1. avatar fletch_belfast
    My post on trip advisor has gone un-answered so far, and they don't have a specific euro-trip forum to ask on, so thought I would just ask here aswell incase anyone has any experience of it.

    I'm thinking of swapping my car for a cheap crappy van, and just sleeping in the back of it, but I can't find out if this is legal or not? Would u have to pay into a camp-site to sleep there instead of on some side-street?

    Also whats the deal with euro camp-sites? Do they have showers and bogs and stuff? That's my main concern with the whole trip, where to scrub my balls, and wash my filthy ho-bo garments as I drive aimlessly around the continent.

    If the van idea turns out not to be feasible I guess one of those 30-day train tickets is the only other option, but I don't fancy that traditional 'back-packing' idea much. I'll almost certainly be alone on this trip.

    Any help appreciated.
  2. avatar tinpot anto
    Cons with the van idea is that you'll be charged a much higher rate for ferry tickets.

    As for campsites in France at least they are awesome, swimming pools and bars on site, never mind showers and bogs.

    You'll need to budget for toll roads as well as petrol too.
  3. avatar Comrade Luke
    [quote:25773b2ea9]
    I'm thinking of swapping my car for a cheap crappy van, and just sleeping in the back of it, but I can't find out if this is legal or not? Would u have to pay into a camp-site to sleep there instead of on some side-street? [/quote:25773b2ea9]

    I think it's illegal to sleep in a parked vehicle in The Netherlands, not sure about anywhere else, service stations/truck stops should be aright though, most of them will have showers as well.

    Definitely keep a good stash for the tolls too, they're mad expensive in France

    and don't attempt to cross the Alps in a snow storm :wink:
  4. avatar jonnymul
    i've heard that the "inter rail" tickets have been revised to cover country zones as opposed to the original go anywhere pass.. best to check ahead of time where you want to go..
  5. avatar Big Homeless
    I have a van and would sleep in it if I'm stuck, but myself and another two drove from here down to Austria, via Germany, we stayed in Campsites, he had his van rigged out with a bed n all, not sure of the legal implications suppose it never crossed my mind, but there are campsites aplenty, and as Anto said in France and the like they're well supplied with showers, bars etc, the one in Landeck in Austria I stayed in for two weeks, it was great, but campsites suited me as I was paddling. There are Bars.

    I'm sure you'll end up somewhere, but I would suggest you get a van with a decent bit of room, if you're kipping in it, and make it as comfortable as possible. He had a Merc Vito, and him and his wife both slept comfortably in, I had me tent.

    ANd get something reliable. Good Luck. Head on and have the craic.
  6. avatar silvercord
    Im trying the Eurorail this summer, hitting: Amsterdam>Berlin>Prague>Krakow from the 15th to the 28th of July, basically hostelin' it up. Hostels are setting us back around 200 so far, Flights were just over a hundred and The Eurorail is 130 which allows ten days of travel with five travels. Was the cheapest we could work out for what we wanted to do.


    I think we budgetted it pretty well, no idea how much money you'd save your way, but in fairness you'd see a hell of a lot more and get to stay longer.


    anyone been to any of the above and have any tips? or places that needed visited?
  7. avatar fletch_belfast
    [quote:1ddc7aa145="Big Homeless"]I have a van and would sleep in it if I'm stuck, but myself and another two drove from here down to Austria, via Germany, we stayed in Campsites[/quote:1ddc7aa145]

    Thanks for biting, I'm gonna stalk u for info now :)

    1) What sort of prices can I expect to pay to pitch a tent somewhere, should I need to?

    2) Whats the best way to find camp-sites, or 'truck-stops' where I can legally kip in? Some kinda guide book, or a particular company I should look out for, or can they be loaded onto a Sat-Nav?

    3) Did you use a Sat-Nav or just buy a map at a garage for whatever country u were in?

    4) Did you use a NI or a GB car sticker..? I imagine NI is the way to go, but Halfords don't do an NI one which also has 'euro-stars' on it, and if the van license plate doesn't have them either 'cos its too old, then I dunno...

