Travelling by motorhome: Things to consider

It is difficult for a person who has made traditional trips to think or get an idea of what a trip in a Motorhome can be. I have to say that it has nothing to do with going to a travel agency and buying a package with a hotel included to another country or even from within your own border.

The trip in a motorhome, with your partner or with your whole family have nothing to do with it, it is completely different and those of us who try it for the first time can come to hate it or seek more of it. That is why here, based on my humble thousands of kilometers in a motorhome throughout Europe, I make some recommendations.

motorhome travel in the swiss alps
Climbing the Swiss Alps approaching the Glacier Du Rhôde

My first motorhome trip

When we began to think about making a trip in a motorhome, many doubts arose, from how to drive such a large vehicle, where to stop, what is allowed and what isn’t, the difference between camping, spending the night or being parked in a city or town and spend the night there.
The management of sewage and the storage capacity of drinking water, the energy supply systems of electrical equipment such as the refrigerator, the TV, the kitchen and many, many etc.

Our first decision was to rent one and see how our experience turned out. So that’s how we did it, I have to say that renting a Motorhome was not cheaper than doing that same trip staying in a hotel, since renting per day is expensive. The idea was to allow ourselves an initial experience and see if we liked that.

travelling by motorhome in the french countryside
A stop in the French countryside

Motorhome travel for beginners

It is my recommendation that your first trip be as simple as you can make it, that is, not to cross borders. If you are inconvenienced by lack of experience, it is better to stay close to home in familiar territory. ,aking a tour of the beautiful and innumerable Spanish routes was a great option for us.
Caravans in Spain are still something that is very unknown, although Campings abound, parking spaces for motorhomes are very scarce. This means that on many occasions you will have to stay in a campsite that is much more expensive in the absence of finding enabled sites (car parks for motorhomes). The motorhome is a mini house that you take everywhere, therefore it is almost self-sufficient, all you need is to refill your water tank from time to time and empty the gray water and black water tanks.

travelling by motorhome in spain cabo de gata
Cabo de Gata National Park

Difference between traveling in a Motorhome or driving a Caravan

Believe it or not, travelers with Caravans and Motorhomes are very different. The one who travels in a caravan usually has, to say the least, a more stable trip. Stay parked in a campsite and enjoy all the facilities it offers such as a swimming pool, restaurants, showers and public toilets, etc.

The caravan is stationed in the desired place, the tables, chairs, awnings, kitchens are removed and you can enjoy those well-deserved vacation days. Regulars become friends, and the fortunate ones establish friendships that can last a lifetime. This is great if you are traveling with children because the vacation trip is less tiring and you can see your children grow up with their friends every year.

In contrast, motorhome travelers are nomads. These do not last more than two days (always based on my experience) in the same place. The mentality of the motorhome traveler is to see as many places as possible while on vacation. As I usually say to my partner “20 countries in 20 days”, yes, it is an exaggerated saying, but that is the idea. In a single trip you can do thousands of kilometers like leaving one day from Madrid and reaching Albania and then returning by a different route, passing through large cities or rural areas.

It is a very different way of getting to know the countries and their people that goes beyond the typical places for tourists. That yes, this type of trip requires more added preparations, but this, for the traveling spirit of wheel and road lovers, should not be another bullet in the cons list but an added bonus. What better reason than that to unfold the wings and get a new map to the collection!

*After COVID, the registration of new motorhomes has increased by 4.4% and caravans by 19.2%.

caravanning in germany
At a campsite in Germany

Conclusion, Travelling by motorhome or caravan?

There isn’t any. It all depends on the type of traveler you are, what you like to do and how you usually enjoy your days off. As spending the summer holidays is something very personal, what you or your family want to do. We have enjoyed motorhome travel for many years and that is why this blog focuses on it.

motorhome tour of ireland
A Stop at Tollymore Forest Park. Ireland

How to start planning your motorhome trip?

Motorhome trips are exciting and at the same time very practical. It is a different way of traveling for those who prefer hotels and the plane or stay in the same place as I said before.

You have to know (and with this phrase I don’t know if I’m repeating myself in a previous blog) that you should not only like to drive, but you should be “passionate” about driving. You will spend many hours sitting at the “rudder” of command and many of those hours will be in areas that would normally be “stress zones” if you were not in “vacation mode”, I mean that to get from our origin to the multiple destinations we will have to pass through large city centers or perhaps very narrow roads, we will have to drive with rush hour traffic in a big city or sometimes with roads that are not in very good condition.

Before leaving the route on a trip, either within our territory or to another country, good planning is always necessary, ranging from the route to be taken, driving time in each section of the journey, as well as good organization within our mini – trailer. If I have to say that a motorhome is a mini house where we can carry many things, but that can perhaps deceive us and make us embark on a trip with more junk than necessary. When we have a lot of space we tend to think that we have to carry everything and that is a mistake.

An idea that is very useful to us and taking into account what our destination is, be it winter, summer or the length of the trip, is to make a list in order of categories of the things that we will need; clothes, food, extra equipment if we go to the beach or if our destination is snow. Having a list makes it difficult for us to forget something that we need. Once we have everything we need, pack things according to their use or priority. An example is the cans or bottles that should be enough in the dwelling for the consumption of a day or two and have a small stash in boxes that are at hand in the “garage” area of the vehicle.

motorhome touring in ireland
Northwest Coast. Ireland

Is it necessary to bring a co-pilot on a motorhome trip?

Planning for a long trip of thousands of kilometers outside your borders requires a lot of preparation. It is true that once you pass the first test, the other trips become much easier to organize. Outside the Spanish borders and once you cross France or the rest of the European countries, the conditions for the “Autocarvaneros” become much easier because in the rest of Europe there is more infrastructure for motorhomes (I will talk about this in a next blog) .

The important thing about this previous question is do you need a co-pilot?

If your trip is many thousands of kilometers because you want to get to and travel through Italy, for example, it is best to have a second driver and take turns spending hours on the road.

Fortunately, the typical motorhome only needs a B driving license (in Spain). It is necessary to plan a safe trip, That means having a backup plan in case the kilometer counter hasn’t made it as far as you where expecting.

Stops to rest and eat are very necessary. During the trip it is very exciting to be able to park at the edge of a lake or at the top of a valley with spectacular views and cook your meal of the day, outside or inside. In the countries where we have been you can park practically anywhere as long as you do not camp.

These two terms are very different. You can spend the night in the parking lot of a marina, for example, as long as you do not deploy structures that exceed the dimensions of your vehicle. That is to say, no awnings and chairs and tables outside, not even opening a window that has to be folded out.

These are the emergency measures if you have not been able to get to the car park that you had marked in your guide or if that city does not have parking spaces for motorhomes or if everything is simply packed because you are in the middle of the summer holidays.

Following all the rules and safety measures, motorhome trips are exciting.

travelling by motorhome in france
Campsite in France

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