Planning overland camping holidays is an exciting but tricky business. The sheer amount of variables involved makes any kind of certainty a luxury you probably won’t experience. But then again, the fact you’re choosing to camp on an overland journey means luxury might not be high on your list of priorities.
Overland camping holidays can be some of the most rewarding you’ll ever experience but they can also quickly go wrong. In order to prevent your trip becoming a holiday from hell, you need to do some planning. But before you start planing check with the UK Foreign Office for current travel advice to your intended destination.
10 tips for planning overland camping holidays
1. Don’t plan too much
Give yourself some generous boundaries for all your experiences and accept that things probably won’t go exactly as you expected. The more work you do planning overland camping holidays, the more there is to go wrong.
2. Aim to arrive before it gets dark
Doing anything in the dark is more difficult, especially putting up tents. Arrive in plenty of time to get the camp sorted and watch the sunset.
3. Cover the ground at night
This only really applies in developed countries where you can trust the road and it’s safe to travel at night. But, if there’s a few of you and you’ve got some big distances to travel then drive in shifts through the night. Not only can you reach a destination far quicker, but you save on camping fees and have the day to explore.
Remember always stay safe behind the wheel, having two awake at any time is ideal and take regular breaks. The downside of travelling at night is you will miss the discoveries that are not in the guide book, the views are not that great either.
4. Discover more on local roads
If you’ve got the time, take the road less travelled. Motorways are great for covering the ground but rarely offer any views other than tarmac and the occasional bridge.
5. Ensure you’re insured
Even the best-laid plans go to waste. So get insurance to prevent a minor mishap becoming a major disaster. That includes breakdown cover and getting specialist insurance for whatever vehicle you’re driving – Shield Total Insurance are a good bet for motorhomes.
6. Budget for border crossings
The freedom of movement within the EU has made some European travellers complacent. Remember that borders are a serious business and the more remote you are, the longer they take to get across.
7. Know the local laws
This specifically applies to driving but has wider applications on overland trips. Falling foul of some disgruntled, power mad local cop for a minor infringement usually costs time and money, the AA has a great resource about driving in European countries.
8. Know the law about sleeping in your vehicle
At best, spending the night in the car is uncomfortable but necessary. At worst you get woken up by the sound of a truncheon tapping the glass. This is swiftly followed by a similar scenario to that in tip number 7 above.
9. Change it up
A great way of saving money is to alternate staying in legitimate campsites with some creative accommodation choices. Just make sure you’re not stepping on anyone’s toes. Some small businesses don’t take kindly to travellers kipping in their car parks. Then again, some don’t mind and will even let you use the facilities if you ask nicely.
10. Don’t bite off more than you can chew
It’s not worth getting obsessed with distances. OK, if you’ve got a boat/plane/train to catch then you need to make it in good time. But covering ground for the sake of it means you’ll miss out on the best bits of overlanding.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of tips for planning overland camping holidays. There’s plenty of other inside information and experience you could benefit from. But then discovering that for yourself is all part of the fun. For now, stick to the above and you should be fine.