    5) Did you have any trouble from either the fuzz, or euro-hoods...?

    6) Where did you wash yer clothes?

    Anything else I need to know?
  8. avatar Ric_vdb
    I went inter-railing last summer. We bought the 30-day ticket, so I cant really give you much advice van wise. However, if my estimations are right, you're going to end up spending so much more on the likes of petrol and toll booths, if you find yourself unable to eliminate hostel costs by sleeping in the van.
    If you do have to opt for the ticket, I'll give you some bits of advice. You will still have to pay *small* booking fee's for trains, even with the pass. We didn't expect this, and it was annoying, but when compared with the full price train tickets without the pass, the pass was 100% worth the buy. I think the biggest fee we paid was around 15euro, but the average is around 5 euro. And often theyre totally free.

    Also, when budgeting for places to stay and looking at the likes of hostelworld.com, I was preparing to dish out a fair bit of cash for places to stay. I think i budgeted like 20euro a night. Probably more. But when you get arrive in a new city with no hostel booked and have to look for one on the spot, you're likely to get a decent place for as low as 10euro a night. Seriously, I'll stress that hostel prices for travelling europe are so cheap unless you want a total novelty hostel. We got an awesome place in Rome which had a great sociable atmosphere, and that was around 12 euro a night i believe. Comparing that with a pre-booked one for amsterdam (45euro), if I were to go back i wouldn't have pre-booked any.

    If the principle underlying your plans with the van is simply to live cheaper, then i really advise you to just opt for the train/hostel plan. Its so easy to live comfortably for a month in europe on a budget. And you'd still have your car in the end.
  9. avatar Big Homeless
    Thanks for biting, I'm gonna stalk u for info now :)

    1) What sort of prices can I expect to pay to pitch a tent somewhere, should I need to?

    At the time it was pretty reasonable, I can't exactly remember but I'll ask my friend who has a tremendous memory and get back. More facilities there are expect to pay more but its usually reasonable.

    2) Whats the best way to find camp-sites, or 'truck-stops' where I can legally kip in? Some kinda guide book, or a particular company I should look out for, or can they be loaded onto a Sat-Nav?

    As we were paddling we knew the area we would be and simply just looked them up, Internet, word of mouth, local knowledge, there was no need for the lonely plant guide once. But it'd be the same, anyone can camp here, so If you're in an area just google it, its their living and they will make themselves known.


    3) Did you use a Sat-Nav or just buy a map at a garage for whatever country u were in?


    I believe it was a map of Europe in book form. Just get a big highlighter and mark your route, and plan your turns off in advance,the Autobahns are great fun altogether, tho if you're going through the alps or similar Mountain terrain, the straightest route may not necessarily be the shortest, to get from A to B across the mountains you may be going up and down a lot further than it would take to go around. No Sat-nav, theres always signs, and take local knowledge from garages for toll booths you can get wee tickets that sort that out. Remeber as No means No memorabley said all roads lead to Ausfhart (exit)

    4) Did you use a NI or a GB car sticker..? I imagine NI is the way to go, but Halfords don't do an NI one which also has 'euro-stars' on it, and if the van license plate doesn't have them either 'cos its too old, then I dunno...

    Don't quite know, my friend had been before and had a scottish flag on his, tho he's from here, and thats what we used, tho I'm not sure why. Do you need a sign? do the customs guys not sort that? Anyway NI would be best.


    5) Did you have any trouble from either the fuzz, or euro-hoods...?

    No. Not a bit. everyone i met was fantastic. No cops, keep yrself legal and you'll get no bawr.

    6) Where did you wash yer clothes?

    what clothes? nudist.

    not really, there were washing machines on site. In Bavaria, Austria, and Switzerland. Altho I would have no problem rinsing in the river where I tried to camp beside.


