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With the British weather leaving much to be desired this year so far, it has led us to thinking about where to find that little bit of sunshine in our motorhomes. So, whether you want to wander the beaches of Spain or explore the clear lakes in France, we’ve got some helpful points to help you when motorhoming abroad.
Getting out of the country
With the number of Brits venturing abroad in their motorhomes increasing year-on-year, the concept of getting your beloved tourer across seas is getting even easier.
There are two options, either on a Ferry or on the Eurotunnel. If you decide to travel by ferry ensure you fill in all the dimensions accurately when booking in, for example the overall length and height must include any fixtures and fittings, such as bike racks.
For travelling on the Eurotunnel it’s important to know your vehicles dimensions so you know if you need to be on the standard carriages, single deck carriages or freight service. On the Eurotunnel you are able to take your LPG/gas tanks abroad easily, providing they are a maximum 47kg, turned off and less than 80% full.
Staying above board
When driving in Europe some, or a lot, of laws can change and unfortunately for us, being foreign doesn’t cut it with the police. We’ve recalled just a few below, but we recommend checking the specific country laws that you’re going to for any additional requirements.
Number plates. If you don’t have a Euro plate (12 stars with a GB) you are required by law to attach a GB sticker to the rear of the vehicle when travelling in Europe.
Speed limits. The way speed limits work for motorhomes in Europe is fairly similar to those in Britain. There are different speed limits for motorhomes under 3.5kg and those over this weight. Although these are not consistent throughout all European countries, you can find out more here: https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/overseas-holidays/planning-your-route/european-speed-limits/.
Satellite navigation systems. In most European countries it is illegal for sat navs to actively search for mobile speed cameras. If travelling in France, Germany and Switzerland sat navs can’t warn for fixed speed cameras. In both instances you must turn off these functions in settings.
Breathalysers in France. Due to a lack of supply of suitable breathalysers it is no longer a legal requirement to carry a breathalyser when travelling in France. However, it is still strongly recommended and once the supplies have increased, the legislation will come back into place (so depending when you read this blog it could be legal).
In these European countries it is law that headlights are on at all times: Croatia (winter months), Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland.
Vehicles over 12 metres in Spain. If you’re travelling to Spain and your vehicle (including any fixtures, trailers or attached cars) is over 12 metres you must use two small or one large marker boards on the rear of your vehicle. These are made of aluminium, manufactured to ECE70 standard, be positioned between 50cm and 150cm from the ground and plain yellow with a red outline.
If you’re adventures tourers and are heading to Europe for the vast biking, there’s a few things to bare in mind. Bikes must be carried at the rear of caravans or motorhomes in Portugal. In Spain and Italy overhanging loads, such as bike racks, must be indicated by a 50 x 50 panel with reflective red and white diagonal stripes. In Italy these must be aluminium, in Spain they can be aluminium or plastic.
Keeping the cost down
Europe is significantly more welcoming to motorhomes than the UK. Between camper stops and wild camping being widely accepted, you can keep the cost of European motorhoming holidays to a minimum, providing you have a motorhome that you can cook in, carry drinking water, sleep in and have an on-board toilet.
Firstly, camper stops; these are available free of charge in most European countries and offer a place to stay, they range from carparks in towns to beachside spots. Although camper spots are stops and not a campsite, therefore you can’t set up a tent or awning, hang out laundry or sit outside with tables and chairs.
Secondly, wild camping; although illegal on the most part in England and Wales, in most European countries it is accepted, and you will find a host of ‘tolerated’ spaces on your journey. However, if you find a secluded spot you want to spend the night, the most that Police will do is ask you to move along.
If you decide to venture even further afield from Europe, we advise checking other countries laws, speed limits and special requirements. But for now, happy touring in that little bit of sunshine.