Have motorhome, will travel – as far as the road may take you. And, if you are motorhoming across Europe, that might be a very long way indeed.

It’s that freedom of the open road which beckons many motorhome owners to drive aboard a cross-Channel ferry every once in a while, to make an extended trip onto the Continent.

If you are fairly new to motorhoming or have only ventured out on a few quite local weekend breaks, you might find the prospect of driving longer distances, far from home, in a country whose language you barely speak, more than a little daunting.

As the many thousands who have gone before you are likely to attest, however, it is really not so challenging as it might first appear – and the sense of first-hand adventure and satisfaction in discovering new and exciting places well off the beaten track are likely to prove their own rewards.

Nobody’s suggesting that you make a long marathon of it all – though a travelling life in a motorhome is recounted in the journals of the Wandering Bird – but there are still a number of things to take care of when planning your motorhoming across Europe.

Driving

If you can handle driving your motorhome in the UK, you are likely to feel just as at home on the roads and motorways of Europe.

Perhaps some of the variables that catch out many drivers are speed limits, which naturally change according to conditions in built-up areas, on country roads, and on motorways – and may depend on the size of your motorhome, specifically whether it is more or less than 3,500kg in laden weight (the Maximum Authorised Mass, or MAM, which you are likely to find printed near your vehicle’s VIN plate).

In built-up areas, the usual speed limit is 50kph but beware variations.

If you are driving a large motorhome of more than 3,500kg, the restriction on motorways might vary from as slow as 50kph in Gibraltar to 110kph in Portugal.

In some countries, larger motorhomes are prohibited from using the “fast” outside lane of three-lane motorways, so lowering the maximum speed at which you are permitted to drive.

In some countries, larger motorhomes are prohibited from using the “fast” outside lane of three-lane motorways, so lowering the maximum speed at which you are permitted to drive.

Onboard essentials

Most countries in Europe have certain safety equipment and warning devices that must always be carried onboard a motor vehicle such as your motorhome.

The list varies from one country to another but might include such diverse items as hazard warning triangles (two of them in some countries), a reflective jacket, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, spare bulbs, a breathalyser kit (in France), and a sticker on the rear of the vehicle denoting your nationality.

Although courteous, the naturally official tone of any police that might stop you along your way is of course likely to be off-putting, especially if your knowledge of the local language is sketchy or non-existence. A trusty phrasebook – or these days, a translation app on your mobile, is likely to prove a God send.

Bank holiday weekend opening hours

Saturday 25th May 2019 normal  10.00am to 4.00pm

Sunday 26th May 2019 normal 10.00am to 4.00pm

Bank Holiday Monday 27th May 2019 10.00am to 4.00pm for sales – service and aftersales closed.

In the world of motorhomes, it is often not just a case of how much space is on offer but what’s done with it that counts.

Simply changing the positioning of some of the essential elements inside the motorhome or by applying especially ingenious solutions of design, the usable area and interior appearance may be changed considerably – that what makes motorhome layouts such a critical factor in choosing one make and model over another to suit your particular family’s needs.

The designer’s challenge

For any motorhome designer, the challenge is fitting quite so much into the relative confines of your second home on wheels. There are the driver’s and passenger seats up front in the cockpit, of course, but behind that there need to be spaces in which to relax, to cook, take a shower, a place for the toilet, and to sleep.

Much of that layout is likely to be occupied by the beds – the largest single feature that needs to be fitted inside your motorhome – and that’s where the designer’s ingenuity and imagination is most called for:

Rear lounge layout

  • this is a layout you might have noticed when following a motorhome along the motorway – a lounge area situated at the back of the vehicle, typically to make the most of the panoramic view you are likely to get from a big window at the rear;

Front lounge layout

  • but the lounge area might also be immediately behind the driver and passenger seats in the cab – and is probably nowadays the most popular layout;
  • it means that your galley or kitchen area, washroom and – in the case of larger motorhomes – the bedroom, too, are all situated towards the rear of the vehicle;

