This article was sent to us by Radek, a member of our community who wanted to motivate other people to take the jump and try camping. He also wanted to share the information he gained during his trip so that others could benefit from his experiences. We think a lot of people will! So read below the first part of the story about his camping journey to Norway. It’s full of practical tips and lessons.
Introducing you to our group
We’re a 45-year-old couple with a teenage daughter. We prefer nature over cities, we prefer solitude over noisy environments, we prefer cold and rain to heat and sunshine. We thought about this trip for about half a year… not intensively, but we kept writing about what needed to be sorted, packed and so on. This isn’t a travelogue, an itinerary or even instructions on how to follow in our footsteps. Instead, I wanted to motivate campers who are going to Norway for the first time and are looking for basic information. The goal isn’t to put all the information about our trip out there, but I believe that there is enough here so that you’ll have enough specific places to go, ideas, and knowledge.
Which vehicle did we use?
We chose one of the largest motorhomes that was still under 3.5 tonnes - a 7.3 metre Sunlight A70.
Advantages of this motorhome:
- All three of us could lie down during the day without feeling too crowded. Anyone could get up, go out, cook something, etcetera.
- This type of motorhome is a great place for quick cleaning due to the alcove area 😉. You just throw your things in it and go!
- In groups of three or four, you can sit opposite each other while eating, without having to turn the front seats around.
- You can also sit facing each other while driving, and still be able to talk or play board games comfortably.
Disadvantages of this motorhome:
- Most motorhomes with an alcove have a toilet and shower in the same place, and the area can be very small.
- Most alcove motorhomes have their beds going across the width of the vehicle. So people may have to climb over each other in the morning or evening!
- Alcove motorhomes are quite high, which means higher fuel consumption and a slightly higher sensitivity to wind. But also you may encounter some routes or places that will be too low for you. Now, it doesn’t happen often, but it’s certainly something to be aware of!
Preparation before the trip
When creating an itinerary - I recommend not trying to see everything, not taking too big a bite in one go. At the same time, it’s probably not good to have a very detailed plan, because that way, you’ll be too inflexible to changes.
We said to ourselves that:
- We won’t go further north than Trondheim
- We want to see fjords and especially waterfalls
- We don't want to see Oslo, but instead we’ll visit Bergen, and it’ll be the only stop in a town
Lastly, we didn’t want to purposefully look for well-known places. We wanted to sleep in the wild, in campsites.
We avoided cities on our trip.
Food on the road
We didn't know much about what we were going to do for food. The information was that Norway was painfully expensive, and that Norwegians don't go to restaurants very often. For this reason, we said that we’d take the maximum amount of food possible from home. We didn’t expect to eat in restaurants.
Norway has its own tariff restrictions, which apply in particular to:
- Imports of tobacco and alcohol
- Meat and milk products
- Importing potatoes (yes, really!)
What travel books and the internet taught us
Of all the information I consumed, I took home these two important things:
- The weather in Norway is harsh, unpredictable and diverse depending on where in the country you are
- The Norwegians say that there is no bad weather, only bad equipment - our equipment was good, so the Norwegian weather shouldn’t surprise us!
A few notes on equipment:
- Hats and gloves - the temperature in the morning was between 2℃ and 6℃, never in the sun did it exceed 15℃.
- In addition to a waterproof jacket, I also recommend a raincoat. It rains really hard and for a long time. It rained at least every day for us!
- In addition to mountains and clearings, if you intend to go wild camping, you’ll often drive through mud. Carefully check out bigger puddles to ensure your vehicle will get through.
- Take lots of spare clothes - some things can take a while to dry.
Motorhome equipment and preparation
It can be tough to find the true weight of a vehicle. The numbers will vary depending on the extra equipment inside, how much full tanks will affect the weight, and so on. Although the weight is clearly defined, sometimes people interpret it differently. When you go further north in Norway the probability of your vehicle weight being checked is lower, but this doesn’t mean that the vehicle could and should be overloaded. If you have a vehicle weighing close to 3.5 tonnes, then you’ll need to fight for every kilo and it’s actually irrelevant how much storage space you have. So I recommend asking clearly (and of course, well in advance) exactly how much the motorhome or campervan you rent will weigh. And that's WITH a full tank of water, a full tank of diesel and the other equipment too. This should be an accurate number you can trust.
Our motorhome weighed 3.3 tonnes, and that was without counting:
- Our group - there's not much you can do with that weight in a short time 😉
- Baggage - the leader of our little expedition, whether he wanted to or not, had to restrict the family a bit
- Food - packaging can be reduced/replaced and glass is an unnecessary luxury
- Other things - scooter, drone, axe...
So what did we save weight on? We only left the kitchen equipment and sofa chairs for 3 people, and discharged about 80 litres of clean water.
What you definitely don't want to leave at home:
- Mandatory safety equipment
- Spare wheel
- Electric cable, water hose
Good to have with you:
- Chains - even in summer, wet grass is sometimes worse than ice and definitely worse than snow!
- Foldout chairs and table
- Towing equipment
- A large plastic box for dirty muddy things
- Axe, dry wood, and materials to make a campfire
- Broom, shovel and microfibre cloths for cleaning
The weather in Norway is harsh, unpredictable and diverse.
Phone and internet
In Norway, you call and surf the Internet under the same conditions as in most of Europe, but contact your operator about unlimited data as that can vary. If you want to keep in touch with family or friends at home, warn them that you may be without a signal for a few days so that they don’t worry.
Tolls on Norwegian roads
I registered on this website and as soon as I knew the licence plate for our motorhome, I entered it into the system. Various motorhome groups online were full of people who claimed they didn’t care about the tolls, and were never charged a penny. However, I definitely don’t recommend this for several reasons:
- Just because they weren’t caught doesn't mean you won’t be caught.
- Electric tolls are still evolving, so what used to be true may no longer apply now.
- Several people have said that instead of a bill, they received a direct debit from a Norwegian debt collection company, along with a cover letter from a lawyer!
Payment in Norway can be... different
Parking fees, tolls on private roads and unmanned campsites are usually paid by envelopes of money… let me give you an example. A booth has envelopes, a pencil and a box where the envelope should be put. The vehicle registration number is usually filled in, along with some other personal data and the date. The money is put in the envelope, sealed and put in the box.
Sassnitz - Trelleborg Ferry
Taking the ferry
We took the Sassnitz - Trelleborg and Trelleborg - Rostock ferries. The Sassnitz line has now been cancelled, but the Rostock line can still be used. If you’d like to try it, information can be found here. When booking a ferry, I recommend buying a cabin when you have multiple people; it's not much more expensive, but it is much more convenient! It’s also worth paying extra for the flexi-ticket, which allows you to change the trip or get a refund if you need to cancel.
In Part 2, you’ll learn all about the journey itself. But if you’re ready to rent your own campervan, make sure you check out our fine selection of vehicles right here.
See you on the road!
Author: Radek Paur