Staying at Campgrounds Around the World
In Europe, campgrounds have been taken to a fine art. Europeans are great campers due to the frequency of hosting world wars that turn whole metropolises into instant tent cities.
One time when I was sleeping at campground near the Algarve beach in southern Portugal, I wake up to the sounds and delicious smells of activity, nearby. It was particularly the banging, ringing of metal hitting metal that got my attention.
I climb out of my tent and am instantly greeted by my French neighbors.
"Bon jour, monsieur! Would you care to join us for breakfast? I hope you are not wakened too early for by our preparations for a proper French breakfast?" asks the father.
I was, but who am I to complain…
I joined them. I'm completely taken by the tastes and smells of this astonishingly delicious culinary triumph. The crepes, the sausages, the fruit, the sauces, the coffee, the snails!?
"Snails for breakfast?" I ask.
"We're French. We can't help it!" replies the mother.
Not only is the food amazing (including the sautéed snails) so was their camping setup. One large tent for the parents, one large tent for the kids, and another large tent to eat in, table and chairs included.
Topping it all was an outside kitchen with three preparation tables, with small oven, propane grill and stove top. Above the tables were racks and for hanging a cooking utensils for brass ladles, large spoons, a whole set of knives, plus brass mixing bowls, all swaying in the breeze. It is a complete gourmet cooking kitchen, setup outdoors!
That was the source of banging sounds that woke me up.
The father is indeed a gourmet cook, who was talked into going camping by his family. He sure as hell was going to do it in style!
In Australia, the Backpacker
organization includes hostels, camping and bus transportation all around Australia
, with or without tours.
Some places in New Zealand almost demand car camping. It's easy to rent a purpose built camper van there. It usually comes with all the equipment you need to camp and cook on the road. Buy some groceries; and off you go.
There are several levels of camping with or without a car:
Camp without a vehicle. Use public transportation. This is extremely easy to do in Europe, where campgrounds are located in convenient places and almost always have a bus or tram stop near the entrance.
Check out the book "Camp Europe by Train" by Lenore Baken for ideas. When I was in Spain, I met people in the campgrounds, who were going to my next location. They gave me a ride and I helped with driving and gas expenses. It's a great way of seeing the countryside. (This was my way of traveling. Do this at your own risk.)
- Rent or buy a purpose built camper van. Return when done if rented, or store it friend's house or sell it. Google "Rent camper van in name of country" is the easiest way to find out information on camper vans.
- Rent a car and stay in camping bungalows. These are just like hotel rooms, only cozier. Most include kitchens.
- You can, also, buy camping equipment at your destination or bring your own.
I do this all the time. I bought my tiny tent for $40, an air mattress for $20 and a cheap sleeping bag for $40 and I'm ready to go.
- Buy your own vehicle and turn it into a homemade camper. Or buy someone else's vehicle that has just finished their trip. (This can be risky. Be sure to study up on it before proceeding. Check out eBook - Car Travel Camping Europe RV)
I purchased my 1959 VW from a VW dealer in Germany in the 1970s' and therefore had their skill and goodwill in guaranteeing the condition of my car.
I drove it all summer and had no problems. I sold it to a few Turkish workers in Germany for $100 less than what I bought it for. Great deal!
Informal camping (not in campgrounds) is OK in most of Europe. Check your guidebooks for details or just ask when you get there.
In Croatia I found many places to camp wild. After driving off the ferry at the island of Cres, I begin to climb the heavily forested mountain. Quickly, I am thousands of feet above the Mediterranean Sea, gazing over the island archipelago.
I feel like an airline pilot with a standard stick shift. I hope to God I don't drive off this cliff. Nobody's going to find my smashed up car down there.
As if on cue, a camper van rolls up and stakes its claim for the night in a parking lot space with a 270 degree view of the place.
I take note their use of local transportation (bikes) and an outdoor tented kitchen and dinette (rectangular box below the bikes.) These people are done traveling for the day.
Ten minutes later I begin to smell the results of their latest activity - making dinner - and it smells great. It's a little windy up here, but in the camper van, they take it all in style.
I am truly jealous.
I still have to find a place to sleep for the night, find dinner and take in the new view. That's going to take at least three more hours of driving, searching, finding, paying and then enjoying it all - the same thing they did in just ten minutes.
Damn! I have to try out camper vans.
Camping Europe - great websites:
Working at Campgrounds:
I did it in Spain and didn't have to pay to stay in the campground.
Camping Tip Websites:
Go to Hotel Prices - Great Deals on Lodging page
Here are some important lodging tips:
Go to the Page on Hotels
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