You’ve discovered the freedom of travelling the UK in a motorhome – now imagine that multiplied by a factor of at least 100 once you leave these shores and take your motorhome to Europe. The freedom of the open road abounds – and may take you, quite literally, anywhere.
If you’ve not had many long-distance journeys in your motorhome, the prospect of taking your motorhome to Europe might seem a little daunting at first, but there’s really little more to it – and you’ll find plenty of well-appointed campsites to break up time on the road. But it does involve driving in at least one foreign country and the rules vary in small but important ways however far you end up travelling.
So, let’s take a look at some of the important things you need to know before you set out on your adventures …
It might seem boring, but it’s crucial to travel with the correct documentation. The most important of these is your driving licence, which you should keep with you at all times – currently, the categories of vehicle you are entitled to drive on your EU licence are exactly the same as in the UK.
While the UK remains in the EU you do not need an International Driving Permit, but it remains to be seen whether this changes post-Brexit.
Just as in the UK, a minimum of third party insurance is required in all EU countries and you need to ensure that your cover extends to driving in Europe – a so-called “green card” helps to prove that you meet the minimum requirements.
A guide published by Caravan Talk also points out that in some European countries you must pay an additional tax and get a toll sticker (a “vignette”) to travel on motorways in your motorhome and that in Austria, for example, you must attach a “GO Box” to your windscreen to calculate the distance covered on the motorway.
Don’t forget to take your passport with you too!
On the road
- the unwary are most likely to be caught out by the different speed limits in different European countries and the fact that these may vary according to the type of road on which you are driving and whether your motorhome is more than 3,500kg in laden weight;
- in built-up areas, the usual speed limit is 50kph but if you are driving a large motorhome of more than 3,500kg, the restriction on motorways might vary from as slow as 50km/h in Gibraltar to 110km/h 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.
To keep on board
Most European countries also have a list of warning and safety equipment you must always carry in the vehicle. These typically include hazard warning triangles (two of them in some countries), a reflective jacket, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, spare bulbs, and a sticker on the rear of the vehicle denoting your nationality.
The AA has a useful guide as to what compulsory kit you need here.
For further advice about driving on the continent, you might want to ask experienced friends or family members about other details they encountered. An entertaining first-hand account of taking your motorhome to Europe also appears on the website Wandering Bird.
Just like planning for any other adventure, the preparation and planning that goes into taking your motorhome to Europe is likely to pay off – and keep you out of awkward, embarrassing or illegal problems along the way.