Roy and Cindy Zimmer, posted on 10 October 2014
My wife and I just got back from our third trip in Germany and surrounding Austria, and Switzerland using Ideamerge as our agent. We had a great trip and again were very happy with our motor camper and the DRM rental depot near Frankfurt. That location is so easy to get to. It is within walking distance of the first train stop. The train ride is less than 5 minutes and the walk is about 15. Of course you can take a cab to and from the airport. We enjoy the walk after a long plane ride. The weather in mid September has always been great. We visited 11 different campgrounds in our 13 night stay. Make sure you bring your GPS with European database. The staff at the rental Depot are always very helpful and pleasant. Southern Germany is such a beautiful place and the roads are good. Some of the off the main roads are narrow but with most people in small cars we have never really had and real issues. This Trip we also went over the Grossglockner alpine road in Austria. It is one of Europes highest roads , being way above the tree line. It was amazing .
Next year we are planning to go again and venture into Croatia.
We will use Ideamerge again as the staff are very helpful and I like dealing with a smaller more personalized company. After this 3 rd trip I cannot imagine touring any other way. It is so nice having your bathroom with you all the time and your kitchen.
Wendy, USA, posted on 31 July 2014
We booked our rental through IdeaMerge and picked up our RV in Stuttgart/Dettingen/Teck on May 8, 2014. The online booking could not have been easier. I especially liked being able to select and compare campers before choosing the one we wanted. The camper was ready to go when we arrived and exceeded our expectations. We were extremely pleased with it as it was brand new. I believe it had about 16 km on the odometer. My husband was amazed at how well it handled. The rental company, McRent, was very easy to work with and showed us how everything worked and explained that it must be returned it the same condition as when it left. It came stocked with everything we needed for cooking meals in the camper. We also rented bedding, kitchen and bath towels and a table and chairs for use outside. All-in-all, I would say it was a very good rental experience. The only negatives I feel worth mentioning are: I wish it had come with a coffee maker, more towels and the pillows were not pretty awful. I feel that because we were renting for three weeks, one kitchen towel and three bath towels were quite insufficient. I'm very glad I decided to pack our own pillows or we would have had to purchase some. We kept the rental RV until May 28th and the return was just as easy as the pickup. The rental agent called a cab for us so we could go to our hotel for the last three days of our vacation. During our visit we camped in Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. I would most definitely recommend booking through IdeaMerge and highly recommend McRent as well.
John Marama, New Zealand, posted on 17 October 2013
Sept 2013. We travelled 8500km throughout Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Spain and France in 7 weeks in a Diesel Fiat Dethleffs Globebus finding it very comfortable with plenty of boot space. We found ideamerge very efficient and quick with bookings etc. The pickup went without any trouble Corrienne at McRent (Friedberg) Germany explaining everything. We didn't hire any bedding preferred to bring our on sheets and using sleeping bags as duvets. Driving throughout Europe went without trouble. Have a good GPS ours was a Tom Tom enter campsites into favourites before leaving doing research on internet and using camping books etc. Campsites can be very good with restaurants, Bars, pools and good facilities. Get a camping card from AA it saves leaving passport as ID at campgrounds, we also had a International driving Licence but was never asked to show. Be prepared to pay tolls on Motorways with countries having different systems for paying. Overall a fantastic way to see Europe and would recommend ideamerge and McRent.
Larissa, Australia but now living in Taipei, posted on 2 October 2013
We hired our Motorhome from Paris. We have 2 Children aged 11 and 13. It was a new motorhome so it was in great condition. We travelled around France following the Tour De France a little and went into Switzerland for a few days. Yes paying that toll road expensive is annoying. Switzerland is such a beautiful place we think it was worth it. We had no problems getting around. The only thing would be to research your caravan parks. If your not after caravan parks with all the extra you can save a lot of money. Some are very expensive. Compared to the cost of travelling in Australia now we found the holiday to be well worth it. Would I do it again, in a heart beat and yes we would hire another Motorhome. It is a great family holiday. Loved it.
Mike Harris, posted on 19 August 2013
We hired a Dethleffs A547 through Idea merge to be collected from the Munich depot. Our flight arrived early and we took a chance to go to the depot immediately. They were very accommodating and the vehicle was ready so they issued it to us - even tho it was only scheduled to be collected after 2pm. The handover was thorough and efficient. We dreaded the return tho as we had read that many people suffer from petty issues raided on return. However it was a breeze and the full deposit immediately credited to the credit card. The van has a high canopy which in heavy winds makes it a little more difficult to drive. Our fuel consumption was high too as a result of the added resistance. We will do another trip but will hire the Possl 2Win. It is smaller but perfectly suited to 2 people. I highly recommend this form of holiday. We did 3000km in 3 weeks through Austria, Switzerland and the Italian Lakes region. Our favourite by far was Austria - excellent camp sites and friendly people. Be warned tho - the average camp sites in Austria and Italy was 25Euro but in Switzerland we were charged 50Euro. Everything is priced way higher in Switzerland!! Make sure you have a GPS and an iPad which proved very handy with the maps app and to check Tripadvisor for sites and restaurants wherever you go.
Howard and Annette Pines, posted on 25 June 2013
We went through Idea merge and rented a camper van from McRent in Frankfurt Germany. What a great way to travel! We had a new camper van we had no problems. The renting was so easy and enjoyable and everything was as presented upon rental on the phone with idea merge. Oops there was one thing and that was that we did not have a coffee pot as stated, but we survived and made do. We traveled from Germany, to the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Down one side of Italy and up the other side, over to Slovenia, Austria, Chez Republic, up to Berlin and all over Germany. A trip of a life time and yes I am ready to go again. In fact I am looking to rent a camper van to travel Alaska from Idea Merge.
Grant and Glenda, New Zealand, posted on 21 March 2013
We rented a campervan for 4 weeks in September. Ideamerge were brilliant to deal with, as were McRent in Freidberg, Frankfurt where we collected the van. We travelled 5500kms through France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany staying in camp grounds. It is a great way to travel, you unpack once and that's it. You can change your itinerary as you please. It took us 90 seconds to set up at a campsite, all you need to do is plug the power in and turn the gas on. We found the Europeans very friendly and their road manners much better than the locals here in New Zealand. Drop off was an absolute breeze. We ensured the van was immaculate, so it got checked out quickly, our deposit was refunded and we were on our way. A couple of points ( which are covered on Ideamerge's website) but I'll repeat them. 1. You will be shown a vehicle manual at pick up time which lists several languages on the cover. Do not assume that the contents are also in several languages. Our's was totally in German. Not a big problem but worth checking. 2. It really is worthwhile bringing a camping guide with you. GPS's do show campsites but of course, not their standard or when they close for the season. WiFi can be very slow in a lot of areas. 3. The pillows may not be too comfortable. Our van was a 3 month old Fiat Ducato Globescout which ran really well, was very comfortable and was quite fuel frugal. About 10l/100km or maybe slightly less. We would use Ideamerge and McRent again without hesitation.
