I am curious about the most economic way to travel to and through Europe and was thinking to load camping gear in a hatchback and put it on a ferry to somewhere in Europe (e.g. Lisbon) together with us inside. Because if we made the trip last over a month, it would make more sense to ship our vehicle (I heard it's around $1000 each way) than to rent it there and we could camp out of it most of the time.

Generally, is this feasible or is it just a bats**t crazy idea? Or somewhere in between.

  • 1
    From where are you starting?
    – CGCampbell
    Sep 3, 2015 at 0:22
  • Mid Atlantic US anywhere
    – amphibient
    Sep 3, 2015 at 0:25
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    Lots of Europeans ship their RV campers to the states, so it is not an unusual idea. But it is not like a ferry, you drop the car at the port and it eventually arrives af a European port, then you fly and meet it. Ship dates are approximate, so you would be without your car in the US for a couple of weeks at each end.
    – user13044
    Sep 3, 2015 at 0:36
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    It's a great idea and might give you an unforgettable experience. Get tons of insurance. Avoid the nightmares like the Arc of Triumph. Practice making tight U turns, etc etc. Brits call a 'hatchback' an 'estate wagon. Lots of ideas come to mind, but overall it's a good idea.
    – Gayot Fow
    Sep 3, 2015 at 3:53
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    At 2000$ return journey I don't think it's cheaper than renting a car for one month.
    – JoErNanO
    Sep 3, 2015 at 5:55

2 Answers 2


You will most likely not be allowed to travel in the car, because it will be shipped on a cargo vessel.

You also do not want to do this; because on a cargo vessel you do not have the luxury of a ferry where there is room to walk around, facilities, etc.

To my knowledge, there are no ferries across the Atlantic. Your choices are cruise ships (where they don't carry vehicles) or cargo ships (which don't allow you to camp inside cars).

So, you'll end up handing over your car to a shipper - which will give you an estimated date of arrival of your vehicle at the destination. You'll have to pay for insurance to cover the time your vehicle is with the logistics company/handler.

You may then have to pay for clearance of customs; any insurance (to be able to drive the car in Europe - which will not be a token amount), and then finally be able to drive the vehicle.

Keep in mind gasoline prices vary wildly between US and Europe - you may end up spending more than anticipated in fuel.

  • 2
    Even on a ferry they can not camp in the car. Ferry car decks are closed to people during the sailing for safety reasons. On long trips they occasionally open the car deck for short periods to retrieve personal supplies, but not to sleep.
    – user13044
    Sep 3, 2015 at 7:57

If you are mechanically inclined and would feel comfortable doing so, you could purchase a used vehicle in a private sale wherever you decide to land, likely for a lot less than the cost to ship your car. Scour the local classified ads on the Internet, though as always, watch out for scams.

My father was able to do this with a Volkswagon bus back in the 1970's; apparently it required a quart of oil with every fuel stop.

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