Driving Abroad

Before you travel - Preparing for your journey

Do you need to put your car in for a service or its MOT?

It's essential that your MOT certificate is valid for taking your car abroad. Furthermore, for your own peace of mind (as well as for breakdown insurance purposes) it's recommended you have your vehicle properly serviced and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications. If any parts are reaching the end of its normal life it's worth having them replaced.

Insurance

Car insurance
Check with your provider that your insurance extends to the continent, you may need to get some extra cover for the holiday. Third party insurance is compulsory.

Personal insurance
It is a condition of booking to have personal insurance cover for your everyone in your party for your Eurocamp holiday. If you think you have cover already, check that everyone in your party is on the policy.

Breakdown cover
Many customers extend their cover with the AA/RAC/Green Flag to allow them to take their car abroad. In the event of a breakdown, replacement car parts can be expensive - especially after adding on postage or if the parts need to be imported. If you have breakdown cover, it must be valid from the moment you leave home to when you return.

If you're currently shopping around for insurance for your forthcoming Eurocamp holiday, we offer both personal cover and breakdown cover.

Maps and SatNav

Travelling with children

Take both with you and remember your charger! Also:

  • Have your planned route written down in case you lose signal or your GPS system breaks
  • If you can, try to pre-plan where you'll stop off for a rest/refreshments/sightseeing. This can help cut down on spending money at expensive service stations as well as breaking up your journey
  • When you do stop, make sure all valuables are safely hidden from prying eyes
  • If you use a GPS app on your smart phone, remember this is reliant on an internet connection and that the battery will drain very quickly
  • Make sure the most up-to-date maps are programmed in to your satnav

Tyres

Make sure your tyres (including your spare) are in decent shape for your journey. Check them for general wear and tear - any splits, nail damage, scuffs or bulges, and while they're still cold, check the pressure. When you drive the tyre will heat up, increasing the pressure. They must be the correct pressure to get the best handling on roads you're not familar with.

Check which type of tyres you need - will the weather have an effect? Note that some countries have a minimum tyre type at certain times of the year.

And will you need snow chains? In the winter they're compulsory in France.

Oil and Water

Check that the levels of your water, oil and windscreen wash are all correct. Keep a spare bottle of water and oil in the boot just in case.

Top boxes

An excellent way to gain more space in the boot. However, you must ensure when packing that the top box isn't carrying heavy items as you don't want to unbalance the car. Put the heavier luggage in the boot.

Plan your rest stops

It's vital to stop for a rest when you're travelling for such a long time - especially if there's only one driver in your party. It takes a lot of concentration to drive abroad where you're unfamiliar with the roads and signs, and you risk the lives of yourself, your passengers and other road users if you're driving tired.

If your journey time is going to take you 8 hours or more, we strongly recommend you book an overnight stop for some proper rest. We've put together a list of parcs which are popular stop-over parcs when travelling long distances.

Kids entertainment

Don't let the thought of kids' boredom put you off! With so much available nowadays to keep them entertained there's no reason for complaints!

There's DVDs on your portable DVD player, hand-held games consoles, MP3 players, iPads and tablets, plus of course books, comics, magazines and travel games (like everyone's favourite - I-Spy)!

Tolls and rules of the roads

Driving abroad

Remember that when driving abroad you'll encounter your fair share of road tolls - when planning your route you can find out where these will be located. Make sure you've got plenty of change handy to prevent having to root around in a panic once you're at the barrier!

Remember also that different countries will have different rules and signs that won't be familiar to you, so learning them before you set off will make it easier.

Money

Whether you've got cash, Travellers' Cheques, credit cards, debit cards or pre-paid cards - or all of the above - do not keep them all together. Check any credit or debit cards you take will be accepted where you're going and remember that each time you draw out cash there will be a charge. Let your bank know which cards you're taking overseas so that they don't suspect it's been cloned and stop it, and make a note of your Travellers' Cheques numbers.

Filling up with fuel

Petrol (unleaded only) and diesel are commonly sold on the continent, and LPG can be found at some larger stations.

We recommend you take a petrol can so you're not caught short - make sure the lid is on tight though. This is also useful because some rural petrol stations are not manned outside of normal working hours, and some automated pumps may not accept credit or debit cards.

Finally, make sure you know the correct name of the fuel you need!

Unleaded
Diesel
French
Sans Plomb
Gazole / Diesel
Spanish
Gasolina Sin Plomo
Diésel
Italian
Benzina Senza Piombo
Diesel
Dutch
Loodvrije Benzine
Diesel
German
Bleifreies Benzin
Diesel
Croatian
Bezolovni Nafta
Umre / Diesel
Portuguese
Combustível Sem Chumbo
Diesel

Paperwork to remember

Make sure you take any paperwork that you may need to use during your holiday - and remember all of the following for all party members where applicable:

  • Your valid driving licence, both photocard and paper types
  • Your valid passport with the correct person entered into the emergency contact section. Also some countries require your passport to be in date for up to 6 months after you've travelled. Check this before you go
  • Keep a photocopy of your passports, as well as copies of other important documents, separate from the originals
  • Your visa (for visiting non-EU countries)
  • Your insurance certificate(s)
  • A Green Card, obtainable from your insurance company. This helps provide your insurance details at-a-glance but is not vital
  • Your log book (V5) to provide proof of ownership. You could be fined in some countries for not providing this
  • Get a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for each person for free or reduced-cost health care in the EU
  • Make sure your friends or family know where you're going and that they have a contact number for your destination(s) in case of an emergency (and in case your phone loses signal)

Your car

You must have a GB (or IRL) sticker which is clearly visible to other drivers, or Euro plates with a circle of 12 stars on a blue background.