Fixed double bed

  • the bed you sleep in at home is likely to have enough space around it to climb in from either side and this is also possible with a motorhome’s fixed double bed as an “island” with access from both side, and fixed so you don’t need to fold it down and make it up from scratch every night;

Fixed single bed

  • on the same principle – but for those who prefer to sleep alone – fixed single beds are also available;
  • as an article in AutoTrader points out, a fixed bed is one which you don’t have to convert from the seating area in the lounge – for that reason, fixed beds are normally situated at the back of a motorhome, ready and waiting, already made up for when you want to turn in for the night;

French bed layout

  • the so-called French bed is a layout designed to make the most of the space in a smaller motorhome, since it is usually fitted against the wall and the corners at the foot of the bed may be cut off and rounded, so it is easier to get around them;
  • for some of the arguments in favour of and against this type of arrangement, take a look at the article on the website Out and About Live;

Bunk beds

  • not so many motorhomes feature bunk beds, but they tend to be a favourite with children, so if you have a young family travelling with you on holidays, you might want to give a thought to this space-saving arrangement.

Motorhome layouts are many and varied – typically masterpieces in design and ingenuity. The layout that suits you is likely to be determined by your family’s own particular needs and the way you intend to use your motorhome. Whatever those needs may be, you are almost certain to find a layout that suits you.

 

Given the glorious summers we’ve had in recent years, you might be forgiven for holding on to your motorhome with more than a little jealousy.

Sadly, though, there are very few of us who have the opportunity of spending every waking moment in our cherished motorhome. There are going to be too many days when it has to sit idly in the driveway.

But the very attraction which keeps your motorhome so close to your heart is likely to captivate many other people too – those who are looking for a short break or holiday with a difference, or those who might be thinking about buying one for themselves and want a first-hand experience before doing so.

By renting out your motorhome – especially if it is one so highly sought-after as an Auto-Sleeper – you might ensure that it is not only being put to maximum good use, but you may earn a tidy amount of cash into the bargain. If nothing else, the income might help to cover the costs of maintenance, servicing and repairs.

Renting it out

You might already know or have been recommended someone who wants to rent your motorhome, but in many cases, it might mean advertising its availability.

When creating your advert, remember to give clear and precise dates on which it is available, an accurate description of its condition, size and how many people it may comfortably sleep. And, of course, the daily or weekly rental charge.

As you begin to receive expressions of interest, make sure – for your own security and peace of mind – to find out as much as possible about any potential renter. It’s your motorhome after all and you’ll want to know that it’s in a safe pair of hands.

Once you have established a degree of mutual confidence, you may arrange to meet and handover your motorhome for the agreed period. It is worth having put the homework into drafting a formal hire agreement, inventory and check list of “dos” and “don’ts”.

Run through these checklists carefully and remember to accept the renter’s money before the agreement is signed and you hand over the keys to your motorhome.

Internet help

In this day and age of the internet, there are websites and apps that offer to take over all this hard work on your behalf.

They have ready-made formats for advertising and listing your motorhome, pre-screen potential renters on your behalf, have pro-forma rental agreements, and also arrange to handle the collection and processing of rental payments.

Motorhome insurance

One of the most important aspects of renting your motorhome to someone is the question of motor insurance – it is essential for both you and your renter’s peace of mind and security. Both of you are at risk of breaking the law if the insurance cover is inappropriate or inadequate.

An article in the Sun newspaper on the 1st of December 2018, describes a number of apps which are already in use by car owners renting out their vehicles. This also stresses the importance of making things absolutely clear to the current insurers of your motorhome – renting it out might invalidate some policies – and, if necessary, arrange specialist motorhome insurance that specifically covers your renting out the vehicle to others.

 

The winners of this year’s Tent, Caravan and Motorhome Owner Satisfaction Awards have been revealed, and Auto-Sleepers have been awarded Best Motorhome Manufacturer (UK New and Used)!

Club President Julia Bradbury was on hand to present the awards at The Midland Hotel in Manchester on the evening of 17 January.

