Our Winter Sun Touring Tips
Want some fun in the sun this winter? Be prepared before you set off
Monday, 12, Nov 2018 04:03
By William Coleman
As I look outside the office window I gaze across London which is blanketed in grey clouds and being drenched in wind, rain, thunder and lightning. I think it is safe to say that this year's "season" is officially over unless you're winter tourer, but that doesn't mean the caravan or motorhome has to go into hibernation. Just across the pond is a limitless supply of winter sun. Here are some of our main tips before you set off.
If you are on the hunt for a winter get away with the warmth of summer time you are more than likely to head south in search of the sun. Why not make the travel down south part of the holiday stopping along the way? This way you really do make the most of both your leisure time, vehicle and the continent of Europe, Turn that touring holiday it an actual tour.
First things first though, what do you need before you head to the European Continent?
Top 5 Things You Need Before Heading Abroad
This may seem like an obvious one but more often than not the simplest details can sometimes get overlooked. There have been a few times in the past where I have been left looking a bit silly because I did not have the right details for the vehicles, border staff are not a fan of lack of paperwork. So before heading out make sure you have all your vehicle documents, insurance forms, international driving permit and passports. Have them to hand too.
When going through places like France, Italy, Spain or other forward thinking EU countries there are not that many checks, for now at least due to the freedom of movement we currently benefit from pre Brexit.
It is the non EU countries where papers and documents can be an issue. Due to not being in the European Union some non EU countries have their own border crossing rules, most of which consists of you paying for a separate insurance and driving permit for these countries. It is here where paperwork is heavily scrutinise so being prepared will save a lot of time and hassle and possibly money.
2. Satellite Navigation
Invest in a good Sat Nav, I can't stress that enough. These really can be worth their weight in gold when travelling in unfamiliar territory. With a lot of companies now recognising the needs of the caravan and motorhome world there are now more options than ever. TomTom have even released a Sat Nav designed specifically for leisure vehicles, the TomTom GO Camper.
Another great option would be an Avtex. I spoke to the Avtex team at October's NEC show about their systems and to be honest I feel that they are the best value for money currently on the market. So if you are going to opt for an Avtex I strongly suggest looking at the Avtex Tourer One Caravan & Motorhome Club Sat Nav which is avaliable through Prima Leisure. This Sat Nav comes loaded with 45 European maps as well as free map updates for life meaning that this item should never become obsolete like so many other models out there.
3. Change, Cash & Local Currency.
One thing I was 100% totally unaware of was the toll systems on the motorways across Europe. I was covering up to 350 miles per day when I towed across the continent and ended up spending quite a lot per day on toll crossings. With a good Sat Nav you can program a route to avoid tolls, but you can add a lot of extra miles to a journey, so it is a bit of a trade off.
Thankfully a lot of the more modern tolls take card but not every single one has this facility, cash is king after all. One thing I would advice is buying a toll token that you pop into your windscreen which is automatically scanned when approaching the toll. This will also save a few Euros too during your trip.
4. Know Your Route & Have A Plan.
Travelling all day can be a little bit tiring and you do run the risk of become quite tired while still having a fair distance to go until you arrive on site. So while planning where you're going make sure you factor in stopping times and locations.
I thought that I would make it up as I went along because I knew where I was going. Silly me! What was planned to be a normal stop ended up taking a lot longer than planned because I was having to find locations on the fly which just added even more time and made me more tired and frustrated.
Any good navigation system will have a feature to add stops along the way so I strongly advise letting the Sat Nav do all the hard work for you. It also removed the element of human error when which can occur when you start to get tired.
5. The Creature Comforts.
Driving for 6+ hours from country to country can work up quite the hunger. I cannot express enough just how important it is to have snack and supplies on hand when driving these distances. Not only does it save time and money but it makes for a much more enjoyable experience, especially if there are children on board. Make sure there are plenty of fun and healthy nibbles on board for the journey.
Being sure to stay hydrated makes you more alert but it is also very important for many different health reasons. Driving for hours on end can sometimes take the focus off of drinking water but after a while you will start to feel the difference.
Also make sure you are dressed comfortably. 10 hour drives are no place for a fashion show, something I have to keep reminding myself. Get that baggy jumper and questionable jogging bottoms as they are going to make a world of difference while touring from place to place.
I am sure there a thousand more things to add to this list, we haven't even gotten started on the van prep, but I am pretty sure most of our reader probably know more than me.
One thing I will say though is do your research as there are different driving rules, regulations and standards from one country to the other. Like I said it is sometimes the minutest details that can bring a trip to a standstill.