Maaike and Lew Hine, Western Australia, posted on 11 October 2012
Our motorhome was fantastic, no problem with the motor or the rest of the vehicle fit-out. Our trip to Northern Italy, Switzerland, Austria and a touch of Germany was absolutely fabulous; 1800kms travelled and no problems and no scratches to the vehicle. We travelled on all the quiet roads through small towns and the views were breathtaking. The beds were very comfortable. If I had to complain about anything, it would be the ladder to the bed needed to be moved in the night if you needed to use the toilet. This was a bit of a tight squeeze if the ladder was left in place. The other complaint would be the hire fold-away chairs and table; the chairs were uncomfortable cheap ones and were not designed to be used with the table. When sitting at the table to eat, your chest would be level with the top of the table. Pick up of the vehicle went well and the tall mechanic who explained everything to us was a great ambassador for your company. Drop off was good, but finding the address was difficult due to a lot of roadworks and traffic diversions. Compared to other rentals I have used, this one was a lot quicker to hire on location and friendlier staff. TIPS for travellers....just be a safe driver and sit back and enjoy the holiday and don't worry about making the bed every morning!!
mary pearson, posted on 9 October 2012
Thank you staff. We loved our motor home. Communication lines were open all the time. We travelled from Frankfurt through Switzerland, Italy, France and back to Germany. The van was so comfortable. The water pump packed up in Italy but the staff gave us instructions to get it fixed. Will certainly rent again next time. It is certainly the way to get around.
Rob, Karen and Sarah Stewart, posted on 3 October 2012
This was our first trip to Europe and also our first camper rental. We only had eight days to travel in Europe, and our trip included delivering our daughter to school in Schladming, Austria. A camping trip en route seemed very appealing. We found Ideamerge through an Internet search, and through them, we were connected with DRM. From our first correspondence with Mark Carr of Ideamerge, we found them to be both most helpful and prompt in answering our questions. The quote provided us was both accurate and comprehensive, and even included bedding. We chose DRM because of their proximity to the Frankfurt airport, and upon arrival, found them to be most helpful and thorough in their orientation to the vehicle and service. As our itinerary included travelling south through the Black Forest of Germany to Bern Switzerland and on to Salzburg and finally Schaldming with overnights in campsiutes along the way, we found the VW California Camper ideal for our purposes. We are avid VW owners and have owned several VW Westfalias, so the VW Camper was both somewhat familiar and cosy for the three of us. The vehicle performed flawlessly, was well equipped and was a delight to drive. I only wish we could have purchased it and taken it home to Canada. I would be glad to rent through Ideamerge and DRM again, and have already recommended them to friends travelling to Europe next spring. P.S. The TomTom GPS rental from DRM was worth every Euro in assisting us navigate through highways, cities and villages along our way.
Ron and Kumiko, Sydney, Australia, posted on 29 June 2012
We have just returned to Sydney after a 10 week camper van rental in Europe mid April to end of June 2012. I did a lot of research prior to actually booking the camper van. Ideamerge was the best of all the rental companies -- and worked out CHEAPER THAN BOOKING DIRECT with the camper van company. The guys at Ideamerge were fantastic in getting me exactly what I needed in terms of van size and sleeping arrangements. I needed a long bed as I am quite tall and ended up with a McRent Fiat Globus 5 camper with a queen sized bed cross-ways at the back of the van. To get this van it meant we had to pick up from McRent near Lorrach in southern Germany. This meant taking a fast train from Frankfurt to Freiburg then a local traim to Bad Belingen about 3 kms from the McRent pickup site. This is also a camping site called Luginsland, very big and very good quality in terms of showers, toilets etc. We had an ACSI Camping Card for low season camping and it saved us about 300 euros over the 10 week period. On arrival at Bad Belingen station we had arranged to be picked up by McRent's Douglas Klotz but it was siesta time so we took a taxi. On Arrival the camper van was ready and Douglas did a great job of showing us the ropes. I had previously watched all the McRent videos at home on Youtube so was pretty much familiar with everything. The van was brand new, we were the first to rent it and it was great. Plenty of power and easy to drive. We did not rent bedding after reading reviews. We rented a table and two chairs (one chair collapsed in the last few days but Douglas didn't charge for it). The cooking utensils were adequate. We bought a small one burner gas stove and mainly cooked outside under the roll-out awning almost all the time. We didn't use the shower at all as all camping sites had facilities. We did not free camp except for one night in a Stelplatz in Germany. (TIP - at Stelplatz you should check for remaining electricity from previous campers before putting any money in - there are sometimes as many as 4 plug-in points per stand and you can use up remaining time free - we only had to top up for 50 cents). If in Italy avoid taking your van to Lake Como - the roads are horrendously narrow and it is a huge challenge to get around the lakeside road in the van. Suggest you stay south end of the lake and use ferries. We traveled through Germany, Italy (including via Ferry into eastern Sicily and then from Palermo to Naples via a huge ferry, comfortable nice cabin for the overnight trip) France,Switzerland, Netherlands. We covered 7,500 km in the van and 1500km in rental cars for day trips from camp sites. Don't buy fuel on the motorways, use supermarket stations at big supermarket chains - Carrefour, L.Eclerc etc but make sure there is a person in the booth at the manual pay point after filling up. The prices are much, much better than the motorways. Also, we found fuel much cheaper at suburban fuel stations. As others have suggested - take a GPS with you. A Microsoft program called Autoroute is also a good investment and runs on a laptop computer - costs about AUD 90 with a GPS unit included but can still be used effectively for planning ahead and finding all sorts of points of interest, gas stations etc without a GPS attached to your computer. You can do this sitting at your table in the van and even do a lot of planning before you even leave home. It also has turn-by-turn driving instructions. In a nutshell - we thoroughly enjoyed the first-time camper van trip. Ideamerge are the best for service and price - thanks guys. Douglas at McRent, Lorrach is a very friendly and helpful guy, speaks excellent English and was more than reasonable at return time. (We had some minor damage to a rear plastic bumper panel). Our deposit was refunded same day as hand-over of the van on return. If you are a bit nervous about driving on the right side, unfamiliar places or operating the van in general then don't be, it is a great experience and European drivers are courteous and generally obey road rules. When in doubt, stop. Always keep to the right on the motorways. Would do it all again and highly recommend Ideamerge.
Toni Graham, Australia, posted on 21 June 2012
Picked up our camper from Paris East about 3km's from nearest rail station. Staff were very freindly but it seemed only one person in the depot could speak English (Nicola). He was very thorough on the workings of the camper but a bit light on information about the vehicle operation itself. Fortunately the Fiat Ducato is a very easy vehicle to operate & drive. We found the Ducato very economical with plenty of power. The vehicle we rented (Compact Plus) had 42 thousand km's on the clock, with a number of scratchs, dents & a damaged drivers mirror. This damage was duly noted down & my wife also took photos. After reading previous reviews we did not order the bedding package we brought over our own sleeping bags. The kitchen utensils supplied were adequate & even had a coffee maker. We travelled throughout France, Northern Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg & Belgium. My only gripe is the cost of everything in Switzerland we got stung 40 Euro for a yearly toll pass at the border with no other option, fuel prices seem the be approx 30% greater than the rest of Europe & food is twice as expensive as well. All in all motorhome travel in Europe is an extremely enjoyable experience notwithstanding that a lot of the streets are very narrow & a challenge. As mentioned in other reviews a GPS is a must & if you can, try to rent a narrow camper. Would we do it again? I'll have to think about it.
