Guide to traveling in ‘camper’ for the first time


It is normal for doubts to arise if you have never traveled in a ‘campervan’, but the comfort and equipment on board a vehicle with these characteristics are like those of an apartment

The ‘motorhome’ has become the best ally for a weekend away. Goodbye stress, crowds, schedules… you just need to know where to go. Although first of all you have to understand that the ‘motorhome’ is a van that incorporates all the necessary elements inside and out to be able to use it as a house, normally
approved for 2 or maximum 4.

But you also have to take into account the special features to travel safely, avoid fines and other types of accidents. It is essential to be aware of the existence of blind spots, which are much larger in vehicles of this size. Therefore, if it is your first time driving this type of vehicle or if you are inexperienced, you should practice some maneuvers before starting a drive, such as parking, reversing and sharp turning as they are more complicated.

And the rules on the road are the same as in a conventional vehicle. Passengers must travel with a seat belt, children less than 1.35 meters tall in a child restraint system (seat or booster), and pets in a travel basket (immobilized) or with an appropriate harness. Even that food and hygiene products, as well as clothing and toys, among other items you travel with, should be
safely transported in cabinets and compartmentsto prevent all these objects from being thrown in the event of a collision or sudden manoeuvre.

Trips in ‘camper’ are usually very intense, as they can be many hours of driving, make many stops and miscalculate the arrival times at the final destination, with the problem that it is done at night, not quite knowing where to sleep and to find lost yourself a bit at some point. The recommendation from the Roadsurfer experts is: «You plan the route you will travel from day to day, research the areas you will visit and the place where you will spend the night with your ‘motorhome’. It is important to have a mapped out route, but also to have some optional plans in case a problem or unforeseen event arises».

If this is your first time traveling in a ‘motorhome’ you should:
take into account a number of factors. Do not camp the motorhome on slopes or slightly sloping areas as this can cause sleeping problems. When looking for the ideal place to spend the night, for example, you should try to find it under a tree, as this will help avoid the cold, especially on autumn nights. Also avoid parking near lakes or rivers, as it is colder in humid areas and there are mosquitoes.

At this point it is vital to know the difference between camping and staying overnight. Free camping is prohibited in Spain, as the camping areas are reserved for that purpose. It is assumed that you are camping when some elements of the motorhome protrude from the vehicle, such as the awning and the tilt and turn windows; or if we use tables and chairs outside. Also when performing actions that may cause discomfort, such as cooking. Likewise, it is not recommended to spend the night in highway or highway service areas to avoid noise and theft.

In a ‘motorhome’ space is limited, so organization in choosing the clothes and accessories needed during the trip is essential. According to Roadsurfer “it’s ideal not to take extra things with you, so that they don’t take up more space. Little by little you know what you need and what you don’t need, it’s normal for this to happen on the first trip with your motorhome.”

It is of course essential to always have universal chargers with you, in case you need to charge the devices outside the motorhome, an external battery and personal hygiene items, as well as a small first aid kit.

In a ‘camper’ like the Volkswagen California it’s like being in an apartment. It has a kitchen with a gas hob with two burners, a stable top that can be used as a work surface, a 42 liter fridge cooled by the built-in compressor and a module with three storage compartments.

For example, not all hotels have two large beds and a sea view. In this camper you can fold down the rear seat and make it a spacious bed, or use the ‘bedroom’ that remains after raising the roof. There, the front part of the pop-up roof can be opened to create a panoramic window. With its large space of course. Inside is a collapsible storage box – above the back of the sofa – and a two-piece built-in cupboard. Although you should not sin as a rookie. Only necessary clothing should be worn. Campsites usually have laundries where you can wash your clothes and that saves space in the camper.

Finally, the California has everything you need to sit back and enjoy breakfast by the sea or dinner under the stars. ‘Hide’ two seats in the tailgate and a table in the opening side door panel. Very easy to install and store without taking up any living space.

The motorhomes have two batteries, one for the ‘housing’ and one for the engine. The sockets are 12 volts – enough to charge the phone with USB outlets – but if a conventional plug is needed, it is necessary to connect it to the network or start the engine.

Camping outside designated areas, such as campsites, can lead to a heavy fine – on the beach, for example, it amounts to 1,500 euros. However, more and more rural homes are aware of the campervan public and are setting up spaces on their farms, with power outlets and access to bathrooms.

The authorities tolerate very little waste, both solid and liquid, and can only dispose of it in certain areas: at a campsite or in some service points along the highway. The fine for deliberately dumping it can be up to 3,000 euros.

While it is always necessary to use common sense, it should be known that removing chairs or awnings in unauthorized areas can lead to a small fine (up to 750 euros), while damaging city furniture or hindering the traffic can be as high as 3,000.

The required document to travel outside of Spain is the European Health Card. The contact number from abroad of the insurance must also be kept. In addition, it is important to know the toll rates/duty of the country’s badge to travel, as well as the emission zones.

You do not need a special driving license to travel. Most motorhomes and motorhomes weigh less than 3,500 kilograms and can therefore be driven with a B driving license for tourism. If they exceed this category, you will need the B96 or the B+E -depending on the weight- or the C1.

Source: La Verdad


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