Are you worried about your first camper holiday? There’s no need to. We’ll make suggestions on how to deal with it and which mistakes you shouldn’t commit.
You are a free soul and this is the true reason why you have happily avoided 5-star hotels and airline bookings this year. On this occasion, you are looking for relaxation, adventure and real contact with nature. So, after having thought about it so much, you have decided: you will leave for your first camper holiday!
It doesn’t matter if you own the camper or have rented it: in any case, you will need some tips to confidently approach your holiday and avoid making mistakes that might disappoint you of what, however, is your best choice.
I’m sure you’ve already considered the fact that, before you venture onto the road, you’ll have to make sure that your camper is completely ready. You will bring it to your mechanic to check the engine conditions, the water and oil levels, you will charge the batteries needed for the electrical services, you will prepare the chemical toilet and you will make sure that the fridge is working properly.
Well, now all you have to do is fill the water tanks and you’re ready to go. But have you really considered everything? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t. To be safe, follow our 15 best tips for your first camper holiday and enjoy the relaxation and fun you deserve.
1. Choose the most suitable vehicle for your camper holiday
Have you chosen the best camper for your needs? It is not true that one camper is worth the other, each vehicle has its own characteristics and advantages. Choosing a small camper means that you will find yourself with little space to load luggage and sports equipment. You will also have to live in restricted spaces, which could undermine the very freedom you were looking for.
On the other hand, if your idea of a camper holiday foresees stops in the middle of the nature or the crossing of narrow mountain paths, a too large vehicle will be a hindrance to you.
Before you choose it, always keep in mind the number of persons who will live this adventure with you and what kind of trip you have in mind.
2. Become familiar with your camper
Driving a camper is not like driving your car in the middle of city traffic, so please don’t feel overly confident that you know how to park it or that you are able to face narrow and winding streets.
Consider that it’s like you’re driving your own living room, especially if you’ve opted for a larger camper, so it’s a good idea to take a few test drives to fine-tune your driving skills.
Don’t forget that the view angle can be strongly compromised by the structure of the vehicle and if you need to stop, remember that the braking distance will be much longer than with your car.
3. Plan your milestones
Going on an adventure is the dream of every camper, but for your first camper holiday it is preferable to plan a travel itinerary.
Knowing exactly where you want to go is crucial to choosing the campsites to stop on, the rest areas to stock up on water and the must-see destinations along your route in advance.
It would be a shame to discover at the very last second that the campsite near that beach where you wanted to swim is closed for renovation or that just near the previous stage there was that important archaeological site, which you will never have the opportunity to visit again!
4. Consider all costs
If you think you already have a clear idea of how much your camper holiday will cost just because you have quantified the amount of fuel you will use, you may be wrong.
In addition to this, you will sometimes have to add the costs for water supply, for any stops at the campsite and equipped areas, for gas for cooking and heating and for draining the wastewater.
Of course, don’t forget the cost of tolls on highways, which, especially in Italy, can significantly affect the cost of your camper holiday.
5. Do not only rely on directions
If you’ve already done a few car trips, you know that only using directions is never a good idea. The road signs with the name of your destination will disappear at the roundabout with 6 exits, with the result of you ending up going round in circles for hours or, worse, arriving miles and miles away from your destination.
For your first camper holiday, always bring a good GPS system with up-to-date maps and a road map with you. Yes, just the old, expensive paper map. You may find yourself in areas not covered by the satellite signal and, in this case, a road map will prevent you from taking that country road with no exit and only notice it after you have travelled dozens and dozens of kilometers into the middle of nowhere.
6. Decide where to stay for the night before you leave
When you are planning your itinerary, find out which campsites and equipped areas you will find along the way. You will have the opportunity to choose where to stop in advance, being well informed about the services and costs to incur.
Furthermore, you will be sure to know when you will be able to fill your tanks so you do not have to wash your dishes from your drinking water supply.
In the past, finding a place to stop was only possible through word of mouth or specialized magazine articles. The modern camper is not afraid of surprises: download dedicated apps on your device and you’ll have all the campsites and rest areas available along your route.
7. Prepare your baggage with care
What to pack for your camper holiday? As little as possible! Your vehicle is certainly equipped with wardrobes and compartments to store your luggage, but of course they will never be as spacious as your 4 seasons wardrobe!
Travelling by camper means choosing a simple lifestyle, so limit your clothes to the minimum required. What is the minimum requirement? What doesn’t force you to do laundry every day! The important thing is that you are able to deal with any climate change and not have to regret your home’s comfort.
For sleeping, consider the time you’re travelling and where you’re going. Sleeping bags are much more practical than sheets, but if it’s very hot, they’ll make your nights uncomfortable. In any case, always pack a sheet to protect the mattresses, which, although removable, is more difficult to wash.
