To plan or not to plan .. ?

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by scotjimland, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Touring, whether abroad or in the UK, is what motorhoming is all about, the freedom of the open road, the excitement of visiting new places, meeting others, finding a deserted beach or quaint sleepy village, what's just around the next bend or over the next hill all add to the pleasure.. however, without some planning things can and do go wrong.

    I've read posts where the only plan is to disembark at Calais and turn right/left .. all very well and good if your driving a small panel van, not if your driving an RV or large Eurovan, perhaps with a car in tow.. a sure fire recipe for stress.

    I'm not suggesting for a moment that you need to have a set route or timetable.. far from it, plans should be flexible, time not important and be readily changed if the mood or weather dictates..

    My tips for a successful and stress free trip..

    Do lots of research before setting off.

    Using your preferred method ( I use Autoroute ) plot as many possible sites and aires that you KNOW will accommodate you.. the more the better.

    Ask others, personal recommendations are the best.

    While on site speak to others, find out where they've been, I've gleaned more useful information this way than any other.

    Before setting off have at least two possible sites or aires plotted, plan B is just as important as a plan A ..

    Plan to drive no more than a few hours each day and arrive at your aire or site early PM.. you will get the best spot and won't be stressed out. Arriving late often leads to disappointment.

    Hints and Tips for 'big rigs' using aires.

    EHU cable, I would advise on at least 30mt., several short leads are more useful than one large. I have three, a 1 x 15, 1 x 25, and 1 x 30 mt. Most aires use the blue 16A socket but some still have the French socket so don’t forget the adaptor.

    Water hose, have plenty, this will negate the need to shunt around a busy aire to fill up. A watering can is a useful accessory when it’s not possible to use a hose.

    Not all dump points are RV friendly but dumping is always possible provided you have a wheeled waste tank, we have a Tote’n’Store waste carrier. A macerator can also be useful.

    When you drive to the dump station wait until late afternoon or early evening to you will get less hassle and more time and space to manoeuvre.

    On arrival, walk the aire before driving into it, choose a pitch and ensure you can extract yourself easily from it.

    Choose a pitch with care, taking into consideration the location of the nearest water and EHU point, corner pitches are favourite as you can often have space to deploy the awning and have space for the BBQ etc.

    Leave NOTHING out overnight and lock bikes to rack with good quality security chain, wire rope bike locks are easily ‘cropped’ ( we learned this the hard way) !
    Plan your arrival early to mid afternoon, this will give you the best choice of spaces, (late arrivals are often disappointed) also, shunting around an aire in the late evening isn’t good for Anglo French relations !

    A small genny or solar panels may be required if you intend on a long stay on a free aire which has no EHU. Be considerate if using a genny, site it away as far as possible using any natural sound barriers and try not to annoy your neighbours but if in any doubt ask their permission and apologise for the noise. The French are very polite and will greatly appreciate your consideration.

    On ‘free parking’ aires water is often charged at €1 or €2 so when it’s free fill up before leaving.


    My Tools for Plannning.. and navigating

    Autoroute 2007
    Camping Car infos CD
    Michelin road atlas
    Aires guide (there are several to choose from)
    The Rough Guide books
    Caravan Club European sites book(s)
    Tom Tom One XL Europe
    The Internet, an invaluable tool before setting off.


    Spending time planning will pay big dividends, it's also very enjoyable..

    Wishing everyone safe, happy and stress free travels

    Jim
     
  2. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Great post Jim,

    I like to have half a plan, but because I am happy to stop and wildcamp anywhere I don't get too stressed if I find myself lost and in the dark. RV's are much safer for wildcamping than most vehicles, and besides I have a great big dog and my wife bites, so I always feel safe:Smile:

    I always thought that research was for anoraks, but I got tired of hearing, things like, "how could you go there and not visit so and so" I had missed so and so because I didn't even know it was there! Much better to thouroughly research an area and stay a while exploring it, and like you say, the internet is a great tool for that.
     
  3. Pronto

    Pronto Read Only Funster

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    Thanks Jim, useful tips and I agree wholeheartedly; I actually find the planning process quite enjoyable - particularly when I'm stuck in the office and can't actually go anywhere!!

    But to (selectively!) quote John Harvey Jones

    "The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression"
    :Wink:
     
  4. colonel

    colonel Read Only Funster

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    Really useful post Jim. Got lots of information that is invaluable to first timers/newbies.

