Check out our Customer Reviews about RVing in Europe, on which page
you can both read and post reviews.
your domestic drivers license
The minimum age limit for the motorhome and campervan rentals presented
by IdeaMerge depends on the vendor.
(Many vendors require that drivers have posssesed a valid domestic
drivers license for at least a year prior to the rental.)
In some cases there is a maximum age limit.
See the relevant Payments & Policies page.
Drivers must of course possess their valid domestic drivers license,
valid especially relative to the rated ("total permissible")
weight of the rental vehicle.
Most domestic drivers licenses suffice for operation of the vehicles presented on
the IdeaMerge Website. Relative to some
vehicle and rental country combinations, however, our online software will
rather precisely note to the user that this sufficiency is less common
(most notably relative to vehicles rated over 3500 kg rented in the
To research the limits associated with your drivers license, please
check the back of your license and visit the Website of the
governmental agency that issued your license.
You can also see the following Wikipedia articles:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driver's_license and, say,
international driving permit
Many countries require of you, the foreign driver, no license apart from
your domestic drivers license. However, certain countries require of certain non-resident drivers
an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition.
You should contact the relevant tourist office, consulate or embassy to determine whether
a country requires you to carry an IDP while driving.
A good secondary indicator in this respect is the
posted by the UK's Automobile Association.
Basically an IDP is a means by which police in a foreign
country can know in terms of translations in nearly a dozen
that your domestic driver's license is indeed recognized as being valid by
the proper authorities in your country. (See the
excellent article at
The local office of your auto club (AAA, CAA, etc.) sells IDPs for
about US$20. If you need an IDP, take
your license, two passport-sized photos and the requisite cash to the club office. (Though for about US$6 the
club may snap Polaroid photos for you.) Ten minutes later you'll be able to
legally drive on any European roadassuming you're at least 18 years of age. If you
plan to operate a motorcycle in Europe, be sure to have the auto club certify your
qualification to do so. The USA's AAA now has a Webpage whereby drivers
licensed in the USA can obtain an IDP:
AAA's application for IDP.
Web searches will bring up a host of Websites selling documents that conform
to the model delineated in annex 10 of the United Nations Convention on Road
Traffic (1949); but according to Article 24 of that convention,
a truly valid IDP is one which is "issued .. by the competent authority of
another Contracting State or subdivision thereof, or by an association duly
empowered by such authority ...." The US State Department says it has
empowered only the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American
Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) to issue IDPs. (The AATA offers IDPs
through the National Automobile Club.)
Many cell phones (i.e. mobile phones, handies) now work overseas. Check with your
service provider (i.e. your carrier, the phone service company) in this regard;
it might be a good occasion for you to
upgrade to a phone (and plan) that works well overseas.
If indeed you want to be able to use your phone on another continent, you'll need to call your service provider customer support to get
international roaming turned on.
But beware: such roaming in and of itself is very expensive. Every missed or rejected call will use a minute of
roaming charges; every notification of a voicemail that's been left will cost a minute too. More charges will come
if you use data, even unknowingly -- and the new smart phones are constantly using data that you're unaware of.
Data roaming costs about $15/MB, which means a dollar fifty or so for every single web page that you view.
If someone sends you a nice 2 megapixel photo from home, that'll be $30! If you want to avoid data roaming charges
completely, you should disable data roaming and data synchronization before you go abroad.
International roaming is not a good value unless you have tri-band GSM phone. Such phones can be “SIM subsidy unlocked”
via your service provider to accept a foreign SIM card. Calls received through such card will be charged to you as if you are
using a local phone. To initiate such unlocking of your tri-band GSM phone, call your service provider at least a week or two
before you go abroad. Your service provider will then request an unlock code from the phone manufacturer, but the service provider will
not officially guarantee the manufacturer’s response time (it’s usually 24-48 hours) nor even that a unlock code will be
provided. Moreover, you’ll need to obtain a prepaid SIM card or cards for the country or countries you plan to travel to.
