Last summer we started our first real roadtrip towards south-east europe. We drove from Germany over Czech Republic and lake balaton to croatia and then down the coast to Montenegro and Albania. Our small old Ford Escort convertible has always been a loyal campanion. In this post we want to share the most important things you need to mind when planning your roadtrip.
1. Important things before you start
Prepare your car:
Before you can start your journey you need to make sure that everything works on your car so that you won’t experience a nasty experience on the trip. At least one week before your trip carry out any necessary repairs. It’s also important to check and refill oil and disc wiping water. Also control the tire pressure.
Organize necessary documents:
Depending on what countries you want to travel inform about necessary documents to enter by car. In some countries you might need to show the cars’ insurance card at the border or you might need a specific environmental badge. Make sure that you have your travel insurance and passport ready as well.
Pack the car:
Start early thinking about what things you might need during the trip. Depending on the fact if you want to do camping or sleep in hotels you might need more or less space in the car. Clearly think about what you really need and renounce unimportant stuff. Believe me,your car will get fuller and fuller during the journey be it for lots of souvenirs and food or unefficent repacking of the car. You need to note as well which things you might need the most. Pack them either in the front of the car or easily accessiblein the back.
Depending on your favorite way of travelling you might either want to sleep in a tent, in hotels or homestays or even in your car. If you decide for camping you can either stay on camping sites or do wild camping (read more here). You can find camping sites and parking spaces with apps or camping guide books. They mostly contain the prices and also the facilities the place has to offer. If you are a bit flexible you don’t need to reserve them in advance, just go there in the afternoon or early evening and ask for a free camping space. When deciding for hotels or guesthouses I’d recommend you to book some days in advance e.g. via booking.com. Especially in south-east and east europe rooms in guesthouses are sometimes even cheaper than some camping sites. Note that the popular accomodations might be booked up early in peak season. But don’t worry you will always find a free room somewhere. While our roadtrip we did a combination of both accomodation types. We carried a tent and other camping stuff with us and mostly slept on camping sites. But especially in Albania and Montenegro where rooms are quiet cheap and camping sites are rare we often slept in guesthouses or simple hotels as well. We have to admit that we liked the camping better. We liked the feeling of beeing in nature all the time and waking up to the best views.
3. Wild camping - legal situation in Europe
Wild camping refers to camping at locations not specifically designated for this. This topic is strictly regulated in all countries but the specific rules and laws differ in the different countries.
No matter in which country you are to do wild camping, always make sure to collect all your waste when leaving aand be respectful with nature!
In Germany wild camping is generally prohibited. Nevertheless it is legal to sleep in your car or camper for no longer than one night in a parking lot. That should serve to restore the fitness for driving and should not be for longer than 10 hours. Furthermore you are not allowed to put out camping chairs or even to do a barbeque. Otherwise camping for longer than one night or with tents is only legal on privae ground if the owner agrees.
In Austria the legality of wild camping depends on the state you are in. In the states Burgenland, Kärnten and Niederösterreich. In the state Oberösterreich it is allowd to camp with a tent in the alpine wasteland above the tree line. In the state Steiermark it is also allowed camp at least for one night at alpine wasteland if you leave no traces. In the other parts of Austria the approval of the mayor of the municipality is required.
In France wild camping is generally prohibited. Especially at the coast line there are strict regulations. Nevertheless it is legal to sleep in your car or camper for no longer than one night in a parking lot.
In Switzerland wild camping is overall legal on maddows and in forests except from nationalparcs and nature reserves.
In Sweden and Norway wild camping is legal. At least for one night you can camp nearly everywhere. You can even camp on private property as long as you are out of sight of the owner. This rule is only for walkers or bikers with tents. When travelling with a car or campervan you can only stand on parking lots, at the street or at the beach. In Finland camping on private Property is allowed but at the street or on parking lots it is prohibited.
Wild camping is prohibited in Denmark.
In Italy wild camping is prohibited as well. Camping is only allowed on private Property with the permission of the owner.
In Slowenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Mazedonia and Albania wild camping is strictly prohibited.
Spain and Portugal:
In Portugal wild camping is prohibited by law. In spain you can do wild camping with a permission of the local office. Yet it is important not to camp in residential areas, at the beach or closer than 1000 meters to a camping site. Furthermore it is prohibited to camp on one place for more than 3 nights.
Great Britain and Ireland:
In Scottland wild camping is legal. In England, Wales and Ireland wild camping is prohibited but in remote areas and along distance footpaths it is tolerated.