Driving on the roads in Europe you'll see lots of motor homes. Europeans love them and the freedom they provide. But is hiring a motorhome something you should consider for your European holiday? If you've previously hired a motorhome to travel around Australia or New Zealand, you might be surprised to find that rentals in Europe don't necessarily include everything they do Down Under.
There's no doubt that hiring a motorhome or campervan gives you the flexibility to travel where you want, when you want. Feeling peckish? Just pull over and make yourself some lunch. Like the look of this place? Let's stop here for the night. And because you already have your bed for the night sorted, there's no need to look around for a hotel.
Even better, you don't have to re-pack your suitcase each morning - you can unpack once at the start of your trip and not look at the suitcase again until it's time to go home.
‘Free camping’ is legal and common at roadside stops in some countries but Europe is also home to thousands of excellent camping grounds that welcome motorhomes. In peak periods it does pay to book ahead as some camping grounds can be extremely busy.
Another advantage of renting a motorhome is the ability to cook your own meals, saving you money on eating out.
Depending on the size of your travelling group, the confined space of a motorhome is definitely something to consider. If you have younger children who go to bed reasonably early, how are the other members of your group going to cope/amuse themselves when the kids are sleeping?
Likewise, if there are adults other than your spouse or partner travelling together, are you happy to live in such close proximity for a long period of time?
A couple of things Aussies sometimes forget to take into consideration when hiring a motorhome are the varying degrees of road conditions that they will come across. European roads can vary from Autobahns to narrow streets that date back to Medieval times to twisty mountain passes.
Trying to manoeuvre a large motorhome in these conditions, whilst also adapting to driving on the right hand side of the road, can be unnerving for some.
Parking, too, might be an issue, especially in cities where often the only available parking places are in undercover multi-storey car parks - definitely an issue if your vehicle exceeds the height limit.
Unlike motorhome rentals in Australia and New Zealand, you might also find that some of the 'essentials' are not included in the price. For example, linen is generally not included but can be hired for an additional charge. This does not include towels which must be supplied by the renter.
A kettle and toaster are generally not included. Europeans aren't big toast eaters and prefer to use a coffee percolator - mostly included in your motorhome hire - rather than a kettle.
Outdoor settings and/or folding chairs aren't normally included in your motorhome rental either.
Other motorhome facts to consider:
- One way rentals are often not allowed
- Most motorhomes in the UK and Europe have manual transmission
- The minimum age to drive a motorhome is 21 but some companies may charge a surcharge for drivers aged 21 to 25
- Charges may apply for airport pick up
- Charges may apply for a WC chemicals kit
Armed with the above knowledge, you can now decide whether or not hiring a motorhome is for you. Check with your motorhome supplier to confirm exactly what equipment is and isn't provided before you commit and there will be no surprises when you arrive to collect your vehicle.
Useful links for camping grounds that welcome motorhomes:
What are your thoughts? Would you, or have you, rented a motorhome or campervan in Europe? I'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
Photos courtesy of globalCARS except where otherwise indicated.