Planning the Trip


Information Shared ~

This is Bixie; our home for three months as we travel around Europe.We were in Melrose in the Scottish Borders for Christmas 2012 and were very fortunate to meet several fellow campers with a wealth of experience in European travel who were willing to share their knowledge.

We learnt about the French Motorway Tolls and Sanef Tolling UK. We obtained a telepeage tag which enable UK motorists to use the automatic telepeage / tag lanes, which have previously been reserved for French residents. We found this service to be invaluable as we toured around, allowing us fast track lanes through tolls with payments being billed monthly and paid by direct debit. We met many campers who avoid tolls wherever possible but as this was our first trip we chose to use motorways. 

In France, where a stretch of road has a toll, there must be an alternative parallel toll-free road. It may not be in as good a state of repair, though.

LPG:  Propane bottles as we know them in the UK are not easily obtainable in France. That's OK if you start with two full bottles for a trip of a few weeks (in Spring / Summer) but might be a risk for greater journeys.  We learnt about the Gaslow system which provides gas bottles refillable at petrol stations. Many of these have autogas (called GPL in France). We installed a 2 - 11kg bottle gas system in our motor caravan and we found it particularly easy to fill. Autogas / GPL is much cheaper than Calor bottles, both here and on the continent. Many filling stations in the UK also have autogas.

Camping Cheque and Camping Card ACSI:  

Camping Cheque provides a prepaid means of obtaining a fixed campsite nightly rate of €15.00 (paid in £'s - about £13.95), in low season,  ~ usually up to June and after September, for pitch, 2 adults and at least 1 dog. Opening an account online is simple. There are 3 options for buying camping cheques but we found loading on to a gold camping cheque card was most effective. These can be loaded online and can be done during your travels (with internet connection) whereas paper cheques need to be purchased and received at home before you leave.  When you check in at the participating campsite, most do, state you have a camping cheque card, then use it to pay for your stay on checkout. Everything is then done electronically.

Camping Card ACSI is a low season discount card which comes as part of the two-volume camping site directory published annually by Vicarious Books. There is also an online website and smart phone app to help you find participating campsites around Europe. ACSI members enjoy a fixed rate for pitch and 2 adults and dog of €16.00.

We found we made considerable savings using both of these. 


On the continent there are many Aires which provide free pitches for motorhomes in or near villages and on motorways. Vicarious Books publish guides of these - click the link for more information.

The camping community:

Wherever we go in our motor caravan, we meet many nice people who are willing to help in any situation and who are a great source of information. For our part we want to recripocate. Now that we have have gained a little bit of experience we are happy to pass on our wisdom. No one knows everything; we rarely leave a place without having learnt something.

Car & Trailer:

Taking the car with you when touring in your motorhome is a great advantage. There are three ways to do this; drive the car (not the best option as you then have the fuel for both to pay for, tow the car using an A-Frame or tow it on a trailer. We seriously considered an A-Frame but there is a risk of being stopped in some countries and being told to decouple. 

We found that towing the car on its trailer is not very demanding, provided you keep in mind the total train length, but having the car 🚗 available to tour around is an amazing advantage. We met so many people who were packing the motorhome every morning so that they could spend the day touring, then returning to their pitch late afternoon. We prefer the freedom of use of the car.

Where to go?:

We always knew we wanted to tour around France and as this was our very first European adventure we did not want to leave everything to chance - arriving at campsites without any booking, for instance.  On the other hand we did not want to restrict ourselves to a fixed plan and a fixed route; after all the whole point of touring, to us, is that you can wake up in the morning and decide whether you want to stay, move on, and if so, which direction you fancy going; follow the sun, in fact.


Give me a beach, anywhere!

So we needed a loose plan and general direction at the conceptual stage. Of course, we had specific dates for Eurotunnel - 19th April out and 30th June back. That would give us a week to meander down the east side of England - staying at York, then Cambridge and finally Folkestone for a couple of days at each. On the way back, we had two weeks to travel back up the west side of England, perhaps see some of Wales and the Lakes. 

In planning, we wanted to ensure that we did not travel for more than two - three hours between campsites. In the main we achieved that, with one or two exceptions!

In the detailed planning, we identified possible campsites in France following a route that would take us through Normandy, down the Loire Valley by the end of April. After that, we would decide what's next. However, our ultimate objective was to reach the Mediterranean where we wanted to spend a few weeks enjoying the sun, the sea, the restaurants and the views. A friend of ours in Scotland had told us about Port Grimaud, sometimes referred to as Little Venice. We had visited it some years back while staying in Sainte Maxime, near Saint Tropez. What an idealic spot for our trip. Before we left, we did book Camping Club Holiday Marina for a week from 12th - 19th May. So we had three fixed points built into the tour.

Plenty of time to wander, who knows where!

© Homer Lindsay 2013, 2014, 2015