Your campervan trip is sure to be an adventure. Preparing for every adventure is an important step so that once you’ve headed out, all you have to do is let yourself get carried away. You will be free to explore and to open your senses to all the things an adventure always brings: the charm of the unknown, one-of-a-kind experiences and all the magical moments that await.
We’ve put together some advice and information to help you prepare for your campervan adventure.
Have you just reserved your van for a magical adventure? Wise decision! But before leaving, let us tell you about what to expect.
If you’re planning to come in your own vehicle, most of the time (it depends on the agency so contact them to find out) you can park for free in our car park for the duration of your rental (at your own risk). If you’re coming by other means of transport, please feel free to contact us about arranging a transfer from any tram, metro or train station or airport. Finally, we can also organise the provision and recovery of your campervan (depending on the agency and subject to certain conditions).
On the day of departure, we will have some small paperwork to take care of together at the agency.
You will pay the rental balance
You can use your bank card (except American Express), your cheque book, Travellers Cheques or cash to pay the balance for your campervan hire at the agency. If you have already paid everything (e.g. online), you can come with empty pockets and we’ll offer you a coffee! If you want to change the insurance package (“protection pack”) or add options such as an additional driver, now’s the time to speak up!
You will pay the security deposit
The security deposit is made by taking a copy of your bank card (authorised debit). Therefore, don’t forget to ensure you have the vital bank card on you and, if necessary, to request that your bank manager (or your banking App if the latter no longer exists, this is the 21st century after all!) increases your payment ceiling so that the security deposit request goes through. The deposit amount depends on the protection pack you’ve taken out: you will find this in your reservation confirmation email. If everything goes well (in 99.999% of cases, give or take), the deposit is cancelled a few days after you return.
We will make a copy of the driving licence(s)
A valid National Identity Card or passport in the same name.
You will sign the rental agreement and we will both sign the van condition inventory
Paper or digital format, depending on the agency.
And there we have it! We have managed to find our way through the administrative labyrinth and can now glimpse the fruits of your nomadic quest... a campervan! Before leaving, we will take the time to show you how everything works in detail (around 30 minutes for new users).
If you want to do a bit of cramming before leaving (very strongly advised if you want to get your Doctorate in Van Studies), please visit the WeVan tutorials on our Youtube channel.
The van is handed over to you with all the essential levels checked and adjusted, as well as a full fuel tank and full drinking water tank. We will have also checked if there is still gas in the bottle but, with a view to finishing all opened bottles before changing them, we cannot guarantee how much gas is left in them. Therefore, you may need to change the bottle during your trip (we will show you how to do this during the handover presentation). The bottles are returnable and you only pay for the gas by returning the empty bottle when you buy a new one. If you go abroad, it’s worth checking that the bottles are compatible (this is not the case in Spain, for example). Depending on demand and the stock of bottles available in the agency, we can give you an extra bottle.
And there you go - you’re ready for your completely independent campervan road trip as soon as you leave the WeVan agency!
To provide you with the utmost comfort during your travelling adventure, we have selected and equipped your campervan with an array of quality accessories (the only thing you need to worry about is not forgetting your socks!).
Depending on your requirements (and availability) you can complement your campervan experience with accessories such as:
Non-exhaustive list.. if such a thing exists (it's up to you if you want to pack your metal detector if that’s the quest you're on!).
Et si vous avez besoin de compléter votre équipement, rendez-vous chez notre partenaire Casambu, le spécialiste des accessoires vanlife de qualité. Nos amis Ori & Aurel, en partenariat avec WeVan, sont heureux de vous offrir 10% de réduction grâce au code CASAMBU-WEVAN-10 sur tout tout leur e-shop* !
* valid on the first order, excluding delivery costs. Offer cannot be combined with other offers
Whether you’re about to spend your first night in a campervan or you're already a compulsive nomad, a quick overview of the options available to you for places to stay at night, as well as a reminder of the legislation and good conduct rules to follow, are essential. Freedom, yes, but with respect for the rules, others, the environment... and mostly common sense!
