2/3 month tour. ANy tips etc??

Discussion in 'Continental Touring' started by chassyp, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. chassyp

    chassyp Read Only Funster

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    My wife and I are planning on early retirement next year and also planning a 2/3 month trip abroad starting in May in a motorhome. This way we can get back before the weather gets too hot!! We are looking to go through France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Austria etc. We have camped/caravanned etc over a period of 30 years and now have a comfy static in the Lakes which we love and this is going to be our summer home soon, health allowing!!! Over the years we have attained lots of experience doing this but motor homes are a new bag!!

    Anyway to cut to the chase, we are looking for any information from experienced motor home users for any tips that would help us on our journey and in the purchase of a vehicle?? We intend on doing a mix of (wild pitches) ie beaches and things!! But mostly parks that have facilities for doing the smalls etc!! many thanks for any input.:Smile:
     
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  2. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    Don't get over ambitious.

    2/3 months is a long time. It's your choice, enjoy some of Europe or try the storm trooper approach of doing most of Europe.

    Folk just starting in MHs do seem to think miles = quality, then a few years on they realise miles <> quality and a chilled out slow pace delivers the best holiday.
     
  3. peter marshall

    peter marshall

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    Hi
    On our first trip 8 weeks we stuck to France, 2500 miles in the van and 1200 in the smart car had a good round trip from Dunkirk down to the south ie Narbonne then down to near Spain, then back up through the Camarge if your anywhere near Sommiers on Bastille day worth a stop over for the bulls etc. Pete :thumb::thumb:
     
  4. chassyp

    chassyp Read Only Funster

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    I hear what you say Hilldweller.

    We intend on doing the chillax thing rather than shooting along! We cycle a lot so we hope to spend a week or so in each country wild camping on the bikes also to get the best out of it!! As I say we have spent 35 years touring in caravans and camping so we are well used to the metal needed for such a journey. Your comments are appreciated.:Smile:
     
  5. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    france in a motorhome will be much easier than with a caravan just because you will have the option to use aires i would get the aires book as an esential
    for the off season id also get the assci card
    choice of van will depend on your personal needs ,taste and budget
     
  6. chassyp

    chassyp Read Only Funster

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    Cheers for those tips Mitz. Whats the assci card please?? :Smile:
    The book on sites looks a good keep!
     
  7. Mousy

    Mousy Funster Life Member

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    Gosh you've got months of threads you could start with all that, choosing van, PVC vs coach build, early retirement, continental travel! ferry crossings, gassing worriers! I'll just get me pop corn:BigGrin:

    Seriously, good luck, I'd start with the van, let's cut to the chase, what's your budget? What are you thinking of so far?

    You've come to the right place there is a massive amount of help and advice on here:thumb:
     
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  8. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    An ACSI card and book allows you access to a lot of sites at a reduced rate. That and the all the aires books are available from Vicarious Books, and provided you ask you will get a members discount. (assuming you have subscribed I never noticed before replying.) Solar and extra leisure batteries are a must for long term off site touring. (washing can be done in a bowl or bucket and generally will dry overnight in a hot summer). If you do this then there is no need to ever use a site, there are so many supurb aires. A small portable twintub and an inverter or genny would also solve the washing problem.
     
  9. Carol

    Carol Funster Life Member

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    Hi welcome to fun, when looking for your Motorhome I would consider adequate storage, to carry chairs and tabes BQ etc, also if you are buying second hand try and get one with the toys already on, bike rack, solar panel etc can save a lot, have a look at wind blockers, a lot less carriage than a awning but very useful in the sun.

    ACSI has already been mentioned, but I would look into Camping Cheque as well.

    Just aside I am sure you will have been but if not and you enjoy cycling google Ile-de-Rae, just off La Rochelle, brilliant for cycling.:welcomefunster:
     
  10. chassyp

    chassyp Read Only Funster

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    No we hav`nt done the Ile-de-Rae as you say!! Sounds very interesting. I`ll give it a looking at thanks:Smile:
     
  11. HymerB544

    HymerB544 Funster

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    First big trip

    Hi,

    You've already got lots of good advice from members and you'll get plenty more as there is a vast reservoir of experience available on this site.

