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Camper excursion to Switzerland, Italy, France and Monaco.

It was September 12th, 2022.

In the morning Tina had her last exam at the uni and once it was finished, nothing else was preventing us to start our first greater camper journey. Our things were packed, the water canisters were filled and off we went.

The initial plan was to spend the first night in the Gotthard Pass. However, we started late and once we crossed the border of Switzerland, it was already 8 p.m. We don’t like to search for a place to stay when it’s already dark, so we’ve quickly checked the map for the nearest parking area in the forest and went there to stay for the night.

It is worth mentioning that the whole trip was not a usual vacation trip. Both working in home office, we wanted to test whether work and travel can be combined. In the end, our work can be done from any place, just a laptop is needed, so why not take the opportunity to see something else?

We didn’t have any strict plan where to go and what to see. The only thing we knew is that we would like to come to Genua at the end.

Route #

Okay, let’s start then. Even if there was no precise route to follow, one thing that was absolutely clear was that we had to go through Switzerland anyway. We’ve stopped at Lake Lucerne, opened the door of our camper and started to work. I must say at the beginning one has to get used to slightly not ergonomic working setup, but the view from the van was totally worth of it. If you have to think a bit for your work, nothing can relax your mind more than nature. In lunch breaks we were also using the opportunity to swim instead of drinking coffee or checking the social media.

Lake Lucerne
Stop at Lake Lucerne

Often, to get to some beautiful place, you have to take a vacation. Unbelievable, but for the first time in our life we didn’t have to do all this. All these incredible landscapes were the place where we were working. And when the evening came, the working laptops got closed, and we went to the mountains or swimming, and just enjoyed where we were.

Lake Lucerne at Sisikon

You see, working in a camper is still possible, even with a smile ☺.

Second night at the top of San Gottardo

Jogging is also possible, if motivation to start the day is a bit missing.

Tina highly motivated doing sport at San Gottardo

Even no artificial background for the meetings is needed!

Lake Maggiore

Camping with a van turned out to be very comfortable. You don’t have to give up your favourite rituals, because you don’t have to carry everything you need on your back (author’s note: previously, we used to go hiking in a backpacked style).

Coffe grinder

What can be more beautiful as to have a morning coffee in front of the sea… This is already Genoa, by the way.

Coffee is getting prepared.

While we were actively driving towards Genoa, Tina was staring through the window. And that was good, because otherwise we wouldn’t have noticed that wonderful spot just in front of the lake Maggiore. Tina has noticed some camper vans staying there, and although we were thinking that this spot is surely restricted, it turned out to be public and completely free! We spent there 3 nights and even enjoyed working! When autumn was already in full swing in Germany, we were still in the summer, enjoying the sun and warm water.

Spot at lake Maggiore, directly at the lake

This is how a working day looked like.

Tina at work

After work we were exploring the surroundings and stumbled upon such a cute little village. Italians’ love for bright colors definitely sets the tone!

Small village close to the Swiss border

For the weekend we came to Genoa.

View from a hill to the Genoa city center

When traveling with Tina, it is not possible to skip going to the beach unless there is no beach nearby ☺. No matter if we were just going to see the city or go out for lunch, Tina always had her swimsuit with her. It’s kind of a universal thing that shouldn’t be missing.

Evening walk at the beach enjoing the sunset

We were mostly staying outdoors in the open, and we would do it every night if there wasn’t our fear to get robbed. Unfortunately, the most beautiful places tend to be famous touristic spots, where according to our reading, the campers are often broken into (especially the ones with German license plates). So in Genoa and in Nice we decided to stay at a campsite to reduce the risk of being left without our belongings.

Working from the campsite

In Genoa we had a discussion whether we should go further to South France. Tina already had 20 more destinations in mind to cover all the good beaches. Finally, we decided to take a different route back to Karlsruhe and started to follow the coast until we arrived in Nice. From the campsite in Villeneuve we started to explore the nearby places like the city center of Nice, Monacco, and obviously, the beach.

Seaside in Villeneuve, close by Nice

The combination of having your own vehicle and tanking public transport was working quite nice. So we left the camper at the campsite and travelled by train to Monacco and didn’t need to worry about a parcing lot for the big car.

Woman doing makeup in the train on the way to Monacco
Modern architecture in Monacco

At the beginning of the trip my plan was to travel without taking vacation days at work. However, in Nice I decided to put a leave request in order to have more time than only after work. A perfect tradeoff was to work in the morning and to do trips after lunch.

Mediterranean roofs of nice
View from the Mont Boron

Already on the way home we crossed the second time the Alps. In the French Alps are many plateau with little and charming villages. With this landscape you need to be careful that you do not wander in thoughts and forget to drive.

Village in the French Alps
Road goes into nowhere
French Alps

During the whole tour, we’ve almost always cooked on our own (except one dinner in Genoa). Often we were eating local products. I don’t know whether it was more of the novelty feeling, but the food in France and Italy tasted incredibly good, and fruit and vegetables tasted much better as in Germany, probably because it was harvest ripe.

Prepared lunch: Fish with potatos

Camping places #

We stayed at the following places and found them very save. Especially in Italy and France we’ve chosen spots wich are not so close to the city itself.

Switzerland #

In Switzerland it depends on the cantons if it’s allowed to sleep in the camper van. In Aargau was camping on a public parking lot allowed (if there is no prohibition sign).

Italy #

France #

The first spot in France was in front of a campsite. According to the sign it was allowed to park/sleep there during the night.

Summary #

Even if it was kind of scary to just go ahead and drive to an unknown destination, I would call the experiment as a success. On certain days, especially if you travel may kilometers, it was a bit exhausting. In addition to the usual working day, in the van you are kept busy with finding the next place to sleep, drive, clean the car, prepare the bed and so on. We noticed quickly, that it’s more relaxing to stay a bit longer during the working week at one place and explore there the surrounding. Then you can change the location less frequent (but travel longer distances at once) and have in general more leisure time after work.