    Sound common sense and experience count for so much.. :thumb:

    Thanks Again
     
  5. yodeli

    yodeli Funster Life Member

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    Hi!
    Not being a motorhomer :Blush:, i was wondering how you could manage to know where are the bridges. Do you have a special map or guide or you just get stuck in front of it when it's not high enough? musn't be easy sometimes to turn back!!:RollEyes:


    Frankie:Smile:
     
  6. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    No problem in the UK .. I have low bridges on the Tom Tom, there is also a truckers atlas which has them marked, but as far as I know there no such atlas for mainland Europe ..

    I HAVE been stuck in France and it's no fun..
    Whilst in Brest ( best avoided in my opinion, a heartless soulless city, thanks to the allies.. ) we got geographically misplaced, ( thanks to TT ) and were confronted by a low bridge.. turning or reversing a big rig on a narrow street isn't for the feint hearted.. but it was my own fault for not doing my research.. and for trusting TT for a route.. :Doh:
     
  7. ralph-dot

    ralph-dot Read Only Funster

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    Very good post.

    My Michelin road atlas, has bridge heights in France.

    Ralph
     
  8. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Hi Ralph

    My mistake,:Doh: they are indeed marked on the Michelin atlas.. but with my eyesight I need a magnifying glass to see them..:Sad:
    I blame the O/H she does the paper navigating :Wink:
     
  9. vindiboy

    vindiboy Funster

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    Planning ??

    Interesting post ,but I'll stick to turning left or right at the Ferry Port , My vans about 26 feet long and it has a very good reverse gear thats got us out of trouble several times, each to their own I say Happy Travels to all.:thumb:
     
  10. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    so it's not a Fiat then ?

    sorry, couldn't resist .. :Laughing:
     
  11. haganap

    haganap Funster Life Member

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    I like to have some idea of where I am going when in the continent but not where I am staying. That way we meander along and when we see something of interest we stop and explore.
     
  12. keith

    keith Funster

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    We are half & half, I like to plan but when the inevitiable problem rears it's head we can manage to get fixed up. :thumb:

    I find the planning and the anticipation of th trip to be part of the excitement. 'Listening' to all post, & adding POI's to my autoroute maps alwasy occupies me before a trip & pays dividends if the master plan fails. :Eeek:

    While maps & books can add a lot, personal rtecommendation is IMO the very best way to find out what is good & bad about where you plan to go.

    With the advent of the internet & wireless internet access one wonders how the early travellers managed without them. I feel we are lucky (soft) to have access these systems. :BigGrin:
     
  13. Bulletguy

    Bulletguy Read Only Funster

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    Oh Freedom!!

    I'm not fulltiming as ScotJim is so don't cart around anywhere near the amount of bits he does. If i did.....there would be no room left for me to get in my van!

    Forward planning depends a lot on the individual and exactly what it is you are wanting to do. In my case (full time employment), the absolute max i could be away is four weeks in one year. This year i made a three week tour looking at 2nd WW sites in east europe and crammed quite a lot into the few weeks i had with a total round trip mileage of 3,900 miles.

    I used Autoroute to make my basic point to point tour route, Satnav whilst driving, and conventional maps as back up. As we all know Satnav isn't 100% though for the single person driving alone it's a godsend. A mobile phone is an absolute must as is good breakdown cover.

    I had a schedule that i had to stick to fairly rigidly.

    Had i not been in full time employment and able to choose where, when and what time etc.....would i have got to Calais and thought "should i turn left or should i go right?" YES!!

    Would i have concerned myself with times, directions, plans.........NO!!!

    I have to live like that every day because of work. When i can eventually retire i want to be entirely free of that hassle.
     
  14. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    I totally agree, but you miss my point.. at the outset I said

    But doing research, plotting potential sites, aires, checking suitability of roads etc can add to the enjoyment, not detract from it, no one needs fixed plans and timetables.. especially me, but suddenly coming to a dead end or low bridge with no where to turn isn't travelling 'free of hassle.' ..

    There is a difference between planning and having a fixed plan.. one is enjoyable the other stressful..
     
  15. Bulletguy

    Bulletguy Read Only Funster

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    Point taken Jim......i missed that bit!

    As for the low bridge, dead end and nowhere to turn bit tho.....a satnav is possibly the best way of getting into that situation!

    Had a foreign truck driver hoplessly stuck down a 'dead end' track via his satnav here in UK last year. He wasn't going anywhere. Only way out was to bring in a massive heavy haulage mobile crane to lift the trailer unit out, and then the truck.

    I've been in one or two 'tight spots' with little room for manouevre and having no power steering plus single person driving alone, makes it a bit hairy.
     
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