    I would choose a van which gives you comfort, storage/payload, room to relax and proven reliability and don't rush into the choice as it can be expensive. Fortunately your caravanning experience will prove useful.

    In terms of where to go and for how long, I'd buy a single ticket to France and keep your options open. Then if you find constant touring is tiresome after a few weeks you can always come home early.

    The ACSI card, used out of season, is a boon. And get yourself the Aires guides from the same supplier, Vicarious Books.

    Ile De Re on the French Atlantic coast is a great destination and that whole coastline is a good place to start as you can reach it within half a day from st Malo ferry port.

    If you want to save a few quid on the Brittany ferry routes a few Funsters are members of the Club Voyage regular travellers club and if you use their membership number (quite legitimate) you will save money. I have one so if you want it just send me a personal message.

    I said this above, but worth repeating. Don't rush to pick your van, and go for quality before apparent luxury. Nothing worse than bits dropping off your new home or regular breakdown miles from home. Happy hunting and happy camping!:thumb:
     
  12. ukbill

    ukbill Funster

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    if you have a touch phone get the acsi app that will give u some idea of what it does or just check acsi on the net for £10 the books are worth that let alone the discount card
     
  13. superk

    superk Read Only Funster

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    We did regular six-month winter tours – some initial thoughts.

    The size and arrangement of the van: Large means comfort for living but inflexibility to get to places and park easily – we did it in a 10m RV towing a car as well as a 5.6m converted panel van – they are different experiences. The smaller van and wild camping for the most part felt more like motorhoming but the interior arrangement is critical.

    Interior: do you want to make the bed up every night? A fixed bed solves this but takes up space in your van that is unused during the day. If the fixed bed sits across the van or up against a wall then night-time visits to the bathroom may mean one has to climb over the other. A pull down bed will solve some of the problems (if longitudinal) only if you can climb into it easily.

    What will limit your ability to wild camp without needing to go to sites if there are no aires/sostas available: Power – have the largest capacity battery you can in the space available and some means of recharging it off-grid e.g. solar panels or a possibly a generator (search this site for debates on this.)
    Gas for heating and cooking – swapping bottles in different countries as you may have found caravanning can be a pain so I definitely recommend the Gaslow system that will allow you to fill up at any Autogas station without swapping bottles out.
    Water: Get a good sized tank if you’re going to be washing/showering in the van although driving around with a full tank may harm fuel consumption it’s better to have the capacity than not have it. Waste tanks are less of a problem – you can usually dispose of grey water somewhere. Are the tanks heated – nights can get cold and we experienced deep snow and freezing temperatures in Spain.
    Toilet cassette: Consider having 2 then you don’t have the agony of going to bed with a nearly-full cassette because you couldn’t find anywhere empty it.

    Security: Get the van alarmed and deadlocks or similar fitted to doors. Learn the vulnerability of your van – our Sprinter van’s door handles could be removed with only wrench of a screwdriver so we fitted special covering locks. Plastic windows are vulnerable – we had a space alarm that would detect any change in air pressure if a window was opened. Talk to a motorhome specialist like Vanbitz.

    Storage is vital although it’s amazing how little you actually need. How will you communicate/entertain your selves.

    Have a loading list – our leader Jim has a published one on this site as well as a guide to buying a motorhome – great investments.

    Keith
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
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  14. Mousy

    Mousy Funster Life Member

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    In terms of beds, we have 2 long "sofas" down either side of the van, we've placed duvalays on each, covered with a throw for daytime use, bed making simply consists of removing throw. (We can also pull them together to make a king) So don't be put off by vans like that. A lot of the panel vans are like that.

    I wish I'd sat on more loos, ours is slightly too high for me:Sad: duck board on crimbo list.

