Maps & Guide Books for Motorhome Travel

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Here is a guide to the different types of resources available to you when you’re touring in your motorhome:

Motorhome Stopover (Aire) Guides

All over Europe (except the UK), countries operate motorhome stopover schemes – parking areas where motorhomes can legitimately park for one or more nights and where you are permitted to cook and sleep in your vehicle.

These locations have different names in different countries – Aire de Service Camping Car in France, Stellplatze in Germany, Aree di Sosta in Italy and so on. What they all have in common is that they are a fantastic way to explore countries and stay in some great locations – both rural and urban. They tend to be free or much cheaper than campsites, too, although you don’t get campsite facilities – you must be a self-contained motorhome (with toilet) to use aires. Caravans aren’t allowed in most countries.

There are a number of guides that are hugely useful in finding these locations, especially if you haven’t done it before. I have listed some of the best of these below – these are all books I have used or had personally recommended to me by other motorhomers:

All of these images are (Amazon⇒) links:

German Bord Atlas All The Aires France 2010 Guide Officiel Des Aires de Services Camping Car All the Aires Spain and Portugal All the Aires Benelux and Scandinavia

MAPS

In many people’s minds, maps have been superseded by satellite navigation – or sat nav, as it is popularly known. I don’t use sat nav, but even if I did, I wouldn’t go away on a driving holiday without at least a high level road atlas for the countries I was driving in.

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. It’s much easier to plan routes or diversions when you can look at a large map, rather than a tiny screen.
  2. Paper maps don’t get stolen, broken or lose their GPS signals at inconvenient moments.

I prefer road atlas-style maps to fold-out paper maps when driving abroad, as they are much easier to use inside a vehicle. My favourites are Michelin (Amazon⇒)and AA (Amazon⇒) map books. Although others are available, I generally find these to be the best. Here are a few from my collection (click on any image to view further details).

All of these images are (Amazon⇒) links:

Guide Books

Along with driving maps, guide books are the other essential of a touring holiday.

Although doing your own research and discovery is fun, you can’t possibly cover a wide area as thoroughly as a good guide book. By that, I mean a guide book that’s been written by travel writers who have actually visited your destinations.

In addition to this, if you are travelling by motorhome then you will also want guide books that include some information about road travel, rural areas and campsites – not just city guides.

We usually use Lonely Planet guide books, but on a recent trip to Norway we compared The Rough Guide to Norway with Lonely Planet Norway and found that we preferred the Rough Guide. This means the jury is out for future trips! Both Lonely Planet and Rough Guide are certainly very comprehensive and largely accurate – either will serve you well.

Here are a few guides from our collection – all of which we have used extensively and would recommend.

All of these images are (Amazon⇒) links:

If you have used any particularly good guide books and would like to recommend them for motorhome travel, then post a comment below – personal recommendations are always welcomed!

Dictionaries & Phrase Books

One of the slight downsides/exciting challenges of travelling around Europe is the number of different languages you will hear spoken. Although it isn’t realistic to be able to speak the language of every country you visit, it is rather complacent not to make any effort at all. In addition, there will be times when you need to decipher signs, labels, forms and even menus.

What we usually do is buy a pocket dictionary or phrase book for each country we visit. These enable you to translate most basic everyday words and also give you the opportunity to construct sentences or questions if you urgently need help and can’t find an English speaker. In addition, making an effort in a foreign language always generates a bit of good will and friendliness – if you simply expect people to speak English, they will sometimes refuse, even though they can.

We particularly like the Collins Gem pocket dictionaries as they have a plasticy, waterproof outer cover and have used the following.

All of these images are (Amazon⇒) links:

AA phrase books are good, too, they have more motoring-related phrases than some others and help you to participate in conversations.

All of these images are (Amazon⇒) links:

People’s experiences with dictionaries and phrase books can vary hugely depending on the situations one uses them in. So, if you’ve used different ones post a comment below to let us know – with so much choice recommendations are always helpful!

5 thoughts on “Maps & Guide Books for Motorhome Travel

  • October 3, 2010 at 1:07 pm
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    i am looking for a comprehensive guide to motorhoming in europe? Could you reccommend a GOOD guide that hasn’t already sold out for a reasonable price? e.g.£10-20.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • October 4, 2010 at 11:59 am
      Permalink

      Hi Flossy,

      I assume you mean a guide to aires and motorhome stopover facilities plus related information. If so, a single comprehensive guide to the whole of Europe is quite a tall order, espcially for under £20. Most of the useful guides are country-specific. Guides that cover the whole of Europe in one book (e.g. Camperstop Europe) don’t tend to be as good as country-specific guides although they are still very useful.

      The problem of guides having sold out is because of the lateness of the season. People will have bought 2010 guides earlier this year and now be waiting for 2011 guides to become available. However, some smaller retailers still have stocks – for example, the Vicarious Books website shows Camperstop Europe 2010 in stock.

      Another multi-country guide that is worth considering is the Reisemobil Bordatlas. It’s very comprehensive for Germany but is also good for some other European countries (and not so good for others). According to Vicarious Books, the 2011 edition will be available in November, if you can wait that long. 2010 is sold out.

      Sorry I can’t be more help!

      Cheers, Roland

      Reply
  • September 8, 2016 at 12:05 am
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    We use normally for Portugal the best portal Autocaravanismo.pt, here we can find i real time all Motorhome Service Points.

    Reply
  • April 28, 2018 at 11:14 am
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    Hi. We’re looking to travel around the UK in a Campervan for 8 weeks. Could you recommend a good book for travellers that will tell us where camping sites (paid & free) are and give good information.

    Thank you

    Reply

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