2019 Spain

Enjoying paella at Camping La Marina RestaurantEnjoying paella at Camping La Marina RestaurantWe had had so much fun two summers ago touring Bavaria, Austria, northern Italy, and Switzerland in a camper van that we decided to give it another go - this time on a 4 ½-week trip to Spain.

After briefly toying with the idea of renting a car and staying in hotels or airbnbs (especially since we would be visiting so many cities), we reverted to our RV roots and decided to rent a camper van once again. For out tastes, there are so many advantages to this mode of travel:

  • Rather than unpacking and repacking everytime you switch locations, a camper allows you to do that just once over the entire trip.
    • Campgrounds are often located in the most beautiful locations, such as on beaches and in national parks
      • Camping is a great way to absorb and learn about the local culture, in that rather than being surrounded by fellow American tourists, we would be recreating with Spaniards (and, of course, Germans because they seem to always be on holiday), seeing and doing what they do in their leisure time. In fact, in 4 weeks we did not run into a single American in a campground.
        • The facilities in European campgrounds are amazing. Everyone of them has a restaurant on site (often a very good one), a small supermarket, fresh bread in the morning, and beautiful facilities.

        Our campsite at La MarinaOur campsite at La MarinaThat being said, renting a camper van is not necessarily cheaper than staying in a hotel. We rented a 6-meter, Urban Plus van from McRent in Tarragona (1 hour south of Barcelona by train). It was great! Very efficiently designed - big queen-size bed across the back, bathroom with shower, dinette, refrigerator and stove, and lots of storage space. It cost us $2,833 for 25 days, which works out to about $113 a day. Then, of course, there is the cost of campgrounds on top of that, which probably averaged about $20 per night, plus gas and tolls.

        Estimated cost of the entire 31-day trip is $8,500.

        Unlike our trip to the Alps, where most of our destinations were of the natural beauty variety, this time we would be visiting more cities, which can be a lot more challenging when your means of transportation is a small RV - those streets can really be narrow! However, I was surprised and delighted to learn that Spain, as well as many other countries in Europe, is extremely RV friendly, even in their cities.

        Kind of by accident while googling parking lots in the cities we planned to visit, I discovered the concept of “Aires,” which are inexpensive (often free) places where overnight parking for camper vans is permitted, most of them providing electricity, water fill, and waste disposal. Almost every city, large or small, has one (or sometimes even two) located in either walking distance or near a bus stop to the major attractions of that city. For anyone traveling through Europe in a camper van, I highly recommend purchasing the aires book for that country. We bought the Aires for Spain and Portugal.

        Which brings me to another tip for those camping in Europe - the ACSI discount camping card, which in Spain alone has 285 participating campgrounds. Discounts usually only apply for the low season (prior to mid-June and after August). With the card you also get a guide book with a list of campgrounds and descriptions. It takes just two or three nights at an ACSI campground to break even on the card.

        Rather than picking up the camper right away, we thought it would be wiser to transition more gradually into the new time zone, so we spent a few days in Barcelona before picking up the van.

        From there we would take a train to Tarragona, pick up the camper, and take a little loop around the country, mixing in beaches, cities, and national parks.

        You can download a detailed pdf Road Trip Travel Itinerary or zipped Microsoft Streets and Trips Travel Road Map file for this trip using the links shown below.

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        Spain 2019 Itinerary.pdf225.33 KB