You might be looking forward to your first ever overseas caravan trip and if so, looking through the following points and tips might be useful by way of preparation. That way you can fully enjoy your holiday and be ready for the unexpected!
Please read on and enjoy our 12 tips for taking your caravan on the continent!
- thoroughly prepare your towing caravan mechanically and electrically. It is a complete myth that European police forces care less about the speed limits you are going or the condition of vehicles than their UK colleagues. Bald tyres and faulty light panels (etc) are likely to get you pulled-up quickly and possibly fined on the spot – and they may also be dangerous. Also, you don’t want to start having trouble with aspects of your caravan shortly after arrival, unless you enjoy the thought of spending days in the local garage trying out your linguistic skills;
- check that you have the relevant “kit” needed in your vehicle for when driving overseas on holiday. This may include things such as a warning triangle, reflective jackets, a breathalyser kit etc. Both The RAC and The AA have more information;
Know the route
- know where you are going. Clearly that doesn’t mean in terms of getting lost but rather that you understand the rules of the road, especially any speed limits when towing, and the appropriate laws in the country you are visiting and any that you will be transiting through en-route etc;
- avoid following signs for city centres when towing a caravan. Traffic systems in continental cities may be significantly different to those you are familiar within the UK and they may also be both busy and narrow. They are well worth avoiding with a caravan unless you have absolutely no alternative;
- set yourself modest itineraries. Europe is a big place and being too aggressive with your plans for how many kilometres you need to cover each day, is likely to result in you and everyone else becoming exhausted, Driving from the north of France to the south in a day may sound exciting and do-able, but will be very tiring;
Insurance and other documentation
- check that you have continental/overseas caravans cover. This sounds obvious but is sometimes overlooked. Make sure it is valid for countries you will be travelling through and for the durations and mileages you are considering. It might be worth trying to compare touring caravan insurance options if you are looking for particularly cost-effective solutions;
- make sure you have an insurance Green card for when you travel overseas. The Government site advises that outside the EU, a ‘green card’ proves that your insurance covers the minimum cover in the country you’re driving in. At the time of writing (before Brexit) UK motorists who are planning to drive to other European countries will need to get a Green card in the event of a no-deal Brexit, say insurers – and you’ll need to apply for one at least a month ahead. Ask your insurance company if they can issue you with one;
- ensure you carry your driving licence and any other relevant document, such as caravan breakdown insurance, with you;
- don’t forget your (and your passengers’) passport! At the time of writing (pre-Brexit) requirements regarding passports, pet passports and ID documents that the country you are travelling to are not yet known – so make sure you have the relevant documentation before you travel;
- check at your local Post Office whether you will need an International Driving Permit;
- tell your credit card or banking providers that you are going overseas and make sure they have that registered on the system. Some may spot what they see as an out-of-character profile transaction if your card suddenly pops up and starts being used abroad. Having your card rejected at a petrol station or motorway toll booth while you argue with your card provider on the phone, is not a good way to start your holiday;
- factor in motorway tolls. Many if not most motorways in continental Europe are payable and those fees can mount up seriously on a longer journey. Having insufficient money available to get through the gate on a motorway after a long journey, is an experience well worth missing. Do take note that some motorway exits across Europe are entirely automatic or are so at unusual hours. Some machines in such cases may not even accept cash automatically and will presume that you have a valid plastic card of some sort. This is another reason to make sure your providers understand where you are going and that you have sufficient available credit!
Finally, for some destination inspiration, check out our guides including our Guide to caravanning in France, Guide to caravanning in the Channel Islands, Guide to caravanning on the Isle of Wight and, our Guide to caravanning in Germany. Enjoy your holiday!
Please note that at the time of writing, January 2020, we are still pre-Brexit. We have suggested what you may need to carry in terms of documentation and insurances etc but would advise that you check before you go.