Over the last 5 years the number of van lifers on the road has surged; more and more people are taking to the alternate method of travelling and enjoying the benefits, especially the freedom it has to offer.
Anyone can enjoy an alternative holiday, and traveling with a campervan provides a unique adventure for everyone, even if you’ve not had any experience before. We see all kinds of people from different ages and backgrounds on the road from all corners of Europe.
We would recommend the experience of travelling and living in a campervan to anyone, and you don’t even need to own a campervan to do it!
Whether you may be thinking of doing van life full time or just want a short break alternative to a package holiday, you can try it by renting your own campervan!
In this article we'll show you the best place to rent a campervan and a few examples of great routes you could take. We picked Barcelona as a good starting point because it's a cheap and convenient place to fly to with lots of services available to start your trip, it's one of our favourite Mediterranean cities with gorgeous attractions, and of course the weather is very reliable (guaranteed sun most of the year!).
1. Rent A Campervan
Spain is by far the most beautiful and accommodating country to campervans we’ve visited so far, it’s a real adventure and we know a great campervan rental company in Barcelona.
Vantrip have a fleet of brand new campervan conversions of all sizes and they’re super comfy (see some pics below of our favourites!) We’d recommend 2 weeks in a Large Volume XL… it’s got everything including a kitchen, shower, toilet and bags of space, but they have more compact options too if you’re not comfortable driving a full size campervan.
Interior of the Large Volume XL +4 Squares
Exterior of the Large Volume XL
Exterior of Volkswagen California T6
Exterior of Ford Custom
All you need to do is book your flight to Barcelona (check out SkyScanner for cheap flights), then when you get to the airport, Vantrip can arrange for your van to be ready for pickup…. no need to worry about transportation, hotels, restaurants etc, you can be fully self-sufficient in your van and there’s no limits to what you can explore!
You can check out the website for Vantrip at https://www.vantrip.es/en/.
2. Pick A Trail
Van life is all about discovery, so you shouldn’t plan too much, although its still good to have a general idea of what direction to head in!
We’ve pinned one of our favourite ‘Mediterranean Trails’ trails that can be achieved in 2 weeks, taking you through Spain, France and Italy.
- Barcelona – Our favourite city in Spain, check out the Grand Familiar, La Rambla and the beach!
- Figueres – The town the famous artist Salvador Dali grew up in, check out the Dali Museum as well as the beautiful surrounding town.
- Montpellier – Beautiful taste of the south of France, check out the Fabre Museum, Promenade de Peyrou and Montpellier Cathedral
- Nice – Wonderful French city along the French Riviera and popular with artists.
- Genoa – A rustic city along the Italian riviera, Genoa will give you an honest feel of Italy.
- Pisa – Famous for the ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’, also features some of the best Pizza restaurants in Italy.
- Florence – So much to explore, so be sure to take a few days here. Wonderful architecture especially the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, fantastic central food market.
- Rome – Speaks for itself, check out the coliseum, the many ancient ruins and the Vatican.
3. Important Things To Know
If you’ve never lived in a campervan before, here’s a list of the top things to know before exploring Spain and beyond.
- Parking – Download park4night, it’s a review-based app plotting all the best spots to park (including free aires) and lists the facilities they have to offer. Sleeping in your van in Spain is legal but camping behavior is not. This means generally you can park anywhere (without sign posted restrictions) as long as you don’t place your van on stabilisers or have anything outside the van i.e. awning, table, chairs etc. France and Italy are a little more strict but there are plenty of free Aires everywhere so we recommend sticking to them. If you are wild camping, check the local laws.
- Water – The tank should be full, but if you run out you can top up at an Aire, check park4night for locations with water, often these are free otherwise it’s just a few euros for 100l.
- Food – If you plan on self catering the first thing you should do is head to a supermarket, Aldi and Lidl are a staple across most of Europe. Be aware not to overbuy as your fridge will only house so much!
- Toilet/Waste – If you have these in your van, you may need to empty the toilet/waste tanks (usually takes us about a week before we have to empty), there are many free facilities to do this, just check park4night for a full list. Otherwise, make sure you’re close to toilet facilities.
- Electricity – Keep an eye on how much battery you have left, there are plenty of places listed on park4night where you can plug in and charge.
Finally, check out our articles here on living in a van. Feel free to contact us for any other questions relating to van life and we’ll be happy to help!
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