Wednesday, 17 June 2015 GMT
Author: Staveley Head
Us Brits love the freedom of our motorhomes and caravans. Every year, thousands of us take to the roads and the great outdoors ready for adventure. But why do we only explore the UK? After all, there’s a whole world out of Europe!
Take France. Imagine the wine, the countryside, the cheese, the beer, the history, the beaches, the little villages, the wine again… sounds idyllic. It is – and it’s all there waiting for you.
But before you go do remember that driving abroad carries with it a few conditions:
Drive on the right
This may seem an obvious one but when you’re in the holiday mood or you stop for lunch and then hit the road again it’s easy to forget this rule. Even if you need to write it on your hand for the first few days, do it. Anything is better than getting this one wrong!
Use a map or SatNav
Don’t assume you know where you are going just because you went there ten years ago. Roads change, motorways get built, new towns appear… and being lost on holiday is just wasted leisure time so make sure you can always get to where to you want to be. If your vehicle has SatNav, great, but do check you have programmed it with the most up-to-date maps of Europe (and always carry a map just in case). If your car or motorhome doesn’t have SatNav, then buy one of those you stick to the dashboard or windscreen. They can be slightly expensive but they are well worth the investment and you can always use it back in the UK. Oh, and do remember that radar detectors are illegal in every European country.
Now this is a little tip that could save your hours of queuing. Many countries in Europe have toll roads so make sure you have lots of change ready so you can whizz through the barriers. And make sure you have the right currency as well (for example, Croatia has the kuna, Denmark has the krone etc).
Motorhome insurance is essential but it’s a really good idea to make sure you’re covered for every eventuality before you travel, especially if you’re taking children with you.
Always prepare for the unexpected. One of the many bonuses of owning a motorhome is that you have more room for your luggage so pack for hot weather, cold weather, wet weather, the lot. And remember your adaptors and phone chargers (for emergencies if nothing else). It’s also a good idea to take your EHIC card with you on holiday (if you’re a UK resident).
Talking about being prepared, the list below will help you adhere to the various laws each country has in place across Europe:
- GB Sticker – always carry one of these with you as it’s needed in every European country (and take a spare just in case)
- A warning triangle
- Reflective jacket
- First aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Headlight converters
- Breathalyser (when driving in France)
- Spare prescription glasses (if required for the driver when driving in Switzerland)
Driving laws and regulations differ from countryto country.One of the most important is a driver’s age as some countries let teenagers drive when they are 18, some when they’re 17. So you could scoot across from Portugal to Spain and suddenly find yourself breaking the law. And another thing - every country issues on-the-spot-fines! For more information about driving restrictions visit the RAC
Your documentation should always be on hand to show to the authroirities. You’ll need to take your original registration document, travel insurance papers and driving license. Doing this will make any interruptions quicker and easier to deal with.
Where will you be going?
Europe is filled with glorious beaches, charming villages, luscious countryside and historic market towns. There is so much to do and see but try and be realistic about what you can get to see and do on your holiday. Remember motorhomes are generally slower than cars so when you’re planning your daily mileage, be realistic about how far you can go. Use a route checker as well as some older roads are narrow and not suitable for a motorhome. And you really don’t want to be stuck on one of those…
Also, when you’re at the planning stage – either in the UK or when you’re on the continent – check the weather reports and annual temperatures of where you’re going. Some places get amazingly hot so if you can’t deal with the heat, or have young children, then do think about where you can go. Always stock up on the sun cream, sun hats and sunglasses anyway.
Need a little inspiration on where to go this year? Then check out our blog and discover some of our favorite European caravan holidays. And don’t forget to send us a postcard!