A few tips

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.

Sick Notes
Goodnight Dear
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)
The Crew
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.

Fresh Water

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.


6 Responses to A few tips

  1. Trevor Sutton says:

    What communication package did you get for travelling round Europe – Internet and phone?

    We are looking to go travelling around Europe ourselves for our trip of a lifetime. Leaving in a couple of weeks.

    What was involved in setting your blog up?

    • Bit of a moot point – Trench WiFi is uselless however here tonight in Spain I have a choice of four good internet connections…

      Currently awaiting delivery of a Huawei (spell) MiFi unit and will report on its success as soon as I can.

      McDonalds can give you a free hook up and some campsite have it but only near the club bar. Its looking like the MiFi thing is the option to be honest but I will report after I use it.

      Setting up a wordpress account and site is dead easy – it must be as I managed it. If you need any pointers as you go just let me know!

  2. Paul Carr says:

    For your information and you may not be aware, if you have an iPad or kindle and able to get wifi
    You can get tv programmes by signing up ( just an email and password I think ) to tvcatchup, I use it all the time in the uk, except at caravan club sites who haven’t moved to the 21st century yet, uhmm, hope this is of use to anyone ( no tv required ).

  3. ron & clare says:

    hi paul and alisonfound your great site and wondered if i could ask you a question regarding our colypso only had her four weeks but loving it same model and year as yours but no hand books frustrating ” question is does your caly charge your leasure battery from your alternator mine isnt cant find any details ,if yours does i may have a wiring fault any ideas would be great many thanks ron & clare

    • Believe it or not I am not sure. Its never ended up flat although weve never left it stood long enough to cause a problem. I will look in the brochure tomorrow.

    • I misread your question. The vehicle should charge the leisure battery via the alternator. There is a fuse next to the battery in the front. Mine stopped charging once as the fuse blew. Have look and if you are unsure then message me your phone number and I wwill talk you through it.

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