    Also as you are taking bikes, are you happy to have them on a rear rack or would you prefer a garage?
     
  15. JOHNSTEY

    JOHNSTEY Read Only Funster

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    We retired early, bought a van and shot off on a European road trip all within 6 weeks of retiral so can probably give a few pointers.We initially were to timid with our van choice thinking we would be better with a smaller van.We bought a Swift 530LP which we soon realised was not really ideal for longer trips.After only 8 months we changed it for our current van which is ideal for us.If you want to know what we like about it look at Motorhome Monthly Sept 2013 where we have an article about it.
    Regards touring we did a round trip France, Italy, Austria, Germany,Luxembourg, Belgium last spring leaving in March and back at the end of May. France, as ever is a joy for motor homers except for the very South of France which is congested and it can be very difficult to even find a place to park.We thoroughly enjoyed our time on Lake Garda and there is good cycling around the lake from Peschiera to Sirmione and from Garda down to Lasize.Austria was brilliant with sites well organised and many giving free bus travel in with the admittedly slightly higher site fees.A trip up the Romantic Road is recommended, delightful towns and rolling countryside.Vianden in Luxembourg is a nice spot with a site under the castle and by the river.We chose to stay in Blankenburg by the sea in Belgium and cycle to the station to train into Bruges.The aire in Ypres is ideal for visiting the town and war sites and it is easy to jump on your bike to go to the Menin Gate for the evening ceremony.Enjoy:thumb:
     
  16. chassyp

    chassyp Read Only Funster

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    Cheers everyone.

    Thanks everyone some great info there to take on board!! I wondered about the gas situation as English fittings are not the same as the continent. Whats this about the gaslow thingy?? Is it a fitting or adapter maybe??
    We think we have found a van prob a Fiat Ducato Sundance/Bessacarr/Freestyle or similar. They have the rear bed layout and overhead storage as people are saying we will need.

    We don’t want to buy brand new as I just cant see the return financially. I am looking at a budjet of 20k and have seen some nice ones for a lot less.
    I`m very interested in the solar panel thing!! These panels were not big when we last vanned!! We have a small generator but don’t really want to take it if possible.
    I understand the notes on size of van and the bigger ones being restrictive. We looked at some monster A class things with separate bedroom and vanity room. But in reality they just wont go down these little side road leading to some beaches as I know from experience. Does anyone own a Fiat Ducato Sundance etc? And are there any tips or probs we should keep a look out for?? Many thanks again everyone!! :Smile:
     
  17. Rapide561

    Rapide561 Read Only Funster

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    Trip

    Hi

    I have done two long trips, one of four months and one of ten weeks. The second one was a good old run around, basically Calais - Paris - Loire - Millau - Barcelona - Avignon - Antibes - Genoa - Pisa - Rome - Pompei and the local area, Orvieto, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Lake Garda.

    Several bits of advice.

    1) Get a fee free debit card if you are able - you will save a lot of money on fee free cash withdrawals overseas.

    2) Get a fee free credit card

    I compared the rates and so - you can read about it here.

    3) Next up, create an ICE pack. ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. You should have two envelopes and in each one place a photocopy of passport, tax disc, log book, insurance etc etc. Take one with you along with the originals but keep "separate". Leave another at home with a friend or relative - he or she can then fax/email you a copy in emergency.

    4) Re item (3), make sure all your paperwork is correct and legal - for example - insurance does not expire etc, tax disc in date.

    5) Gas - are you OK with Calor (you cannot get it overseas) or do you need Gaslow or similar?

    If you are legal and safe, everything else will come naturally.

    Russell
     
  18. grumps147

    grumps147 Funster

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    If you pay your subs, only £10, then you open up a library of information you can search on here with a wealth of information that can only be dreamed about.

    Members get discount off various suppliers, who are often members themselves. For gas we have had an alugas system fitted by Dave Newall whose advert is often in the top banner area. Both alugas and gaslow have adapters for different countries filling pump variances.

    Good luck with your quest and journey.
     
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