So your thinking or taking your home away from home over the water!!!!! Here's a checklist and some related advice about things you need to make sure you have before you go, as well as a little advice for when your over there.
Many of the items on this check list are needed to comply with the laws in the country you will be visiting, so keep legal and check out the details!!!!
Now those funny little things like, they drive on the wrong side of the road, they have different electric ratings and sockets, different laws and things like that could make your holiday less fun than it should be if you aren't prepared towing in the continent.
So lets start with the car!!!
Due to the fact that you'll be driving on the other side of the road, you'll not only have to remember and make an initial conscious effort, but you'll have to do a small amount of adaptation to the car as well. Firstly your headlights are deigned to forward and to the edge of the road in the UK, so when your driving on the other side of the road they will be shining forward and into the line of traffic coming towards you if you don't change this by using beam benders, which you can get from your local motorists centre, caravan centre or online stores. Whichever way you look at it when towing on the continent, you'll be on the wrong side of the road and on the wrong side of the car, so it's vital to make sure you have a full supplement of mirrors especially on the passenger side of your car, so that you can see what's going on clearly.
Trust me there is nothing worse than breaking down in a foreign country, so make sure you have some foreign breakdown cover. Motoring organizations in the UK normally only cover your car whilst it's in the UK on any of their main policies, so you'll need to get in touch with them before you cross the channel to arrange the necessary additional cover for where your going to. Even then your unlikely to find that you breakdown right next to a mechanic who speaks fluent english, trust me I've been there!!!!, so make sure you pack that all essential phrase book, bon jour, merci and a nice smile won't get you far in a foreign garage
You are required by law to be able to produce certain documents upon request about your vehicle, so make sure you have all these documents with you. As with any country, you must have a full and valid drivers licence, you should be aware that some older style of drivers licence are valid in some countries, if you have a green type licence it would be advisable to exchange it for the new pink EU licence for which you can get the relevant form from the post office. You need to do this a few months before you go abroad because you need to send of your old licence with it, then the DVLA will send you the new one. You must have it back before you set off. In some countries you need even more than your standard driving licence, you may need an international driving permit as well, these can be obtained from most of the breakdown services such as the AA and Green Flag.
You must also carry your vehicle log book with you at all times, if you haven't got yours because it is still with the DVLA you can get a certificate from the post office called a V379 to cover you whilst you are abroad. If the car does not belong to you, you would be advised to carry a letter of consent and authorization from the owner of the vehicle as well. If it's a hire car you will be required to carry another certificate known as a VE103, which again you can get from one of the motoring breakdown organizations.
Both on the back of your car and your caravan you must show the obligatory GB plates, or you could look a bit more sophisticated and get yourself a set of european car registration plates for your car and caravan, these are available from all the main motorists centres and look somewhat better than the old tacky stickers that tend to leave nasty marks when they start to peel off.
Just the same as over in the UK, you must have insurance to drive your car and tow your caravan, you should always check that your motor and caravan insurance covers you when outside the UK. You will usually find that you need an additional certificate from your insurers known as the green card, when requesting a green card from your insurers you need to ask that a reference is made on it to the fact that you will be towing a caravan. Whilst your in touch with your insurers for your green card you should also check whether it is necessary to have a bail bond for the country or countries you are touring in. A bail bond is needed in the unfortunate circumstance you have an accident whilst your abroad in countries such as Spain, if you haven't got one you'll end up paying out a large sum of money or having both vehicle and yourselves being detained.
Another thing is your car tax disc and vehicle M.O.T., if your tax is due to run out whilst your still abroad you'll have to apply at your nearest car registration centre for the car tax before you go (and take the new disc with you!!!), some post offices are also able to supply you with a new tax disc up to 42 days ahead of your current disc running out. As for your M.O.T., you'll need to get your car M.O.T'd before you go as well, usually if you take your previous M.O.T. certificate with you when you go to get it done they can adjust the validity date by a couple of weeks so that you don't loose out there either. Remember to take your M.O.T. certificate on holiday with you as well, it's yet another thing that you'll get a fine for if you cannot produce it if requested.
In some countries such as Spain, it is also a legal requirement to carry a spare set of spectacles if you need to wear them for driving. You also need to carry a fire extinguisher and a warning triangle, that the law as well. Basically our advice is, plan your route well, know which countries you are likely to be traveling through and find out which laws you will have to abide by during your trip through the continent.
OK so that's what you need to make sure you have to stay safe and legal as far as your car, so what do you need to know about your caravan and yourself whilst your abroad?
No it's not about your credit card, although it's advisable to take that with you anyway, what this is about is some countries require you to have a visitors visa when you are on holiday. You will need to check whether this is necessary, probably best checking with one of the motorists organizations or a travel agent, although you will probably find that if it an EU country you won't need one unless you are staying for 3 months or more.
Although you will find that with the ever increasing free movement in EU you are less likely to be asked for your passport as you were about 10 years ago, it is still a legal requirement to have a full and valid passport.
When travelling in any of the EU countries you need to get an E111 form from your post office before you go along with a health travel guide called a T5. The E111 gives you, as a UK citizen member of the EU emergency health care, should the need arise, at a reduced fee. As well as taking the original E111 with you it is advisable also to take a few photocopies along with you, because if you need to use the benefits the medical services will retain a copy for their use, and the term " lightning never strikes" is not enough guarantee to ensure you won't need another copy. Although this form covers most eventualities it may not cover all medical expenses occurred, so it is also advisable to take out additional health insurance to cover such expenses as getting you home if you are incapacitated and alike.
Due to the interference to some countries emergency service you may find that your phone may not be allowed into the country you are visiting. The phones that fall into this category are the older style analogue phones, If your phone is one of the newer digital phones using the GSM system you will be fine, as long as your phone, service provider and tariff allow you to use call roaming you'll even be able to use it!!! Most of the pay as you go tariffs don't have this function enabled as standard and you may have to pay and up-front deposit and go through a credit check prior to get this function enabled on your phone to allow you access to the local mobile phone networks. What ever tariff, phone or network you are on our advice is check before you go, you should also remember that when you have incoming calls from the UK the cost of the international connection will be charged to your mobile bill or against your phone credit, not to the caller, they will only have to pay the rate as if you were in the UK.
Other than the main issues of continental television programmes being in a foreign language and Eastenders and Coronation Street not being in their programme guides, there are a few more things you need to think about before you decide to take your TV with you abroad. The main problem you will get is that the TV signals on the continent are in a completely different format, usually SECAM, where as UK signals are PAL format so you would need to make sure that your television is capable of receiving the relevant types of signal for the country you are visiting.
Firstly you need to find out how much gas you can carry on the trip across the channel, ferries usually allow up to 3 gas cylinders to be carried as part of your caravan load but some operators allow far less than that. If you are venturing under the water, Euro tunnel have a limit of 50kg. Don't rely either on being able to get gas whilst your across there either, the main gas available on the continent is Camping Gaz so you cannot exchange you Calor style bottles and the cost of Camping Gaz regulators and bottle rental can work out to be expensive. So you need to make sure you take enough for your holiday needs with you without exceeding the limits imposed by your chosen method of navigating the channel. Just a final safety issue, as ever make sure your cylinders are secured and stored upright and any valve tightly closed.
Although most UK appliances will operate perfectly well abroad you will have to purchase a continental mains adapter from your caravan accessory dealer because continental sites usually run 220v but at peak times this could be much lower.
Needless to say, you need to check your caravan insurance policy to see if your policy covers your caravan whist abroad, if it doesn't you would be well advised to increase your cover to a policy that does.