Europe....Caravan or Motorhome

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by DandP, Nov 1, 2015.

  1. DandP

    DandP Read Only Funster

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    I know this is a motorhome site so I can predict the majority of answers. My wife and I are both retired and are intending to head off round Europe for maybe 8 months. We have been caravaners for 10 years and love our caravan which has a fixed island bed and all mod cons. However we are condsidering buying a motorhome to do the trip as from what we have heard it's easier to find sites that take them as opposed to a caravan. I would love to do it in my caravan but if finding sites at reasonable price is a problem will consider a motorhome. I understand that you can only use aires with a motorhome. All of you that have spent time traveling Europe must be able to advise if caravanning is not the best way to do it. Cheers Dave.
     
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  2. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    Hi Dave, it really depends on what you intend to do ... if you want to stay in one spot for a week or two then a caravan is the best bet as it will then leave you free to explore in your car, however if you intend to move one every couple of days or so then a MH would be best. It also comes down to where you want to stay - if on sites then a caravan or MH can be accommodated without a problem, but as you've already mentioned, you are not permitted to use caravans on aires. If you can use aires then you can often do so for free or very little cost, whereas a site will obviously cost every night.

    As you already have a caravan you might as well give it a go with that and see how you get on rather than go to the expense of buying or hiring a MH.
     
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  3. Badknee

    Badknee Funster

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    Bang on Minxy, exactly what we did. Caravan when the kids were with us, two/three weeks on a beach site somewhere but now we want to tour more so MoHo for us (y)
     
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  4. Popeye

    Popeye Funster

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    I know for a fact that you can use the camp sites as well but I don't think that is what you mean. If you mean caravans are not permitted to use the Aires then you are correct, having said that just about everyone has probably seen a 5th wheeler use an Aire.

    The french accommodate "Camping Cars" as they call them to the exclusion of caravans. Villages often construct an Aire just so they can attract some of the custom.

    In Britain of course the Twinned villages will erect a height barrier. Perhaps we should write to all the "Twinned With" villages and ask where their British Twin intends accommodating Motor Homes!¬
     
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  5. Lenny HB

    Lenny HB Funster

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    We were tuggers changed 7 years ago, best thing we ever did. Changed our style of holidaying as it is so much easier to move on and find a place for the night, do what we want to do and move on. Drive far less miles a typical holiday in a caravan covering 2500 miles, in a Motorhome will only do 1500 - 1800 miles as you are not constantly returning to the same site. Makes a big difference in mountain areas.
    Away from the coast Aires are often free, for 3 weeks in France our camping fees are usually €20 - €50, compared to over €300 if staying on sites.
     
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  6. Minxy Girl

    Minxy Girl Funster Life Member

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    On our last holiday, taking in France/Belgium/Luxembourg/Italy/Germany, we only paid for one night's stop - that was at Venice as no alternative which cost £37 I think - the rest of the other 40 nights cost us nowt, mainly on aires with a couple of nights wild camping. Similarly our trip of 43 days to France/Spain/Portugal in Feb March cost us nowt as we used aires or wild camped.
     
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  7. vwalan

    vwalan Funster

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    or get a fifth wheeler or mini artic .
    a very sensible way to enjoy life if getting towards that magic figure of 70 yr old .
    but get it right . dont go too big . or wide . but pay for sites . thats not in my vocabulary . do folk really pay to park?
    have fun smile . avoid toll roads , motorways . visit every village . there is no rush.
     
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  8. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    Even as an ex-caravanner (finished therapy) I think if you want to tour Europe for 8 months a motorhome would be best. It will give you more choice of places to stay, both quiet villages and touristy cities.
     
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  9. ojibway

    ojibway Funster

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    We love our motorhome and would never go back to a caravan. You have absolute freedom to come and go as you please. We love aires too, (France was built for motorhomes!) but some people don't.
    There have been arguments for and against aires - some say why would you want to be parked three feet away from another motorhome when you could be in a nice green, hedged spot on a camp site.
    On the other hand, we find it quite fun rubbing shoulders with French, Germans, Belgians, Dutch, having a chat etc. and aires are usually within walking distance of towns which campsites usually aren't.
     
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  10. funflair

    funflair Funster Life Member

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    Think about how you will get around if you park up for a few days, we caravanned for a lot of years but we very rarely used the car when we were parked on site as we cycled everywhere. The step to a motorhome was painless for this reason and it certainly makes travelling easier especially when a lot of campsites are out of season and the only things open are Aires and Stellplatz. Some people just use the motorhome as a car when they are away but then it comes down to size of motorhome, if you have a fixed island bed caravan you wont be wanting to go to a 5 or 6 metre panel van conversion would be my guess.

    Martin
     
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  11. Judge Mental

    Judge Mental Funster Deceased RIP

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    Wot he said.....
     
