
French roads are lovely, well maintained with no potholes and the service stations are brilliant. French camping in general is a very pleasant experience, the campsites are usually of a high standard and will include hot water and toilet roll.
Our Inflatable Home, Italy
Italy however is basically one big pot hole (even on tolls) and if you even think about stopping for petrol on the motorway, make sure you get up to speed before exiting the petrol station! Driving in London has certainly given us good practise for driving over here, the roads are very fast and they practically drive on your bumper. There is absolutely no room for mistakes! Took a wrong turn? Tough. 
Camping in Italy is different to France (and now Austria we have found out). It's not unusual to charge for showers (50 cents) and won’t supply loo roll and will often have Turkish toilets… 
But! Pretty much every Italian campsite we stayed at had a restaurant that sold cheap, good quality pizza…so you win some, you lose some! 
Castel Camping le Brevedent
A huge part of camping is the noise at campsites, and this comes in all varieties. There are the birds chirping away at the crack of dawn right next to your head and then there’s the owls keeping you awake most of the night with their beeping. And don't forget, you are at the mercy of your neighbours. We have had some great neighbours who have read quietly all night and then silently zip up and sleep in till 10am (yeah right), but we have also had the neighbours in the camper van who open and close and open and close and open and close their door until 2am and then they are up with larks discussing how good a nights sleep they had. Oh and don’t forget Chief Nose Blower, just when you think you’ve lucked out with your pitch and your neighbours are a good distance away…he’ll start honking away just as you’re drifting off. 
But thats all part of camping and I’ve slowly learnt to embrace it and not complain but to try and laugh…sometimes.
In Europe on top of the pitch fee they will also charge a tourist tax which I think is ridiculous. Oh yes, tax us an extra euro each for every night we stay on top of going to your restaurants and supporting your local businesses and blogging about your lovely area to visit. Please do. Also, we have started to discover green tax which I think is made up and is €2.50 per night…
Camping La Pointe, Brittany
We’ve got pretty good with camp cooking over the past 2 months. We only have two gas hobs to cook on so its often veggies with a homemade sauce, or pasta or curry or something similar - pretty much the same as what we ate back home but without the stuff we used to put in the oven to have on the side (spring rolls, garlic bread etc etc), so its doing my stomach some good! We don’t have a cool box so we make sure we buy fresh food for only a couple of days in advance and then go shopping again.  We keep all the staples in though and get a bit panicky when we only have one tin of tomatoes left! To begin with we did buy butter and chocolate bars but when the butter turned to liquid all over the table top and the chocolate wouldn’t harden as it was too hot so we had to eat it with a spoon, we stopped buying them (I know this sounds quite nice but in reality its just a big chocolate mess, everywhere! And then the ants come…).
Out of season camping is brilliant, you really don’t need to book. Every single campsite we have arrived at has had ample room and the choice of pretty much any pitch you want but we did find at the start of our trip (beginning of May) there wasn’t much open - like the campsite restaurant or often the tourist attractions but this has changed since getting into June. We haven’t been camping in high season in Europe before so we’re a little apprehensive with how its going to be. We’ve heard nightmare stories of not being able to get in to campsites at all and after looking in our camping books we have noticed the prices can easily slide up to €40 a night…bonkers! Every campsite we stayed at in France said they were already pretty much booked up for the high season - and they were as of last year! 
We have found that we definitely need structure to the tent, everything needs its place otherwise it becomes frustrating and that is where the blame game starts ('where did you put the...etc') Also, we both have our own jobs to do when we arrive and leave a campsite to make life easier!
One of the hardest things about camping is the weather. We can handle the rain just about but its the strong winds that are the hardest. Its super loud inside and can bend the tent in half (literally) and puts a lot of strain on the tent. But also, when its 30 degrees outside you can’t sit in the tent as its an oven which is usually fine but on the off chance you fancy a chance! But we have really really loved being outside pretty much all the time, especially as we have gone from living in flats with no gardens for the past 7 years! 
Map 8 weeks in
So I think thats it for now, I'll do another one at the end of the trip with our findings of Germany and the Netherlands. 
But one thing that we are 100% sure on - is that Europe is just bloody marvellous. 


  1. I laughed.
    "Chief Nose Blower"
    Have a nice trip :)

  2. Cool stuff you have got and you keep update all of us. Lorriane

  3. I've always loved camping! When the kids were little, it was a great time for the family. We still camp a lot, though but the early years were the best. Since there are small children with us, we made sure we have top-notch gear and equipment from reputable brands only. I had quite a list on what to bring and what not! I invested quite a lot on my first aid kit and water purifier, which are important, as well. Sharing sites that helped me pack