Though camping may conjure images of backcountry wilderness and pop-up tents, there is another way to go: van camping. This is an excellent way to see Germany (or Europe) on a budget.
For many of us, living in Germany meant a chance to to travel! Take a train to Paris, Berlin or Munich. Hop in the car for a short drive to Amsterdam, Prague or Brussels. Waltz away on a short flight to Barcelona, Stockholm or Rome. I mean, come on – this was supposed to be amazing!
Sadly, today’s travel is not what it used to be (thanks, Covid). Tests, masks, more tests and more masks, not to mention just being around all those other people!
Well, there is another way: Camping! No, camping in Germany is not quite the same as camping in the United States (pitching your tent on flat fields is no match for being among the trees in a state park), but it can still be a great way to see the country and all of its natural beauty, without having to deal with hotels and restaurants. Especially if you’re camping in a van!
Vans, camping, and gearDon’t worry if you don’t have your own camping equipment! If you are looking for van or RV rentals, try searching for “camper van rentals” in your area. If you want to give tent camping a shot, Pulaski, Baumholder and Ramstein Outdoor Rec all rent tents and other equipment. And some campgrounds also offer rentals themselves, including cabins.
As for where to go, there are a ton of drivable locations, from the Ostsee to the Nordsee, from the Eifel to the Mosel, from the Schwarzwald to the Alps, and even just within our own Rheinland-Pfalz. Natural beauty and camping abound. And that’s just in Germany! France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, and Austria all have gorgeous areas to visit, and all offer camping as an option.
Locating the right camping area for you
For help finding camping areas, try some of these sites:
- campinginfo.com – search by region, dates and type (RV or pitch)
- freecampsites.net – pan around a map, set filters and more
- freecamping.eu – download various apps for on-the-go searches
- park4night.com – more for van camping, personal postings & reviews
And yes, you read that correctly, some camping areas in Europe are actually free! Services are usually limited, of course, but you can’t argue with that price!
Who needs restaurants?
Another great benefit of camping is avoiding restaurants by packing and making your own meals! All you need is a cooler and all your meals are ready when you are! You might need to stop at a grocery store now and then, depending on how long you travel, but that’s no big deal.
Don’t forget about gas
Finally, if you are driving your own car, you probably want to use your ration gas card. To locate the nearest Esso gas station, no matter where you are, on the fly, check-out finditguide.com/esso-finder. Start with your current location, then pan the map around as you drive to update the list of stations in that area. Click any station to check their hours, services provided, and click the Get Directions button to start navigating! (Note that the Esso Finder is also part of the Find-It Guide app: iOS / Android)