  12. Allanm

    Allanm Funster

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    8 months in a caravan in France means you may find quite a few campsites that are closed out of season ( Spring to September). We toured France in a caravan many years ago, before Aires were thought of. We used only municipal sites ( and a couple of supermarket car parks) but most of the sites started shutting down at the start of September.
    I think you would need to do quite a bit of research and advanced booking, which, to me, would detract from the experience.
    8 months in a Motorhome in France, now that's a whole different ball game. Thousands of Aires to choose from all over the country and many are free. Most will be open all year round, but some shut off their service points over winter ( you can still empty all your waste though).
    We found ourselves on a few Aires with closed service points last year, but a quick chat to the Marie and they turned the water on for us,( as long as it wasn't frozen)
     
  13. DandP

    DandP Read Only Funster

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    Hi all, thanks for the many replies and I think that seals it for us. A motorhome it is. Next problem is which one. We love the the Autotrail Cheyenne 840 for all the space but the length is another thing at 8+metres. Don't want to have it and not be able to park it. More research I think. Many thanks again. Dave.
     
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  14. funflair

    funflair Funster Life Member

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    It needs to be big enough to live in but small enough to get it where you want, that last bit is different for all of us. You will spend longer living in the space that you will looking for a space to park it. We moved from a caravan to 8.5 metre German van with a big garage, if you dont want bikes and canoes etc etc you might not need the garage that we have.

    The British vans like the Autotrail certainly give you a cosy living space and a bigger kitchen than you get with 90% of German vans.

    Martin
     
  15. vwalan

    vwalan Funster

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    for the last 15 years apart from the odd winter i have taken my truck all over france spain portugal and morocco. cant see a problem .
    i have sometimes dropped the trailer but thats not often when away.
    ideal if going into gibralter etc but using aires campsites if i have wanted to ,or wold parking just do it .
    used to use a vw camper all the time before the mini artic and have pulled a teardrop around behind the vw . it all works .
    just do it . have fun . there is no right or wrong vehicle just different ones .
     
  16. ojibway

    ojibway Funster

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    Well, that wasn't too difficult!!
    Now the hard part!
    We have had a James Cook since about 20078- Sprinter base van conversion, 5.68m, goes anywher, parks anywhere.
    We did have a Rapido Aclass before that for a couple of years but, even though it was larger it had less space and less storage than the Rapido and a better payload
    So, you are going to have a lot of decisions to make. But one is very important - do you want left and drive or right hand? If you are going to be touring France and beyond you might consider the hab door opening on the right like all the others over there.
     
  17. The Old Man

    The Old Man Funster

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    I have done both and there are pros and cons to either.

    Firstly to be clear whether in a motor home or caravan I usually wild camp and do not use camp sites.

    Caravan Pros;

    Once you've pitched up you don't have to drag your home with you.
    You don't have to tidy and secure everything when you want to go to the hypermaket.
    When you return from the day's adventures you can put the kettle on, shower, cook and fall into bed with minimum hassles.

    Motorhome Pros;

    Your home is with you giving you home catering for lunches.
    If you venture further than you planned or find a delightful spot, you can pullover and relocate.
    Security, your home is with you not left alone some miles away.

    Con's;

    Mostly the reverse of the Pros.

    With a caravan when wild camping, it is more obvious that you are wild camping and overnighting, in the past this has attracted the attention of the Guardia Civil and the Gendarmes. On more than one trip the local hoteliers and campsite owners reported us to the Guardia Civil.
     
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  18. Armytwowheels

    Armytwowheels Funster Life Member

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    In addition to Minxy's advice above, I would add it also depends on what time of year you are touring. During the main season you will have no trouble finding a site with your car and caravan, but out of main season you may struggle and would be better off in a motorhome, or at least have more choice of places to stop. A lot of camping sites only open for the main holiday season.
     
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  19. laird of Dunstan

    laird of Dunstan Funster Life Member

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    I still have my caravan , i havent used it for about 6 months ,i looked into MH,s a while agao and spent some time decideing what layout i thought would be best for us ,we have decided to buy a Rapido 9000dfh , the rough plan is to spend the first year touring the UK,weekends and hols etc,but what really appeals is being able to finish on a friday at work , pick up the wife and dogs,and instead of fluffing about hooking up the caravan ,its a case of get in the MH and go.
    there are pros and cons to both caravans and motorhomes ,ive decided to go with the motorhome(y)
     
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  20. ifearnobeer

    ifearnobeer Read Only Funster

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    I am going back to the south of france next week with my rapido 709 and my dog.I'll be wild camping on the banks of the canal du midi for the summer season.There is free water and electricity provided,mainly for the use of the boats but no-one seems to mind me using it.I was there last year from august till the end of November(I was still wearing shorts and tee shirt)but then came home for xmas.(bad move) I can't wait to get back.I didn't meet many motorhomers but met many boat people who were full timers.It's not everyones cup of tea but i love the freedom that my motorhome gives me.
     
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