    Anything else I need to know?[/quote]

    My experience was fantastic, and I would go back in a heartbeat, but I think it was with a spirit of adventure that I found it so rewarding. I would say if you cover the basics, such as the roads that need tolls, any customs that are strict(we had a van full of boats and gear and dreaded being took apart), bring a language book and you'll be grand. People are generally good natured. Also I think its worth noting that altho Countries can be quite an expanse you can always drive until you find somewhere, a full tank of fuel you'll get through a country depending on your route in a relatively short time, you shouldn't get stuck. Oh yes just as i recall we did sleep on the side of the road at one point, in some lay-by but it was because we were trying to make time, no bother there were toilets and cars drove past all night long on the motorway. Very enjoyable trip. Will do it again soon.
  10. avatar nev
    [quote:65bcb1445a="Ric_vdb"]I went inter-railing last summer. We bought the 30-day ticket, so I cant really give you much advice van wise. However, if my estimations are right, you're going to end up spending so much more on the likes of petrol and toll booths, if you find yourself unable to eliminate hostel costs by sleeping in the van.
    If you do have to opt for the ticket, I'll give you some bits of advice. You will still have to pay *small* booking fee's for trains, even with the pass. We didn't expect this, and it was annoying, but when compared with the full price train tickets without the pass, the pass was 100% worth the buy. I think the biggest fee we paid was around 15euro, but the average is around 5 euro. And often theyre totally free.

    Also, when budgeting for places to stay and looking at the likes of hostelworld.com, I was preparing to dish out a fair bit of cash for places to stay. I think i budgeted like 20euro a night. Probably more. But when you get arrive in a new city with no hostel booked and have to look for one on the spot, you're likely to get a decent place for as low as 10euro a night. Seriously, I'll stress that hostel prices for travelling europe are so cheap unless you want a total novelty hostel. We got an awesome place in Rome which had a great sociable atmosphere, and that was around 12 euro a night i believe. Comparing that with a pre-booked one for amsterdam (45euro), if I were to go back i wouldn't have pre-booked any.

    If the principle underlying your plans with the van is simply to live cheaper, then i really advise you to just opt for the train/hostel plan. Its so easy to live comfortably for a month in europe on a budget. And you'd still have your car in the end.[/quote:65bcb1445a]

    What time of year did you go at? I am going this year from July to August and I feel its a necessity to book a number of the hostels as I can seem them filling up on the websites even now.
  11. avatar tinpot anto
    From my experience and from word-of-mouth from a load of people you are much better camping than relying on the hostels, they are cleaner, better equipped and super safe.

    I think camping at Bois Du Boulogne campsite, near the centre of Paris was around 12 -15 Euro per person per night, the only drawback was that the site was on gravel so airbags and ground mats are a must.

    Use the internet it's great for this, there are always plenty of internet cafes/pay terminals and so on, as you go - just google the name of the town you're heading for a day or two in advance + "camping" and call ahead to book a space and get directions.

    Get accurate directions though - 4hours driving around Rouen looking for a campsite that was actually another 20 miles away was not recommended.

    My top camping tip of all time is to bring a comfy pillow from your own bed, there is no amount of pain, suffering and discomfort that can't be made better by putting your head down on a nice big snuggly pillow :-)
  12. avatar flackmeister
    I drove an ambulance to the 'Chernobyl Zone' a few years back, worst bloody week and a half of my life quite frankly.

    Only ever stayed in truck stops and once in the middle of a forest, weirdly we could actually hear the bears, slept in the back of the ambulance most nights, again that weird for starters but comfortable, everywhere had showers toilets of varying degrees of cleanliness / acceptability, beggars cannot be choosers and all... You can however find some roadside hotels and hostels that are cheap and clean.

    For health reasons in Belarus / Eastern Poland we brougt all our own food and water and cooked off the back of the van, except when there was the opportunity or time to stop at a cafe or nip off the highway into a city or town.

