I only speak Australian English!!
Trip Start Jul 06, 2003
401Trip End Ongoing
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What did we learn , first and foremost it is a fantastic experience,best done as young as possible!! ie, now!! the fitter you are the better!
Language is definitely not a problem, learn a greeting and a thank you in the hosts dialect and you are sweet, at no time did we have any problems being understood and we did plenty off the normal tourist routes. If you have to say you only understand English, be sure to make it clear that you are Australian, my favorite was that " I only speak Australian English" they will go out of their way to help you!! There is a distinct dislike for some other English speaking nationalities in parts of Europe! if you want to be helped, distinguish yourself from them!!
Hire the smallest camping car that you can get by in, roads off the autostradas are narrow, walled and twisty, the smaller vehicle you have the easier it will be! and less likely to get stuck where you wont fit! We would hire a Kombi pop top size unit next time , if only for the reason that we found the bathroom set up too hard to use and impracticable and not needed anyway in the unit we hired, basically a waste of space. There are no dramas accessing good toilet and shower facilities everywhere in Europe, all you need to do then is use a little imagination to deal with nocturnal needs and you are right! As long as you have a bed, somewhere to make a cuppa, a little fridge , and depending what time of the year , central heating, you will be happy. A bit like packing your cases, less is definitely better!!
Don't even think about it without a Tom Tom, they are incredible, buy one before leaving home and learn how to use it. There obviously are other brands like Garmin and Navman, but Tom Tom seems to be the popular one in Europe.
Get good current guide books that suit what you are looking for. We used Rick Steve's books, they were accurate and invaluable! one thing though, every Yank traveling Europe uses them! (the blue bible) think that through! but I couldn't find anything better!
We used Mike and Terri Churches book Motorhoming Europe, for recommended caravan parks when we wanted to use them. The recommendations were spot on. and even though the book is out of print you should be able to pick one up on Amazon. The multiple other guides you can get are difficult to use and cumbersome, there are multiple thousands of campingplatz in Europe, best just to take someones advice on which is the best park to stop at by someone who travels extensively!
Debit cards are as good as cash, at least mine was! The whole time we were away I pinned once and signed twice when buying stuff!! the dozens of other times it was just swiped and given back with the receipt, a bit scary! if it got lost! It is a Citibank encoded chip card that has to be pinned in Oz, so why the difference overseas beats me! Anyway I am glad that I had the card linked to a line of credit rather than our own bank account, I figured it is better arguing a case of a wrong transaction when it is the banks money rather than our own!! Anyway it worked flawlessly,no problems getting cash out of ATMs when needed. I checked the transactions when we got home, transferred money to pay off the line of credit, copped a small interest bill,no transaction charges or exchange fees, Bobs your uncle,
It is a long,long airplane journey! so sitting somewhere half reasonable is preferable! you don't really need to be sitting where people line up waiting to get into the toilet!! If you cant do it yourself get someone to book you in on line 30 to 24 hours before you fly, you can choose where you sit. We found an aisle seat ,and the one next to it in the centre of the plane as far forward as possible ( but not the first 4 rows this is "kids beware" family territory) to be great. It increases the chances of having a spare seat next to you in the middle of the plane if it is not fully booked, you can get out without disturbing anyone except the other half, and you shouldn't have anyone trying to clamber over you!! Off course I am only familiar with economy class!!!
Thats it for now, and hey, its only my opinion, find out for yourself !! LOL