Tomorrow is the start of our 3-week camper vanning #roadtrip around France and Switzerland. We’re hoping to make a few stops: Normandy, Le Mans, Loire Valley, Lyon, Annecy and Bern – and possibly a few other places in-between.
But who would have thought packing for a camper vanning trip to Europe would be harder than planning what to take on a round-the-world trip. My other half is somewhat of a camper van veteran, however #newbie here, is learning fast. Here are my top five tips:
1) Firstly, buy this clever book: (pictured above) All the Aires of France 4th Edition: featuring road-side low-cost campervan spots. Naturally, campsites will have better facilities but these are great for in-between stops. Some of these are lovely little spots, outside churches and near village greens. It will save you £££. Remember, find shelter before dark, otherwise things can get a little complicated. (Aires guides on other European countries are also available.)
2) Make a Den: Never underestimate how cold the evenings will be. You might be in a camper van but you’re still camping. Throw in extra blankets, some thermals, thick socks, woolly hat and a hot water bottle. And, well, make a den. Litter your bed with blankets, cushions and consider rigging up a make-shift canopy using a blanket to pitch above your heads – think mosquito net but with a woolly blanket instead of netting. Make sure you can breathe. And whatever you do, don’t eat bean stew the day before.
3) Portable Entertainment: This is for when your chat’s run dry and you’re both staring into mid-distance wondering whether you should make a wigi board out of a cereal box. If you have somewhere to lock valuables, consider taking a portable DVD player or laptop with you so you can watch movies on rainy days or when you’re camped up somewhere remote. We’re taking The Shinning along with a host of other camping-friendly options.
4) The Campervan Larder: Buy yourself some sandwich bags and take with you a handful of all your favourites: pumpkin seeds, nuts, basmati rice, stock cubes, spices, sea salt, pepper. And pack a few perishables to plug the gaps: canned beans, soups, cereal bars, hot chocolate, tea, dried fruit and nuts, and of course, some Champagne truffles. Standard.
5) Frills and trills: You’ll be spending a lot of time in the camper so my motto is, don’t forget the fairy lights. Of course you don’t want to overload the camper with too much weight, reducing your speed to 40 mph. But brining a few extras will give it a special touch: folding chair, cooler, cushions, colourful tablecloth, throws and cushions, guitar and fairy lights.