First motorhome travel: How to organize it well?

The holidays are coming, and we should almost be ready for our motorhome adventure. If you still haven’t decided what your destination will be, here are some ideas and suggestions to make your first motorhome travel more enjoyable and with fewer setbacks.

My first trip in a motorhome
My first motorhome travel

Your first motorhome travel: Which destination to choose: National or Foreign?

If you are the happy owner of a motorhome and if you are a first-timer, as I already told you in another blog, the best thing is that your first motorhome travel is nationwide, but if, on the contrary, you have already passed the stage of novice, you already know that this is what you like. Perhaps this is the time to make a new adventure, but further away from home. Cross a few borders and get started on some ferry trips or, alternatively, visit Spain’s northern and western neighbours.

France and/or Portugal will be the first to welcome you. France is a very prepared country for motorhomes, every emblematic tourist site will have parking for you. Portugal on the other hand may not have the vast accessibility of parking as France does but it sure does make up for it with very permissive rules when it comes to spending the night next to the beach or in a rural area.

traveling by motorhome for the first time
Riaño Parking

What aspects to take into account in your first motorhome travel? Easy things and others to write down and remember

A motorhome is a vehicle of course, but it also has many elements that have nothing to do with a normal vehicle. It is to have a mini house with everything that this entails. Such common things in a house from the kitchen, bathrooms, beds and storage systems, are all reduced in smaller spaces where you will have to live with your family for several days.

While driving everything is very clear, everyone in their seat and fastened seat belts but once you park and after many kilometres of the road you will feel like getting up and unwinding. Let the children and dog loose for a while, have a drink and a snack or just stretch your legs.

After all, we are talking about a very small cubicle, everything must be condensed, so if you are going to cook inside or outside the motorhome, you should only take essential items. A multipurpose saucepan, cutlery, plates and glasses just for you. It is good not to fill the fridge to the top because it will lose its ability to cool well. And believe me, you will not welcome a non-chilled bottle of water when driving on a heatwave. 

primer viaje en autocaravana francia
Val Louron-Aset, France

Battery-powered gas and mains electric appliances

It is certain that when you buy a motorhome for the first time the dealer will explain to you the operation of each of the devices and appliances that are incorporated into the vehicle. One of them is the refrigerator that will surely be smaller than the one you have at home, as well as the burners in the kitchen. You should know that most of these refrigerators work in three different ways.

While you’re on the road you must switch to battery mode (which doesn’t cool too much). When you park and are ready to spend the night, it is best to reserve or find a motorhome site that has an electrical outlet. The motorhome’s main electrical cable will be your best friend during the nights, you must carry one with you if you do not want to drain the battery’s charge

It is a good idea to pack different adapters for the electrical sockets of the different countries. Being connected to a grid will ease much of the functionality of the home: 

The air conditioning or heating, the plugs for the children’s electronic devices, the hair dryer, razor, etc. Luckily, some kitchen burners work with gas. So even if you find yourself going a bit more rustic during your stay, you won’t go without a warm meal. The important thing is to remember before you return to the road again that the gas is turned off and the fridge is in battery mode. It will, however, not be uncommon for you to find yourself stationed at the side of the road and checking again “just to make sure”.

first motorhome travel holland
Parking at a marina in Amsterdam

Manage drinking water, gray water and black water in your first motorhome travel

Apart from the gas tank a typical car may carry, your motorhome will also bring with it a tank of about 120 litres of water which you will use to shower, wash dishes and for the toilet (although that may vary depending on the waste disposal system you have) ours is based on a tank that is filled and every so often you have to empty it in the places that are specially designed for them.

These places will come equipped with chemicals you can add that will eliminate bad odours. Fortunately, there are organic products that do not affect the environment. There are different types of car parks for motorhomes, car parks that have all the facilities such as:

a.) Where to empty ‘grey waters’, used water from showers or washed dishes.

b.) Where to empty ‘ black waters’ toilet waste.

c.) Where to refill the drinking/clean water tank.

Having said all this, depending on how you’ve planned your trip, perhaps you may go a couple of days without changing or refilling any of these tanks. For that reason, it is important to carry some water with you, whether it is in bottles or some canisters backed in the garage.

Regulating and scheduling showers and dishwashing will also greatly reduce your water consumption, plus encouraging the family to use the motorhome’s bathroom as little as possible. Fortunately, public toilets in France, Portugal and Spain are often kept clean and hygienic. Something that even the most squeamish will welcome.

first motorhome trip denmark
Crossing by ferry in Thyboron, Denmark

First motorhome travel: Ready to go?

When you spend the night in one place and the next morning you have to take off the sails and get back on the road, you have to do exactly that. A mental review or if you wish in writing and some laminated notes so that everyone remembers what to do. Close windows, close skylights, put the safety lock on the drawers and the fridge, turn off the gas, put the fridge in battery mode and hold or store in drawers all those objects that can move during the trip.

According to your needs and then based on your experience, you can fix some wooden slats in the upper drawers so that the cans do not move while you are on the road and especially when you stop again, remember to open the doors of the upper furniture and the refrigerator carefully (it won’t be the first time that after stopping you open it distractedly and a can of tuna or tomato falls on the counter).

first trip in motorhome crossing the ferry
Crossing by ferry. Watch out for your rear overhang on the entry and exit ramps on the Small Ferris.

What type of motorhome to buy or rent in your first motorhome travel?

When I say ‘type of motorhome’, I am not referring to a particular brand but its design.

  • There is La Capuchina probably the most popular among families with small children. These have a cubicle above the cabin where there is a double bed, this means that the rest of the compartment can have bunk beds for the children and a fixed-type dining room where the rest of the family travels.
  • The Profiles look a bit like the Nasturtiums, but the area above the driver’s cab is shorter and less tall. Here there may be a skylight and storage areas for things you want to keep close at hand (gloves, cameras, travel brochures, etc). It usually has a double bed in the back and an electric bed that is attached to the interior roof of the motorhome. If you travel with more people this may be perfect for two.
  • The Integral is a complete motorhome in profile from the driver’s cabin to the rear. It is wider inside, although I have to say that when comparing to buy the only visible difference with a profiled one was that it had much more space on the side of the cabin. From here the design and spaces were practically the same.

The width of the cabin is also a bit of a visual hindrance when manoeuvring through narrow places where one has to watch its frontal dimensions. All these types of motorhomes are different on the outside and the interior design can also vary greatly from one coach to another or from one profile to another. There is an endless number of interior layouts that you will choose according to your tastes or your needs. The most fun thing about going to a dealership is seeing the wide variety available.

first motorhome travel holland 2
Giethoorn, Holland

The best thing now is to enjoy the road and the new horizons!

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