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Monday May 20, 2024

A Guide to Urban Motorhoming

4 minutes well spent

Written by John Broderick
Urban motorhoming - European motorhome trip

Though the countryside has enormous appeal, there’s a good chance that not every motorhome trip you take will see you heading out into the wilds. It’s not all about secluded campsites and rural retreats, after all. There are urban areas of the UK which are equally as worthy of spending on the road leisure time, and a motorhome offers a fantastic way to explore. The many vibrant towns and cities of the UK (and Europe) are all out there just waiting for you, though in some ways visiting them in your motorhome involves a slightly more intense style of travel.

When planning a motorhome city trip several factors are important – from picking the ideal location before you set off to navigating tight and difficult urban streets once you’ve arrived. This edition of our blog is something of a checklist of things to think about…

Pick your place – Where should I go?

Choosing your ideal urban destination will, like any other location you may choose to visit on your motorhome trips, partly depend on the amount of available time you have. For shorter jaunts, many of the cities in the UK or the closest European destinations are actually within a day’s drive. Cities such as Paris or Amsterdam are easily accessible during a shorter trip from the UK – but if you’ve chosen to go deeper into Europe, it’s important to plan for potential stopovers. Places like Prague will require more extensive planning and more travel time.

France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain offer numerous overnight stop options which have been specifically designed for motorhome travellers, known as ‘aires’ in France, ‘stellplätze’ in Germany, and ‘áreas de autocaravanas’ in Spain. There are basic limited amenities like drinking water and waste disposal facilities at these sites, which are generally free and run by local authorities.

There are guidebooks to stopover points available for most European countries. These can be ordered in advance of your trip so you can make a route plan.

Urban camping and parking – should I park in the centre?

When you are driving a motorhome into the heart of, say, Glasgow or Rome, it’s not possible to just park up and stay as there are local regulations prohibiting this. However, many cities do offer motorhome-friendly parking options on the outskirts. These sites often provide good public transport links or shuttle services into the centre of the city, which has the benefit of meaning you can avoid the hassle of urban driving in an often tight or difficult environment. You should always verify the actual distance and transport options from these sites using reliable sources like Google Maps, so that you have access to the things you want to visit, and can plan the appropriate timings etc.

City streets – Are they difficult to drive?

Driving your motorhome through urban areas requires careful planning and a degree of caution. If you are in a more compact motorhome it’s going to be much easier to manoeuvre through tight city streets, compared to larger models. Finding suitable parking for a large motorhome can be particularly challenging, so it may make more sense to park on the outskirts and travel in to the centre via public transport.

Before setting off on your trip you should make sure you are well versed in handling your motorhome in tight spaces. City centres are notoriously difficult to drive in, and doing so in a motorhome compounds the problem somewhat. Having the extra pair of eyes of a front seat passenger can be invaluable for navigating city road quirks, checking road conditions and clearance and, of course, guiding parking your motorhome. Sat nav is useful but it’s not infallible – particularly if signal suddenly drops out when you’re in the middle of an unfamiliar tight-roaded urban area.

Security – How do I keep safe?

Towns and cities can pose security risks for motorhome owners, as the vehicles are sometimes seen as rich targets for theft. When you leave the motorhome, and even when you’re in it, ensure you’ve locked all windows and doors, and don’t leave your valuables on display. An opportunist thief might be more tempted to break in if they can see, say, your phone and wallet out on the dinette table. It’d be wise, by the way, to make sure you have the right type of motorhome insurance to include cover which will mitigate against being robbed.

Regulations – can motorhomes enter city limits?

An increasing number of cities are doing their bit for the health of their population (and the environment) by introducing strict emission controls. This is when vehicles are obliged to meet specific emission standards or possess permits to enter. In advance of your urban motorhoming trip you should go online and check the requirements for emission zones at your destination city. Compliance will help you avoid fines or access issues.

With careful planning and by taking the right precautions once you are out there on the road exploring your new favourite city, urban motorhoming can offer one of the most exciting and economical ways to travel. Here at Don Amott we can provide you with the right vehicle, from our extensive choice of new and used motorhomes, and we can also offer you urban motorhoming tips as well as city recommendations! Get in touch for more info.