Use headlight converters to prevent from dazzling other drivers coming in the opposite direction - remember you're driving on the other side of the road!

Everyone in the car must wear seatbelts at all times, in the front and rear seats.

Keep a kit in your car:

  • Flourescent vest
  • 2 x Single use Breathalyser Kit 
  • Warning triangle
  • Can of oil and bottle of water
  • Spare bulbs for all external lights. Make sure you know how to fit them
  • First aid kit
  • In-car phone charger or spare charged phone battery
  • Fire extinguisher (advisory only)

Car hire top tips

If you book a hire car for your Eurocamp holiday, bear in mind these useful tips:

  • If you want to fly into one airport and home from another, consider and research your locations. For example, flying into France and driving into Switzerland may work out cheaper than flying into Switzerland itself - fuel included
  • Most car hire companies, including Europcar, offer sat nav hire at many of their collection desks. This can be invaluable if you're doing a lot of driving. Or to keep costs down, take your own with you! All Eurocamp parcs are listed on Tom Tom European maps meaning you can find your way with ease
  • If you can locate a supermarket with a petrol station, fill up here rather than on the motorway as it generally works out cheaper. Unless you see a sign telling you otherwise, always fill your tank then pay. Most petrol stations close at night, so if you come across one with a 'pay at pump' facility, make sure your card is accepted before you pick up the pump

On the Road

Watch your speed

See our table showing the variation in speed limits (in kph unless otherwise stated) for the different countries you may be driving through. Note that these may be different in adverse weather conditions.

Country
In built-up areas
Outside built-up areas
Motorways
A - Austria
50
100
130
B - Belgium
50
90 or 120
120
D - Germany
50
100
130*
DK - Denmark
50
80
110
E - Spain
50
90 or 100
120
F - France
50
90 or 110
130
GB - United Kingdom
48
(30mph)
96 or 112
(60 or 70mph)
112
(70mph)
I - Italy
50
90 or 110
130
IRL - Ireland
50
80 or 100
120
L - Luxembourg
50
90
130
NL - Netherlands
50
80 or 100
120
P - Portugal
50
90 or 100
120

*Recommended maximum limit

Drinking and driving

Driving abroad, meal on the ferry

It goes without saying that you shouldn't drink and drive, however note that the tolerance on the continent is more strict than the UK. In France for example, you're allowed 50mg of alcohol per 100g of blood (less than the UK) and some countries have a zero tolerance meaning offenders can go to jail.

 From 1st July 2012 if you are travelling in France you will be required by law to carry in your vehicle at least two single use breathalysers at all times. These can be purchased prior to departure or in most French supermarkets, service / petrol  stations & chemists.

Children in your vehicle

If you have children under the age of 10 years old in your party they must be seated in the rear of the vehicle, in a correctly fitted child seat/restraint adapted to their size and weight (if between 9-15kg) or on a booster seat with a seatbelt (15kg+).

Children under 10 can only travel if you meet the following exceptions:

  • The seats in the back of the car are already occupied by other children under the age of 10
  • You are travelling in a 2-seater vehicle (like a Smart Car or truck/van)
  • There are no rear seatbelts - highly unlikely these days

If you do have a child under 10 years old in the front seat they must be in an approved carry cot or sat on an approved child seat for their size, and if this is rear-facing, the passenger-side airbag must be de-activated.

For emergencies

Use your horn only in an emergency.

112 is the emergency number to call when abroad. Check that your mobile phone network provider will allow you to use your phone while you're away (and check charges). Do not use your phone while you are driving - this is illegal everywhere.

Keep your warning triangle and flourescent jackets (for all party members) in the car. If you need to pull over in an emergency you could be fined (around €90) if you don't have these items.

Remember!

Driving abroad on your motorbike

If you are on a motorbike you must wear a crash helmet and ensure that you have the correct licence and insurance to drive one. The same goes for a moped or quad bike. If you are hiring one for the day, make sure it's through a reputable company - and be sensible... you're a lot more vulnerable on 2 wheels!

In general...

  • You must be over 18 years old to drive abroad
  • Research into where you're going or obtaining a travel guide can make your trip so much more fun
  • It's illegal to carry radar equipment - even if it's switched off
  • Unless there is a yellow diamond sign, you must give way to any cars emerging from a side road on the right hand side in towns and built-up areas
  • The last car in a queue must put on their hazard lights to indicate the queue ahead
  • If you need to ask the driver in front to give way, flash your headlights

Pedestrians

As a pedestrian, remember the cars are driving on the other side of the road - so look the other way! You must use the designated crossing points as jay-walking is illegal, although note that not every car stops at a zebra crossing. Keep hold of your children's hands as they won't understand how different the roads are.

When you're walking along the road, do so facing on-coming traffic - if you can see them, they can see you. Try not to be clad top to toe in dark clothing if you're walking around at night, and if you are, carry or wear something drivers can see. Take a torch with you in case where you are walking is dimly-lit or if the ground is uneven.

Bus and coach trips

Local transport is a brilliant way of getting around to see the sights in your local area, and beyond. If you're taking an organised trip however and are unhappy with the way it looks, don't get on and speak to your courier on site.

...and finally

Note that most supermarkets are closed on Sundays. If you're not sure about drinking the local water, drink bottled water instead and avoid salads, ice and non-peeled fruit unless you wash it (or freeze it) yourself from the bottle. Take provisions with you to avoid getting caught short in the car on the motorway.

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