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DETAILS: Car Camping in Europe

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

CAMPER RENTALS: A huge selection of rentals in Europe (plus Asia, Africa, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand) is available at MotorhomesWorldwide.com ( http://www.motorhomesworldwide.com). The Australia-based company provides instant quotes and connects you with rental companies around the world, and my experience was problem-free. A California-based company, http://www.mhrww.com, connects you with a smaller number of rental companies in a smaller number of countries. If you prefer to travel with a group, check out organized RV tours in various countries at http://www.trackstoadventure.com.

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CAMPSITES: "Quality Camping and Caravanning Sites," by Alan Rogers, lists details of campsites in separate editions covering Italy, France, Spain and Great Britain. The books, published by Alan Rogers Guides, are available at http://www.alanrogers.com, which also lists campsites in select countries.

To find campsites in a country not covered by guidebooks, contact the country's tourism bureau. Many rental agencies, including the one I found through MotorhomesWorldwide.com, provide guidebooks listing campsites, but beware: The books will probably be in the native language. Besides, it's wise to spend time planning before you arrive at the rental agency.

DRIVING TIPS: I was pleasantly surprised to find driving in Italy relatively easy. Most drivers seemed to approach the narrow, winding roads cautiously. Major highways in Italy are well maintained and, unlike the German autobahn, have speed limits, so highway traffic isn't terrifying. No matter what country you drive in, a few tips:

· Don't allow the fuel meter to dip too low. Gas stations at rest stops along the toll roads are open late, but on secondary roads, you never know when you'll see an open station.

· Make sure you know what kind of fuel your rental takes. I happened to be paying attention when Van Italy's rep mentioned that my Volkswagen required diesel fuel. Putting in gasoline would have killed the van.

· Consider mapping out key trips at an international mapping site such as http://www.viamichelin.com before leaving home.

· Don't merely pay attention to demonstrations of how things work in your camper; take the time to try everything yourself before leaving the rental lot.

-- C.L.


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