We are currently on holiday, staying in a static mobile home in the South of France, near the Pyrenees (more on this trip in another post!), but we have been aware that there are a great many families who have chosen to bring their own motorhome with them. Many of these families are French, but we have also seen a number of Brits, Dutch and Germans who have obviously done a lengthy drive to this neck of the woods in France, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were stopping off here as part of a longer trip.
I have to admit that the thought of motorhoming around Europe really appeals to me- you get to experience bitesize snippets of different countries, and having children that like travelling helps as I know they’d really love to get involved with planning the route and experiencing different cultures, food and languages.
With the above in mind, here are 5 tips for motorhoming around Europe, and some of the things you may have to think about before embarking on a big adventure!
Have suitable motorhome insurance
First things first: before heading abroad in your motorhome, don’t forget to take out motorhome insurance so that you are protected if the worst happens. By taking out a decent insurance policy, you can help ensure a replacement vehicle if necessary, possible breakdown cover, accident recovery and personal effects cover. Talk to a reputable provider to discuss your needs and the kind of trip around Europe that you are undertaking.
Prep your motorhome and documents
As well as insurance, one of our other tips for motorhoming around Europe is that you’ll need to feel confident driving your motorhome around (a UK trip is an ideal way to gain confidence), and to make sure that your vehicle is roadworthy and legal. Make sure that it has been for its MOT, as European garages can’t issue these. European breakdown cover is essential to avoid major disruption to your trip, and even despite Brexit, it’s good to know that you don’t need an international driving licence to drive in the EU, Iceland, Switzerland or Norway, as long as you hold a UK photo card licence.
Travelling with food in the EU
I like to be prepared, so would usually stock a motorhome with all kinds of foodie basics and tasty treats for any trip, but did you know that even small quantities of food for personal consumption carries restrictions in the EU? It sounds bonkers, but you are now not permitted to take any meat, milk or any products containing these items, with exceptions being powdered baby milk, baby food or pet food that has been prescribed for medical reasons. Only small amounts of fish, fruit, vegetables, eggs and honey are allowed, so once you’re driving in Europe, perhaps factor in a stop to a supermarket ASAP to stock up on everything you need.
Consider border controls
Now the UK is no longer part of the EU, border control can prove trickier, but still shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your trip. Passing through passport control may take longer now Brits have to use the non-EU lanes, and there’s a chance you may be asked to show your route plans, campsite tickets and proof of funds to show that your trip is definitely happening. When it comes to your passport, it must have at least six months’ validity and be less than 10 years old, and when it comes to the length of your trip in the EU it is now limited to 90 days within a 180-day period, otherwise you will need a visa to extend your stay.
Plan your route and where to stay
The exciting part! I’m a planner anyway, but it’s always worth planning your route before you embark on your trip and deciding which countries you want to explore. Many countries have toll motorways, and whilst these toll roads are a faster option for getting from A to B, doing part of your journey off the motorways, exploring small towns, villages and beauty spots definitely mixes things up. I would love to take in France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy if we ever did a motorhome trip!
Unlike in the UK, many European countries are a very motorhome-friendly, and have a huge choice of overnight stops for motorhomes, (know as aire de camping car, commonly shortened to aires), which are cheap or even free. These have water and dump stations, plus in this day and age electric power points. In summer it’s worth booking campsites in advance, as obviously these tend to get busy, so do your research and plan ahead.
So these are my 5 tips for motorhoming in Europe. Motorhoming can be fun with a family, as long as you plan and prep well!
See some more of my travel posts here