    (Hugely entertaining story about looking for an army surplus store in Berlin to buy bigger coats as the snow was setting in, a few of us were stood outside a rather 'camp' camping shop of sorts that sold said army surplus, but also did a colourful line in rubber, gas masks, sex toys and lycra, replete with men in said outfits dancing on counters inside to very loud house music. The big lad from Tuam was having none of it and threatened to freeze to death on principle... Ah, the memories, I'll tell ya, I've never seen a big ginger country kid shop quicker in my life...)

    There are some great truck stops all along the main routes but we had a couple of instances where folk tried to get into trucks thinking they were headed west, Poland, as much as I thought it was beautiful seemed lacking in the same quality of stops that France and Germany had...

    To hell with Global warming, easyjet is your friend...

    Oh, and online maps / GPS and the internet are useless when you find the road you've marked out closed and dug up, buy a bloody big paper based old fashioned map that you can use to re-plot as needed...

    EDIT - And if you are headed to Poland DO NOT, under any circumstances attempt to drive through Warsaw.
    Sweet mother of jesus it was horrific. The centre of Paris is a breeze compared to Warsaw, nuts, just nuts.

    Beautiful city mind, if you're on foot.
  13. avatar POSITIVExYOUTH
    And if you end up in Italy pray to all the saints in the Heavens if you are into that sort of stuff, because drivers there are absolutely shite.

    But at least tolls are relatively cheap.

    EDIT: Also, if you go to Italy, don't bother with the Adriatic Coast despite it's were most tourists go. It's quite shite and there are too many people; the only places worth visiting on the Adriatic are Trieste, Venice and Ravenna.
  14. avatar fletch_belfast
    Decent info so far. More questions though:

    1) Did u just lift euros from cash machines over there? Any harsh charges or anything for that? (u know what our banks are like over here)

    2) How to top-up ur phone? Will loading credit with my top-up card work the same as it does here?

    3) The showers at camp-sites and truck-stops, are we talking leisure centre style shower blocks where u are open to what Edward Norton got in American History-X..? Or do you have some privacy without the fear of bum-rape?

    4) In addition to the washing machines on site, are there tumble dryers also? I can't imagine any other way to get ur clothes dry
  15. avatar POSITIVExYOUTH
    You can top up your phone just as you do here, however it would make much more sense if you topped up using the partner provider of what you use in whatever country you are. You should manage to find out quite easy what are the partner networks in every country for your provider.

    And as for showers, if the campsite is a decent one and not some dodgy place then you should be flying. They are not top of the range or particularly classy, but at least you get privacy and hot water.
  16. avatar Ric_vdb
    [quote:0d133dd5ef="nev"]What time of year did you go at? I am going this year from July to August and I feel its a necessity to book a number of the hostels as I can seem them filling up on the websites even now.[/quote:0d133dd5ef]

    I went for 3 weeks in August. I was the same, and felt it was a necessity to book in advance. By all means book a few, book your first few days - or whatever you feel confident about. We were worried about them filling up, but from my experiences that never happened. It seemed fairly easy. We usually went to a internet cafe the day before our next destination (or refered to the lonely planet guide) to get contact details of places to stay. Gave them a ring or an email, and luckily we almost always ended up with a decent hostel at short notice.

    [quote:0d133dd5ef="fletch_belfast"]
    1) Did u just lift euros from cash machines over there? Any harsh charges or anything for that? (u know what our banks are like over here)
    [/quote:0d133dd5ef]

    Hey man. I STRONGLY recommend that you get one of them travel cards from the post office. Seriously worth it, and saved me lots of money by avoiding charges. Its basically like a topup credit card, designed for travellers. You set up a wee account in the post office (takes no time, and no hassle), transfer money into the account, and its ready to use in ATMS/chip & pins all over europe. Also, if you leave the account number with someone at home, they can also top this up for you - if you're in an emergency or whatever.
    Alternatively, the only card exempt from charges across the water is Nationwide.. I believe!

