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“Long-term camping gets cheaper over time”

In the beginning there is the awakening.

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“Long-term camping gets cheaper over time”

In the beginning there is the awakening. But setting off doesn't always mean: just drive off. First of all, practical questions need to be settled – about the travel budget, the choice of vehicle, insurance and more. A little guide.

A rule of thumb is: the longer and slower you travel, the cheaper it is for long-term campers. Because the expenses for fuel, visas and vehicle shipping make up a large part of the total cost of a trip around the world - and that doesn't change regardless of whether you've been traveling for one year or ten years.

For example, suppose two Overlanders traveling from Europe to Australia in a campervan travel 50,000km. If the vehicle consumes twelve liters per 100 kilometers and the fuel price is one euro per liter (worldwide average price), you have to reckon with 6000 euros for diesel alone.

The permit for a trip through China or Myanmar can be estimated at 2000 euros, the costs for the other visas at 1000 euros and for the shipment from Singapore to Darwin together with two plane tickets again at 4000 euros. In total, that makes 13,000 euros or 6,500 euros per person, which is quite a sum for a one-year trip.

If the overlanders take their time, so that they are on the road for four years, the average annual expenditure drops to 1625 euros per person. In addition, there are only the costs for food, campsites and insurance, which are proportional to the duration of the trip. All in all, a four-year journey is only about twice as expensive as a one-year journey - and not four times!

My eight-year round-the-world trip in the Land Rover cost 50,000 euros, or 520 euros a month. And now I'm touring around Europe in a Mercedes 308D Postkögel and I seem to be doing just fine on 500 to 600 euros a month. However, how much long-term travelers spend varies widely and my expenses are not directly transferable. All nomads have different wants and needs.

In 1997 I permanently deregistered from Germany, and since then I've only made my living with what the storage space of a car or the top case of a motorcycle can afford. But what is my living situation like from a purely legal point of view?

According to paragraph 7 of the German Civil Code, a place of residence is established when someone settles down permanently in a place with the will to make the place the focus of their living conditions. Since I'm rarely in one place for more than a few months, I'm not allowed to have a registered address - neither in Europe nor anywhere else in the world. Anyone who is only pretending to be registered at the registration office in Germany risks a hefty fine.

According to the Vehicle Registration Ordinance, you do not need to be a resident to register a vehicle in Germany. The following is written: "Applicants who do not have a place of residence in Germany have the option of appointing an authorized recipient to the registration authority in accordance with Section 46 (2) FZV. Then an allocation of the license plate is permissible.”

This means that you will be entered as the owner in the registration certificate without an address and the name of the person authorized to receive it with an address. The recipient can be anyone you can think of. The main thing is that this person has a permanent address in Germany and is ready to receive your mail.

The recipient has no obligation to forward your tickets - you alone are responsible for paying your 'tickets' and somehow making sure you get your mail. You are the keeper.

You can easily find the receipt authorization form on the Internet. Incidentally, your insurance company does not need a registration address; eVB number and postal address are sufficient.

You always need a passport and vehicle documents for border crossings. Equally essential is the driver's license from your home country and either an international driver's license or a certified translation of the original.

Some countries require car insurance at the border and some countries require a Carnet de Passage. For the uninitiated, a carnet de passage is a document issued by the automobile clubs that allows temporary importation of the vehicle without the need for a deposit at the border.

You have to deposit a bank guarantee with the automobile club; the amount depends on the value of the vehicle. It is currently mandatory in 35 countries, most of which are in Africa or the Indian subcontinent. Then there are Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.

However, as a long-term nomad you will not only want to travel in Germany and Europe, and the green insurance card is worthless outside of Europe. It is therefore best to take out additional insurance, if required, at the borders of the countries you want to drive through.

And to stop paying taxes and unnecessary insurance for your vehicle, you can deregister it as soon as you leave Europe. This can be done with the help of the German embassy in each country you are in. German vehicle owners only have to request a formal request for administrative assistance (according to Section 13 FZV) from their home registration office by e-mail. This is handed in together with the vehicle registration document, the vehicle registration document and the number plate at the embassy, ​​which is to carry out the deregistration, and pays a small fee.

The embassy then takes care of the rest: it sends the number plates to the registration office, which in turn notifies the vehicle insurance company. You may keep the vehicle registration document and vehicle registration document. The note is only provided with the note "put out of service".

Don't worry if you continue your journey outside of Europe with an unregistered vehicle with no number plates. You can circumnavigate the world ten times as long as you have your Carnet de Passage (for the countries where it must be presented), your vehicle documents (whether registered or not; an export certificate will also suffice) and insurance (where required) .

Sure, you need license plates on the bumpers, but they don't have to be the originals. Take duplicates from home (without a TÜV sticker) or have license plates made of metal or plastic abroad. The number only has to match the one in your papers, then you are legally on the road.

My vehicles were not registered on all trips around the world – in more than 120 countries. My mobile home "Kevin" is at the moment, because I'm in Europe at the moment.

Even at relatively "high" temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius, the paraffin in normal diesel begins to form a tough gel that clogs the fuel filter and injection nozzles. This effect can be delayed by filling up with winter diesel or by using anti-gel additives. But at minus 55 degrees Celsius, so-called arctic diesel is more solid than liquid.

If you plan to visit cold areas in a diesel vehicle, you can install electric heaters for the engine block, tank, fuel filter and fuel lines - and hope to find an outlet in the Russian taiga, Alaska or the Tibetan highlands to keep all the components overnight be kept warm.

Gasoline is therefore more common in cold countries. But even in some oil-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia and Libya, diesel is not available at every gas station, because gasoline is so cheap there that most locals fill up their four-wheel drive trucks with it themselves.

An important aspect when it comes to the question of petrol or diesel is the compatibility with altitude. Like the human lungs, cars also need oxygen. The higher you go, the fewer of these molecules there are in a cubic meter of air. If you drive over a pass of 5000 meters or more in Bolivia, India or Tibet, you will feel the engine losing power.

In older petrol engines, the jets in the carburettor can be replaced with smaller ones and the ignition point can be advanced to compensate for the lack of oxygen. With a diesel vehicle, there are few options. Of course, with a good turbocharger you have a good chance of going over 5000 meters without much difficulty.

This article was first published in February 2022.

Information about Christopher Many, his books and travels can be found at, and the Facebook page offers direct contact with the author.

The corona pandemic caused a real caravan boom. But as a result, the camping holiday is now a luxury pleasure, because the vehicles cost more and more. You can now marvel at the new products at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon.

Source: WELT/ Gerrit Seebald

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