Tolls, Ferries, Fees, and Discounts
Are you going on your next caravan trip and feel the roads could do with a little cost optimisation? Oh yeah! Let's do it. Let's take a look at how to make traveling through Europe cheaper and get to the seaside and mountains with fewer tolls.
There are lots of options to consider to make your journey cheaper or shorter. You can drive an older trailer on the back roads and only pay for higher fuel consumption if the car is under 3.5 tonnes. With giants like Morello or Concorde, you'll pay the highest tolls, not just on the motorway, just like trucks.
It's true that toll motorways are not worth it with an older caravan. You drive the 80kmph like a county road, and when it comes to tolls and stamps, you're paying easily double that of a passenger car. If you have a new vehicle capable of speeds up to 130mph, you're better off, it's just that the fuel consumption of the rig will be higher due to the higher speed. Mostly though, you'll experience less exploration on the highway, and food will be more expensive and worse.
Let's go to specific tips in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and nearby. In the Czech Republic it's simple, cars and motorhomes up to 3.5 tons pay the same as a passenger car. In Slovakia you also pay the same for a car, only the trailer pays its stamp. RVs over 3.5 tons pay what a truck pays.
Do you like to save money? Then focus on avoiding the classic motorway catches and associated tolls. The route from Brno to Croatia is via Slovenia, where the cheapest seven-day vignette is €15 for a stretch of about 80km of motorway. Or pay the toll at the Karavanke tunnel and at Brenner, on the Austrian border, while sometimes you just need to skip a bit of the motorway, like in Brenner, and you'll have a free lunch in your pocket. At the Karavanke tunnel, it's not so convenient, the detour adds 30 minutes and some extra fuel.
It's also good to choose the right road. It's quicker and cheaper to go to Spain via Germany and Lyon in France than via the Alps and Italy. Similarly, it's quicker to get to Greece via Hungary and Serbia than around the Adriatic coast. You might need to spend a little research time with your favorite map app!
What's more, cars up to 3.5 tonnes pay nothing for motorways in Germany, Holland, Belgium, and Denmark. Spain has abolished most tolls since this year. In France, on the other hand, you'll find the most expensive motorways in Europe. And the price of fuel? It's always cheaper to get off the motorway and refuel outside, usually by 15-30%. Waze is a great way to get an idea of diesel prices in the area.
One nice trick to save time and avoid the French motorways and tolls is to take a cruise from Barcelona to Rome, which takes about 23 hours. You may be able to chug along faster on the road, but you won't be rested. Smaller sections like sailing to Sicily, the Greek island of Thassos, crossing the Dardanelles Strait in Turkey and the like, you don't have to deal with at all. Just queue up during the day and you'll be sailing within the hour.
Even the price tends to be moderate. Just always be careful of the chassis, if it's low, it is best to drive onto the ramp from a slanted angle, you'll avoid expensive design changes to the rear of the motorhome and caravan.
Discount camping cards
These are designed to entice you to travel in the off-season and can be very worthwhile. Typically, an annual card costs a few hundred, and you can easily get those back in discounts for one to three days at the campsite. You also get a sort of guarantee of a well-maintained campsite. That's why the most famous ACSI is so popular all over Europe. The price includes the sites within the app as well as the printed book (English, German or French). If you will only be camping for a couple of weeks during the summer though, it is unnecessary.
- The best source for up-to-date motorway prices is Tolls.eu
- You can find the price of fuel around you in Waze
- Fuel prices in Europe on Tolls.eu
- Find Europe's ferries at Aferry.com
- The best discount card for campsites is ACSI
- The best places to stay are on Camperguru