Campervan Tips Europe
By Leslie Brown
Campervan Tips Europe is a brief overview of RV and motorhome rental in Europe. Campervans are known by several different names in Europe, depending on what country you are from, but the general term would be either Motorhome or Campervan. Travellers from the United States call them RVs or “Recreational Vehicles”.
1. The campervan hire industry in Europe is fragmented, what we mean by this is that there are no camper van rental companies covering all of Europe. A consequence of this is that there are very few companies that offer a one way service within Europe. We have full information about the few possibilities that exist on our One-Way Motorhome and Campervan Trips in Europe article. In addition, most motorhome rental companies will insist that you pick up and drop off at the same depot – one way trips, even between depots of the same company, are frequently not allowed. For those rentals where you are allowed to pick up at one depot and drop back to another, expect to pay a one-way fee for the privilege, and you will usually be restricted to depots within one country.
2. Rates of hire vary according to season, and rates are of course higher in the months of July and August, the generally accepted “High Season”. If you wish to book a Motorhome in High Season, you are strongly advised to book several months in advance as demand far outstrips supply. If you are looking for a good deal, keep in mind that Germany has some of the best rates available for hire in Europe, and you can get a good rate for long term camper van rental.
3. Another important issue when hiring your campervan is that there are minimum rental periods in some countries. They vary from company to company, and can be anything from 4 days to 14 days depending on what season you are renting in; you will find that the most common minimum is 7 days.
4. Most of the rental fleet in Europe is up to date with very few Motorhomes over 2 years old, in some cases they are current year models. Motorhomes are all diesel or turbo diesel powered and are very fuel efficient; you can expect to get 25-35 miles per gallon on normal driving. Motorhomes are very easy to drive, and it will only take an hour or two to get used to the fact that it is a larger vehicle. If you do run into any problems with the motorhome, most Companies offer a national and European breakdown service that can come out and assist you.
Campervan Tips Europe can also advise that 99% of rental RV and campervan hire vehicles come with a manual gearbox. There are a few companies that have some automatic vehicles but they are very scarce.
5. If you rent a motorhome on mainland Europe, it is permitted to take the campervan on local ferries to islands or to the United Kingdom please consult us at Campervan Tips Europe.
6. Camper vans come in model sizes from 2 berth to 7 berth, and are equipped with showers and toilets, central heating and a hot water boiler. Companies offer extras like bedding and crockery and pots and pans to facilitate overseas customers.
7. While it is usually possible to park “in the wild”, it is always advisable to stay in Campgrounds as it is safer. In addition, you can hook up to mains power and water, and there are usually shower facilities. You can find campgrounds online, and some companies will provide a book with campgrounds information when you rent the campervan.
8. As to where you can go with the campervan, it is permitted to travel to all countries within the EU, as well as Switzerland please consult Campervan Tips Europe. It should be noted that some companies allow you to travel further afield, but you should confirm this beforehand. The company will probably need to arrange for additional insurance, which will cost a little extra.
9. A class B national driving licence is all that is required to drive a campervan under 3500kgs, which covers all except the largest motorhomes. In order to drive motorhomes over 3500kg, you will need a class C national driving licence to drive a vehicle over 3500 kgs. If your drivers license is not written in the roman alphabet, you will need to get an International Drivers License – contact your local drivers licensing authority for details.
10. Most motorhome companies have their depots located outside of cities, as land is very expensive, and you need a lot of it to park a couple of hundred motorhomes on. You will normally be required to travel to the depot to collect your camper van, though some companies do offer a transfer service for a fee from city center hotels and airports.
11. It is most common to pick up a motorhome in the afternoon and drop it back in the morning. This allows the rental company to valet the vehicle before the next person takes it out. When you collect your motorhome, you should be aware that it can take up to 90 minutes to process all the paperwork, inspect the vehicle, and get training on how to operate all the equipment on board. If you are arriving late in the day, you are much better off staying a night in a hotel, doing a little sightseeing the next day, and picking up your motorhome that afternoon – it will be a lot less stressful.
12. You will always be asked to leave a damage deposit when taking out a motorhome. The vast majority of companies do this by running an imprint of your credit card. You will generally get the deposit back a few days after you drop off the motorhome. There are some companies that only take cash for the deposit – you should have this explained to you when your booking is confirmed. Some companies offer a damage excess reduction which you can take advantage of – it is usually charged as an additional daily fee.
For first time campervan travelers we have a resource page with many helpful articles about Campervan Hire.
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