It’s never been easier to travel to continental Europe thanks to the Eurotunnel and the increased competition it’s created for ferry travellers. Before you venture across the channel it’s worth taking some time to prepare for your road trip, however.
A trip to Europe can hold plenty of appeal for campers and caravanners. Be it wine tasting in France, the sizzling sun of Spain, or the scenic Austrian Alps, our European cousins have a lot to offer. That said, it’s important to make sure both you and your camper is ready for traveling abroad. Here’s Diesel Car’s essential guide to a trouble-free European tour.
In the weeks running up to your trip, it’s well worth getting your camper serviced if it’s not recently been done – you don’t want to end up away from home, and with only a tenuous grip of the language, to find there’s a problem. Don’t forget to take copies of all your vehicle’s documents with you – the V5c or logbook, the current MoT certificate and the insurance documentation. Be aware that some sites are now requesting to see a certificate of electrical safety for campers, so if you’ve got one, take a copy. Keep all the documents together in a waterproof, zip lock pouch, and you could even keep electronic copies on a smartphone, or tablet, for extra peace of mind.
Check everything works as it should and that your leisure battery is in good order. It’s worth noting that Calor Gas bottles are not available in mainland Europe, so ensure that you’ve got enough gas to last the trip. Another thing to remember is that electricity in Europe is supplied at a lower voltage, so some electrical appliances may not work as efficiently – expect it to take longer for your mobile phone to charge, for example.
If you’re planning on using satellite navigation, check that the mapping covers your destination and that it’s up to date. Disable any kind of speed camera detection, as in most European countries it is forbidden. It’s also worth plotting your route before you go and having a good quality traditional map or atlas, just in case something goes wrong with the navigation system en route. Spend some time reading up on the rules and regulations of the countries you’re visiting. Take time to learn the speed limits, toll charges, weight limits and in some case, emissions restrictions.
For those keen to tie down every detail, the likes of the Camping and Caravanning Club and Alan Rogers boast thousands of sites across the continent, many of which are selected and managed by the clubs, meaning the site is guaranteed to meet an expected standard. Alternatively, for those happy to go with the flow, there are plenty of guide books detailing a whole host of sites. If you’re planning a longer trip, you can buy what’s known as a CampingCard ACSI. It costs around £15 and covers almost 3,000 sites and allows you access to all the sites in the guide for a fixed price of between €12 to €18.
Touring Europe can offer up all sorts of exciting adventures, just be sure to drive on the other side of the road!
- A high visibility jacket. Required by law in most European states. It must be accessible to the driver without having to exit the vehicle.
- A breathalyser. A legal requirement in France – it’s best to carry a spare, too.
- First aid kit. Always a good idea to carry, but a legal requirement in Austria, Croatia, France, Germany and Greece
- GB Sticker. An obvious one, but don’t forget it!
- Spare bulbs. A legal requirement in Austria, Croatia, Italy and Spain.
- Beam deflectors. Don’t forget to alter your headlamps for European traffic with a set of headlight beam deflectors.
- Fire extinguisher. Not a legal requirement, but a wise idea to carry one just in case.