Forty years ago Europe seemed clogged with folks who were taking long vacations across the continent in VW camper vans. We envied their freedom--and the length of their vacations. These days, we don't hear of that kind of travel much. Camping from a van seems to be a layer below the American consciousness. It's certainly not that people don't want to save money--so maybe some jiggling of the little brain cells is in order.
Let's kick this one up a notch in your head. Unlike with trains or planes, in a small and maneuverable van you can travel wherever you want, whenever you want. You know that. And you can sleep and prepare meals in and around it. I'll remind you that this is the modern age, when your trusty steed gets great gas mileage, has a refrigerator and cooker built in, as well as an entertainment system and an extra battery that charges as you drive so that your appliances will work for a while (24 hours they say!) if you should want to camp out in the open instead of in a power-providing campsite .But what inconveniences might you have to put up with?
Inconveniences...um...mosquito bites perhaps?
What kind of vehicle am I describing? A Spaceship. Well, not the kind you need a helmet and air supply for, but a van from Spaceships Campervan Rentals.
These sleek vans are built specially for rooting out the best places in Europe.
Because your curmudgeonly scribe has never traveled around Europe in a camper van, I asked John Morley, who runs Spaceship Campervan Rentals, a few questions.
Q1. I've heard that right-hand drive has been a problem for some Americans, as in a few can't get out of UK airport parking lots without coming in contact with another car. Has this been a problem with American or European drivers?
A1. "The location of our premises has been chosen specifically to make the first few minutes of driving nice and easy. We are not located in city centres and we have spacious car parks in all of our locations. To date we have not had any instances of knocks on the way out of the premises. We find that giving nervous customers a bit more guidance and support seems to do the trick."
Q2. Do many people rent campervans because it's cheap, or do folks mostly do it because they prefer it?
"People who properly research their trip will come to us because it’s the cheapest way to travel the UK & Europe. It’s the total cost of the trip that’s important to consider. A bus ticket or interrail pass may initially be cheaper than hiring a campervan, but when you factor in accommodation costs eating out (instead of cooking your own meals) then it becomes significantly cheaper to take a campervan even when you factor in fuel costs."
Q3. What tips do you have for a first-time camping couple?
- Pack luggage in soft bags. They’re much easier to store than hard suitcases
- Don’t set your itinerary in stone. One of the joys of a campervan holiday is that you can change your plans at a moment’s notice. Unless it’s the middle of August most campsites will have space if you phone up and book on the day.
- People in campsites are often keen to tell you where they’ve just come from. Often they will have found some great hidden gems on their travels which you can slot into your itinerary.
- May, June and September are ideal times to travel. Campsites will almost always have space and the weather is often as good (or better) than July and August.
I urge you to check out John's excellent web site, which includes some detailed info on each type of rental. And they even have a VW camper. It sips gas/petrol to the tune of 644 miles per tank!