Travelling is a motorhome can be the ultimate adventure. It’s your chance to go where you want when the mood takes you. You can stay in the same place for a while, enjoying the sites, trying new things, soaking in the culture and getting to know the locals. You can drive right past the places that don’t appeal, and you can create your adventure on your own time, surrounded by your home comforts.
A long motorhome trip can be perfect for families, who would struggle to take a long holiday in a different way, or for anyone that enjoys the luxury of home and just can’t see themselves backpacking or checking into local hostels. It’s a wonderful option and allows many people that wouldn’t otherwise to have the chance for adventure.
Even for a seasoned traveller that’s been all over the world, the idea of spending an extended period, driving across one country is intoxicating. It’s the best way to tackle a vast country like Australia, or America, as it gives you more time. Book onto a package tour trip, and you’ll only ever have a night or two in one hotel before you are back on the coach heading somewhere new. You never get chance to fully enjoy the places that you love, but you are stuck in areas that you’d rather not have seen at all.
So, whether you own your motorhome and you want to see more of your home country, or you are hiring one on arrival in a foreign land, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your holiday.
Check the Van
Whether you are travelling in your own campervan or hiring a large RV, you’ll need to make sure it’s in great condition before setting off on any long trip. The last thing that you need is to find yourself in trouble in an unknown location across the coast. So, take it in for a mechanical check or make sure you are hiring from a reliable vendor.
Then, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the proper registration, insurance and a roadworthy certificate for your vehicle. If you are travelling to Australia, you’ll also need an international driving permit, and if you plan on driving a large motorhome, you’ll need a large vehicle license. For a campervan, a standard car license is fine.
Check the Equipment
You’ll want to make sure that your temporary home has everything that you need for a long trip. You’ll need a dometic caravan fridge, cooking equipment, bathroom facilities, comfortable beds and seating, and anything else that you simply can’t be without.
Many people make the mistake of under budgeting and running out of money. Yes, travelling around the country in a caravan or motorhome can be much cheaper than staying in hotels or flying between locations. But, if you are planning on being away for an extended period, you still need to budget. Remember to include things like food and fuel, but also your insurance and licensing. Try to make sure at least 15% of your budget is free to cover emergencies.
If you need to, you can always find ways to earn money online while you travel, or even start a travel blog.
You’ll probably want more than just your van, so make sure you’ve bought anything else you need to be comfortable before you leave. Look at what’s included in your vehicle. If there’s no shower, invest in a cheap solar shower bag and a private shower screen. You may also want an awning to give yourself some outdoor space when you park up, a portable barbeque, some outdoor seating, torches, bedding, towels, a power board, rechargeable lanterns, books or a Kindle and music.
Prepare a Park Up Checklist
If you’ve found a free roadside park for a night, that’s fine. But, sometimes you’ll want to park up for longer, to give yourself a proper break and a chance to enjoy a location. At these times you’ll need a park up checklist to help you get settled and comfortable straight away. This can include things like finding a safe space, close to the sites facilities and electric hook up, securing your vehicle, setting up your awning and outdoor seating, hooking up to any sewerage facilities, water supplies and electricity that may be available, and exploring the area. As you travel, you’ll add more to your list based on your personal needs. But, having a checklist helps you to enjoy your time and stay safe.
Get to Know the Locals
Perhaps the best tip for travelling around Australia in a motorhome or campervan is to speak to people. If you live and work in a large city, you probably only ever speak to people you know. In our real lives, we’re often so busy and stressed out that we don’t even say hello to the people we sit next to every day on our commute. In many ways, this is the biggest shock to the system when travelling. People speak to each other. Get into the habit of saying hello and chatting with both locals and other travellers. You’ll get so much from it.
Yes, you can look online and pick up flyers for information about campsites and locations. But, speaking to people means all of your information is up to date and first hand, and you’ll get some amazing recommendations of things to do. You’ll experience a much more authentic view of local life if you live on the recommendations of locals. It also means that you’ll have help if ever you need it.
It’s great to have a plan, and a list of places you want to go and things you want to see. This helps you make the most of your trip. But, it’s also good to be flexible. An overly rigid plan can ruin the fun of the trip. It’ll certainly limit you. So, keep your plan in mind, but be flexible to change and don’t get tied down by a schedule if you want to do something different.
Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt
Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:
We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!
Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!
Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!
Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!
Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.
On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:
The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.
Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!
The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.
We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!
Running with the Bulls Video
Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.
We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.
All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.
Unfortunately, I was standing in their path.
What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.
Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!
Running with the Bulls Video
Would you ever consider running with the bulls?
While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide
Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.
Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Why visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.
This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok
Exploring the Klongs
Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!
What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?
You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.
Rickshaw City Tours
If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.
What’s it cost?
Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.
You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.
Local Secret Spot
Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.
You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.
How to get there?
You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.
Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!
Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.
It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!
And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.
Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…
It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!
From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.
Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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