We love road trips … but campervan trips (or “motorhome” trips)? In theory it sounds like something we might enjoy – autonomy, a slower pace, total flexibility – but we can’t say we’ve ever tried it. That’s why we called in reinforcements from Transfercar, avid cheerleaders of campervan potential, for some suggestions via this guest post. Transfercar is a car hire Australia based service that provides people with cheap and usually free rental cars.
Campervan trips were once, unfairly, labelled as the domain of students and ‘hippies’ and not as a holiday option that the average person might seriously consider. Thankfully, those days have long since passed, and now campervan holidays are accepted as an exciting option that anyone and everyone can explore and enjoy.
Obviously, as with any holiday destination, there are some places that are definitely ‘must see,’ while others are best avoided. Rather than dwell on the ‘to avoid’ list, we looked at some of the most desirable global locations for taking a campervan holiday.
There are a few countries around the world that appear to be made for a campervan holiday, and Australia is without question one of them.
While the cities are excellent for sightseeing and spending parts of your holiday, the real charm of the country comes when you head into the vast outback and encounter roads that seem to last forever. Driving for the whole day without seeing anyone is an excellent experience for anyone who loves the self-sufficiency and tranquil feeling of a campervan trip.
Adelaide to Darwin is one of the best routes, taking you past Uluru, should you wish to visit, and through the beautiful Alice Springs in the centre of the country. This route is littered with camping opportunities, with most national parks having an area for campervan parking, as well as there being campsites at various locations along the route. Staying overnight is relatively cheap, and will usually cost you no more that AUS$50.
Australia’s neighbour might not be famous for much besides rugby and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it is one of the most stunning locations on Earth and the perfect destination for a campervan holiday.
The constantly changing landscape makes it a must do location on the lists of campervan enthusiasts everywhere, as snow-topped peaks turn to beaches, to lush forests, to glaciers before hitting modern yet quirky towns and cities. Usefully, you can park up and sleep pretty much anywhere you wish, too, so long as you are away from large towns and not on a public highway, just be sure to check any local laws before you head out to New Zealand. However, like Australia there are also numerous caravan parks where you can stay overnight at a low cost.
Driving coastal roads, starting and finishing in Auckland, offers the best opportunities for experiencing varied kinds of terrain and landscapes, while the South Island offers much of the striking glacial landscapes and fjords that are used for film locations.
Nowhere else in the world offers such a variety of landscapes and routes as the United States. Whether you wish to explore flat plains, drive through rolling hills, check out isolated towns, or even head north into Canada, this country has everything for the discerning camper.
The classic Route 66 between LA and Chicago is arguably still the best drive in America, though regional drives through the Southwest or Pacific Northwest are increasingly popular. (One road to definitely avoid with your campervan is California’s Dramamine Drive.)
All national parks and state parks have areas for overnight camping (though prices will vary between each park). Check online for special “fee-free” weekends and package deals, but be prepared to book well in advance for peak travel times like holiday weekends. If your preferred park is full, you can likely find a lesser-known state or local park nearby with availability.
If your appetite for campervan trips sees you wanting to take in more than one country location, then Europe is perhaps the best place to realise this.
There is a world of difference between Western Europe and the eastern half, where roads may be in poor condition, although there are a number of stunning locations that have not yet been discovered and spoiled by mass tourism. Coastal drives in Europe are often the best for awe-inspiring views, but travelling the big cities can be just as rewarding. A favourite route is to take in the countries of the northern European mainland, and see cities such as Amsterdam, Bruges, Prague, and Munich, as well as others along the way.* Be sure to check local laws for whichever countries you are visiting, although many will allow you to spend the night in service stations and coach parks for a low price.
Wherever you head on your campervan trip, plan your route carefully but allow for flexibility should you come across any unexpected gems during your journey. After all, the greatest benefit to a road trip is being able to go where you want to go, when you want to go, and stop along the way.
(*Tip from Jenna: Several European countries, such as Germany, are enforcing low emissions zones in cities and specific motorways, so it pays both to know the emissions ratings of the motorhome you rent and to research your destination before arriving in order to avoid a hefty fine. Think that campervan trips are by definition a high emissions form of travel? You might want to spend some time on Google checking out the latest vehicles on the market. The first photo of this post probably doesn’t apply….)