Brad Potter, Victoria Australia, posted on 6 June 2012
We hired a motorhome for 21 days from DRM Frankfurt. In the lead up to our holiday I found the customer service and website information from Ideamerge very helpful and informative.
The location of DRM, just 15 minutes from airport via taxi made it a lot more accesible than Mcrent. The taxi fare was only 16 euro.
We picked up the motorhome and were given a good orientation in english before heading out. The staff member at DRM was helpful. The motorhome was clean and well laid out. The kitchen supplies were a bit limited and so we purchased a fry pan. The bedding and towels that were supplied were a little worn but did the job.
We drove through a number of countries, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France and the motorohome didn't miss a beat. It handled well on the roads and once I got confident in driving on the other side of the road I was able to relax a little more. The good thing about motorhoming is the ability to pull over literally anywhere and have a cuppa or prepare a meal and the quick setup time once you arrive at your destination. This also makes it more affordable for a family.
We stayed in camping grounds close to the major cities which during the time we went, provided no problems in getting sites. We didn't book ahead.
We were able to return the motorhome without sustaining much damage except for a chip in the windscreen caused by a truck along the way. This became a little expensive as the windscreen needed replacing due to the chip being in the drivers eyesight. Would recommend travel insurance as these things are covered.
Overall we had a wonderful holiday which driectly related to our positive experience with both Ideamerge and DRM. I would recommend both of these operators to those seeking a motorhoming holiday picking up in Frankfurt.
David christie, posted on 6 June 2012
Picked up 5 berth campervan from Friedberg germany in early april 2012, van had only travelled 1900klms, walked next door to a electrical store and purchased a garmin gps for $100 euros with all europe maps (absolute essential to travel with otherwise a divorce with your navigator wife is garanteed)! Idea merge were great,they offered a hire gps but it was the same $ to buy new,we went thru all crockery at the site and brought a few things at the camping shop next door that the van was lacking(then left in van for next customers,kettle etc). One thing you need is a larger non stick fry pan if travelling with 3-6 people! We did our trip down thru germany, austria,italy,french riviera,switzerland and back to friedberg! The only issue on our return was when we collected the van 1 of two gas bottles were nearly empty, that ran out on the 4th night due to use with the heater, so in st tropez(france) i swapped it for another,the guy at the servo gave me a french bottle that still works but the germans dont use, it was still full on our return but they wanted to charge me 75EURO on top of already paying 40 for it, we went halfs after a discussion, all in all no probs with the van, economical, powerful etc, germany (bavaria) was the pick for us (rothenberg etc) and the cheapest by far for food, accom at van parks, fuel etc!!!!!!!!
Noel Playford, posted on 3 June 2012
We hired our motorhome from McRent Frankfurt for the month of April 2012. We travelled 5,000 kilometres through Switzerland, northern Italy to Tuscany, and south east France. Organising the rental with Ideamerge was simple and efficient. Pickup was no problem, but inexperienced renters should be supplied with instructions in a language they understand. Some hints that might help: Do not go without a car GPS. We bought one online with Europe maps before we left Australia for $95. Arrive early for pickup rather than late. Take a list of promised kitchen gear, and check before leaving, and ask if anything is missing. We took addresses of nearest Aldi and IKEA with us, bought food, pillows and bedding after pickup. We were very pleased we rented a small vehicle, many narrow roads and villages can be a problem. Only hire table and chairs in warm weather.
Yazeed Altunisi, Saudi Arabia, posted on 2 December 2011
It's A Life Time Experience. I Had always wanted to tour Europe in a motorhome with my wife and 2 daughters. Finally, I had the chance to do it. I browsed the internet for the best motorhomes, and found Ideamerge.com to be one of the best websites offering a good motorhome. Italy was the closest to Saudi Arabia, so we went to Rome as the first destination. In Rome, we visited most of the historical places, then rented a car to Pisa. It was a 3.5 hours drive, and after we visited the Pisa Tower, we went to pick up the Motorhome, It was a nice Fiat T 5841 McRent Comfort Standard that sleeps up to 4, almost brand new, fully equipped with W.C, Shower, Oven, Refrigerator ....
I hooked up my GPS, and away we went. The first destination was Venice. i had prepared for the trip before we left our country, all places to visit, roads, places to park the motorhome ....
We arrived at Venice in the evening, parked the motorhome in the special motorhome parking area just outside Venice, and took the People Mover train in a 5 minute trip to Venice (1 Euro per person) for a dinner at a nice restaurant, and went back to the motorhome.
It was a cold night, so I struggled to turn on the heater, the manual i had was in Italian, and the CD they gave me was in Italian too, but I managed.
Early next morning, we went to visit Venice, and stayed till the evening. 1 day is more than enough for venice, as my daughters (15 and 13Y) are young to be interested to visit art galleries and museums, but we enjoyed Venice, and we took a taxi boat back to the motorhome.
Our next trip was Gardaland park on Como lake, the biggest theme park in italy. a 3 hours drive, We stopped at a service area 10 minutes before Gardaland to spent the night, as motorhome parking is not allowed overnight in Gardaland as i knew when preparing for the trip. Early next morning, we arrived at Gardaland and spent a nice day there, they were celebrating Halloween.
We left in the evening, to Switzerland, our next destination was Interlaken, a nice city on a lake, the girls did Paragliding and we parked the motorhome on the lake, and went for a nice quite walk, had dinner, and went back to sleep in the motorhome.
Next morning, we went to Geneva, spent the noo time there then went to Germany Europa-park, 1 of the largest theme parks in Europe. We parked the motorhome there, and connected to a power sources to recharge the Laptops, and Camera batteries.
The next day, we went to Disneyland Paris, arrived at 5 pm. We parked the motorhome at Disneyland, and joined the Halloween night, and spent the following day in Disneyland too.
our next destination was Annecy, we had a wonderful night and day there.
Then we went to Milan, my wife did some shopping, then went back to Pisa to drop the Motorhome, rented a car to Rome airport and took the flight back to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Time fly's !!!
Notes: 1. Time fly's, so enjoy the most of every minute. 2. Must prepare very well before the trip, use Google earth to find destinations (according to your interest), routes, and insert locations in the GPS. (as must do). 3 - be prepared for many toil charge in Italy and France. 4- it is very convenient to use the W.C at the service stops.