As in previous years, winners were crowned based entirely on the feedback given by the thousands of Club members, Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome readers who completed the 2019 Owner Satisfaction Survey, which ran from February to November 2018.

“This year we introduced a new category – that for Best Motorhome Manufacturer (UK New and Used volume sales). This recognises the British manufacturer that impressed across the board.” It was in this category that Auto-Sleepers took home the award, having been voted the Best Motorhome Manufacturer of 2019!

About the Awards

A total of 24 awards were presented at the ceremony, which is run by The Camping and Caravanning Club in partnership with Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome magazines.

Robert Louden MBE, Director General at The Camping and Caravanning Club, said: “We are pleased to continue our annual celebration into the best products on the market at the 2019 Owner Satisfaction Awards.

“Over the three year’s we’ve been running these awards jointly with Practical Motorhome and Practical Caravan magazines, we’ve collected invaluable feedback from tent, trailer tent, caravan and motorhome owners. This is then shared with manufacturers where appropriate to help to improve the quality and overall reliability of their products. Ultimately, this then helps consumers and our members to spend their money wisely.”

Alastair Lewis, Managing Director (Hobbies) at Future Publishing, the publisher of both Practical magazine titles, said: “We’re delighted to team up with The Camping and Caravanning Club once again to deliver this important survey of caravan and motorhome owners – our brands are all about helping people get the most out of their passion for caravan or motorhome travel and to buy the best kit to help them do that.

“This survey is an invaluable tool both for readers keen to get insight from other owners and for the industry to help them continue to deliver great ‘vans and motorhomes and the highest levels of service for their customers. It’s testament to the strength of our brands and their position in the market that this year we received more responses than ever before, and we continue to develop the survey and our presentation of it to best reflect the changing markets we operate in.”

The caravan and motorhome awards both feature new categories for 2019, Best Motorhome Manufacturer and Best Caravan Manufacturer, awarded to the brands which score highest across both new and pre-owned categories based on UK new and used volume sales. Meanwhile, there was an increase in the number of 31-50 year olds who completed this year’s Tent Owner Satisfaction Survey, with more people paying less than £100 for their tent.

The full results from the surveys, and detailed analysis, will be published in the February issues of Camping & Caravanning and Practical Caravan and the April issue of Practical Motorhome. To view the full list of gold and silver award winners in this year’s awards visit: www.practicalcaravan.comwww.practicalmotorhome.com or www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/owner-satisfaction-awards.

Modern motorhomes are very much all-weather leisure vehicles – they are heated and well-insulated, making them a perfect home from home even in the dead of winter.

But the motorhome is also designed to be driven and, in winter, conditions on the roads may prove challenging enough for any driver – the more so if you are driving a motorhome or auto-sleeper.

So here are a few tips and suggestions for safe winter driving in your treasured motorhome:

Be prepared

  • probably the single most important precaution to take before driving in winter is to be prepared;
  • weather conditions may change at a moment’s notice and you don’t want to be caught off-guard by the sudden appearance of ice, snow or sleet;
  • indeed, if snow or other severe weather warnings have been issued – the Met Office sends them free through their email alert service – then it might be sensible to postpone your outing altogether;

Winter tyres and chains

  • if you know we are in for a prolonged cold snap or heavy snowfalls are predicted – you might even be driving your motorhome to one of Europe’s winter sports destinations – you might want to consider investing in winter tyres as a very minimum;
  • in many countries, advises Out and About Live, snow chains or snow socks – textile liners that wrap around the wheels of your motorhome – may be a legal requirement;

Keep a safe distance

  • keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you is ever-green advice – but becomes even more critical in winter time;
  • as conditions on the roads deteriorate – and especially if there is ice or snow – you may need to triple or even quadruple your distance behind the vehicle in front;
  • that extra gap might make all the difference you need if the vehicle stops suddenly and your braking and final stopping distance is put to the test;

Demisting

  • winter driving also relies on your having an even more familiar knowledge of your motorhome’s controls – especially the demister;
  • the last thing you want to be doing when trying to concentrate on the road ahead is to be fiddling with unfamiliar controls to get the correct flow of air from the demister;

