Each year we expect most of Europe to be some what over run with British campervans and motorhomes. No more so than the past few years, following the large uptake in the hobby by both British and Europeans. Yet, nothing could be further from the reality, which leaves us wondering – what happened to Brits abroad and where are they?
It seems that so many people, many now want a slice of freedom – that life on the open road. However, despite us spending many months travelling in Europe, we hardly see any Brits abroad. So where exactly are they?
Do they not venture that far from home? Possibly many British prefer to drive and travel in the UK. Maybe they just head for the same destination or do they stay on campsites, where we just don’t get to see them?
A few Winters’ back, we toured the coast of Southern Spain. We couldn’t help but notice the vast numbers of campervans filling the Costa’s – it was an incredible sight, if not a bit overcrowded! The campsites were all full and private camper stops were overflowing onto the side roads.
Many sites were booked up until the end of the Winter season. For many motorhome owners, they just had to park up wherever and however they could.
Not realising that you could book many camperstops in advance, we also ended up stuck for a place to park. It was no surprise, that hundreds of others were in the same situation.
Glancing through the pages of social media, the increase in campervan and motorhome ownership seems to be at an all time high.
There are so many reasons to pack up the day job and turn to buying that dream van. Many people are wanting to begin travels which they’ve craved for so long. Many are even now opting to sell everything for a permanent life on the road.
Add to this, the many Facebook groups which have sprung up in recent years. Here thousands of followers and topics have amounted to a mass of information overload – some good, some bad.
It seems that most of Great Britain has taken the plunge into the world of vanlife, motorhomes and campervans!
Venturing across the Channel for the start of a Summer tour of Italy. To be honest because of the popularity of motorhome life, we imagined being joined by a mass of GB number plates.
We Imaginined a large selection of British campervans and motorhomes in all shapes and sizes. So just how did we get on?
It started out promising enough. After parking at one of our favourite Aires in Brugges, we counted several GB stickers.
These were proudly attached to an array of vans. The British were venturing into Europe, we were now not alone, or so we thought! It looked so promising.
Travelling on through Germany, the trail became less and less. We took a 3-day stop at the biggest off road overland truck show in the world – The Abenteuer and Allrad .
Here, we discover several British enthusiasts. Many were 4×4 overland vehicle owners. Others being potential buyers of the big truck market.
Parking amongst the incredible overland vehicles at Bad Kissingen, it was interesting to engage in conversation with some fellow travellers.
As our Sprinter wheels drove on through the neighbouring countries of Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein, our destination of Italy came closer.
By this stage, we’d lost sight of fellow GB stickers. Instead we found ourselves alone – on the great roads of Europe.
Despite a 9 week trip, covering many of the tourist hotspots of Northern Italy, we struggled to spot other British motorhomes.
This had us thinking, if social media pages are correct and so many campervan-mad enthusiasts have taken up the hobby – where is everyone going? Is the reality that most people don’t venture too far from home?
Perhaps the choose to stay in Britain. Maybe they travel a short distance into France, especially in the early days of owning a motorhome.
Maybe Spain is both a Summer hotspot as well as the main Winter getaway?
Has the traditional British holidaymaker made the transition into the motorhome world instead of flying to the Spanish coast?
Maybe people buy a campervan now instead of a holiday apartment in the sun.
Whatever the reason for a lack of British company on our Summer travels, those lovely British people that we did encounter were a pleasure to speak to.
The opportunity to travel across these amazing European countries is a privilege. One that we feel very fortunate to enjoy.
Whilst there may have been a shortage of fellow countrymen to exchange conversation with, we certainly met some wonderful people from other various nationalities.
Australians, Germans, Dutch and Italians – to name a few. Aren’t people generally always friendly, interesting and welcoming?
For example, one of our first stops in Germany, saw us welcomed by our neighbours. An elderly German couple, soon providing us with a selection of cold meats to try with our lunch.
As language barriers were broken down by polite gestures. A mix of broken English and odd German school words helped us communicate.
On another occasion, after a day hiking in the glacial valley North of Lake Garda, we parked up at an overnight wild camping spot.
Soon we were joined by a young German couple in their VW campervan. The previous occupants had already built a campfire which was lit. So we settled down to a memorable evening under the stars before being joined by our neighbours.
Talking into the small hours over a few beers in the warm glow of the embers, the conversation flowed. All thanks to their near perfect English.
Later on in the trip we accidentally got talking to an Australian couple. Then after enjoying an interesting conversation, we recommended them to try our local Welsh mountain bike trails and campsites. A few weeks later, they’d indeed headed up to North Wales and taken us up on our recommendations.
Finally, on arrival at a Stellplatz stop, in a German vineyard, our fellow neighbours were sat out under the awning. They soon invited us over to sample the wine that they’d just bought from the local vineyard.
Happily supplying us with the local tipple and exchanging tales of adventures that they soon hope to have. One trip involving shipping their campervan to Canada is one we also hope to do.
Language, as we so often find, is no barrier among those with the same interests. Ambition for travel in the campervan or motorhome is just infectious.
Last but not least, we did engage in a very lovely conversation with an English lady at Gravelines. This was our last Aire before the morning ferry from Calais.
Talking for some time about the joys of campervan travel and his amazing way of seeing the world.
We’d come full circle. Finally, we’d once again found a fellow Brit abroad! Above all, we’d all enjoyed the delights of Europe and all it has to offer.
Who knows, maybe next time we will get to find more British travellers. If we see you, please do pop over and say hello!
We love to compare travel notes and hear a friendly British voice wherever we are in the world!
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