10/04/2016
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Caravan holidays abroad – checklist

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Touring in the UK is great, but taking your caravan abroad can be many times more exciting. The route to discovery of other countries is an easy one, given a bit of preparation and a list of things you need to take with you.

If you prepare well, and take everything you need with you, you’ll be caravanning abroad with peace of mind.

Caravan magazine has drawn up this checklist to help you. Some items are compulsory; others just apply in certain countries.

 

Before you travel

• Check the speed limits for cars and cars towing caravans

• Check your insurances will cover you for the countries you intend to visit and the duration of the visit

• Ensure your caravan has been fully serviced within the previous 12 months to avoid any issues

• Get your mobile phone(s) enabled for European roaming

• Check your EHIC card and passport have not expired

 

-- Find campsites in France --

 

Travel insurance

This is one item you really shouldn't leave home without. Give consideration to specialist travel insurance, such as that offered by the two big clubs (Caravan Club Red Pennant; Camping and Caravanning Club Intana). These can give you peace of mind if something goes wrong. Cover may include:

• European motor breakdown roadside assistance, repairs and recovery

• The choice of annual multi-trip, single trip and winter sports travel cover

• Emergency medical service and repatriation

• Personal possessions cover including lost/stolen passport and money

• Personal liability and legal protection

• Protection against unavoidable cancellation or cutting short your holiday

• Pet care cover including repatriation

• 24-hour emergency phone line

 

Personal items

What’s compulsory

• Passport (plus visa in countries where it’s necessary)

• Driving licence

                 

What’s compulsory in some countries or highly recommended

• EHIC card (for reciprocal healthcare in EU countries)

• Travel insurance and relevant documents

 

What’s good to have

• Local currency

• NHS medical card and list of any medication

• Spare glasses for driving and/or reading (if needed)

• Travel insurance documents

• Phrase book or dictionary

• Maps, guides and directions to campsites, even if you are using your sat-nav

• Contact numbers for bank and credit cards

• ACSI card or Camping Key Europe (campsites will often accept these as a form of ID in place of passports)

 

-- Search for campsites in Germany --

 

Car and caravan

What’s compulsory

• GB stickers or EU number plates

• Headlight converters or adjusted beams

• Warning triangle

• High-visibility vests for all occupants

• Towing mirrors

• Car insurance certificate

• V5C (car log book)

• Proof of MoT (for vehicles more than three years old)

 

What’s compulsory in some countries or highly recommended

• Second warning triangle

• Fire extinguisher

• High vis jacket

• First aid kit

• Disposable breathalysers (France)

• Winter tyres and/or snow chains (in winter)

• Vignette for motorway travel (may need one each for the car and caravan)

• Daytime running lights

• Caravan insurance certificate

• Your caravan’s CRiS registration document

 

What’s good to have

• International driving permit if you have an old paper licence

• Spare fuses

• Spare keys

• Spare bulbs

• Spare wheels

• Campinggaz adaptor or regulator

• Tool kit (including jack)

• Mains polarity tester

• Two-pin European adaptor

• European Accident Statement Form (for accidents where the police do not attend)

 

Electricity abroad

Most continental campsites have hook-up points that will accept our blue three-pin plugs but it's worth taking a two-pin continental adaptor, in case...

Reverse polarity is quite common abroad where it is not really a safety issue because continental switches cut the power on both the live and neutral wires. In the UK it is usually just the live that is disconnected. So, if the polarity is reversed, an appliance can remain live when switched off. This is only a problem if you touch an exposed part within the appliance, such as an element in a toaster, but it's a situation that's best avoided.

A cheap plug-in neon tester can check for reverse polarity. Simply fix the problem by making up a clearly marked adapter with the live and neutral cables swapped. Alternatively, if connected via a two-pin continental plug, it may be possible to turn the plug upside down.

You may encounter low voltage, leading to reduced performance of appliances. Mainland Western Europe has an electricity supply nominally rated at 220V whereas the UK uses 240V. To cope with this difference, appliances for Western Europe are designed to run at 230V.

 

-- Find your perfect campsite in Europe --

 

Taking pets with you

You can take your pets with you without incurring quarantine periods as long as you follow certain rules:

• Your pet(s) must be microchipped. This must be done before your pet(s) gets a rabies vaccination.

• Your pet(s) must have been vaccinated against rabies. You must wait 21 days from the date of the vaccination before travelling. The day of vaccination counts as day 0 and not day 1.

• Your pet must have a pet passport or third-country official veterinary certificate.

• Dogs must have had a tapeworm treatment no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before entry.

• You must use an approved transport company and an approved route unless you’re travelling between the UK and Ireland.

 

Got gas?

With the exception of Campinggaz, LPG cylinders purchased in the UK cannot be refilled abroad. BP's GasLight cylinders were meant to change all that but it never really happened and BP has since sold its cylinder business to various local operators.

The answer is to try to take all the gas you think you'll need and take a Camping Gaz adapter and suitable hose as a backstop. If you do run out of gas, the adapter allows you to use Camping Gaz cylinders in place of your usual ones. This isn't very cost effective but it does get you out of a hole. However, if you're planning an extended stay you may need to purchase cylinders and adapters locally.

 

Fridge performance

Caravan fridges work differently from those in our homes and often struggle when ambient temperatures get much above 32°C. This can easily happen on the Continent during summer, so try to ensure the fridge vents get as much fresh air as possible. Simply removing the vent louvres can help to improve the airflow by eliminating the slight restriction they impose.

 

General advice

Beware that in many countries where you drive on the right, drivers are required to give way to vehicles approaching from the right at uncontrolled intersections. It's a system known as priority to the right or priorité à droite in France.

In some countries, such as Switzerland, pedestrians generally have right of way on crosswalks and expect vehicles to stop. In Holland, cyclists have right of way on all roads they are permitted to use. They're even allowed to ride the wrong way down a one-way street.

Outfits more than 12 metres long travelling to Spain must display suitable reflective signage at the rear. The signs should be made from aluminium and have ECE70 stamped on them. More details from hgvdirect.co.uk.

 

Also read:   Caravan reviews       Subscribe to Caravan magazine     New and used caravans for sale    


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