Travelling through Europe on a budget

Europe is a continent full of varied and exciting cultures begging to be explored and experienced. Widely differing traditions, architecture and cuisine are separated only by the borders that run between each country; and with so much to see and do, a trip through its delightful countryside is as exciting as it is engaging.

These days, many people are finding they have to cut back, tighten belts and abstain from extravagances. However, holidaying does not have to be an unobtainable luxury, as there are plenty of ways to make an action packed family vacation a reality. Camping and caravanning are excellent options for those looking to go on a journey of exploration and enjoy many of Europe’s delights without a high price tag. With the independence of portable accommodation and the numerous caravan and touring parks, the freedom to explore and enjoy the great outdoors means that caravan touring through Europe is becoming one of the continent’s most popular holiday choices.

Top tips for first timers

Caravans and motor-homes are available to hire or buy; it is important to choose the right size and amenities for the party and for those embarking upon their first portable accommodation adventure it can be useful to hire a vehicle and practise locally first for confidence and comfort. It is also crucial to be familiar with the dimensions of the chosen vehicle, for low bridges, tunnels and even parking.

A European satnav is particularly useful for finding petrol stations when low on fuel. Although it is lovely to be free, having an idea of desired places to visit, a loose route plan and familiarity with local laws and handy phrases comes highly recommended.

Places to go and things to do

Caravanning is generally better suited to the countryside, beach regions or small towns as parking in big cities is difficult and expensive. It is a great way to get off the tourist trail and appreciate the landscape as well as enjoy activities suited to a lower budget. Craft and food markets in the south of France are wonderful for wandering around and sampling local produce. Those looking to enjoy the great outdoors will appreciate excellent hiking in the Swiss Alps, fishing in Germany’s Rhineland, relaxing by Italy’s great lakes or exploring famously flat Holland on bicycles.

Ways to save

With good route planning, it is possible to avoid most toll roads to save a few Euros here and there. Although many camping and caravan sites offer excellent luxury facilities such as shower blocks and pools which are lovely for a treat, there are many no-frills and even free spots to stop. It can be worthwhile to avoid the peak months of July and August when rates are higher and to check where fuel prices are lower. Buy groceries from supermarkets, as cooking rather than eating out is a benefit of caravanning. After all, nothing beats a simple meal eaten on a garden table and chairs with a beautiful view.

What to pack: survival kit

  • Road maps/satnav
  • First aid kit including mosquito spray
  • Waterproofs and sunscreen – Europe’s weather can be varied
  • Travel washing line and detergent
  • Phrasebooks

Top image by Ed Coyle