Guides, Inspiration, Vanlife

Top Tips for Van Touring in Scandinavia

Thinking of a campervan trip to Scandinavia?  Want to explore fjords and archipelagos?  Well, Scandinavia was the chosen destination for our 2017 trip in The Dub and it took quite a lot of research before we decided on a route through Denmark, Sweden and Norway.  In a previous blog I gave a run down of the trip highlights and the places we would recommend, but here I wanted to pass on some tips for your own Scandi thriller…

Things to Consider…

Brace yourself for the cost of living…  Let’s just get this out of the way up front – Scandinavia is expensive compared to most other areas of Europe.  I found this quite hard at first, quickly doing mental currency conversions and thinking ‘I’m not paying that much for that!’.  Then, I learned to accept the situation and limited these reactions to only things that were disproportionately expensive, such as alcohol, and restricting these purchases only.  Ultimately, check the prices in advance, check what you plan to do is affordable and then accept this scenario.  Oh, and fill the van with booze in Germany!

 

You Really Need a Plan…  In the past we have started a long trip with a rough idea of where we want to go and how long we will spend in each country and then we’ve improvised the rest on route.  Scandinavia was different.  It just seems so vast and varied  that you really need to know what type of trip you are looking for and then put the time into research; coastal? lakes? cities? mountains? wilderness? nature? rivers? beaches?  We took our sea kayaks, SUPs and swimming wetsuits and created a route based on using these as much as possible.  We took information from the Wild Guide Scandinavia, Lonely Planet Scandinavia and of course, the wisdom of everything that is Google…

Scandi-Van Tour 2017 Route
A long drive, but worth it…

Go natural, and get wet!  I would question the wisdom of travelling across these vast, scarcely populated nations if your idea of a great trip is cities, culture and all things urban.  Perhaps a couple of city breaks to the capitals would be better in that instance?  But if you love big landscapes, wilderness and wild coasts you will love Scandinavia.  In particular, all things aquatic are well catered for, but hiking, biking and generally immersing yourself in nature are all top activities here.  Barely a day went by that we didn’t get our toes wet…

Freedom Camping  The right to access in Norway and Sweden allows people – foreigners as well as locals – to hike and camp more or less freely in the woods and in the mountains, regardless of land ownership.  However, this freedom does not extend to vehicles and we mostly experienced finding a suitable, free place to park the same as elsewhere in Europe; a combination of research and then luck.  However, general rules are that the closer you get to the waters edge or a popular attraction the harder it was to find a free parking spot.  So head inland if you want to find a quiet, free camp spot…

I've laid the table...
A freedom camping opportunity #vanlife

Campsites  So, we found it hard to be close to the coast without using a campsite, and the prices of campsites are expensive, or at least seem that way to a Brit! (£18 to £28 per night, showers are often extra)  They are, however, generally really clean, well maintained, have excellent locations and most give plenty of space for each pitch, especially if you have a VW T5 compared to the local’s large motorhomes!  Our aim was to spend our time by the water which resulted in us spending 3/4 of our trip in campsites.  Also, watch out for the RV parks in the big cities, a cheap way of accessing the urban environment…

img_8288.jpg
When you are smaller than your neighbours you have plenty of space!

Bring a bottle…  The cost of living issue especially applies to dining out (not to mention drinking out…) and we found ourselves cooking in the van more than any other trip before.  But you know what, this was brilliant!  When no longer faced with a cheap, fast food option we were able to eat more healthily and in some amazing places with better views than even the best restaurants.  It will shape the way we approach future long distance trips…

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I hope you’ve found this blog useful and maybe it has inspired you to head to Scandinavia yourself.  I put together some general tips for happy #vanlife in a past blog here, and if you are curious about The Dub, our adventure sports camper then there is a series of blogs on its metamorphosis starting with this one.

Wherever your #vanlife travels take you have fun!

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