Other services on the road

Life on the road can’t be exciting all the time. There is no getting away there are certain things you need. These include

    • Fuel 
    • Gas (Propane, Butane or LPG)
    • Water
    • Toilet dump
    • Grey waste
    • Laundry
    • Wi-Fi

Our solar panel powers our 12v leisure battery and we have an inverter which can power the laptop and projector. Our treat to ourselves when we have electrical hook-up is pizza and a roast dinner as we can use the convection oven.

Fuel

This is no different to filling your car and is common sense really. We tend to fill up as and when we need it, or if we see a particularly cheap deal then we obviously take advantage. It’s worth googling fuel prices when you cross borders to ascertain which country it is cheaper to buy fuel in. We failed when going to San Marino and paid over the odds just before we crossed the border!

It’s worth noting that in Italy and Sicily there are often two prices; one for the self-service and one for the serviced pumps. The difference is between 25c and 40c so it can make a huge difference is you are filling your tank.

Gas

For better or worse, we use exchangeable bottles and bar our one problem in Spain (see Van Life: Let’s talk gas ), touchwood we’ve been okay since. In Spain and Portugal we picked Repsol to buy our gas bottles from and had no problem exchanging them. In Italy, we managed to buy bottle at one of the campsites and we were also able to get our German bottle refilled at a place recommended by one of the campsite in Rome.

Sometimes Park4night has gas filling stations and LPG stations marked on it so it’s always worth checking on there.

Services

The thing that usually determines whether we need to stop at a paid site or service dump is whether we have a full toilet. There are several options for emptying and re-filling the services:

Free service dumps

Many of the petrol stations and supermarkets in Spain and Portugal have free camper services. In our experience, this is less widespread in Italy, however a few towns do have camper stops with free services. We either find these on Park 4 Night or we stumble across them as we’re driving.

Paid service dumps

Many campsites will allow you dump your services, and refill your water for a small fee (circa €5). Even if it’s not advertised, it’s always worth asking. Again, this is usually advertised on Park 4 Night.

Water

We have a 110L water tank and that usually lasts about 4-5 days. We keep an eye on it, preferring to top it up a little bit each day rather than paying to do large refills when we are not staying on site so as reduce our costs. We always fill up before leaving a site, and also fill the various refillable bottles we have lying around the motor home.

There are times, when the universe conspires against us and we find ourselves running a bit low on water. We consider that to be about 30L in the tank (or the red light on our indicator). So, what are the options if you do run low with no services nearby?

Use a water fountain

It can be a bit laborious but we’ve (when I say we, I mean Doug) has filled our water tank plenty of times using the local water fountain. Nobody has taken issue with it to date.

Buy bottled water

We’ve only had to do it once, but we ran so low and there were no services for miles, so we went to the supermarket and bought 40L of water to get us through. It’s not ideal but it’s always an option.

Laundry

It’s all well and good in the summer hand washing everything but in winter we just can’t dry it. If we’re on a campsite then we usually use their facilities and if not we head down to the local laundrette.

It has become a family excursion where Issy does her homework whilst we do the washing, charge our phones and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. The locals find it hilarious when they come in and find this little English girl doing school work.

We simply do a google maps search of “laundromat near me”. Many of them don’t require you to have detergent or conditioner, it’s included in the price. It usually costs around €10 for a wash and dry (around 15kg including the sheets and towels). 

Wi-Fi

Doug and I both have a ridiculous allowance per month via our EE contracts (100GB each). This is supposedly limited to 15GB whilst we are in Europe however at the time of writing this has yet to happen. That said, we both take advantage of free wi-fi whenever we can. This tends to be when I upload stuff for the blog and we let Issy go mad on you tube.

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