Those cards cost roughly 30 euros and can be bought in mobile phone shops in Europe (the primary companies in France, for
instance, are Orange, Bouygues Telecom and SFR). Alternatively you can buy or rent them before you go abroad, from various
internet-based companies. You would replace your current SIM card with the European one. (Typically they go under the
battery.) Do save your current SIM card, however; you’ll need it when you return home.
See the following excellent New York Times articles:
For SIM card or special phone rental or purchase online, see the following:
portable GPS navigation solutions
Which if any portable GPS navigation offer on the market is best for you?
IdeaMerge's analysis of portable GPS navigation solutions.
Good printed road maps are not provided with your rental motorhome or camper van.
We recommend that you invest in a top quality map or maps, or a very good atlas. You can
buy your map(s) domestically,
from the likes of Amazon.com, or once abroad from a bookstore (present
in most airports) or service station. Everyone wants a free map, but in addition to death and taxes at least one further fact will always be generally true: free maps are
not good maps. And no matter what map you get, remember the words
of Thomas Ottavi: "There are lies, damned lies, and then there are maps."
gps map devices and software:
The rentals include insurance which covers theft of your
rented vehicle, but it doesn't include insurance to cover theft of
your belongings. IdeaMerge recommends you consider purchasing travel insurance
to cover, among other things, such an eventuality.
motorhome liquid petroleum gas (LPG)
Ask the depot for appropriate LPG connectors/adapters for each country you plan to visit,
and make sure the motorhome's LPG heating/cooking cylinders are sufficiently full upon pick-up and upon crossing national borders.
Many European, Scandinavian, British and Irish rental motorhomes employ LPG cylinders (or bottles) which are meant to be exchanged by the customers
rather than refilled by customers or by retail operations, the customer paying only for the LPG.
The refilling of such cylinders by retail businesses is prohibited in the UK and in many other countries because it is a dangerous process and one which can easily be
performed improperly. Continental exchangeable cylinders are not typically available on the UK or Irish markets;
and there is no adapter on the general market which interfaces continental heating and cooking systems to the "Calor" gas
exchangeable cylinders standard in the UK and Ireland.
So, you might need to bring extra, full exchangeable cylinders if you are crossing to the UK or Ireland for an extended tour.
UK and Irish vendors supply the standard Calor gas exchangeable cylinders for travel in the UK and Ireland.
When a client is traveling from the UK or Ireland to Europe, the vendor typically supplies the client with continental
"Camping Gaz" exchangeable cylinders and/or an adapter that interfaces the Camping Gaz exchangeable cylinders to
UK heating and cooking systems. Calor gas cylinders are not available outside the UK.
Regardless of where you are picking up, it is indeed a good practice to ask the depot for appropriate LPG
connectors/adapters for each country you plan to visit.
The exchangeable cylinders tend to vary by country even within continental Europe. Therefore you might not be able to
exchange the cylinders provided by the motorhome rental company. Instead you might need to buy an exchangeable
cylinder locally (in which case you'd also have to place a deposit on the exchangeable cylinder, because it remains the
property of the gas company.) In such situation an adapter is usually needed to fit the exchangeable cylinder to the
vehicle's heating and cooking system. Moreover, you might need a different regulator as well, although this is now
typically the case only with pre-year-2004 vehicle models (which are rarely rented).
With respect to LPG cylinders that are meant to be refilled by customers or retail operations,
various connectors might be needed to re-fill the cylinders because the LPG dispenser nozzles at fuel stations
tend to vary from country to country.
Three different dispenser connectors used in Europe: the Dutch Bayonet, the Claw or Italian Dish, and the ACME thread.
See the following articles:
motorhome water, waste, electrics, etc
online driving directions & route planners
Over half the new cars sold in Europe are now diesel; and high-quality diesel fuel is of course available wherever gasoline is sold,
the pumps being on the same service islands as the gasoline pumps. Some stations
even provide disposable gloves which customers may don to pump fuel.
