Camping in Germany is truly a delightful experience, especially when you have the freedom and comfort of a caravan or RV. One really cool thing I love is how many people travel with caravans and RVs during the summer months – you see so many of them making their way along the Autobahn as soon as the days get warmer. It’s certainly a cultural vibe that I love here.
As an American embarking on my first road trip through Germany, I had the pleasure of experiencing my first long holiday from Northern Germany to Bavaria for two unforgettable weeks. Although we encountered a few hiccups along the way, the journey was nothing short of amazing.
Before you plan your own RV or caravan adventure through Germany, here are 5 essential tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.
1. Call Ahead for a Camping Spot
One crucial aspect of RV and caravan travel in Germany is to plan your camping spots in advance. Campsites are in high demand, particularly on weekends and during peak holiday seasons. Therefore, it is highly recommended to call ahead and make reservations to secure your spot.
Try calling at least a few days ahead – especially for weekend camping. Remember to call earlier in the day. Most checkout times are between 10 and 11 so you might get lucky to get a reservation if someone decides to leave early. Also, keep in mind that most of the offices usually close early in the evenings.
This will help you avoid the disappointment of arriving at a fully booked campsite, which could disrupt your travel plans. By planning ahead, you can ensure a stress-free stay at your desired locations.
2. Look for a Site with Grey Water Disposal
When camping with an RV or caravan, it is essential to consider the disposal of grey water. Greywater refers to the wastewater generated from activities such as washing dishes, showering, using the toilet, and doing laundry. While some campsites offer greywater disposal facilities, not all do.
It is wise to search for campsites that provide this service or have designated areas where you can safely dispose of your greywater. This consideration will help maintain a clean and environmentally friendly camping experience, and it will help keep stress levels down about the greywater tank being completely full while you are driving to your next location. Trust me – it’s not fun. 😉
3. Public Parking Spaces: “In a Pinch” Option
In certain situations, you may find yourself in need of a quick camping spot, especially if you encounter unexpected delays or changes to your itinerary.
Germany does offer public parking spaces where you can camp in a pinch. We ended up having to fall back on this option when we were running behind schedule and couldn’t find a campground that was not completely full. We had a hungry kid and we were exhausted, so we parked in a small public parking space in the mountains for the evening. Thankfully, we had battery-operated lights and plenty of candles for the night.
The good thing about this option is you usually don’t have to pay for these spots. However, it’s important to note that these spaces generally lack electricity hookups, public bathrooms, or greywater disposal.
While they can provide a temporary solution, it is advisable to use them sparingly and only when necessary. Be sure to plan accordingly and make use of established campsites whenever possible to enjoy the full benefits of RV and caravan travel.
4. Be Prepared for Germans to Help You Park
One charming aspect of camping in Germany is the willingness of locals and fellow campers to lend a helping hand. When parking your camper, you may find that Germans are eager to assist you.
It is not uncommon for passersby or fellow campers to offer guidance or even physically assist you in maneuvering your vehicle into the designated parking spot. Embrace this helpful spirit and accept assistance graciously. Their expertise and knowledge of the area can prove invaluable, ensuring a smoother parking experience.
When this first happened to us, I was so embarrassed as everyone around us stared while a few men walked over to help guide us into a relatively tight parking spot. But, to be honest, I was thankful for the help afterward. I quickly began to see how campers look out for one another here, and now I think it is super awesome!
5. Ensure Your Car Can Handle Steep Inclines While Towing
As you traverse the picturesque landscapes of Germany, especially in Bavaria, you may encounter roads with steep inclines. It is very important to ensure that your vehicle is equipped to handle these challenging terrains while towing your camper. Take into account the weight and size of your RV or caravan, as well as the power and capabilities of your car.
Be mindful of the potential strain on your engine and transmission, especially when ascending or descending steep slopes. It is advisable to conduct thorough research or consult with a professional to ensure that your vehicle is adequately prepared for the journey ahead.
We learned the hard way – not only did our car slow down significantly once we reached the hills and mountains in Bavaria, but we also had a moment when smoke came rolling out from our front tires after our car and caravan started rolling backward when we couldn’t make the incline. My son still talks about the time our car “started smoking” when we were going to the castle! It’s funny to laugh about now, but it was certainly not so funny in that moment.
Embarking on a caravan or RV adventure through Germany offers a unique and exhilarating way to explore this beautiful country. By following these five essential tips, you can maximize your enjoyment while minimizing potential challenges.
Remember to call ahead for camping reservations, seek campsites with grey water disposal, use public parking spaces sparingly, embrace the assistance of helpful locals and fellow campers, and make sure your vehicle is well-equipped for steep inclines.
Also, remember to pack a camera, a variety of clothes, and good shoes for walking and hiking. With these preparations in place, your camping experience in Germany is bound to be an unforgettable and rewarding adventure. Safe travels!
We would love to hear about your camping experiences in Germany! Drop us a comment!