De-icing

  • clearly, any accumulated ice on the windscreen needs to be removed before setting off but never try to do so by pouring hot water over it – you are likely to crack your windscreen – so, instead use a patent de-icing spray or liquid
  • to help prevent the accumulation of ice in the first place, invest in a purpose-designed windscreen cover or even use cardboard or an old sheet;
  • be similarly careful when using hot water to heat keys to turn in frozen locks – modern locks are likely to incorporate plastic components which may melt if the key is too hot;

The windscreen washer

  • you’re likely to be needing the windscreen washer to maintain good visibility whilst on the move, so remember to keep the water reserve topped up with an appropriately strong de-icing fluid;

Antifreeze

  • if you have forgotten to do so, or do not know whether the vehicle’s radiator is topped up with antifreeze, have the concentration checked and add more to bring it up to the required level.

Your motorhome is probably designed for all-weather enjoyment, so don’t hesitate to use it for just that. Just remember that extra care, preparation and precautions may be needed for the challenge of winter driving conditions.

If you are interested in buying a motorhome – or trading in your existing vehicle for a new one – you are almost certain to come across the term “Auto-Sleeper”.

It might mean one of two things:

  • Auto-Sleeper is the brand name of a specific manufacturer of high-quality motorhomes; but
  • the term is frequently used to describe any motorhome or campervan – they are all vehicles fitted-out for you to sleep in, after all.

Buying an Auto-Sleeper

Whether you are opting for a top-end Auto-Sleeper, a modest campervan, or anything in between, however, a few tips and suggestions might help you make your choice:

Size

  • in choosing a motorhome, you have already made the decision that towing a caravan maybe going a step too far;
  • but Auto-Sleepers still offer a huge range of different sizes and layouts from which to choose – depending on the space you need and the degree of comfort you expect from the fittings, appliances and devices you want from your motorhome;

Use

  • the question of size is also closely related to your intended use of the Auto-Sleeper;
  • is it likely to be just you and your spouse or partner sleeping in the motorhome, for example, or do you need a family-sized vehicle to accommodate the children too;
  • do you expect to be mostly touring in a motorhome which needs to be nimble enough to negotiate the occasional narrow, winding country lane, or will it be largely parked up for use as a well-equipped and fully-stocked base in the same place for most of your holiday;

Weight

  • a guide to buying Auto-Sleepers published by the motoring magazine AutoTrader also makes the important connection between your intended use of the motorhome, its size and its weight;
  • it is not just a question of the larger motorhome weighing more, but the driving qualifications you may need to drive a heavier Auto-Sleeper;
  • if you didn’t take your driving test until the 1st of January 1997 or after, the category B licence you obtained qualifies you to drive vehicles with a maximum weight of 3,500kg. To drive one of the larger Auto-Sleepers – weighing between 3,500kg and 7,500kg – you need to take an additional category C1 driving test;
  • remember, too, that the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) or Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) is the maximum legally permitted weight of your Auto-Sleeper when it is fully loaded. You re breaking the law if you exceed this weight;
  • finally, also bear in mind that the unladen weight of your motorhome also determines the maximum speed limits with which you must comply;
  • Auto-Sleepers less than 3.05 tonnes – built-up areas 30mph, single carriageways 60mph, dual carriageways and motorways 70mph;
  • Auto-Sleepers more than 3.05 tonnes unladen weight – built-up areas 30mph, single carriageways 50mph, dual carriageways 60mph and motorways 70mph;

Whilst these might be the cardinal points of consideration before buying your Auto-Sleeper, there is probably nothing like seeing one close up and personal when trying to make your choice.

That is why, here at our showrooms in Derby, we maintain a permanent exhibition of branded Auto-Sleepers, together with a whole range of other new and preloved Auto-Sleepers or motorhomes.

If Father Christmas didn’t bring you one, there’s still time to become the proud owner of a motorhome and enjoy the warmer, balmy days of springtime that are (hopefully!) just around the corner.

