We are by no means experts but with many odd nights and weekends away here and there and a month long stint in Portugal in September 2010 we have learnt a few tricks along the way. Even so there are a few things we’ve picked up on whilst away this time. The following website shows a table of how much fuel is in each country http://www.fuel-prices-europe.info/ It should stop you doing what I did when we arrived in Italy – thinking that fuel on the French side of the alps was dear at 1.44 a litre I got into Italy with absolutely no diesel. Diesel there was 1.89 a litre at the time!
I said I would share the odd ‘top tip’ with you here and there – some are a little tongue in cheek and some are hopefully genuinely useful! I will leave you to decide which are which.
Some tips we have learnt along the way:
Communication and ‘Media’
28/05/2013 – A bit of an update on the Huawei dongle…
This is simply a ‘must have’ for anyone who wants any internet whilst touring in Europe – our European cousins have very poor and limited WiFi so you NEED this. I have used it in the following countries and I have listed the ‘local’ SIM card supplier and my experience.
Portugal/Vodafone/10 Euros for ten hours – great coverage
France/SFR/25 Euros for 60 hours/Superb so far (going back into north soon)
Italy/3/5 Euros for 15 hours/OK at first in south and then hopeless
Italy/WIND/20 Euros for 50 hours/Superb (so far)
(return to) France/3/9 Euros for little more than two hours (so EXPENSIVE!)
On retuning to the UK I have bought a 3 card from Argo’s for £20 – obviously we arent using it much but I reckon we should get months out of it. I’ll keep you posted
As we are travelling again I have a couple of additions to the WiFi list
Netherlands – we didn’t bother with a WiFi card due to our short stay but the campsite had free WiFi, as have a couple of other sites on the way.
Germany/O2/10 Euros for a months use (1 GB I think) and whilst we got no signal in Ingolstadt, a large town/city we did fine near the Austrian border.
Austria – again we didn’t bother but the farmyard ‘aire’ had good free internet access.
Slovenia – we used the campsite WiFi as we knew they had it in advance
Croatia/VIP/Equiv £11 for one months access – the campsite has WiFi but at £10 a 24 hour session they can poke that where the sun don’t shine – its only £15 to stay the night so £10 for internet is scandalous.
My, we have moved on somewhat! Since arriving here we have made a couple of purchases to improve our internet and communications. Firstly I bought a Huawei MiFi dongle from Amazon and had my daughter bring it out to us – it allows us internet pretty much anywhere via a ‘Vodaphone’ card fitted into an unlocked ‘3’ dongle – it was £70 and is great for accessing internet from your own little WiFi station (up to five devices from one dongle) where no other WiFi exists. The top up card is 10 euros and lasts three months/ten hours. We use ‘Skype’ to ring the UK now – sometimes with ‘video’ so we can see our callers and they us!
WiFi on the beach!
Alison brought a ‘Kindle’ (a gift from work colleques) out with her so that she wouldnt need to lug dozens of books. Its so good that I have now bought one (Amazon again and this time brought out by our fellow ‘in laws’). Mine is the 3G version allowing even further internet wifi usage. I gave up reading books ages ago as I could never read the print and/or needed a 2KW floodlight behind me to se the damn thing. I am now into my 9th book. We both get the same books as each other as the account is in one name and we get the ‘daily paper’ electronically now also.
Here’s a bit of a list of some of the books we both enjoyed whilst away.
I’d Rather Starve
An Idiot Abroad
Uneasy Rider – by Allie Sommerville
We both shared the above books, the following are some that I read
Pies and Prejudice (Stuart Maconie)
Hope and Glory (Stuart Maconie again)
Alison managed over 30 books and I about half that figure but given I havent read a book in ages it was a good result.
Aire and Site Recommendations
If someone tells you about an Aire (or place) that they have visited and it was all good then go with it! We were told about the Aire at Almeida by Mal and Pat when we bumped into them in Valladolid and they told us about it. We took the directions from them and here we are now – its wonderful!
Here they are a few weeks ago!
And us this week! Thanks again Mal and Pat.
Never pass up an opportunity to fill up with clean water – even if you think the place you are going will have it. Your plans can change, and you end up stopping somewhere where that last top up would be welcome. Likewise – if you get the chance to dump your grey waste – although not likely to cause you as much bother. It sounds a little obvious but we bumped into a Dutch guy who had completely run out and begudged paying the 2 euros for a ‘Jeton’ to fill up.
Another water tip…
Leave some water out in the sun – at the end of many days you will have water suffieciently warm enough to wash in – or at very least well on it way to being boiled which can save yo a fair amount of gas (UK propane is hard to source here so you need to use it wisely)
The telly etc
One is the adaptation of our cheap and cheerful inverter unit – by wiring a two pin plug onto it and doubling up that plug with a (once again cheap and cheerful) satellite dish system we can watch the (mains/240v) telly from the ‘leisure’ battery electrics. I’m not sure how long we will get out of it, as we haven’t run it for very long yet, but its usefull nonetheless. Theres no danger of draining the system too low as the inverter has an alarm to tell you when you have run the battery down too low.
That same simple satellite dish provides us with a signal for all evening long TV (should we really need it) when we are hooked up to a 240v supply.
We have learnt to never move off from a site with electricity without ensuring that absolutely everything is charged up fully – after all you don’t know where your next ‘240 volts’ are coming from!
As a result you end up with an early morning scene like this…
…and that’s not even everything that we own that is re-chargeable! It just goes to show how reliant on gadgets we have become – even when ‘camping’!
EDIT 10/06/12 – Most of the above advice on electrics and telly can now be ignored as we have had a solar panel fitted! Fed up of flat leisure batteries and trying to charge stuff on the go. The panel now allows us lots more freedom regarding where we stay. I recommend a panel to anyone considering a trip like this.