Campervans are the best way to see Europe. Something small like a VW T5 is perfect for meandering along narrow lanes in quiet backwaters where tour operators can’t take you. Aimless wandering can often lead you to the best camping spots. On the other hand, sometimes you don’t have time to traipse and need to get to your destination in one leap.
We took our vintage VW Camper to Italy a few years ago. We started our tour in Genoa and cruised along soaring seaside roads clutched against steeping Mediterranean cliffs. We took the slow easy path and lunched when we stumbled upon ancient hilltop villages with inviting cafes. It was a great trip but we made one mistake. We started with a headlong dash from Yorkshire down to the Riviera, which meant we were knackered when we got there. The next day we put our feet up with a glass of wine. Nice and chilled but we lost a day of exploration. We should have saved on fuel and ferry costs by flying into Milan or Turin and hired a van locally instead.
The same rule applies in reverse. If you fly into Stansted Airport in the South East of England, SKiN&BLiSS Campers (based only 15 mins from Stansted Airport) will come and pick you up from arrivals. Stanstead is just off the M11 so it makes an ideal starting point for UK adventures, but if you’d rather stay local there’s plenty on offer nearby.
A forty-minute drive east down the A120 gets you to Colchester. It’s ancient, no really – it claims to be Britain’s oldest recorded town. It was the Roman capital of England and impressive Roman ruins and Medieval buildings still survive. It’s like York, but in the South!
Colchester is also the gateway to the Essex and Suffolk coast. There’s the traditional British seaside delights of Frinton on Sea or a couple of hours of cruising would get you to Southwold, a charming little Victorian resort. You could spend an easy week meandering through the scattered sleepy rural and seaside towns in and around the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Check out the website for outdoor things to do.
Don’t forget that London is right on the doorstep. Only thirty minutes from Stanstead, the Lee Valley runs along the Eastern edge of the UK capital. There are a variety of camp sites here and also in the nearby Epping Forest which offer easy public transport links into central London. Stay in the countryside but you can still be visiting London’s iconic attractions in less than an hour. It’s the best of both worlds.