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Roof tenting & touring Europe


Active Member
Feb 12, 2021
Country Flag
Hello all.
We're looking at planning a long term trip abroad touring, Europe including the Scandinavian countries over a 6-12 month period.
Has anyone ever done one that long living and sleeping in a roof tent. We would plan to try and follow the warmer weather where we can and end up in southern Spain, possibly Morocco in the winter.
We have a 90 which is in excellent condition having owned it for 18 years, but will look to renew lower ball joints, track rod ends etc as a preventative maintenance exercise. Probably change the radiator as well as the pipe work.
Any hints and tips? I've looked up on Youtube but its mainly caravans and motorhomes.
yep, just finished 18 months in a roof tent with 2 kids.

Loads of hints and tips I expect. What sort of hints and tips are you after? Type of roof tent/ vehicle set up/ routes/ equipment????? Give me a steer and I'm sure I'll have a few.

As a starter for 10, Scandinavia is amazing during the spring melt, when there is still snow on the ground at higher elevations but the waterfalls are in full flow.
I can’t match Nick’s experience above but have done lots of 4 week trips in different types roof tent and currently 2 months into a 6 month trip living in roof tent with a child.

As Nick says, what sort of info are you after? Also good to know if you intend to do extended wild camping, cold camping and off-road driving as it will influence answers re tents.
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have you got a blog/ instagram @Lorin ? Its always nice to follow other peoples adventures when your stuck in Blighty....
Thanks all for your interest, very much appreciated.
I guess my main question at the moment is getting over the 90/180 day rule now we're out of the EU. As you know you can only stay in the Schengen countries now a max of 90 in 180 days. I totally understand you can dip in and out on non Schengen countries but I'm interested in knowing how you all managed it. I really want to try and avoid having to come back to the UK, Ireland etc for 3 months as a break if I can help it. Has anyone tried a longer term visa application for France or Spain for example. We wouldn't be working but could apply as we'll be close to retiring when we're planning on the expedition. Long term we're looking to settle in France or maybe Spain.

The other main question is simply how did you cope with actually "living" in a roof tent. Its a far cry from the permanent luxury of a normal home or even a caravan of Motorhome. What about poor weather, snow, rain etc? We've been in bad weather many times but you always have it in your mind you'll be home at some point. Do you follow the better weather maybe, Scandinavia in spring and southern Spain, Morocco etc in the winter months??
Will very much look forward to your thoughts and ideas.

Will talk about our truck on a later post maybe :)
You’ve already answered your first question. There is no way round the 90/180 rule. You simply have to manage your time in Schengen and non-Schengen countries, evidencing your time in each with stamps in your passport. There are no options for long stay visas that are not very complicated and extremely hard to get. I wasted hours looking for ways round the Schengen limitation - there are none! We are currently managing this on our trip - it is a pain.

When living longer-term in a roof tent rain/bad weather is completely unavoidable. Chasing the sun and wasting hours trying to predict weather soon becomes a chore that mostly isn’t worth the effort. How you manage it is I think very individual. The biggest pain in my opinion is packing up in the rain, which is sometimes unavoidable. Before we had my daughter my roof tent and awning set-up was planned around minimising the pain of wet weather. We had a hard shell tent (clamshell) for quickest possible set-up and take down and a 270 self supporting awning. The downside was limited space in the tent. Possibly the only improvement on this set-up would be a Bundtop electric roof tent but you pay the price in cost and weight. Now we have a fabric tent with lots of space but horrid to pack up in the rain!

My other big issue is comfort. Roof tent mattresses are in my opinion all absolutely terrible (only exception possibly being the Bundutop which I haven’t tried). They are at best 3” of cheap foam (don’t believe any of the marketing - it’s not memory foam). So they are very uncomfortable. In addition, most roof tents will also not accommodate you leaving all your bedding in the tent when packed, unless you’re happy sleeping long-term in something that packs/squashes very small. I like to sleep on a comfortable mattress, with a proper duvet and pillows. To accommodate this I remove the roof tent mattress and replace with a high quality foam/air mattress (currently an Exped Megamat Duo 10). Although this adds an additional step of having to set it up and deflate when packing, it creates enough space to leave all bedding in the tent. For me this makes a big difference.

