FINDING CAMPGROUNDS

 Use 'Google Maps’ Satellite View & Street View to check out potential campgrounds etc before booking.

Check out www.motorhomestopover.co.uk which is run by a publican and a motorhomer. It costs £30 a year for online members.

The Camping & Caravanning club’s 1350-strong network of Certified Sites (CS) for members offer cheap pitches. These smaller sites provide back-to-nature camping in some of the most beautiful locations the UK has to offer. To view the full network of CS sites visit www.siteseeker.co.uk

www.outandaboutlive.co.uk the website of Motorhome Monthly Magazine (MMM) magazine has a campsite finder section with details of over 3,500 campsites across the UK and Europe. Reviews of these campgrounds are now becoming available.

 

CAMPING

 Consider levelling ramps. Good for comfort on longer stays and gives more stability on grass pitches if it’s wet.

Electricity in France is not only expensive, but also sometimes restricted. Certainly in winter, some sites have a restricted supply and can only allow electric hook-up to a few vans at a time. Make sure you get what you pay for. Check the fuse on your electric post when you first pitch up.

It isn’t necessary to leave the water heater on all the time in camp. Most RV’s have a small quick-recovery unit that can be turned on only as needed for showers and dishwashing. 

Always completely unwind your mains electrical hook-up cable. Heat is generated along the cable when live, and if it's would up the heat cannot dissipate. Fires have been started because of this.

STAYING ON SITES ABROAD: 

  • Campsite receptions are often open for longer hours than the UK, but close for lunchtime for a couple of hours at least – plan your arrival accordingly. 

  • Most campsites do not allow long swimming shorts in the pool, only brief style shorts, and some require bathing caps. 

  • Entertainment on site, such as the children’s club and evening shows, will often be in the language of the country rather than English. 

  • Sites may not have fluent English speaking receptionists. It may be worth practicing your language skills. 

  • Many sites have entry/exit barriers, and a deposit is usually required for the key (where applicable). 

  • Not all campsites provide toilet paper, toilet seats and soap. 

  • Many sites have uni-sex toilets and showers. 

  • Hard standing pitches are not as common as they are in the UK. 

  • Varying weather conditions can mean that pitches are not as grassy as those in the UK. 

  • A permanent connection to the water tap (if available on your pitch) may not always be possible. 

  • Pitches can often be smaller and closer together. 

  • Some campsites, especially in Germany and Ireland do not accept credit cards. 

  • Many sites in Europe have a high number of static, semi-permanent caravans and mobile homes. 

  • Some sites, particularly in Holland, have separate parking areas for cars, as cars are not permitted on the pitches. 

  • European sites quite often have unfenced lakes, rivers and streams. 

  • Electricity can be metered, particularly in Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Austria. 

 

 UK

Check out www.motorhomestopover.co.uk which is run by a publican and a motorhomer. It costs £30 a year for online members.

 

EUROPE  

 

Membership of the organisation France Passion gives motorhomers the opportunity to spend 24 hours (occasionally more is allowed) at private premises that belong to the scheme. There they can meet the owners who are mostly farmers or vineyard owners, though some are specialists in other foods such as cheese or non-food artisans. Visitors can buy produce but are not obliged to do so. The stay is free, but guests must be self sufficient in all their needs, though sometimes water, drainage, or other facilities are offered. Some hosts serve ‘farmhouse’ meals for guests, but advance booking is virtually essential if you wish to take up the offer. 

Many motorhomers who use the scheme become devotees of the quiet situations and derive great pleasure from these contacts. 

For you annual membership subscription (valid from Easter to Easter) you receive a book, which sets out full details of the membership and of making visits. Each of the 1500 (may be 7,000 – check) or so entries gives the name of the owners, address and type of property, and what is produced and sold. A sheet map of France shows the locations of the participants, with pages of larger-scale maps in the book. A separate guide is included in which the majority of hosts recommend a nearby restaurant for its good food and convenient parking for motorhomes. www.france-passion.com/index.php or buy through Vicarious Books for £27.00 www.vicariousbooks.co.uk

 

WINTER CAMPING

The information below is not directed at those of us who head south to sunny Spain during the winter, though do bear in mind the journey down there).

Ensure the vehicle is winterised, and ideally fully winterised (all pipes, tanks etc located internally).

Electric fires will provide comfort heating but you still need to rely on gas heating for overnight etc to prevent freezing of pipes etc. Take perhaps 2x 500w oil filled radiators and use them individually or together on time switches.

Conside upgrading to two wet batteries up to 120amp.

Buy a 2kw+ generator. The cost will be recouped by the savings made on electric hook-ups, plus Aires can be used as well as wild camping reducing the cost even further. Consider a cheap 1kw back-up generator as well. Yes you’ll get electricity but you’ll also get very disgruntled neighbours because of the noise the generator will create.

Carry a professional battery booster pack.

Fit window insulating screens.

Make sure the vehicle has winter diesel in the tanks, as prolonged exposure to -10c can cause summer diesel to wax, which is when diesel turns from a free-flowing liquid to a gel.

Carry containers for both fresh and waste water as it is too much hassle to move the vehicle in order to top up and dump. Consider a small sledge to move the tanks, or a trolley in milder weather ( for fresh water I use a watering can and for grey water I use collapsable silicone buckets).

Fit an intelligent charger as batteries cannot be allowed to drop below 11.7v which is when their internal electric system cuts out. Battery levels have to be continually monitored and voltage is so important.

Buy a decent thermal external screen for the cab windows.

Carry snow chains, non-use above 1400m will result in a fine greater than the cost of a set of chains.

Carry 2 shovels, one plastic for removing snow from the roof and one metal for around the camper. DO NOT LET SNOW FREEZE ON YOUR ROOF. 

Air the van for half an hour each day in an attempt to keep the damp out (see humidifiers). 

If you are on a campsite with hook-up’s most of the suggestions still apply. Electricity in France is not only expensive, but also restricted. Some sites have a restricted supply and can only allow electric hook-up to a few vans in winter. Make sure you get what you pay for. Check the fuse on your electric post when you first pitch up. 

The cab area can be very cold even with insulated screens fitted and the heating on. One way to make life more comfortable is to fit draught excluders to the driver and passenger’s door wells. Can be made sausage-shaped from any material, though probably thick curtain material is best, filled with materials from old pillows.