There are any number of benefits attractions in motorhoming, of course, but here are just some of those that appeal to our customers here at Derby Motorhomes:

The freedom to explore

  • Britain is a nation of explorers and every one of us is likely to have some inner yearning for the freedom of the open road and the sense of adventure to follow it wherever it leads;
  • motorhomes provide just that release – with a vehicle that may be nimble enough to manoeuvre even the most winding or narrow roads;

Home from home

  • but for all that adventure and exploration, you don’t need to sacrifice the creature comforts of home;
  • modern motorhomes are built to such a high standard that you have everything you need – the fridge, oven, flushing toilet, running water, and every manner of home comfort – including the kitchen sink;

Everything to hand

  • in a motorhome, everything is to hand;
  • there are no hotel bookings to be made and no restaurant tables to be reserved – still less the need to find a family-friendly eating place if you have the kids in tow;

The great outdoors

  • whenever you are holidaying in a motorhome, the great outdoors is ever-present;
  • all the fresh air you could need, all the natural wonders of the world, are right on your doorstep – providing a welcome and healthy getaway from the city-centred hotels you might otherwise be staying in;

Encounters with the unexpected

  • motorhomes give you the chance to ditch any rigorously planned itinerary and the freedom to explore whatever you encounter along the way;
  • free of the constraints to meet hotel booking-in and checking-out times, feel free to expect the unexpected and awaken once again that sense of exploration, adventure and wonder;

Social occasions

  • neither is motorhoming a solitary affair;
  • motorhomes make ideal family getaways in which you can enjoy some quality time;
  • membership of a club also links you to an even wider social network of like-minded souls – the Caravan Club, which claims more than a million members, changed its name just a couple of years ago to the still more inclusive Caravan and Motorhome Club;

Pet-friendly

  • how many holidays have meant the anxiety and pain of separation from your pets;
  • motorhoming relieves you of any such pain, since your pets can come along on your holiday too;
  • an increasing number of campsites are dog-friendly these days – and recognise that your four-legged companions are as likely to enjoy a holiday just as much as you do;

Economise

  • your bank balance is likely to be one of the major constraints on your taking more holidays and weekend breaks – hotel rooms and dining out every day make many such trips prohibitively expensive;
  • once you’ve made that initial investment in buying a motorhome, on the other hand, your holidays and breaks in the future are likely to prove a fraction of the cost.

These are just a few of the benefits our customers have told us about. Set about purchasing – or upgrading – your motorhome now, and you’re almost certain to discover a lot more.

 

 

For the most part, finding out where motorhome shows are and getting to them is easy.

However, getting the most out of a motorhome show is a very different challenge!

Here are some of Derby Motorhomes top tips to help you to do so.

Plan your children

If you have younger children with you, that’s great but you probably don’t need us to tell you that those youngsters might have very limited attention spans.

Certainly, they’ll enjoy getting close up to the motorhomes but they are likely to be a lot less interested if you’re discussing, for example, engine option specifications with an expert on a stand.

If you can, it might be best to leave your kids with a family member so that you can concentrate on the event itself. If that’s not possible or you don’t like the idea in principle, then taking along some distraction in the form of games or toys might be a smart idea.

Research your interests in advance – and plan

Many of the bigger motorhome shows can be quite intimidating in terms of size and scale. It’s perfectly possible to wander around aimlessly trying to look at everything, only to end up exhausted and without any firm conclusions at the end of the day!

So, have some key things you want to see and check out noted in advance. Go to those stands or exhibitors as a priority and ignore everything else until you have put a tick against each of your priority interests.

Consider taking some food

There is almost always plenty of catering at these events and it can be of good quality but it can also sometimes become extremely crowded.

If you don’t mind queuing up for food and losing time while you are doing so, that’s great. However, if you’d prefer to spend your time looking at motorhomes, rather than the stranger in front of you in the food queue, consider taking a picnic.