Also important is how you manage cold weather. Managing a few cold nights here and there isn’t too hard but if travelling long term you’ll need to be able to manage extended cold spells. Personally I use a diesel heater and wouldn’t be without one. If the weather is cold and wet we can all sit in the tent for as long as needed in the warm and dry. It is also brilliant for drying the tent before pack down as they all condensate especially when cold and this can make your bedding damp.

Those are some of the big points for me but the list goes on. If you don’t already have a tent I’d strongly suggest looking at as many as you can before purchasing as there are lots of differences that can add up. 6-12 months in a tent is a long time and is asking a lot from a piece of equipment that in most cases will have been designed for much shorter duration trips….
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I find the mattress in my bundutop comfy, and leave a normal duvet and 2 pillows in it when packing away although careful placement of the pillows is needed. I've heard it's not so good in more extreme weather conditions though.

Also use an OzTent RV4 ground tent, with an OzTent stratus self inflating mattress, and find that comfy. Takes slightly longer to set up and pack away (without the extra room on the front) but gives better living space.

Never travelled for more than a few weeks, but I imagine you'd spend more than one night in most places if you have plenty of time, so maybe having a ground tent so you don't have to pack away and set up every day would work out better? No idea if they're viable in places like Morocco?
Yeah I think Lorin has nailed the major points.

We avoid the wet weather by heading to places where it's not so bad, namely Africa, or North America. Wet weather is a pain, but it's made much worse by adding cold weather. If it's 30 deg outside a flash thunderstorm isn't so bad because everything dries so much quicker. We did 3 months around Scandinavia in 2017 and I seem to remember there weren't many bad weather days, but in Europe is going to be mostly luck as to how often you're wet.

In terms of long term living in a roof tent (or any truck) is you need to work out a way of relaxing at the end of the day. As you note it's a marathon not a sprint, so you can't just 'stick it out' until you get home. Personally I love sitting in a hammock, so I take a few for me and the kids. If not a comfortable chair. But you really need to be able to relax comfortably.

I agree with getting a diesel heater to heat the tent. Also get a few LED lights in there. Looking for a touch in the dark gets very old after a while. If you can, work out a way of folding your tent down with your bedding inside it. Modern roof tents aren't so good at this, but our first Hanibal roof tent let us store a double mattress in their and 2 pillows which makes a huge difference. Modern down blankets are good for this (RAB do a good one)

They are my initial thoughts, but I'm sure there are more if this is the sort of advise you are after.
Never travelled for more than a few weeks, but I imagine you'd spend more than one night in most places if you have plenty of time, so maybe having a ground tent so you don't have to pack away and set up every day would work out better? No idea if they're viable in places like Morocco?
Quite a while ago, but spent some time (couple of months or so) in Morocco using a ground tent with few problems. Just like a roof tent, depending on time of year, it gets pretty hot and checking boots for overnight visitors (scorpions etc.) a wise idea. Winds were a challenge at times. Also have a Bundutop, comfy mattress and ready for use quickly, been reliable so far (not much used since stroke), but could be a problem if motor or cords (spare ripcord carried) fail.
Regarding comfort: consider replacing the standard mattrass with one cut form 6 cm HR65 High Resilience foam, on top of a anti-condensation layer. Very comfy & moisture evacuating. Not suitable, however, for plying; we used it in a Alu-Cab Gen 3 clam shell type tent.
I live in the Netherlands, so in paperwork I'm no expert at all (living there = not knowing stuff). I do know my way around most of Europe, including the Balkans, so if you might need some advice please do send a message.
One more thing: perhaps a good combination for avoiding damp clothing as well as expired papers, might be to consider travelling Turkey.
Hello all. Apologies for my lateness in replying.
I really appreciate all your comments and all very useful. I did like the thought and tips around the mattress and diesel heaters. We'll look into it a bit more.
To be honest I think we're being a bit ambitious as we've never spent an extended amount of time in our tent. We have a Ventura tent with an annex. Its not the most expensive but did weather heavy rain and a two day storm on the coast a few years ago. Most ground tents got ripped up but we hung, (literally), in there and survived.
Going back to Jacob100's tip, we done that when we nearly got blew off the top of Exmoor!!
Keep the thoughts coming and if I have anymore questions I'll post them.