Alan Grimes, Brisbane, Australia, posted on 1 November 2011
My wife and I hired a Compact Cruiser campervan from DRM Frankfurt depot for 47 days during August & September in which time we completed a circuit of western Europe, travelling through Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg, covering 16,000km in all. The booking process with Ideamerge was quick, simple and easy with no problems whatsoever. The DRM depot at Kelsterbach is very easy to get to as it is the next stop from Frankfurt International Airport, outbound on the Wiesbaden line. It is an easy 15 minute walk from the station to the depot. We were given a thorough briefing by a knowledgeable young lady who spoke excellent english and who had a great sense of humour. There is an Aldi supermarket nearby and we were given clear instructions and a marked up local street map and found it easily. We have had many unfortunate experiences during our travels with the bedding provided being far too warm for the prevailing conditions so had decided to buy our own bedding and had researched the availability and cost on the Ikea Frankfurt website where we found suitable lightweight bedding. We took our own sheets and pillowcases so only needed to buy a quilt cover with a lightweight quilt set and a couple of pillows. This worked out perfectly for us and was quite economical. We hired a kitchen set and on the whole this was adequate but we didn't like the camping set of saucepans with the (not very positive) removable handle that we found to be potentially dangerous and so ended up buying some cheap saucepans and a frying pan. Also there was no kettle provided and we ended up buying a cheap one after a lot of searching. The van had only 4500km on the clock when we picked it up and was beautifully fitted out. The layout with the permanent double bed across the back of the van was excellent. It was also a pleasure to drive and very economical with diesel. A GPS is almost essential in Europe and after having problems with the one we took over from Australia, we ended up buying a Garmin in Copenhagen after a couple of days travel. It came with the whole of western Europe maps preloaded and performed brilliantly for the remainder of our trip and only cost us slightly more for the whole unit than it cost to download the Europe maps from Garmin back in Australia. We delivered the van back to the depot with no damage whatsoever and after a thorough inspection, our entire security deposit was refunded on the spot and we were on our way to the train station within an hour. All in all a great trip. We certainly recommend booking through Ideamerge and hiring from DRM Frankfurt and would do so again ourselves without any hesitation.
Paul and Lyndall Baker, Australia, posted on 7 October 2011
We have just returned from Europe after doing our first ever motor home trip for 52 days through Ideamerge, they were very helpful and professional, they set us up with DRM out of Frankfurt, this is by far the easiest depot to get to, we took a taxi from the airport that only took 10 minutes. Our pick up time was in the afternoon but as we arrived at 6am in the morning we had breakfast at the airport and then headed over to DRM to see if we could leave our luggage there while we took a look around Frankfurt and did some shopping for the motor home, when we arrived at DRM Claudia greeted us and informed us that our motor home was ready to go and that we could have it right away, after she explained the workings of the motor home to us and gave us directions to a very new REAL outlet so we could buy some groceries and two bicycles for our trip, we set up the Navman (a must have) and we left on our big adventure. We headed towards Heidelburg and made our way around Germany into Holland, Belgium, France Italy and then on the way home came back through Switzerland to Frankfurt, we covered about 7,900 Klm and the motor home performed beautifully, it was a bit hot in Italy and France and an air conditioner would have been nice, you don't need a TV take a good book or two and relax. Getting back to Frankfurt a day early and booking into a hotel for the night was a good idea as it gave us time to empty and clean the motor home ready to hand it back at 10am the next morning, there are a few hotels close to DRM so you can walk back to the hotel after leaving the motor home at DRM. Claudia was very helpful and friendly to deal with and we would highly recommend anyone to use DRM in Frankfurt. We did bump into another car on our trip and put a dent into the right side bumper, this was fixed by DRM and we were pleasantly surprised that it did not cost us an arm and a leg, hopefully our insurance will cover this. Thank you Ideamerge and DRM Frankfurt for all your help we will be back.
Roy zimmer, Winter Park, Fla, posted on 28 September 2011
My wife and my wife Cindy just got back from a two week trip to Germany with stops in Switzerland. We picked up our Drm camper van at the Frankfurt depot which is just one train stop from the airport and then less than a quarter mile nice walk from the stop. We were very happy with the people at this depot and the camper van was great, clean with everything working and in good order. Turning it in also was a very good experience and we will be going back next year for sure. The people at Idea Merge in Oregon were very helpful in booking our trip and I would highly recommend them for anyone looking to travel this way. We are hooked and will not travel any other way in Europe. Make sure you either rent or bring your own GPS. With Europe maps installed. We had our own Tom Tom GPS and it will make your trip a breeze in navigating. We also used the provided Europe camping book and found that extremely helpful.
Iain and Ros Macrae, posted on 25 September 2011
We picked up our camper from DRM in Düsseldorf for a 30 day trip through Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Whilst the van was quite new we were surprised to find that it had no TV and no speakers for the radio in the main part of the van - minor inconveniences though. What did annoy us was the poor quality cooking utensils ... Handles on pots and pans were loose and had to be tightened every day! The other problem we had was on day 4 when the electric steps jammed in the open position. We called the help number and were very pleased that on a Sunday morning that the road service was out to us within 2 hours and managed to force the steps back in - but they were unable to be used for the remainder of the trip. One last gripe .... The horn didn't work either. We needed it in Italy to avoid one of those damned Vespas that duck and weave out of traffic with abandon but it didn't work so we had to head off road to avoid what would have been death for the Vespa rider. That little excursion we called the "scratch the side of the van with a tree branch deviation". DRM's response was that I could get the horn fixed and claim back the cost .... Not good enough! It should have worked (and I should have checked that it worked before taking delivery).
Apart from the gripes above the van went very well - it powered up the Grimsel Pass in Switzerland without problem and gave reasonably good fuel economy overall - 11.8ltrs/100kms ... Not bad for a big (8+meters) truck!
The FERRERS, USA, posted on 20 August 2011
We had a good experience with both IdeaMerge and McRent in Dusseldorf. In planning the trip, our questions were answered ahead of time, every detail of the costs and terms and conditions of the rental were clearly spelled out.
The vehicle we rented was brand new and we had no problems mechanical or otherwise. We traveled for 3 months in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Austria.
Just a note for others' information: We had been concerned that we might run out of propane since we had such a long rental. The vehicle came with 2 bottles, and we had bought adapters for use in other countries in case we happened to run out while we were outside of Germany. We found out that there really was no reason to buy the adapters since it seems that no countries actually refill bottles, they just swap them for a full bottle. McRent had advised us not to swap our German bottles in another country. Fortunately we never ran out of propane, and if we had run out toward the end of our trip, we were back in Germany by that time, and could have exchanged an empty German bottle for a full one. In case others wonder, thought we would share this.
In any case, we live in an RV fulltime back in the USA, so we love travel by RV. We naturally rented a much smaller unit in Europe (necessary to manage the roads and campgrounds), so knew we would have much smaller space to live in for 3 months. We were very satisfied with the quality and practicality of the unit - a Dethleffs Globebus T15. And the European campgrounds are excellent!
The Benoit Family, posted on 14 August 2011
People tended to respond incredulously to the idea that our family was going to tour the Alps in a motor home. "You're going to what? Really ?" seemed to be the most common response. And we had our own doubts too. Would the RV be a piece of junk? What would the campsites be like? How would I do driving a motor home in the Alps or on the Autobahn? According to the internet, the Europeans vacation this way all the time; could we Americans make it work? I'll provide more details and resources below, but the short answer to all these questions is that we had a great time and experienced Europe in a way that few Americans do.
We're a bit adventurous, but are a pretty typical family: middle age parents and two boys, 8 and 11, from Illinois, USA. We tent camp (North Shore of Lake Superior, the Black Hills, and Yellowstone over the past three summers) and enjoy traveling. However, we had never used an RV before and had never been on a trans-Atlantic flight as a family. I like to come up with big ideas (Lets go to Europe in an RV!). My wife is great with the details — little things like plane reservations or actually booking the motor home.