Make sure you do not mistakenly pull up to a truck diesel pump.
The size of the nozzles for the truck pumps versus the motorhome/car pumps is different.
A truck fuel nozzle is too big to fit into a motorhome or car's diesel fuel pipe, and the flow rate is much greater.
LPG (i.e. propane) pumps always occupy their own island.
BEWARE: A diesel fuel pump nozzle (for cars and motorhomes) is considerably wider than either a leaded gasoline pump nozzle or the even smaller unleaded gasoline
and indeed will not fit into either such tank.
Consequently a gasoline nozzle will fit into a diesel tank.
Therefore, be careful not to put gasoline into a diesel tank!!!
Even a liter of gasoline added to the tank of a modern diesel campervan or motorhome can cause irreversible
damage to the injection pump and other components due to its relatively low lubricity. (Diesel in a gasoline engine — while creating large amounts of smoke — does not normally cause permanent damage if it is drained
once the mistake is realized. Similarly, older diesels using completely mechanical injection can tolerate some gasoline,
which has historically been used to "thin" diesel fuel in winter.)
A green pump holds unleaded gasoline or else diesel, a blue leaded gasoline. Diesel pumps are sometimes colored black, sometimes green.
Diesel pumps are chiefly signified linguistically, either with the very word diesel or with one of the
equivalents: gas-oil, gaz-oil, gasolio, gasóleo, dieselolie, mazot, motorina, or nafta.
If your vehicle's total permissible weight (i.e. basically its unladen weight) is over 3.5 tons (i.e. 3500 kg, which corresponds to a pretty large European motorhome), you must
buy a "GO-Box" rather than a simple vignette to travel the tollways of Austria.
A white box about the size of your palm, the GO-box should be affixed to the inside of the windscreen.
The device logs the tollway distance traveled by the vehicle.
(Electrical control points are located along the tollway and are queried by overhead DSRC microwave radio transceivers at different locations.
Overhead 3-D infrared laser scanners detect and photograph vehicles travelling without the GO-Box.)
A GO-Box initially costs EUR55.
These devices are sold at most fuel stations on major roads approaching
Austria. (In Germany, look for signs reading
"GO Vertrieb.") The initial EUR55 is reduced each time the vehicle passes
a tollway control point. As the credit gets low, the GO-box emits certain warning
signals. You can recharge the GO-Box in EUR50 increments only. The fine for
traveling said expressways without a charged Go-Box is EUR220.
For more information, visit http://www.go-maut.at/go/default.asp.
especially relevant campgrounds
With respect to manual transmission vehicles, it is the client’s
responsibility to know, or to learn how, to drive a manual transmission. The
rental company (i.e. the vendor) will likely refuse to deliver such
vehicle unless all the drivers listed on the rental contract are expressly or
evidently proficient in the operation of a manual transmission vehicle. There
are no refunds in such cases.
Almost all the motorhomes and campervans available for rental in Europe have a manual
transmission rather than an automatic transmission.
Vehicle models and layouts are not guaranteed. Some vehicle accessories, such as an
awning or a bike rack, are not guaranteed, because some of the vehicles are
delivered from the factory to the rental company so near to the pick-up date
that there is no time to install such items.
Where and when road or weather conditions, and perhaps laws or ordinances or such, dictate the wise or requisite
use of specific tires or specifically embellished tires (e.g. tires fitted with snow chains or socks), it is the
driver's responsibility to abstain from driving until such tires are installed on his or her vehicle.
It is nevertheless the client's responsibility to return the vehicle with the initial (i.e. original) set of tires
installed or co-present; otherwise the client will be billed for those initial tires.
Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden, for example, have laws which dictate the use of winter tires.
It is the client's responsibility to research and understand such laws in relation to his or her rental and itinerary.
You can study the
UK Automobile Assocation
website to learn more about winter tire requirements and other compulsory equipment per European country.
Regarding snow chains, it is vital that you check and if necessary maintain the tension of the chains frequently,
and certainly after every short journey. Also, with the chains fitted do not drive faster than about 35
miles per hour (60 km/h).
