Welcome Kat from Wandering Bird who is today’s guest poster on RV Tailgate Life. Kat took a sabbatical from her day job as an Air Traffic Controller so that she and her husband could travel the world for a year. With a few lifestyle changes, they didn’t ever go back to work. Now, they are living in the UK on a boat and travel Europe in their motorhome. See more of their adventures at Wandering Bird.
One of the best things about traveling is meeting new people and hearing about new ways of life. This is also one of the best things about running a road trip travel blog- you find other bloggers who also love RVing and road trips.
In the USA there are a large number of people involved in RVing compared to the UK and many more people live and travel in their vehicles full-time. In the UK, there are some who live in a camper van, but very very few choose to spend months on end living in their motorhome. There are even fewer who choose to blog about it!
So Kimberly here at RV Tailgate Life and I thought it would be fun to do a comparison about the difference between American RVing and European Motorhoming- there are a lot more than I realized!
Traveling in an RV in Europe
You’ll Need a Passport
In Europe, you need a Passport to get anywhere. Admittedly, you can move around most of mainland Europe without needing to show it, but you still need to carry it or other government ID.
If you start your travels in the UK, you need a passport to get out of the country and in to the rest of Europe. And that was before BREXIT!
You can explore several countries in one week touring Europe.
With the right itinerary, you can skip over the borders of many countries and tick them off your map. You might not see them all in depth, but you’ll be able to get a flavour. It might surprise you how different they all are, despite being so close together!
Just be careful to check with your rental company if it’s ok to cross international borders.
Great Boondocking Opportunities
In Europe, wild camping (boondocking) is very very common and often encouraged.
There are many camping sites set up in the most beautiful locations- often with free water and waste emptying facilities. We spent 8 weeks touring the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Norway and only paid for a campsite twice!
Having said that, don’t expect the same in the UK. It’s embarrassing how bad the British Government treat motorhomers – there are very few free camping areas, especially ones with facilities. It’s very sad, but true.
See Also: Dry Camping Basics for Tailgaters
Always on the Move
It’s not normal to spend many nights in one place. Most of the free locations expect you to move on in the morning. In these places, it’s frowned upon to get your awning and outside furniture out.
Kimberly: Sounds a lot like when we park at Wal-Marts or other similar overnight stops.
Some allow you to stay for a couple of nights, but not much longer. American-style RV parks don’t really exist. The closest is a campsite where you pay to stay for a week or two at most, and people who live long-term in their vans don’t often use these as they can be very expensive.
Driving the RV
In Europe, some countries drive on the left, others drive on the right. Sometimes you literally cross a border and everything changes.
Many people in the UK (where we drive on the left) refuse to drive in Europe because they’re scared of driving on ‘the wrong side”… but it’s not as bad as it sounds.
The roads throughout Europe are generally very good and well signposted- arrows on every roundabout tell you which way to go and the flow of the network makes sense for whichever side you’re driving.
Various countries also require you to carry different things, such as high-visibility jackets, breathalysers and some even require you to drive with your side lights on, whatever the weather. Worth doing some research before you go!
See Also: RV Driving Safety Tips
How RVs are Different in Europe
RVs are Smaller
You’ll probably be surprised at the size of European motorhomes. Vehicles the size of a Class A RV just don’t exist in Europe, and you’d struggle to park it or get through narrow streets.
European models are more the size of Class B or C RVs and there are no slide-outs— so don’t expect it to be roomy! If you’re used to a bigger RV, this can come as a bit of a shock.
Renting RVs in Europe
If you are renting a motorhome in Europe, do NOT expect it to come fully stocked.
Seriously, there probably won’t be linens, pots, pans, toiletries, toilet paper- nothing.
You can ask for it to be arranged for you, but you’ll probably pay a fortune for that service. Instead, find a supermarket or cheap store nearby and stock up.
Kitchen and Cooking in European RVs
You’ll be lucky if you get an oven in a European motorhome- and expect it to be tiny. Cooking a roast could be a challenge.
Don’t even think about a microwave.
Most cooking is done on hobs or outside BBQs (which may or may not be included if you’re renting.)
Talking RV Waste
In Europe we don’t have waste disposal points which you connect your hose to. Instead, we carry a little tank (and it is pretty little!)
The tank slots in under the toilet. When the tank gets full you need to pull the whole thing out and empty it into an approved waste disposal point.
Usually, our tank lasts 3-4 days, which is about the same length of time that our water and grey waste tanks last too, so we try not to waste too much water.
See Also: How to Maintain Your RV Gray Tanks
Really, Everything is Smaller
In fact, everything is smaller.
The van, the parking spaces, the campsites, the roads, the villages… everything.
But you’ll be able to park next to some INCREDIBLE monuments and historical sites, just like you often can in the US.
There’s Still A Lot The Same
The nicest thing about whether you RV in America or in Europe is the similarities in the people you’ll meet.
This type of lifestyle just seems to attract adventurous, friendly and open-minded people who enjoy meeting new friends and sharing a beer or two around the campfire, discussing the latest sports results. (Just bear in mind that in Europe, there are a LOT of different national sports!)
It is our dream to tour the USA in our motorhome- we hope to be able to do that in a few years time. If any of you ever end up in Europe, be sure to come say hi!
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