We started planning in the mid-winter time using the internet and tour books. There really is not a lot of information about Americans doing this type of travel. Rick Steves has a few articles, there was a long discussion thread we found that focused mainly on a couple's anxiety and subsequent aborted trip, and what seemed like some latter day hippies with great color pictures and glowing reviews. After looking at a variety of RV rental agencies, we chose to go with Ideamerge. The web site had pictures of the various vehicles, the prices were competitive, and I actually spoke to a customer service rep who was very helpful and spoke great English. The vehicle rental was pricey and we took all the add ons we could — extra insurance, bedding, dishes, folding chairs, and towels. Our reasoning was that renting the bedding, etc was easier than bringing it with us (we traveled without checking baggage) and less expensive that trying to buy these essentials in Europe. The insurance was more to provide some additional piece of mind in potentially difficult driving circumstances. It turned out we didn't use the insurance, but I'd probably get it again — just in case. To balance out the cost of the rental, we kept in mind that this cost included a large chunk of our lodging, rental car, and dining expenses. There was also a convenience factor as we would not have to keep packing and unpacking like you would each night at a new hotel. Fuel was an additional expense, especially at European prices; however, we would have been putting gas into a rental car anyway.
In the end, we rented "The Beast", a 23 foot diesel motor home. It was small for an American RV, but was one of the largest caravans (that's what the Europeans call an RV) we saw during our two week trip. A lesson learned for next time — book as early as possible. By mid to late spring, we had few options on which caravans were available. The Beast worked great, but something smaller would have been more maneuverable on the roads and in the campings (the European term for RV parks). We spent very little time inside beyond driving and sleeping. Even on rainy nights, the awning provided plenty of shelter to eat outside. The bathroom with a shower was an important feature for my wife when we booked the caravan. She worried that the campings would have dirty bathrooms and showers. As it turned out, we never used the caravan shower once. Even the camping with the dirtiest facilities (Munich) had acceptable restrooms (Cathleen chose not to shower there and used the bathroom reluctantly — the only place she was put off by the showers; the boys and I had no issues). The toilet was useful for late night bathroom trips when you didn't want to walk with the kids to the restrooms, but other than that got almost no usage as well.
Upon our arrival in Munich, we took a cab to the rental depot. It was about a 40 minute cab ride away. We could have used the train to get there from the airport, but chose the more expensive, but convenient route. This turned out to be a good idea because everyone was tired and our full attention was demanded at the depot. The staff there were very helpful and went over the operation of the caravan in great detail. I didn't need any type of special license to drive the Beast, in fact the staff at the caravan depot joked that with an American license, I could drive whatever I wanted. I did get and international drivers license from AAA, really just a translation of my Illinois license into a variety of different languages. We never needed it, but it seemed a reasonable precaution. A lesson for next time — everyone should pay close attention and ask questions when the depot staff are explaining things. Trying to remember a few days later how the awning set up or which plug adapter worked in which country presented a challenge that a little more care on our part would have prevented. Also, when the gentleman asks you if you're familiar with the transmission and driving characteristics, don't encourage him to gloss over the details.
For example, when he said, "Do you know how to drive a 6 speed manual transmission?" I replied, "Yes." — thinking I had driven plenty of 5 speed gasoline powered manuals here in the U.S. I turns out reverse isn't on the far right of the gear shifter and I didn't realize this until we had started driving. Luckily, we arrived at the first camping and got settled in without having to go in reverse, because I needed to look at the pictures in the German language manual to figure out that you got into reverse by pulling up the plastic ring around the shaft of the shifter, then pushing it up and to the left. No problem once I figured it out, but more attention on my part would have spared us a few anxious moments.
A much bigger problem was the difference between driving a diesel and a gas engine. I had no problems using the clutch- in fact I never stalled the Beast. But initially I struggled with the amount of fuel I provided to the engine after I shifted. I tended to stomp on the gas pedal after a shift to compensate for the Beast's lack of acceleration; after all, I was in Germany, getting ready to drive on the autobahn. In my ignorance, I was flooding the diesel engine and causing it to bog down and lose power. This caused a few panic stricken moments, as the Beast lost power on the highway and I had to pull off to the side of the road to start from first gear again. Luckily, no one rear ended us and my wife was quick with the emergency flashers! Once I figured this quirk out, I did not have any more problems with the Beast's transmission.
Now after reading the previous paragraph, you might assume that driving on the autobahn in a rented caravan was a challenging experience, but I believe it was actually easier than driving the same size vehicle here in America. Although speed limits could be higher and cars came up very quickly from behind in the left lane, vehicles in the right lane seemed to move more slowly than we're accustomed. And people did not tailgate (no matter how slowly you drove), did not pass on the right, and pulled back into the right lane as soon as they were done passing. To top it off, the traffic density also seemed much lower that we're used to here in the northern suburbs of Chicago. As a result, I was able to drive slowly and carefully early in the trip without feeling uncomfortable and, after a few days' practice, drive at the posted speed limits (as long as I allowed myself enough time and space to pass slower vehicles).
Driving in the towns and in the Alps were more harrowing at times.
Narrow and twisty country roads, mountain passes that looked barely wide enough for two cars — never mind our huge caravan and a tour bus, and urban routes that looked like they were designed for horse carts were all par for the course. There were plenty of white knuckle moments, a few truly panicy incidents (We've got to turn around here?!? I swear the street was only a few feet wider than the caravan was long.), but no accidents. Well, maybe one accident if hitting a portable plastic barrier with a side mirror counts like my wife says; however, it didn't leave a mark on the caravan and it was there a warning not to hit something more serious, so I'm sticking to my original story that there were no accidents. I drove about 1,600 kilometers over a two week period in a large, rented vehicle on unfamiliar roads with signs in a language we didn't really read across three countries. And to hear my wife tell it, I don't even drive that well! The Beast had plenty of power, handled well, and had a small turning radius for a vehicle of its size. One problematic point, we did drive slowly, slowly enough that at times I felt badly for the people stuck behind me. So next time, we'll need to multiply all expected travel times by 1.5 to have a more reasonable estimate of how long it would take us to get anywhere.
One thing that helped us navigate was that we brought a portable GPS with us. Prior to the trip, we bought and downloaded the European road maps into it from the Garmin website. The GPS performed admirably and we never were lost. But relying on GPS in Europe had the same issues that we've grown accustomed to in the United States — just more so because everything was unfamiliar. For example, one source of confusion was that the road names/highway numbers were not always the same on the signs and on the GPS. Another problem was that we couldn't find a GPS setting for "Driving an Oversized Vehicle". As a result, it often took us on roads that were the shortest in theory, but problematic in reality. An arch that was too short for our 3.3 meter tall vehicle was the least of the difficulties (Recalculating ). Addresses and roads in rural areas that were off just enough (Recalculating ) were not a big deal. Taking us with 1 kilometer of Marionplatz in the center of Munich during rush hour when all we wanted was to get on the highway that skirted the city was a much bigger issue (No chance at Recalculating due to the traffic. We fought over that one.). We used a paper map and the map on Cathleen's I Pad to cross-reference routes when we were worried about the directions from the GPS. Obviously, this didn't give us perfect results, but I can't imagine the difficulties we would have had without the GPS.
