Venturing abroad for the 1st time

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Tackle man, Oct 29, 2014.

  1. Tackle man

    Tackle man Deleted User

    This is probably an old chestnut but I couldn't find any reference to taking a motorhome to Europe for the first time.
    Irene and I have recently retired, we have motor-homed for a number of years but for various reasons have only travelled on the UK mainland.
    Now that we have new found freedom we would like to spread our wings but are a little apprehensive about going.
    There seems to be so much to prepare for plus language and different laws in different countries. We find it a bit daunting.
    We would really appreciate some positive advice on how to go about it and peoples first experiences.
    Are there times when a group of Funsters meet up in this country and trundle off in a group to Europe?
    One of the trips we would like to take is to Holland's coastline.
    We have had many people say, "Oh just get across there you will love it". This doesn't really help us as we need expert advise and help.
    Thank you for any advice
    Dave & Irene
     
  2. Chockswahay

    Chockswahay Funster

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    3,095
    Likes Received:
    4,767
    Search through the continental forums and you will find plenty of advice. Generally it is considered that France is the most motorhome friendly country to go to especially first time abroad. Holland on the other hand is not really motorhome friendly.

    You don't need expert advice, take heart, have confidence and do what you have already heard............ just go (y)
     
    • Like Like x 3
  3. Chockswahay

    Chockswahay Funster

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    3,095
    Likes Received:
    4,767
    Oh, and buy the 'All the Aires France' book from Vicarious Books............. good for first time away:):D
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. scousebird

    scousebird Funster

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Messages:
    13,549
    Likes Received:
    20,471
    Location:
    South East Kent
    Are you a member of either the caravan club or camping & caravanning club? If so get their holiday brochures, they're just about to be published, there is lots of information in them. If you have specific questions, just ask on here - someone will answer. Remember we all had a first time :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Tackle man

    Tackle man Deleted User

    Thanks Chockwahey for the quick reply and advice! (y)
     
  6. Tackle man

    Tackle man Deleted User

    Hi Scousebird, yes members of both clubs, will get info.
    Thank you. (y)
     
  7. Chockswahay

    Chockswahay Funster

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    3,095
    Likes Received:
    4,767
    You're welcome, to be honest thinking about it is a lot worse than actually doing it (y)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Hymie

    Hymie Funster

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2013
    Messages:
    592
    Likes Received:
    674
    Location:
    Essex
    We took our first trip to Europe in a MH in June Dave, only our 2nd time out in Harriet, made no plans other than making sure we had all the legalities coverd, hi vis, breathalysers, bulb kit, breakdown cover, etc.

    The 1st night was spent wildcamping in Ypres, never done that before either, so was the 2nd night.

    We made our way slowly up to Breskens in Holland, stayed at Zeeland for 4 nights as the sight was so good, great pool and pitches.

    After that we made our way to the Calais area, had a couple of days there before making our way home.

    It was beyond anything we imagined, easy travelling, no borders, lovely people, our biggest regret is that it was over so soon.

    My only advice would be don't be nervous, jump in and do it, you won't regret it.

    Hymie
     
    • Like Like x 2
  9. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    8,564
    Likes Received:
    11,539
    Location:
    Plympton, Devon
    I'm with the "just go" school. Just go.

    But, if you are nervous there are organised motorhome holidays but they can be very expensive.

    The caravan club also organise rallies in Europe so this could be an option.

    At this time of year there will be few campsites open so aires could be used but these might be a bit strange for you.

    Living in Sussex is great for getting to France but it is a very busy bit of France, so if you don't mind a longer crossing try going from Plymouth to Roscoff - Brittany is much quieter and less crowded and the pace of life much slower.

    There really isn't anything difficult about going to Europe and the laws needed worry you, stick to the speed limits and you will be fine. They do have the sneaky priorite a doite rule in towns but if you drive cautiously you will be safe.
     
    • Like Like x 4
  10. sedge

    sedge Funster

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Messages:
    4,499
    Likes Received:
    3,848
    Location:
    Nr Jct 3 M6
    Both the clubs ie CC and the C&CC do 'escorted' tours which might be what you are hoping for, but as has been said they do tend to be expensive.

    Personally whatever vehicle we've travelled abroad with - ie one of the motorbikes, one of the cars or either of the motorhomes we've owned - we really don't want to go in convoy. 10 of us used to go fishing in 3 cars, two with trailers. Two of us could find our way wherever cos we have brain cells and maps and/or a SatNav and the other one couldn't find his way out of a paper bag eg coming back to Boulogne for the ferry home was given the choice on the same motorway we came along both the previous years of either Calais, or Amiens & Paris. So he took the Amiens turning .......

    Also we had Cruise Control and the other one with brains couldn't keep up with us in his manual. If you want to travel in convoy if you don't know the other folk well, how do you know you'll drive the same way, want to stop for the loo at the same times, like the same things or the same places? Some like to stay on sites, some on aires and others wild camp. Some like alcohol every night or insist on eating out whilst others don't. Some want to get there pdq on the motorway, others are in no rush just on ordinary roads. It's hard pleasing everyone!

    BUT on here if you search, various people have done videos eg of driving into the Eurotunnel at this end and out again on the other side which I think you'd find helpful.