In France, spending the night in a van is likened to wild camping. The general rule is that wild camping (performed alone and not on a landscaped area) is tolerated...that’s to say wherever it’s not regulated.
For example, it is prohibited on classified sites, natural reserves, public roads and streets and seashores.
In the public domain, it may also be prohibited locally by municipal or prefectural decree, which is becoming more and more the norm each year (particularly in high tourism areas and in peak season). Prohibited zones are therefore ostensibly marked with no parking signs. In the event of an offence, the offender might find themself in the unpleasant situation of having to move on in the middle of the night and/or finding a small white piece of paper slid underneath their windscreen wiper in the early hours of the morning.
⚠️Every country has its own legislation on wild camping, so make sure you remember to find out what applies when organising your trip.
Take into account the advantages and disadvantages of each region and season, combine that with everyone’s different tastes and ways of travelling, and add in a pinch of good manners when balancing up the 4 main overnight options available to you!
To help you decide, we suggest a few essential sites or apps:
Wild camping is the essence of vanlife itself and one of its great promises. It is also a regulated activity which, as travellers, makes us responsible towards others and the environment.
To find a good spot to spend the night, our first instinct is to look at a detailed map (such as Google Maps in satellite mode): even if it still remains a surprise, we quickly learn how to identify suitable locations. You can also use mobile applications to help you such as Park4night which lists wild locations (practical, but visited frequently).
Listen to your instincts and your own tastes by trying to distance yourself from the most popular areas and by favouring small back roads.
While meeting a farmer or a local at a bend in the road and being invited to spend the night on their land may be one of the lucky human experiences that are a part of nomadic life, there are also services to put people in touch with each other.
By staying with a host or on a farm, you have access to a patch of land to spend the night in your campervan, with no or few neighbours and some services: parking only, water, electricity, toilets, shower, laundry, breakfast, swimming pool... each with their own facilities and price.
This solution often seems to be a good compromise between camping and wild camping, between a peaceful night and a natural setting, which often come with the key to wonderful encounters...plenty of good advice on the surrounding area or a basket full of local products bought from your host.
Service areas for leisure vehicles are provided by municipalities (and listed on the indispensable Park4night).
While they make look the same from one municipality to another, these spots often have the advantage of being very close by to notable sites of interest: historic villages or beaches. Obviously, they are heavily visited in the summer and it's most likely that you’ll overhear your neighbours’ conversations. Often the service areas provide access to toilets, a clean water point and a drain for wastewater. Often the stay is free and you only have to pay for the water and electricity. On other service areas, the number of nights stay is limited: each local council has their own policy!
In France, private or municipal campsites cover the whole country and offer a variety of experiences often resulting in some lovely surprises. Our advice is to go for modest-sized campsites which are well integrated into their environment (maximum 20 pitches).
While spending the night in a campsite is not exactly the heart’s desire of a “die-hard” vanlifer, it still offers a range of services essential to vanlife that we need to find from time to time (recharging batteries, draining wastewater, refilling clean water, doing a load of washing, taking a hot shower, etc.). For your first experience in a campervan, planning your first nights in a campsite enables you to tackle your road trip calmly by focusing on what’s important: finding your feet aboard.
Lastly, campsites remain one of the unavoidable options for all areas where wild camping is regulated. However, pay attention to availability in peak season and to closing times during low season.
When heading out in a WeVan campervan, we ask that you commit to respecting some specific fundamental principles. It’s only by looking out for others and our environment that we’ll be able to continue to enjoy this unique way of travelling.
We should evoke Baden-Powell’s advice in principle: ‘When you leave your camp, take care to leave behind two things. Firstly: nothing. Secondly: your thanks.’ The main thing? Tread lightly on the earth’s surface.
In the forests of Siberia, Gallimard edition, 2011