Initially, we were using the internet to research the campings. There were problems with this approach, including discovering their exact location, reading the German web sites, and determining the quality of the services offered. We knew that the campings would not be like American National Parks campgrounds, but we didn't want to stay in a dirty, cramped, shade-less RV park either. Floundering a little, we were relieved to discover Caravan Europe 2 published by The Caravan Club of the U.K. (www.caravanclub.co.uk). This book covers all of Western Europe except France, Spain, and Portugal; those countries are in Caravan Europe 1. In addition to short reviews of campings, the book has numerous articles about caravanning and orientation articles about each country. All of the campings described in the book have been recommended by people who stayed there and submitted a review. The descriptions, particularly the abbreviations that they use and directions, can be pretty cryptic, but the information they contained was very accurate. Each entry also contains contact information, address (including GPS coordinates), and services available at the camp site. My favorite part of each entry were the quotes from the reviewers inserted at the end — they gave me a good feel for what each site might be like. I'd highly recommend this book. Every place we stayed was as advertised in the guide. We also purchased the International Camping Card before we left (Internet address). This gave us another list of campings, but more importantly acted as our identification for check in at the sites (rather than presenting our passports). It also gave 10% discounts at some of the campings which more than paid for the cost of the card.
The campings varied widely in what they offered and where they were located. Two dimensions that seem to capture the variances are family owned/company owned and rural/urban. The second dynamic, rural/urban, was the most suprising to me. We stayed at Thalkirchen, a famous camping within the Munich city limits, Camping Nord-Sam in Saltzburg, and Camping Hirzberg in the medium sized city of Freiburg. The equivalent in the U.S. would be having an RV park on the North Side of Chicago walking distance from an El station or in Boston out by Bunker Hill. I expected these places to be small, paved over, noisy, and filthy. My expectations couldn't be further from the truth. Each site had grass and trees everywhere. Thalkirchen actually backed up to a large river and abutted a park. Hirzberg had a playground across the street and a walking path along a river just beyond the park. Nord-Sam was the most urban, but the kids still found plenty of space to play badminton and to run around. City noises were much less than you'd expect in a downtown hotel and the convenience of public transportation, shopping, and restaurants more than made up for what little you heard. Using public transportation you could get from the camping to downtown Saltzburg or Munich in 20 to 45 minutes respectively. It was a 15 minute walk to the historic old town/downtown Freiburg from the camping. In all three situations, a real advantage was that we could easily get what we wanted to see and back once we figured out the public transportation. Safety was not an issue that we were concerned about in these urban campings. They were full of people, had on site staff 24 hours a day, and had gates that locked when quiet hours started (typically at 10 or 11 pm). Disadvantages to the urban campings were that the sites were somewhat smaller and that driving in and out tended to produce more than its share of white knuckle moments.
The rural campings had somewhat larger sites (realistically none of the sites were large) and tended to be in truly beautiful places. At Campingplatz Tauber-Romantik near Rothenburg ob de Tauber, Germany, we woke to the sound to cowbells from the herds on the hills above us. At Camping Manor Farm near Interlaken, Switzerland, we were surrounded by the Alps and less than 30 years from one of the glacial-fed lakes (Interlaken means between the lakes). Each camping had its own small store with basic groceries and supplies, but larger grocery runs were more difficult (longer walks or bags on the bus — and Europeans are into the Eco-green movement so either bring your own bags or expect to be charged for each plastic shopping sack you use). There was always at least one place to eat near the camping and some of the restaurants were quite good. Transportation to tourist sites was do-able, but tended to mean either longer bus rides (with a less frequent bus schedule) or longer walks. Next time, I think we would try to rent bikes to improve our mobility. What we ended up doing at some locations (castles and waterfalls names) to make up for transportation difficulties was leaving the camping early, driving to the nearby attraction, parking in the caravan/bus lot, and spending the morning/early afternoon site seeing before we moved on to another camping. The rural sites also tended to have larger play areas for the kids with soccer pitches, volleyball nets, or playground equipment. Some even had bikes and scooters for the them to ride.
The family owned/company owned dynamic was displayed most in the customer service you received. Every camping had English speaking staff who were polite, but the family owned campings tended to have staff who more passionate and helpful. Whether they were helping you with directions, restaurant recommendations, or how to use a Swiss electric outlet with a German plug, the staff of the family owned campings really demonstrated customer service above expectations. At Lech Camping near Augsberg where we stayed our first night, the staff helped Cathleen print emails that contained prescriptions for medications that she had lost going through airport security (This campsite also had a great restaurant). At Camping Hirzberg, the site was nearly filled, but the owner found a place for us. I had to back it down a very narrow 50 foot long path and into a tiny spot between two other caravans, but he found a space and gave excellent directions as I maneuvered the Beast into position. The company owned campings tended to be much larger and have more amenities such as larger stores or gift shops.
What all the campings had in common were that they were clean, quiet, and easy to use. We only had a reservation for the first night. Every other night, we showed up in the late afternoon (beware the after-lunch siesta when the offices are closed) or early evening and were always able to get a spot to stay. We traveled in June, which is just at or before the start of the high tourist season. I don't know if we could have been as lucky later in July or August when all of Europe is on vacation. The cost of camping tends to be lower, but there were additional fees for everything — each additional person, electrical use, water hook up, wireless internet, at one place showers and hot water were coin operated. However, we never spent more than 45 euro a night for the four of us. Compared to the cost of a tiny European hotel room, that seems ok. I recommend ordering bread for breakfast each morning. The campings have it delivered fresh before 8:00 and it is delicious with some local honey or jam.
We never met another American at a camping, but most Europeans speak some English. There were plenty of people from the UK (I heard that 18% of the population owns a caravan) who were on vacation. We saw caravans from all over Europe, from Norway to Greece to Slovakia. Everyone was friendly, but people weren't intrusive. We got some great recommendations on other campsites and activities in casual conversations with people. Our kids played with kids who spoke no English and had a blast. (Although I don't know what people thought of our 8 year old who ran around playing tag and yelling, "No sprechinze Deutch!" for two nights.) And on top of this cultural and fun experience, they had new places to explore and playmates to keep them busy rather then spending time bugging us or fighting with each other.
The caravanning experience also allowed us to tailor activities for our kids. We did our share of Cathedrals and museums/cultural monuments, but we were able to vary our activities so it wasn't "boring". We spent time in cities and in the countryside, at museums and out hiking, experiencing an adrenelin rush (ziplining down the side of an Alp or being lost in the Munich subway) or relaxing in the shade. Food was rarely an issue as we were able to buy enough familiar food in the grocery that the kids were willing to try a variety of foods when we ate out. A beer or three with dinner was also not an issue; we weren't driving anywhere after the Beast was set up for the night. Bed times and mornings could be a little cramped, but less so than spending time in our family tent. And the Beast offered electricity, refrigeration, and shelter from the elements.
So is a caravanning vacation for everyone? No, but, if you've got an interest in some adventure, a desire to set your own itinerary, and a motivation to see Europe in a way that few Americans will, caravanning can be an excellent choice. It was extremely enjoyable and memorable for us. Prost!
Ninik Stroud, Australia, posted on 14 August 2011
Overall we had a beautiful memory with your services. Your car absolutely clean and a good conditions. We hired for 17 days in Germany, Swiss, Austria, Slovakia & Cekoslovakia on 29/6 to 16/7/2011. We drove for about 4,000 km. The GPS was great. Next time we like to go back to hire your camping car again.
