Guide to taking your caravan abroad
The beauty of caravans is that they can be taken more or less anywhere. Customers with a sense of adventure can look far beyond the UK’s shores. There’s no reason why, if you’re able to make it as far as one of our ferry ports, you shouldn’t be able to take caravan holidays in France, Spain or Italy – and trips to further flung destinations such as Croatia or even Greece are certainly not out of the question
But, just as with any caravanning journey, the old boy scouting maxim of ‘be prepared’ is one to bear in mind.
It goes without saying that caravan insurance is the first thing you’ll need to sort out (whilst upgrading your car insurance to cover Europe - which isn't expensive).
See the world from your caravan window
You should also make sure you’ve got proper medical insurance, a completed E111 form, and breakdown cover that extends across the continent – so if your exhaust pipe does choose to fall off in the middle of the Dordogne at least there’s something you can do about it.
However, it’s a good idea to get both your car and your caravan properly serviced before setting off to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Keep all these documents, together with other vital pieces of paper such as passports and MOT certificates, in the most easily accessible place you can imagine – the glove compartment’s not a bad place to start.
It’s also vital to make sure you pack properly. As well as those items you’d take on any caravanning trip – such as a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, torch, and tool kit – there are certain pieces of equipment that are legal requirements when travelling in Europe. For example, you’re required to carry two high visibility vests in Austria, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the Czech Republic; two warning triangles in Croatia, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey; and spare bulbs in a host of countries including Andorra, Greece and Slovakia.
Of course, all of these items are highly recommended wherever you’re going, but you need to check what the law requires before you set off. For example, many caravanners have travelled to Spain without realising they’ve been breaking the law by not having extended mirrors fitted.
You’ll need a GB sticker on both your car and your caravan, and beam deflectors need to be fitted wherever you drive on the right hand side of the road. This can be done on the ferry over and should serve as a reminder of which side of the road to drive on when you get off the boat.
Breaking road laws abroad can land you with an expensive on-the-spot fine or even worse penalty, so it’s important to be aware of the rules of the road –particularly the speed limits – before setting off.
Plan your route carefully, and take a decent road atlas of the countries you’ll be driving through. Sat navs are useful when travelling abroad, but you should never rely on them.
Finally, get hold of a phrase book and try and memorise a few useful sentences, particularly those relating to camping and filling up at petrol stations.
There’s no need to ruin all the fun by treating your trip like a military expedition, but with a bit of careful planning – and a touch of common sense – you can make sure your European caravan holiday is one you’ll remember for all the right reasons.