Set realistic targets

Many people admit to reaching the end of a motorhome show in a state of almost total exhaustion. It’s great fun but walking endlessly around trying to do everything can drain even the fittest of us.

So, building on that prioritised list of objectives mentioned above, make sure that the things you note as “must do” are realistically achievable within the time you are allocating.

Wear sensible footwear

If the venue is inside, make sure you wear very comfortable shoes rather than those designer specials that look great but which are going to cause you grief after you’ve been walking around in them for a few hours.

If things are outside, make sure your shoes are equally sensible but also waterproof and with decent soles. It doesn’t matter what the weather forecast said, if a field turns into a quagmire and you have beach shoes on, you’ll regret it.

Try to avoid arriving or leaving at peak times

Broadly speaking, peak arrival and departure times are normally somewhere around 8-10AM and around 5-7.00PM.

That may vary, of course, depending upon the hours of the specific show.

Depending upon the venue, these peak times can put incredible pressure on the local road systems meaning queuing to get in or out can take place. Sitting in a queue is unlikely to be an ideal start or end to such a day, so try and avoid the peaks and travel at other times if at all possible.

2019 is now on the horizon and it’s time to start thinking about those New Year expeditions!

As you may know, here at Derby Motorhomes we are devotees of Auto-Sleepers’ vehicles and for that reason, we thought we’d give you a preview of what is coming up in terms of the 2019 Auto-Sleepers – specifically the incredible Symbol Plus.

The Symbol Plus

The Symbol is one of the most familiar and longest-running of Auto-Sleepers van conversions.

It has always been immensely popular and its design goes back to an earlier generation of the Peugeot Boxer. It’s a fact that it’s the only van conversion of this range based upon the medium wheelbase window-van.

Now, the ever-popular Stanway is undoubtedly longer at 5.99 metres and has a pretty luxurious ‘L’ shaped kitchen. However, its diner-lounge can’t convert into single beds and it’s not perhaps quite as flexible for lazy lounging as is the case with the Symbol.

Having two immensely popular vehicles is great but wouldn’t it be a good idea if you could combine the best of both together into one model?

Well, no prizes for guessing that is what Auto-Sleepers has done with the new Symbol Plus. Essentially, you can consider this to be a Symbol at the front end and a Stanway at the rear – but all combined onto a long wheelbase Boxer.

It’s a triumph, as you will see if you contact us for further information!

Auto-Sleepers commitment

There are also the now almost taken-for-granted quality configurations available on Auto-Sleepers’ vehicles including things such as (variations by model):

  • Grade III insulated;
  • 25-litre underfloor-mounted LPG gas tank;
  • 160bhp Peugeot Euro VI engines;
  • flush-fitting, stylish and insulating athermically-treated privacy glass;
  • Al-Ko Air Top & twin leaf rear suspension;
  • Optional Fiat Ducato 150bhp engine;
  • Comfort-Matic engine available.

Why we love Auto-Sleepers’ vehicles

When speaking about the Symbol Plus above, we are obviously talking about design innovation and revolutionary thinking. Those characteristics have always existed in the Auto-Sleepers range but there are many other factors that explain why we think so highly of them.

It wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about this subject without mentioning build quality.

Auto-Sleepers vehicles simply do not skimp on quality fixtures, finishing and materials. It’s difficult to illustrate this other than by inviting you to try some of their fixtures and fittings within the accommodation unit. Your sense of touch will tell you in an instant that the builders here wanted to get everything absolutely right.

That almost inevitably leads into the subject of robustness.

If you read motorhome reviews, you’ll occasionally see that some motorhomes don’t always get rated very highly in terms of things going wrong with internal equipment or bits falling off etc. Those sorts of things simply don’t happen on Auto-Sleepers vehicles and that’s another reason why we are confident when putting them forward to our customers for consideration.

Finally, it’s important to conclude with the recognition of the stylish design that has gone into their interiors. An individual customer can obviously configure this to some extent to their own requirements but the choices available are all almost boutique-like in their quality.

Why not contact us and come and see these incredible vehicles for yourself?