Greg Newman, posted on 12 August 2011
Booking through idea merge was easy and more convenient than direct. The pick up in Friedberg also good, we where given all the info needed to get on our way - even the nearest IKEA for bedding. The camper was almost new and didn't miss a beat the whole trip through SWI, ITA, HUN and CZE. Would have been good to have a table a chairs in the camper - wouldn't mind paying a couple of EU extra for these (maybe you can in the booking process and I just missed it). For travelers; GPS is a must (make sure you know how to use and check the route first) - also hardcopies from viamichelin.com come in handy. Also understand the toll/vignette s ystem of the country you are going before you get there. Thanks to Doug@ideamerge and Sussana@mcrent for a seamless experience, we'd definitely do this again.
Gail Gilbert, posted on 11 August 2011
I found it hard to commit to a booking agency for a Rental vehicle half a world away, but the person working after hours was very helpful and Ideamerge found me the perfect camper for our group of 2 couples. We arrived at McRent Frankfurt, the paper work didn't take long and were soon on the road with some extras from there storeroom, like pegs, clothesline, bar-a-que, detergent etc (left over's from other campers). Watching the DVD proved helpful although we had hire a camper before and were delighted with camper, our only problem would be working out the fridge between gas & battery. We drove through Germany, France, Belgium & Switzerland over the amazing countryside, some of the roads were very narrow but just took our time. We followed some of Tour De France and drove up the Alp d Huez and over the Col de Galiber - the camper handled this narrow windy road just great. The staff at McRent were very helpful and would use both Idea Merge and McRent again in the near future (I hope). Regards Gail
Chester Juroska, posted on 11 August 2011
My wife and I rented a McRent RV for two people in Munich (actually Sulzemoos) and toured through southern Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. It was the same trip my son and I went on in 2003 when we used DRM. Overall the trip was wonderful and the rental process was easy. However, the renter needs to be fully aware of how far out of Munich the depot is. Some of the taxis allegedly take credit cards but the car we used with every credit card company displayed on it did not. Ask beforehand. The only other thing is that the rental companies should make clear that some countries like Slovakia and the Czech Republic require the driver to purchase a sticker to display on the wind shield which I suppose is like a road tax. The Slovakian police flagged me down and gave me a 20 euro fine for not having one and then directed me to where I should purchase it. Hungary also requires it. Other than that, the trip was great and I recommend anyone who is the slightest adventurer to do the same. Ideamerge is easy to work with and I will be renting from them again the summer of 2013 to tour The Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.
Charanpal Singh, posted on 5 July 2011
It was our first family holiday in Europe and we decided to tour Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Austria in a camper. I booked via Ideamerge online and received the confirmation in less than a few hours. Great work Ideamerge! On the day we arrived, we picked up our camper from McRent's depot in Friedberg on 30 May for an 8 day trip. Klaus was very helpful to allow us an early pickup ahead of our scheduled pickup time of 2pm. As it was our very first time traveling in a camper, we had to view a 20 min video describing all of it's features. Everything was provided as described with the only exception being the chemical for the toilet which I didn't check until the next day. I had to buy a bottle from a shop in Italy but it was pretty cheap and cost me 9 euros only. I was told the camper we got was about a year old but it was certainly in very good shape and was very clean. My wife and kids simply loved the convenience of traveling in our own camper and staying in campsites along the way. We visited Interlaken in Switzerland, Pisa, Florence and Venice in Italy, Innsbruck in Austria, Fussen, Meersburg and Stuttgart in Germany before returning our camper in Friedberg. We returned our camper slightly later that our scheduled time at 11am due to heavy rain when we travelled from Stuttgart to Friedberg and traffic was slow on that morning. But Klaus was kind enough not to charge us any extra for the late drop off (Thanks Klaus!). In my hurry, I forgot that my jacket was still on the driver's seat and I forgot to remove it, but oh well, it was my fault for not remembering. Overall, it was an extremely fun way to travel and my family and I have decided that we will surely travel by camper again on our next holiday in New Zealand.
The Pflocksch/Butterworth Families, Cape Town, RSA, posted on 29 September 2010
This was the first time, we were holidaying in a motorhome; what a great way to travel !! 24 days sightseeing through Europe; what an experience !! Although at times somewhat cramped with 4 adults and 2 kids the option to livbe indoors/outdoors made things really quite easy. The quality of the vehicle was tops, so were pick-up & drof-off, friendly, quick and efficient. A big Thank You to McRent in Munich !! We'll see you next year again !! Just a little TIP for those who hire for the first time: Pull in your right mirror, when you travel narrow mountain-passes in Switzerland; it could become costly otherwise. Have fun !! Regards from Cape Town.
clodisgege ginesta, posted on 12 August 2010
We rented a VW camper with ideamerge this was not the first time trveling in europe we wanted a small camper so we could travel on the small road off the intersate and driving into city and village to park just like a car the VW california diesel 6 speeds standard was just wonderful we traveled 9.000 miles going around Germany Bavaria austria switzerland Italy France Spain Portugal one tip: Mc.rent should give at least an european map included with all the rented camper Rv's we loved our camper the rental "kitchen set" was pretty good we did not use the range for any cooking because we did not want to stain the shade and seat cover other than brewing coffee we ate cold cuts who were delicious and ready meals ,french bread Ideamerge was helpful we were pleased with the entire process we brought our own sleeping back and other camping equipment that we left over there before leaving for the state We recommend Ideamerge : Thanks Doug for your assistance in making that trip possible clodis & gege
Dulip and Leda, posted on 23 May 2010
p>Thanks Doug from IdeaMerge for all your assistance and prompt replies to e-mails. Thanks Klaus from McRent - Frankfurt who was very efficient and helpful.
We picked up a brand new the Compact Plus RV with 243kms from McRent Frankfurt and toured Europe for 37days. We travelled from Frankfurt to Berlin, Wroclaw, Prague, Wien, Venice, Rome, Pisa, Zurich, Bern, Geneva, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam then to Copenhagen and then back to Frankfurt.
Klaus from McRent Frankfurt was very helpful. We arrived in Frankfurt Airport around 2.00pm and took a taxi to Mcrent, cost 30Eur. We had filled up all our details in the internet so there were no formalities except to pay the 1,000 Eur deposit, copies of the International Drivers Licence, passports & Australian drivers licence. Klaus asked us to see the video about the RV which in reality was not the model we were given. Klaus then showed us around the RV and we were out of McRent with a brand new the RV in less than an hour. That night we went straight to a camp site not too far from McRent. Fortunately we did not feel any jetlag, probably because we slept to European time a couple of days before as well as in the plane. Also we did not take any alcohol or carbonated drinks the previous few days.
We really had a fantastic trip. It was our very first RV experience. Saw lots of European country side, small villages. Enjoyed the driving and the scenery very much. The Compact Plus was just like a car and did 120 with ease on the motorways. We will definitely do an RV trip again, may be the US next and we strongly recommend that to anybody who wants to do Europe on a shoe string but with some comfort and flexibility to go where ever you want without fixed time tables. It is far more cheaper than by Euro Rail with no hazels to pack / unpack, carry bags, taxis, hotels. We also bought and cooked what ever we wanted. Stopped at wayside places with beautiful scenery and had a rest. Met heaps of Aussies doing the same thing. We had 5 large Aussie Flag stickers on the back of our RV, to indicate to locals that we were strangers, but it attracted many Aussies to come and talk to us at camp sites, to compare notes etc.
