We just returned from a too-short (as always!) trip to Switzerland. The trip was no small matter, because for the first time in our lives we had the opportunity to go by camper van! So we hasten to give you our first impressions and opinions on more than a week’s trip, where the vehicle served us as a bedroom, living room, dining room, bathroom…. for home simply :)
We were probably looking forward to this trip the most. A completely different way of traveling, independence, no plan. We knew we wanted to go to Switzerland, but we didn’t plan every single day – we really lacked this flexibility and spontaneity in our earlier trips, because, however, when you go to the other side of the world, even more so with a child, we prefer to have at least some accommodation provided.
And this time it was our own camper that served as our home for a week and a half. We drove a Fiat Knaus SKY TRAVELLER 600 DKG 6-passenger model from rental company 4kampery.pl.
In this post, we will describe to you our first impressions and observations, fresh from our return.
Table of contents
Journey to Switzerland
Why Switzerland at all? On the one hand, we dreamed of mountain views, heights, serpentines. On the other hand, we wanted to go where accommodations are so expensive that it will definitely be more financially advantageous to spend the night “under the cloud.” Initially it was going to be Scandinavia, because somehow we like to escape to cooler areas in the summer, but a week and a half is definitely too short, so we decided to head for the Alps.
We left late in the evening to catch as much sleep as possible for Olive on the road. We had two drivers, so we were able to swap without any problems, and we were able to make it all the way to St. Gallen (with several longer stops along the way), the next day around 3 pm.
Unfortunately, it has to be admitted that a trip in an RV takes much longer than in a passenger car. The camper will not reach higher speeds, so you have to take a large margin on navigation estimates. On highways and freeways there is no problem with dimensions, but if your navigation leads you through smaller towns you may find that not everywhere the camper will fit – this is also worth bearing in mind. We, on the way to Switzerland had no such surprises, but whenever we wanted to enter Swiss towns, we had to check with redoubled attention if we were sure we could enter everywhere.
Also keep in mind that the camper, however, has its size and weight, and gasoline is not a dime a dozen :) The faster you drive, the more you burn. Such an optimal trip is max 100-110 km/h, however, the most economical is to go around 80 km/h! Quick, right? :)
The trip was also prolonged for another reason – the route was fraught with many stops, including longer ones for food. Since the camper will hold everything and more, we took a lot of food and half-finished products on the road, from which we cooked our own meals, and we started already on the way to Switzerland ;) Add to this stops for Olive and the time lengthens mercilessly.
Fortunately, the road itself from Lodz to Switzerland is excellent. These are mostly highways or expressways, with many parking lots along the way, which we eagerly used.
Parking spaces for an RV
Speaking of parking lots… How and where to park an RV?
We had a lot of concerns about just getting around in the camper, especially parking and maneuvering. How do you ride? Completely different from a passenger car, but…. comparably! Of course, this is a vehicle that is almost 7 meters long and more than 3 meters high, but these dimensions go easily to get used to.
Along the way, we rather had no problem parking the RV at MOPs along the highway. Only on the way back, at night, it happened that the trucks occupied all the available spaces, so we had to go one parking lot away.
As a rule, we stood in the seats for larger vehicles (if there were any) or in the seats for passenger cars – sometimes we had to take two seats or stand at the end to avoid disturbing anyone and to make sure no one hooked us.
We had more trouble filling the water and draining the dirty water and toilet. To do this, however, it is best to pull over to some camping, because along the highways, and especially in Poland, it is very difficult to find them.
And what was parking like in the city? This is a higher school of driving. If we were to advise anything it is to avoid entering the city center at all costs. A far better option is to look for large, uncovered (!) parking lots on the outskirts or campgrounds and commute to the center by bicycle or public transportation. Many times we entered cities, already had a parking lot selected, and on the spot it turned out that there was no chance to put an RV. On top of that, there is stress, turning around, combining…. It’s better to stay on the outskirts.
Camping for campers
Camping with a camper is a great thing! Of course, every time there is a little work to do with connecting, setting up, but definitely less than putting up a tent. We have everything in place, there’s no need to take forever to pack and unpack (although it’s important to remember that you need to bury everything before setting off in the camper so that nothing flies around inside).
During the trip, we tested both places to spend the night simply in parking lots with electricity connection and water fill, campgrounds at gas stations, to grazing campgrounds with swimming pools. Some were worth the price, and some were not, although it should be remembered that in Switzerland camping is much more expensive…. Aside from standing in a parking lot without electricity and water, the cheapest stop cost us CHF 16 and the most expensive CHF 85.
Some were great and would have been worth staying at even for a week, and some we wanted to get away from as soon as possible. Sometimes we ran into people working at the campground who were eager to help, came up themselves and asked if everything was to our liking, and sometimes we ran into people who outright didn’t say everything or lied (yes, such things even in Switzerland).Please define valid width and height attributes for remote images. This will also optimize the loading time of the remote panorama.
Bicycles + camper ?
The best thing that could have happened to us! To be honest, at first it didn’t occur to us to take them at all, but now we can’t imagine a camper trip without them. And it’s not about traversing unknown long bicycle routes, but about practical commuting to the city or shopping.
Switzerland has great infrastructure, full of bike paths and racks. As there are no paths on the sidewalks, there are designated lanes on the streets, and where the paths end there was immediately a bike rack (and not for a few bikes, but for dozens of bikes!). But that’s not all: here, drivers simply drive culturally, and the cyclist has priority (often drivers even stopped just to allow us to make some maneuver, even though they were the ones who had priority). We felt safe like nowhere else and weren’t even afraid to ride down the streets with Olive in a bike seat.
The camper will hold everything and more
It turns out that quite a lot of stuff can fit into an RV. We traveled with four adults plus a two-year-old, and we managed to pack in such a way that we even had all the beds in the camper at our disposal (one bed is just above the trunk and can be raised if everything doesn’t fit, but then you lose your sleeping space and use the fold-out bed at the table).
An additional challenge was the fact that we had to pack for both warm and cold weather because we planned to drive around the mountains a bit and maybe even reach a glacier. Plus clothes for hiking and biking plus all the accessories. Add the stuff for the camping itself (table, chairs, barbecue) and it comes out really quite a lot.
As mentioned, we also took a lot of food to buy as little as possible locally. We stocked up on pasta, sauces, rice, meat, cold cuts, cheese, cottage cheese, jam, etc. In fact, the only shopping we did locally was mainly for bread.
We were very surprised that we were able to push everything inside!
Did we enjoy the trip? By all means – it was a completely new experience. But now, we would approach the trip a little differently – we would travel less by camper and more locally by bicycle, train or public transportation. So that the camper waits for us quietly at the campground, and does not serve as our main means of transportation on site :)
See also our entry: Switzerland – what to see, TOP 5 most beautiful places.