    If you do a route plan with 'ViaMichelin' and print it - it actually shows you the actual road signs you'll see on the roads it takes you on - I found that really helpful when we were on bikes, as I had to have the info in my head since I couldn't look at maps obviously! Despite maps and SatNav these days, I printed our chosen route last year for Calais- Albufeira cos Pete had never driven in Spain before and neither of us had ever been to Portugal before. It was useful as back-up. It also helped us plan better where we could stop off each night.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  11. vwalan

    vwalan Funster

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
    Messages:
    7,594
    Likes Received:
    3,853
    Location:
    roche cornwall
    hi, i say just get off ferry /tunnel . forget sat navs . get a good country map. either turn right or in your case turn left . keep the sea on your left . . avoid m,ways . toll roads . just keep heading towards the sea and use a compass . drive through as many villages as you can stop and enjoy all of them . water is in every village if you look .
    when half way through your time turn round and do it backwards . looks so different from the other way. mind pick your time of year . not ideal doing holland in winter . but if you see a place that looks good stop . have no real plans just drive slow . let the world go past . if you rush you miss the best bits.
     
    • Like Like x 4
  12. bernardfeay

    bernardfeay Read Only Funster

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    575
    Likes Received:
    825
    Location:
    Bolton
    I am suspecting that your anxiety is to do with driving on the right. In the early hours, before you get used to it, my advice is to have your wife act like an autopilot.

    Have her look in the appropriate mirror, warn you about traffic approaching roundabouts and be a second pair of eyes in tricky situations.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  13. Mr Ed

    Mr Ed Funster

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2010
    Messages:
    524
    Likes Received:
    514
    Location:
    Norfolk.
    Don't over plan,don't set targets,don't get stressed.Easy to say I know.But with the driving my copilot says to me turn left"that's like a right"or turn right"that's like a left".Helps me.Think about it you will see what I mean. Martin
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Cal54

    Cal54 Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2014
    Messages:
    1,271
    Likes Received:
    6,276
    Location:
    Lancaster
    There is a new site Jim has launched (Trailmates) which might assist you. It will enable you to find a 'travel partner' van. I agree with previous post about convoys, they are difficult at times but we use 2 way radios when 2 or 3 of us are travelling together. Only been abroad once in my MH and that was to the Dusseldorf show some years ago. I can honestly say it was easy driving.
    Hope you enjoy, I'm sure you will.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  15. kcy

    kcy Funster

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2013
    Messages:
    723
    Likes Received:
    825
    Location:
    east yorkshire
    All I can add to the great advise above is let us know how you get on:)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. DanielFord

    DanielFord Funster

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2013
    Messages:
    2,186
    Likes Received:
    2,478
    Location:
    Surrey
    We have driven all the way around Europe in a motorhome, and on the whole the driving is much more relaxed than England. Especially on the peage in France, which are usually empty. If you are over 3.5t remember that the speed limit varies by country, and in some (like Belgium) you cannot use lane 3 on the motorway. Germany deserves a special note, it can be very frightening the first time you get passed by someone doing in excess of 140mph, but you get used to it. Lane discipline is fiercely policed, when you finish overtaking GET BACK IN. And be careful use mirrors a lot.
    The language barrier is not a huge problem, if you have at least rudimentary French you can get by.

    My best investment was TomTom camper, this has poi's including Aires, campsites etc, with info about security. We found it invaluable.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Clive

    Clive Funster Life Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2012
    Messages:
    696
    Likes Received:
    1,082
    Location:
    Canvey Island
    Once you've covered the legalities the rest is easy. Roads in France have a lot less traffic and French drivers are much nicer, in the main.
    The one thing I will say is get blind spot mirrors makes joining from slip roads much safer, I found out on my first trip I could loose a car in my blind spot, soon got some.
    Roundabouts are easy, just stay in the outer lane, everyone does.
    A town sign surrounded by a red border means 50kph, normally the only warning you'll get.
    You only flash your headlights as a warning unlike the UK.
    Overtaking. Keep your left hand indicator on, drivers behind then know you are just getting past the vehicle and then going back in, stops them getting excited.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  18. Allanm

    Allanm Funster

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2013
    Messages:
    3,028
    Likes Received:
    4,098
    Location:
    Cotes d'armor, France
    We made our first camping trip to France around August 1988 in an old VW camper. Nothing was planned ( except getting currency) we got to Calais and turned right. There were no Aires then, we used Municipal campsites or wild camped. Nothing was prebooked and we managed to stay where we wanted.
    We had a great time and to this day have never really planned where we are going except to pick a compass point.
    Driving on the wrong side of the road is easier than you would think. Just take your time till you are used to it ( takes about 10 minutes!) and remember, few people drive quickly in a Motorhome so don't be afraid to dawdle along if you are not sure where you are going.
    The French road system is much better than ours, better road surfaces and fewer cars.
    And people really appreciate if you try and speak their language, however badly. There's nothing worse than seeing English people trying to communicate by speaking English very loudly!
    Enjoy
    Allan
     
    • Like Like x 2
  19. Wicketter

    Wicketter Funster

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    128
    Location:
    Bristol
    For a first trip try arriving on a Sunday. No lorries on the road and easier to get in the swing of things! After the first hour you'll be an old hand! Enjoy!!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Easyliving

    Easyliving Funster

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2012
    Messages:
    623
    Likes Received:
    1,516
    Location:
    Norfolk
    Hi Dave and Irene

    I suppose most people are a tad nervous about taking their motorhome abroad for the first time. It has been said on this forum many times that when you have been driving in France (great for motorhomes) for half an hour you'll wonder what you were worrying about.

    The best thing to do is just get yourself across the Channel and have fun! As others have said, get yourself a copy of All the Aires France by Vicarious Books- its worth its weight in gold.

    Also, look up Keith Chesterfield's aires videos on Youtube and you will see what you are missing.

    Paul
     
    • Like Like x 1
Loading...

Share This Page