It was very cost effective as we did some free camping as well. The weather was really fine with no heavy rain throughout the trip.
Things to remember, A GPS is a must. Don't go without one. We picked up a Garmin Nuvi 1490T, duty free from Heathrow Terminal 4 – Dickeys before flying out to Frankfurt.
We had already planned the whole trip in Google Maps and worked out our itinerary as to where we were going to be each day. The 1490T was so good with it's advance warning, that the few wrong turns we took were because we were not attentive and chatting away.
Take a roll of duct tape, a Swiss knife, Phillips & flat screw drivers, about 30 metres of 5mm thick chord for drying cloths, a few pegs, a few pens, post it pad, torch, fitted king size bed sheet, couple of pillow cases. Plenty of music CDs.
The crockery / cutlery / pots & pans provided were very basic but just enough.
We bought pillows, other necessities, grocery from Aldi & the camping shop close by to McRent in Frankfurt. We purchased from Bauhaus (similar to Bunning's) some plastic boxes to arrange cloths / food items and a $10 fan heater which came in handy in cold nights when in camp sites. Be careful of the usage of battery power when free camping. A doona is a must as it gets cold in the nights.
A Camping Card International together with an International Licence is a must before leaving Australia. All camp sites accept the CCI instead of the passports and most give discounts on charges on the CCI. We selected the camping sites from Camping Europe 2009 and used Google Maps to see exact location and the coordinates. We did not need reservations for any of the camp sites as it was the shoulder season but some camp sites do not open till mid April.
As it is not possible to get maps in English in Europe, it is recommended to take some maps from Australia. The Garmin shut down a couple of times, probably due to overheating but fortunately started again. So it is good to have a set of maps as a back up.
Almost all campsites have internet access for about $5 an hour and a laptop will assist to keep in touch with home. Also we copied all our videos & photos into DVD every few days with a back up DVD copy as well just in case one got spoiled.
Do not park the RV in public places anywhere in Europe to go sight seeing or shopping even for a few minutes as there are lots of thieves around who will break into the RV to grab whatever they can. Rome is very bad as there are lots of thieves who target RVs especially those parked in supermarket parking places.
It was a first time experience for us in driving an RV on the other side of the road, but we got used to it in about half an hour. Would have turned on to the wrong lane a couple of times but corrected myself pretty quickly. Driving in Europe was a fantastic experience. We sometimes used roads through smaller towns and villages just to enjoy the scenery. We thought that AutoBahns were very special, they are nothing more than the Gold Coast Motorway. The only difference is that there seemed to be no speed limit. The Garmin indicated the speed limit as 130. While we could only do about 120, most cars passed us at around 160 and the Ferraris, Masseratis, Porches, Benz's, Audis & BMWs were doing 180 - 200 easily. The leftmost lane is kept solely for faster cars and they always get back to the middle lane after passing the slower vehicles. Most trucks were very disciplined and were doing only about 110 and keeping to the right most lane. We hardly ever saw the Police. However, the smaller roads were different and there are many hidden cameras. We probably got snapped a few times but were informed by our friends to ignore the fines when received.
Remember to pick up vingets from a petrol station just before entering Poland, Czech Republic and Austria as they check you out at the border and the fines are up to $150.
Also you must get your tickets from the toll gates in Italy & France or the fines are exorbitant when exiting the toll road. In Switzerland they sell the vinget for about $65 at the border.
Prior to leaving camp sites, we empted grey water & chemical cassette and filled up water. We also never used the toilet for longer jobs and used service stations / restaurant / campsite toilets. Empting the chemical cassette was a simple job and not as scary as we had thought previously.
We were advised to buy bottled water for dinking and cooking and never to use water from the campervan to cook or drink as it could be contaminated. Better be safe than sorry with health problems. The shower in the campervan was good and can be filled up in service stations. Also the grey water can be discharged at safe places along the way as it really was wash / shower water only, may be not legal.
Always make sure there is someone assisting when reversing as it is pretty difficult to judge. We only went into the cities in the night when there was not much traffic. During the day, when someone is not in the RV, make sure the RV is parked in a camp site or at a friends place. We chose the camp sites close to public transport, so it was easy to get to the cities and then we used hop on / hop off city tours during the day.
The Cruse control in the Fiat was tricky but easy to use once you know how. So ask McRent how to use it as it was very useful in the Autobahns.
We were worried about driving on the other side and only English, but the driving was simple and we were well understood in all the countries.
Before returning the RV, we used a place just around the corner to get the RV washed, cost 29Eur. Dumped all the grey water and cleaned the chemical cassette. Made sure the cook top was scrubbed thoroughly with steel wool from Bauhaus.
Thanks to a number of previous reviews, when contacted they assisted us with our planning. We will be pleased to assist anyone who wants similar information. We can be contacted on "firstname.lastname@example.org".
We had a fantastic tour. We definitely will do other RV trips with IderMerge.
We highly recommend IdeaMerge and Doug.
Alejandro and Florencia, ARGENTINA, posted on 18 April 2010
THIS IS THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW WE RENT WITH MCRENT THRU IDEAMERGE. JUST LIKE LAST YEAR WE HAD NOTHING TO COMPLAINT ABOUT THE WHOLE RENTAL EXPERIENCE. VERY SIMPLE WEB RESERVATION WITH NO SURPRISES. THE GUYS AT MCRENT FRANKFURT WERE THE SAME FROM LAST YEAR AND THEIR KIND AND FRIENDLY ATTENTION REALLY HELPS YOU TO GET STARTED AFTER A VERY LONG FLIGHT. THE MOTORHOME WAS READY AND INSPECTED BY THE TIME WE GOT THERE, A LITTLE PAPERWORK AND THE CREDIT CARD DEPOSIT AND YOU ARE READY TO GO. THIS YEAR WE RENTED A BIGGER MODEL TO HAVE A LITTLE MORE ROOM IN THE KITCHEN AND TABLE AREA, ALL WAS OK WITH IT, ALL WE HAD TO CARE ABOUT IN THE WHOLE VACATION WAS TO FILL THE FUEL TANK. DONT FORGET YOUR GPS AND KEEP THE MAPS UPDATED SINCE SOME ROUTES ARE SLIGHTLY MODIFIED FROM ONE YEAR TO THE NEXT ONE AND THE GPS GETS CONFUSED AND STARTS RECALCULATING THE ROUTES. IN OUR TWO VACATIONS WE'VE BEEN TO GERMANY, AUSTRIA, ITALY, SWITZERLAND, HOLLAND, BELGIUM AND FRANCE. IN MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE GERMAN ROUTES ARE THE BEST!!! ALL IN GREAT CONDITION EVEN IN THE MOST REMOTE FARM AREAS. WE LOVE TO VISIT LITTLE TOWNS AND EVEN THERE THE ROUTES WERE IN PERFECT CONDITION. WE HOPE TO VISIT GERMANY AGAIN NEXT YEAR AND WITH NO DOUBTS WE WILL RENT WITH IDEAMERGE AND MCRENT. THANK YOU GUYS!!!