IdeaMerge suggests that our clients do not plan to rely solely on any one
guide nor even on any collection of such guides (whether they be in book form,
software form, or online) to determine the location or quality of appropriate
hotels and campgrounds. Such a guide — especially if it is provided free of charge by the
vendor or another entity — should not be considered suitably thorough and up to
date, although in many cases they are very useful. Even if a vendor’s policy is
to provide such guide with every rental vehicle, they occasionally run out of
supply because too many clients lose or abscond with the guide, or for other
reasons beyond the vendor's control. IdeaMerge therefore suggests a sort of
rule of three: use at least two published guides (in book form, software form,
or online), and rely on your own on-the-ground research (e.g. following local signage,
questioning local people, and so forth) to complete the picture. Market forces
usually take care of the rest because they result in hotel and campground locations per
the general demand and thus near where you are most likely to desire such
Neither IdeaMerge nor the vendor is responsible to assist in locating or recommending hotels or
campgrounds to clients. Any assistance IdeaMerge or the vendor does give in
that respect should not be interpreted as sanctioning or signifying the
suitability of the services or products provided at the hotel or campground.
For motorhome travel soft-sided, collapsable bags are the best sort to use, because
they can be stored within the vehicle without taking up much room. See our
relevant Locations page for information about whether or not the rental depot
will store luggage for you.
Unless otherwise specified on the IdeaMerge website or by the relevant IdeaMerge
vendor, clients should not plan to park their own vehicle at the rental
depot. At some rental depots such parking is possible, but only if upon the
pick-up occasion there happens to be room on the depot grounds. Typically
rental depot personnel can direct clients to optimal parking solutions nearby
Check all accessories at the depot to be sure they are in working order. If there is
a problem say something at the depot before leaving.
Ask questions during the vehicle orientation; refused to be rushed.
You will be held liable for vehicle damage that is deemed to occur during your
rental. Test drive the vehicle at and near the rental depot where you begin your journey.
If you notice anything unusual about the vehicle, especially the clutch, return
it to the depot immediately.
Drive carefully. The security deposit that you leave with the rental company upon the
pick-up occasion will be debited for vehicle damage.
Please carry a mobile phone with you so the vendor can easily contact you if necessary
and in case of emergency. Please confirm that your phone service provider and
contract allows you to call toll-free numbers.
The vehicle should returned with the toilet waste receptacle (e.g. blackwater tank)
and the shower/sink waste water tank (greywater tank) empty. Otherwise
the vendor reserves the right to charge a waste cleaning fee.
Moreover, the vehicle should be returned clean inside and be emptied of luggage
by the reserved return time. (Typically the vendor will clean the outside.) If
the vehicle is not clean on the inside — i.e. not only emptied of luggage but
also with clean floors (vacuumed or thoroughly swept), clean seats, clean
appliances, clean bathroom, and generally clean surfaces — the vendor reserves
the right to charge an interior cleaning fee.
If proper return (as described above) occurs after the reserved return time, a
charge will be levied for each extra such hour (up to the daily or nightly
rate); and the customer will assume responsibility for claims made against the
vendor by the subsequent customer because the subsequent customer's pick-up is
the delayed by the late return.
Upon returning the vehicle the client should report to the vendor any ticketed
parking violations, ticketed traffic violations, and toll-road violations and
such that the client knowingly incurred during the rental, along with any
documentation thereof (e.g. the ticket itself). The cost of any associated fine
or fines devolves upon the client, even if the client was not directly ticketed
for the violation or was otherwise unaware of the violation. Moreover, the
vendor might charge to the client an administration fee for processing each
Also see our General Disclaimers & Notices.
The best place to begin further researching your journey may be our
Moto Europa Website at www.ideamerge.com/motoeuropa. The Moto Europa
site is a full and free online guide and Web portal devoted to the topic
of European motor travel.
Some highlights from that Moto Europa Website include the following:
And some very useful links include:
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