    My experiences with [b:0d133dd5ef]Campsites[/b:0d133dd5ef] : a very good idea. I found them to be safe, cheap, and they are less likely to be booked up. The one I stayed at in Pisa had a class bar and swimming pool even. We bought a tent in italy when we realised how much of an investment it would be. I think if i went railing again I'd camp the majority of the time.
  17. avatar fletch_belfast
    [quote:17a635f5dd="Ric_vdb"]Hey man. I STRONGLY recommend that you get one of them travel cards from the post office.[/quote:17a635f5dd]

    Funny u should say that, I discovered the existence of these on some site this morning, and they definitely seem the way to go, very handy indeed.

    I bought my tent yesterday from Argos (the 34.99 starter set), its great value (2 man tent, 2 mats, 2 bags, 2 'headlights') and pitched it in my living room and slept in it last night :lol:

    Its all coming together nicely...so far. 8)
  18. avatar machinehead
    This year will be my 7th year going to Europe in my van.

    I would say it's cheaper to go by air and train though. Before the van I used to camp. You will find all the campsites are clean and fine.

    In France I tend to use the aires and Municipal campsites. They are always near a town/ village, cheap, well kept and spotless. Hostels I belive are the best if you want to stay near city centres because city campsites are rarely near the centre. I prefer to avoid the cities anyway.
    I have never advance booked a campsite ever.

    I take all my cash in a moneybelt. Suits me but I wouldn't really recommend it. Makes you keep your wits about you though. The post office sounds the job. BTW, Nationwide are stopping the free money in Europe from next month. The bastards!

    I hope you have a good time whatever you do.
  19. avatar xfirefishx
    Someone said that you can top up your phone using local providers in the country - that can't be true can it? How would it work? Fair enough if I'm wrong but really can you?

    You can top up online or by credit/debit card over the phone with most UK providers.
  20. avatar Ric_vdb
    [quote:8dbb250f70="xfirefishx"]Someone said that you can top up your phone using local providers in the country - that can't be true can it? How would it work? Fair enough if I'm wrong but really can you?

    You can top up online or by credit/debit card over the phone with most UK providers.[/quote:8dbb250f70]

    Get someone at home to top it up for you when you need it
  21. avatar POSITIVExYOUTH
    [quote:e51f4da7c1="xfirefishx"]Someone said that you can top up your phone using local providers in the country - that can't be true can it? How would it work? Fair enough if I'm wrong but really can you?[/quote:e51f4da7c1]

    Aye, I have done it once or twice before when going back home in Italy.

    Don't ask me how it works or why it works that way, but most if not all providers in the UK have partnerships with other providers in different EU countries (persumibly providers owned by the same company in some cases). Basically once you get to whatever country you get to, it should do a similar thing as it does with, for example, O2 when in the ROI so basically you get a text message notifying you of what is the local parner provider and how to top up. You can top-up your phone and use it normally (think it may be slightly more expensive tariffs, but don't quote me on that) by topping it up through the partner provider in whatever country you are in.

    Not sure if it works with all UK providers, but I know it does work with O2. Mind you, haven't done that in a year and a half so it should be advisable to check out and see what is the deal currently. But it does work (even though in some countries it's just cheaper and easier to just get a local's provider sim card).
  22. avatar fletch_belfast
    [quote:8ec5f5fccc="machinehead"]This year will be my 7th year going to Europe in my van.[/quote:8ec5f5fccc]

    Cool, I'm sure u know ur shit by now, but I found this guys site quite useful http://campervanman.741.com/

    He bangs on about his 'SONPS' (Safe Over-Night Parking Spots) where he free-camps in his van, and in some of the later trip reports even provides the GPS co-ordinates for some of them.
  23. avatar machinehead
    That's an interesting site and his views on Hitler and WW2 are different to say the least. Still , his travel writing is quite well done.

    Here's another great site. This guy has travelled a fair distance in Europe in his VW van. I've owned 4 VW vans over the years. I'd recommend a VW for the reliabilty although they tend to be expensive. A transit would be cheaper and reliable.

    http://www.10000things.org.uk/VW_camper.htm

    A few years a go I made it to Pamplona where they run through the streets with the bulls. It's mad!! That's a good place to aim for. Mind you, it's all good.