Touring abroad is a fantastic experience and a great way to see many fantastic sites but to enjoy touring to its full potential you will need to prepare for your holiday and make sure you abide by European (EC) Regulations. We thought we would put together some top tips on touring abroad safely and things to bear in mind before you travel.
Whilst it is not a legal requirement for UK caravans, we recommend that you carry your CRiS caravan registration document (or an official duplicate) with you in the event you are stopped by the authorities. The caravan registration document is proof that you are the registered keeper and are entitled to use the caravan. The new anti-counterfeit CRiS registration document has security embedded marking making it difficult to create a duplicate. Therefore, we suggest that you keep your registration document in a safe place and not inside your caravan, preferably on your person.
Speed limits for touring caravans
When towing inside the UK you are automatically restricted to a maximum speed of 50mph on single carriageways and 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways. This excludes roads where there is a lower general speed limit. Speed limits in some European countries can be different to what we are used to i.e. Germany’s main motorway ‘Autobahn’ operates without a maximum speed limit for cars, however, when towing a caravan there is a limit of 80kph/49.7mph.
Go Motorhoming has published a handy guide detailing European speed limits for caravans and motorhomes.
Before you set off on your adventure there are a couple of essential checks you should perform:
• Insurance: don’t presume your caravan is covered, it’s vital to check before you set off on your touring adventure in Europe whether your insurance covers you for the duration of your trip. Most policies provide cover for a set period. If you are unsure of your policy agreement you should contact your insurer and see how much European cover you have on your policy.
• It’s a good idea to have the following documents on you:
- Drivers licence
- Original vehicle registration document (CRiS, V5 – not essential but recommended)
- Insurance certificate
- Driving licence paper counterpart; for those without a photo card licence.
• Make sure you close gas taps and life conductors off the gas bottle(s)
• Switch off all interior lights and other electrical equipment
• Disconnect the mains supply and carefully store the cable
• Empty the fresh and waste water tanks
• Stow lose equipment and belongings as low as possible and insure all heavy items are on the floor.
• Make sure windows, roof lights, doors aerials etc. are secured
• Check the final nose-weight
Looking after your tow car
The high mileage you are likely to cover on the continent may put a strain on your car, it is important to take precautions to reduce the possibility of breakdown.
• It is important that the vehicle you are using to tow your caravan / trailer is adequate for the job. Check the engine size and make sure it is large enough to tow the unit and load. It is important not to overload your car and to weigh your caravan to ensure you aren’t towing over the allowed weight. Find more information on towing and check that your car and caravan combination is safe and legal on the Towcheck website
• Check the condition of both car and caravan; arrange a full service for your caravan, paying attention to braking systems, water cylinder, fan belt etc.
• Ensure that you have suitable equipment to comply with local law. In most European countries, you must carry a warning triangle, high visibility jackets, beam deflectors, a first aid kit, spare bulbs, spare glasses and your vehicle registration documents.
If you break down, or are pulled over by the police, put your high-vis jacket on or you may get a fine.
• Inform your UK Motor Insurer that you are taking your car abroad so that they can extend your cover for the duration of your trip.
• Holiday motor breakdown insurance is extremely valuable when travelling abroad. Keep your Breakdown Insurance documents with you always when travelling. If you break down in France, Switzerland or Italy use the motorway emergency phones to call the police and arrange for the vehicle to be towed off the motorway before contacting your vehicle breakdown insurer. Only police-registered breakdown vehicles are permitted to remove vehicles in these countries.
• Plan your route in advance and ensure a member of the party other than the driver are acquainted with the route. In the event, you get lost in an unknown area, try to find officials or employees of larger establishments i.e. service station, post office and ask them for directions.
• Try not to park in badly lit areas, it is not advised to sleep in your caravan unless pitched on a campsite.
General tips on holidaying abroad
This may sound foolish, but remember to drive on the right side of the road. After stopping for a break or approaching a roundabout it’s easy to forget, pull off and start driving on the left.
A handbag, laptop or camera on display will be just as tempting to criminals abroad as it would be in the UK. Keep all personal belongings hidden and if you are unsure about the security of where you are going, you can get advice from the Foreign Office. If you have an emergency other than a breakdown, call the 112 number which works in all EU member states.
Make sure you carry emergency cash on you for each country you visit. If you are on an adventure off the beaten track, many shops and service stations may not accept card payment and you don’t want to be caught short.
Having a good road map or GPS unit is essential to get you on the right road for your touring adventure.
Remember your EHIC card.
Finally, enjoy yourself! A touring caravan opens your world to endless possibilities so put the key in the ignition and set off on your adventure!