SELECTING THE RIGHT CAMPER VAN

A pleasant trip starts with selecting the right camper van. This is a bit difficult, because on one hand the budget will limit your options, on the other hand you will want the best quality. Even though campers are generally installed on 5-6 different undercarriages for newer models, the driving comfort and expenses may differ a lot. Therefore, first you should determine the actual fuel consumption of different vans. Here, it may turn out that by getting a few dozen euros off for daily rent, you may need to pour an extra €200 in the van’s tank for 5,000 km because the fuel consumption is 3-5 litres per 100 km more. More knowledgeable campers prefer 6-gear vans because at roads speeds, these are quieter due to lower engine revolutions and a cruise control makes the drive truly comfortable. For the camper itself, the rule is, of course, that the more space you have, the more comfortable it is to travel. Although it is relatively difficult to park and maneuver a large car in Southern cities. If you want to bring bicycles, scooters or even a motorbike, then you will need a van with a garage (bicycles can be hanged behind the van if there is a rack). When looking at various campers, you should also keep in mind whether all beds in the camper are double beds or whether there are singles and doubles. When driving in hot weather, the car should at least have driver’s air conditioning, and in cold weather, proper heating and insulation. Using water in cold weather will, of course, be somewhat difficult.

 

PLANNING THE TRIP

Firstly, start with the fact that if you are planning a summer trip by camper van from June to August, you should start dealing with booking a suitable car at least several months earlier. It is quite likely that searching for a van a few weeks in advance will yield you nothing. If you plan to go with a bigger company (5-6 people), questions about the number and opportunities of sleeping spaces have come up, and a good solution for this when staying at campsites in the warm season is bringing an extra tent or several. Unlikely that all 6 people want to stay overnight on a 12 m2 area at degrees exceeding 25 C and then climb over each other in the morning.

 

OVERNIGHT BY CAMPER VAN

You should keep in mind that most overnight camping sights suitable for a camper van will be at a designated car camping sites. These may cost money, but usually for 20-30 euros per day, the entire company and the van will spend the night and a toilet with washing facilities, 220V power outlet and in best cases, a pool or proper private beach will be included in the price. At such campsites, it will also be safer to keep your belongings in the van compared to a regular parking lot or just the street. There have been cases where people have come back from the city and the van which stood in the street had been broken into (despite the car alarm) and all valuables had been stolen. Car camping sites on the other hand are well secured and bordered with good neighbourhood watch. Also keep in mind that many campsites are closed at 9-10 PM, you can get out but check-in is no longer done. But there are also sites where you can settle down at a free spot in the evening and they will only ask for money in the morning. It is also an option to land in the parking lot of some gas station or truck stop free of charge, but this, of course, is not the most comfortable option.

 

TRAVELLING BY CAMPER VAN

Another thing to keep in mind is that a camper van is fairly big and moving in big cities and on narrow mountain roads is pretty difficult even for an experienced driver. Thus, a suggestion: first, find a pleasant camping site, then move around the area by bikes or scooters. The recommended velocity of a camper van is 90-100 kph, in which case you will be spending approx. 11 l per 100 km. By increasing speed per each 10 kph, you will gain more fuel consumption of approx. 1.5 litres per 100 km due to the van’s wind resistance. When choosing roads, always prefer hard-paved roads, gravel roads cause a lot of creaking of furniture and the van may simply get stuck in soft sandy roads. When maneuvering with a camper van, also remember that the back of the van moves approx. a metre farther from the wheel when turning. When driving on toll highways, you can easily settle in the paid lane of up to 6m, nobody has measured vans yet. In the countries where you have to pay a tax label for using a toll road, be sure to do that because it is checked frequently and fines are hefty. When driving on mountain roads, brake with gears as much as possible, coming down a steep hill with the second gear and full revolutions is much safer than braking all the time and then realising in a valley before a curve that the brakes no longer work. Avoid driving into dense bushes and twigs because plastic details are scratched rather easily. Also remember to watch the van height signs because driving under an obstacle lower than 3.1 m will be very expensive!

 

REMEMBER

– no smoking in the van
– do not cook on the gas stove while driving
– all loose items as well as the contents of the fridge (if not locked) will fly around when driving or braking
– if the toilet tank of the van has a red indicator light on, then it is very much full! Further use will mean a proper thorough clean-up
– you can empty the toilet tank of the van in all toilets or designated sites

– tap water tank of the van may be emptied at campsites or to the sewerage if possible
– before moving the van, check that the side windows are closed, upper open windows may not be visible from the mirrors and will break in branches

– when sleeping in a dark van, leave the option of switching indoor lighting on from the bed. Climbing down from the upper bed in pitch black is difficult

– bring the sheets, pillows and blankets for sleeping, as well as dishes and towels
– always set aside enough time for travelling and bring your own good mood

 

USEFUL LINKS

– Estonian campsites – www.camping-estonia.ee
– Eesti Karavan – www.eestikaravan.eu
– Latvian campsites – www.camping.lv
– Lithuanian campsites – www.camping.lt
– Campsites in Europe – et.camping.info
– Route planning – www.viamichelin.com
– Serving points of AGA Gas
– Sales agencies of Propaan.ee