How to Really “Backpack Europe”

For some of us here at IT, camping in tents was our first real introduction to travel. So our interest piqued when reading Arthur Frommer’s interesting blog post about campsites situated on the outskirts of most European cities. The campsites are usually accessible via the city’s public transportation system (like a subway or bus), and provide a cheap alternative to staying right in the heart of things.

He writes:

Did you know you could camp in Paris along the banks of the Seine River in the Bois de Boulogne park? How about a campsite with a view overlooking the domes and bell towers of Florence from a hillside terrace in the Oltrarno district? Venice even has a campground by the beach on the island next to the Lido, just a short ferry ride from St. Mark’s Square.

Some campgrounds are operated only in warm weather (roughly Easter through October or early November), but many stay open year-round.

The bill at a European campground can be a bit confusing, since you are usually charged an array of small fees – one for the site, another for each person, yet another for your vehicle — but the total usually ends up around $17 to $26 for a couple in a tent, up to $40 in the most popular campgrounds in the summer high season. Forgot your tent? You can usually rent one for $10-$20.

Fortunately, travelers don’t have to bring a tent to take advantage of the campgrounds’ wealth of amenities (bathrooms, picnic tables, cooking areas, grocery stores, swimming pools, etc.). In fact, they don’t even have to bring any camping gear to Europe at all. Camping gear can be rented overseas (which saves the traveler a good deal of hassle when trying to get through airport security) from a variety of places.

This summer, KarmaBum will offer Camping Kits that will include a two-person tent, ground tarp, sleeping mats, lantern, table, two-burner Camping Gax stove, stools, ice chest, frying pan, pot, utensiles, mugs, plates, and a rubber mallet. The only thing not included is a sleeping bag, which I’m sure most (sanitary) travelers would prefer, anyway. These camping kits will be available to rent at Camping Muehlleiten in Bavaria, which also has a small convenience store. The kits will cost $145 for a week, and discounts will be offered to those who rent a car through Renault Eurodrive or AutoEurope. KarmaBum hopes to add partner campgrounds near Frankfurt and Paris soon.

To find a campground near the city you are visiting, check out the city’s tourism website, ACSI Eurocampings  or Eurocamps.net, and then get packing.

Photo: Katie Knorovsky

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