Caravan Travel in Europe – Essential Information

18 Jun 2009

Caravanning on the continent can be lots of fun but it requires a lot more preparation than travelling within the U.K. You must carry out all of the usual security and safety checks that you would for travel here, but there are a number of additional things to look into before you set off.

Each country that you are planning to travel through will have a different set of road laws so it is essential to be fully up-to-date in every place. Road laws comprise of the way that you use the road, what constitutes road-worthiness and in some instances the things that you must carry with you.

Even if you are an experienced caravanner you still need to check for any changes in the law. Contact the tourist office for the country you are travelling to, to be assured that you have the most current information.

There are a number of items that you are required to have with you whilst travelling, this varies from country to country. This is a list of things you are highly likely to need:

  1. Warning Triangles – Many countries require that one is carried, two are needed for towing caravans in Spain, Croatia, Slovenia and Turkey.  

  2. Fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. Rules on this vary but it is always advisable to carry both. 

  3. Extra mirror extensions – Compulsory in Spain. 

  4. Reflective jacket – Compulsory in a number of countries including France, Spain and Italy. In Italy it must be kept within reach of the drivers seat and any additional passengers should have one as well.  

  5. If your license plates were issued before 2001 (and do not display the Euro GB sign) you will need to display a GB sticker on both plates. 

  6. You may need to adjust your headlights to suit driving on the right. Kits are available to do this but do not leave it to the last minute as a dealer may need to carry out the change.

Legal road usage is dependant on local and national rules but some of the key areas where travellers get caught out are:  

  • Drink driving thresholds are significantly lower in Europe than they are in the U.K., it is always advisable to drink no alcohol if you intend on driving.

  • Radar/speed camera detectors are illegal in many countries, even if they are not in use.

  • The speed is in kilometres and not miles per hour.  

  • Drive on the right hand side of the road! Only Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and the U.K. drive on the left hand side of the road in Europe. It can be easy to slip back into familiar habits so make sure that you fully concentrate at all times. 

  • There are low emissions zones (L.E.Z.) in Europe. For example in parts of Germany where the correct stickers must be displayed in order to drive legally.

There are a number of other items that it is always advisable to carry in your caravan, home or away:

  • A complete tool kit.

  • A spare wheel.

  • Spare gas cannisters – ferries will only let you take a limited amount of gas on board. Calor gas is not generally available on the continent, so it may be necessary to take an adaptor/regulator so that you can use another type. Before you travel check with your destination about what is available as gas pressures vary.

 It is also important to take all the necessary documents with you when you travel. Of course you need your passports (including for any pets), any necessary visas and driving licenses. It is also recommendable to take your vehicle documentation, including your MOT certificate and if you are borrowing the towing car, documentation to prove that it is legally in your possession. Check with your insurer well before you travel that you are adequately insured to drive abroad.

Each of your party should get a European health insurance card (E.H.I.C.), this provides basic health insurance whilst in Europe. It is also prudent to take out travel insurance and to take all of the relevant documentation with you.

With all of this sorted you can confidently set out on your travels so that you have a great trip every time!

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  • Gundram Buslerpon

    Genial – I accept the idea

    Comment | November 4, 2009