8. Load the pantry with food suitable for your trip
Choosing a camper holiday qualifies you as an environmentally conscious tourist, so don’t take the whole supermarket with you. A trip takes you to unknown places, which are also worth discovering for their gastronomic specialities and typical products. In addition, this way you will contribute to the economic development of the areas you cross, partly compensating them for the “disturbance” you cause.
Only pack the basic necessities: salt, oil, pasta, detergents and cans will be enough to ensure the basic needs. You will use them by buying everything that completes your menu from time to time.
Remember that time can go by slowly when travelling, so, especially if you have children with you, make sure there’s some snacks to eat while travelling and water, lots of water.
9. Don’t forget the accessories for your campervan
A camper holiday means travelling autonomously and it is up to you to decide what comfort you want. Some accessories, however, will be crucial.
For example, the power supply cable. Every campsite and equipped area has its own electricity supply columns, but to access them you must have an at least 15m long cable with CE plugs, universally used everywhere.
In addition, you’ll need another 15 metres of PVC pipe to fill your water tank. Make sure you have an universal connection that fits different types of water threads. To be safe, take a canister with you. You can stock up with drinking water if you decide to experience the thrill of living a few days away from home.
Even if you plan to stay on campsites, where the ground is usually flat, do not forget levelling wedges. They will help you to compensate for any possible ground unevenness, helping you to keep your camper perfectly horizontal. It seems like a minor detail, but besides allowing the proper functioning of the water drains, you will avoid sleeping on a slope and having to cook while keeping the pot on the stove, to prevent it from slipping away.
Last tip: take a toolbox with you, equipped with screws, electrical equipment, hexagon wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers and wrenches. You may not be a do-it-yourself wizard, but it may come in handy for a few small repairs, while waiting to reach the nearest professional.
10.Take a first-aid kit with you
Nobody leaves thinking that they’re going to get sick or get hurt. But for a camper holiday that will get you out of town, a first aid kit is needed.
Wraps, patches and disinfectants will prevent you from having to run to the nearest pharmacy, which in some cases may be many kilometres away. However, the most common basic drugs against headaches, fevers and car sickness will help to keep you healthy and to avoid giving up even one day of your holiday.
11. Always check camping timetables
If you have never been to a campsite before, please note that you must complete the same check-in procedures as in a normal hotel in order to enter. The difference is that most campsites do not allow this at night or during lunchtime.
Always check at which hours you can access the campsite: alternatively, you can always stay nearby with you camper and start enjoying your camper holiday, while waiting for the employees to return to work.
12. Protect yourself and your camper from insects
When it comes to the insects, are you scared of them? Get used to them. You’re leaving for a camper holiday, not for a stay in a 5-star resort! You’ll find ants, flies and mosquitoes everywhere, but you don’t have to live in close contact with them.
Make sure your camper is equipped with mosquito nets and, as soon as the sun goes down, remember to close the doors, windows and portholes.
Keeping your camper and all its surroundings clean, avoiding scattering crumbs everywhere and leaving food residue around, will be enough to keep ants away.
13. Schedule at least a few nights of free parking
A camper holiday is not a dream one unless you spend at least a few nights in free standing. Falling asleep under the stars in complete solitude and waking up in front of a dawn that seems to be there just for you, is priceless. And after all, to be honest, you have chosen this type of holiday for this too.
Sleeping in a free-space area is possible, as long as you pay attention to a few small things and do not underestimate safety aspects. But we think of everything and we have prepared all the necessary advice for a free night’s rest for you. Read this article carefully and live this adventure without worries!
14. Avoid high season
Okay, this is a bit of a foregone conclusion and you may not always be able to choose your holiday period. But if you can do it, follow this advice. During high season, the tourist services always lose some of their initial quality. Often the inhabitants of the areas stormed by visitors, stressed by the abnormal influx of people, can’t fully demonstrate their courtesy and the widespread sense of hospitality that characterizes our country.
If your boss only gave you vacation in August though, don’t worry. A camper holiday allows you to escape from the most crowded places and you will have no difficulty in finding that little beach unknown to everyone or that completely uninhabited valley.
15. Respect the traffic and camper code
The fact that you travel with a beast of a few tons doesn’t make you the owner of the road. In addition to the traffic code, which imposes safety belts on all passengers when travelling, it also respects that unwritten code which all respectable camper owners adhere to.
While driving, don’t make abrupt lane changes, respect the speed limits and if you realize you have created a long line behind you, pull over and let the cars pass
If you are staying in city centres, make sure that parking is allowed and avoid parking at shops and monuments. If you decide to stay outside the city, check that the land isn’t private property and, if so, ask for permission. You will hardly be denied it.
In any case, respect your camper neighbours. A camper holiday means peace and freedom for everyone, so don’t park too close to other vehicles. Keep the music quiet and, if you’re travelling with a pet, make sure it doesn’t curl up right on your neighbour’s mat.
Now that you know everything, you’re ready for your first camper holiday. All you have to do is fill up and leave for your new adventure. Have a good trip!