My First Day Driving Abroad With Help From Lee Davey And Simon Howard- Bristanbul

Fears about towing abroad? I speak with the pros.
Fears about towing abroad? I speak with the pros.

Wednesday, 11, Apr 2018 06:50

By William Coleman

So when I was first invited onto Bailey's Bristanbul tour the first thing that popped into my head was that I had never driven abroad in a motorhome let alone towed a full size caravan. I was overcome with a sense of nerves and doubt, after all driving on the right side of the car on the wrong side of the road is a very daunting challenge when you have a caravan following you. So how does one prepare for something like travelling across 21 countries in 21 days? Get stuck in, do you research and listen to the professionals like, fellow veteran caravaner, Lee Davey and Bailey of Bristol's Marketing Director, Simon Howard.

Following my towing refresher course I had last week, big thank you to the Caravan and Motorhome Club for helping me arrange that, it was decided that myself and Wes Terry, Bailey Marketing Assistant, would spend all of day one driving the Bailey Advance 76-4 motorhome to get use to the European roads before we start to tow the Pegasus and the Pursuit.

As soon as it was my turn to drive, which was about 100 miles into France once we left the ferry, it did not take long for my driving skills to kick in. As soon as I joined the motorway from the rest stop I felt totally at ease and any apprehension that I had soo vanished. Without trying to sound too overly dramatic the thought of doing something as big, well big to me, as driving a good sized leisure vehicle around France for the first time was quite intimidating. As soon as I applied the training and advice I was give any fears or doubts that I had went away. So before I share the advice I was given, as I feel this will help many people who may be wary of towing abroad, let me just say a massive thank you to my co-pilot Wes and tutors Lee and Simon.

William Coleman- Before we set off I was somewhat apprehensive about driving such a big vehicle in another country as I have only done this in the UK. Right side of the car wrong side of the road. Any advice you can give to ease my pain?

Lee The best bit of advice I can give people who are doing this for the first time is that as soon as you get off of the ferry hang back in one of the laybys so you follow the traffic so you've got all the ferry traffic to follow. Once you follow that out onto some roundabouts, some smaller roads and then out onto the motorway chances are that would help you dial in. Simple as that, hang back, follow the traffic and get the hang of the road. That will help you enormously.

Simon First of all well done for today. The first time abroad in a motorhome of this size and abroad, so you've taken down two birds with one stone and no pedestrians. We have arrived in the beautiful region of Burgundy in France. We've covered 375 miles today without incident so fair play to you. Obviously some of the advice and Bernie's training as rubbed off on you (Bernie is the instructor who trained me last week at the CAMC towing experience).

Lee From that it just goes to prove that if you have not driven a motorhome or towed, the value of taking a course. You're not going to learn everything but it will demystify a lot of it and you will realise it is not that scary. Some people may be worried about towing 10 miles away from their house but you have properly been thrown into the deep end. 375 miles on the wrong side of the road, in a vehicle you are not familiar with, we are on a schedule with a deadline and having not slept that well you've done exceptionally.

Simon- To put it into perspective we've covered 375 miles, 4 vehicles and we have 4 new drivers today towing vehicles and driving large motorhomes. Having a co-pilot always helps as driving solo is always a little more daunting, especially in a foreign country. Bring a friend as it always helps. Especially with changing lanes and manoeuvring.

William - For the UK holiday makers who are used to towing around Britain what do they need to be aware of when embarking on their first driving trip abroad?

Simon Become used to the way that other countries drive as sometimes It can be unpredictable.

William OK, so someone who have been towing for years around the UK and is pretty seasoned can they just get off to say Germany, for instance, and just get along issue free?

Simon- You really do have to try and anticipate as some drivers may not behave on the road the same way that you are used to. Reduce your speed, allow plenty of time for your journey and try and anticipate what people are going to do. Today for instance we had people joining the motorway from the right hand side, which is totally alien to us. So you just need to take your time. And most importantly be a bit more passive and calm that what you would be when you are at home as you are having to adapt to their style of driving.

Lee Simon's advice there spot on. Things maybe happening too fast that you are not used, simply slow it down and take your time until you build up that confidence. It's then where you can speed up. Everyone is on this trip to enjoy it. So if you are planning a trip like this and you are unsure of what things you may need you can visit the Caravan and Motorhome Club site and go to the advice page everything you need is listed there. If you combine what Simon just said and check what requirements you need for each country there is nothing stopping you from booking for your trip abroad.

William I think it is safe to say that a lot of people's apprehension is simply that, apprehension. It is fear of the unknown. Now that I have tried it I am extremely confident on completing another few thousand miles.

So there you have it. With just a little bit of confidence and training there really is nothing to fear from driving and towing abroad. Especially with help from the pros.

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