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Motorcycling around Alps in July. Book lodging in advance?

Hi all. My girlfriend and I are shipping our motorcycle to London and picking it up on July 1st, and are then spending 5 weeks riding through Belgium, Germany, Austria, N. Italy, Switzerland, and finally ending up seeing a Tour de France stage and then spending a few days in Provence.

Here's my dilemma- I hate booking accommodation ahead of time on a trip like this. We like having the flexibility to wing-it, and choose a day or two in advance what towns/routes to visit, and what to book.

But... July is going to be insanely busy in these parts.

Is it ill-advised to think we'll be able to find lodging in this part of Europe with only a day or two notice? Any suggestions?

We can go either way- I can book the whole trip in advance if necessary, but would really like a little more flexibility if possible.

Posted by
14419 posts

I guess if you can afford to ship a motorcycle to Europe and back, jump through all the regulatory hoops to accomplish this, finding a place for the night is a minor issue.

Posted by
5 posts

It's actually a piece of cake, and only cost us $1000 each way. They handle all of the paperwork. So, considering that a motorcycle rental over there would have cost about $150 a day, it's a great deal!

Posted by
439 posts

Since you sound like the kind of person who likes to wing it and enjoys that strategy, then I would go that route. Most places are still going to have somewhere to stay. Personally I am a type A control freak so I would never wing my hotel reservations, but I understand that for those of you who like doing it it can be very freeing and since it seems to be your preference, it will probably work out just fine for you as long as you are flexible.

Posted by
1028 posts

I've always wanted to ride over there but assumed it would cost a fortune. And you're right, compared to the cost of renting a bike there - which may or may not fit right even if it's the same model - $1000 is a great deal. Who are using for shipping?

Anywho - winging-it for accomodations works just fine, especially in smaller towns. Be sure to bring guidebooks to have a list of alternatives readily available if your first choice has no vacancies.

Posted by
160 posts

A day or two notice only means that you will probably pay more. Compromise.... A few big city visits (or towns along the scenic Rhine) may be best of you book ahead because that is where the tourists mostly go. But, Europe is filled with bicycle paths (think the entire length of the Danube across southern Germany as an example) and hostels/pensions/small inns along/near the bike paths. You can check these out on various websites, and they probably can be booked with only a day or two notice. Really small places, however, usually don't have many English speakers (that's how you know you are in the right places). You can also use aggregator sites like Booking.com to pick places (even small places) to see what prices/availability look like along your route as you approach, even 2 days out.

Have a great trip.

Posted by
21522 posts

or just pootle through a small town or two looking for "Zimmer Frei" on a small sign or in a window...

Posted by
14419 posts

Be sure to purchase and properly attach vignettes for using motorways in Austria and Switzerland.

Posted by
5 posts

I'm sure this has been discussed at length in other threads, but are Airbnb and VRBO recommended for this kind of travel with last-minute bookings?

What about small, cheap roadside hotel/motel places in case we get in a bind? (like Motel 6 here in the US) . What are some names to look for?

Posted by
117 posts

This sounds like a wonderful trip. You won't have any trouble finding accommodations in small towns. For your portion of the trip from Germany to Italy, check out the route over the Slügen Pass.
We took this route, by accident, based on Google giving us directions to the north end Lake Como. It was very beautiful and lots of motorcycles were riding on this route. It's definitely not a highway! Check out the link to the U-Tube video in this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsJnGvS48Js

Have a great time!
Vanessa

Posted by
4646 posts

seeing a Tour de France stage

This is one stop I would have reserved ahead.

If you are not too picky about where you stay, the 'winging' can work.

The licensing, insurance, safety, emissions etc issues were not a problem? I ask only because there has been the occasional post where someone wanted to ship a car to Europe and it seemed from the responses there was a nightmarish amount of paperwork to make it happen.

Posted by
5 posts

Apparently not. I think the difference is I'm not importing the bike to keep it there, it's just coming with me temporarily. I guess it's like how easy it is to drive your car from the US into Canada.

Posted by
4646 posts

I guess it's like how easy it is to drive your car from the US into Canada.

All auto/ motorcycle insurance policies will have a section/heading of something like "Where coverage applies"
If you read yours. I suspect US and Canada will be the only places where coverage applies.

I suspect there is a requirement for insurance coverage to legally use a motorcycle on public roads in Europe. You need to consult with your insurance agent

I suggest you contact the embassy/consulate of UK and find out what hoops and hurdles you need to negotiate.

It is not the same as a US/Canada crossing.

Not meaning to be negative, but these are questions to get answer to now, not at the shipping pickup point and find out you may not be able to drive away.