Newbie's 1st European Trip Jan/Feb ’20 – Lots to Learn! | MotorhomeFun | The Motorhome Support and Social Network

Newbie's 1st European Trip Jan/Feb ’20 – Lots to Learn!

Jul 14, 2019
Funster No
Hymer MLT 570
Our 1st Motorhome

We’re very much Motorhome Newbies, having bought our first motorhome just before Christmas ’19. We had a couple of short UK adventures to Wales and to Yorkshire over New Year, and we then decided to dive in at the deep end and head south to explore Spain and Portugal in Mid-Jan for six weeks.

Obviously, it now seems like a distant memory and we were just very lucky with our timing to return just before CV hit in France and Spain and the UK. We had a really wonderful time, although there’s no denying that the trip was a big learning experience for us, but that really added to the enjoyment!

We kept a list of some of the things that were new to us on our trip, so I just thought whilst I had plenty of time I’d post them on here, just in case it helps other Newbies like us in preparing for their first trip across to Europe….whenever that may be!

  • Gas: We underestimated the impact of the gas issue when travelling in Europe. There are loads of posts on this wonderful forum about gas cylinders (we should have read them all before we left home!), but in summary, the Calor Gas cylinders and attachments in UK motorhomes are not standard across Europe. Therefore, if you do not have refillable gas cylinders, you need to either have plenty of gas on board to last your holiday, or take a cylinder and attachments that can be exchanged for a full cylinder in France or Spain etc. In the end (and with lots of help from the MHF Forum!), we managed to buy the hose and connector, plus the campsite sold us a Spanish cylinder (you can’t usually buy a new cylinder if you don’t have an address in that country). However, it was a bit stressful and time consuming to get this fixed. We’ve since had a refillable LPG cylinder fitted which we’ll use alongside a CalorLite 6kg cylinder.
  • Fresh Water – Hose and Attachments: We obviously have our own (food grade) hose and UK hose attachments, but for European Sites and Aires, you’ll need to have a selection of hose attachments – I think there are three different sizes, plus we also stayed on one site where you needed a male-to-male connector. We always used our own hose and attachments – particularly after we watched another motorhomer (not UK!) use the fresh water hose to clean out and rinse his toilet cassette! L
  • Converter Cable (2-pin to 3-pin): Before we went away, I posted on here to ask if there’s anything else we needed to take with us – and we had a recommendation to take a 2-pin to 3-pin Converter Cable – which was the best advice ever! It was really useful because a number of sites and Aires had EHU’s that use the 2-Pin plug, so with the connector you can plug your EHU Cable into the connector.
  • AMP’s on Sites: Our short trips on the UK had been to Caravan & Motorhome Club Sites with 10 or 16 AMP Hookups. However, on the Aires and Sites that provided EHU’s, these were often limited to 5 or 6 AMP. This meant that the heating (water and heating) needs to be run off gas. We were able to run the fridge off the EHU, but apparently that can sometimes cause problems. We got into the habit of asking at the Site Reception what the AMP’s were for the EHU’s just to be sure – and to avoid potentially tripping the EHU trip switch, which sometimes can cut other people off as well as yourself!
  • Ferry Travel: Previously we had always used the Dover-Calais route for our road trips to Europe. For this trip though we followed a recommendation on this forum for the Newhaven-Dieppe route which worked really well for us – it was about the same price at the time we travelled and saved approx. 110 miles plus tolls on the French side. We stayed at the C&MC Site at Brighton the night before, but there are plenty of other options to stay closer to the Port.
  • Ferry – Gas Cylinders: The gas cylinder valves have to be turned off for the ferry trip – the hoses don’t need to be disconnected but the valve should be closed. The ferry staff were very helpful and advised us.
  • Toll vs Non-Toll Roads: Having spent years and years in the car getting on the Toll Roads at Calais to head south to Italy or Southern France, on this trip we made use of the non-toll roads and we really enjoyed seeing so much more of France, Spain and Portugal by using the non-toll roads! That’s not to say that we didn’t use any toll-roads – we did use a few where it would save us time on the long drives.
  • Toll-Road Class: For Tolls, our Motorhome is classed as Classe 3 (3.2m high), but having read on this forum, we checked at each Toll Station that it was correctly setting the class. On one toll, we were classed as Classe 5 which would have been very expensive if we hadn’t spotted it, so if you do use Toll Roads double-check that the Class is correct – if it’s not then you can press the button for assistance and they change it on the system.
  • Toll-Roads in Spain: At the beginning of 2020, a number of the Spanish Toll-Roads were having their tolls removed – the toll-booths were being removed whilst we were there, so it’s worth checking your route as you may not need to pay for some routes now.
  • SatNav – Map Co-ordinates: We’ve never used the co-ordinate function on SatNav before, but a lot of Aires and Sites also give their location details using co-ordinates, and we found it really worked well. They can be Imperial or Metric, but our SatNav takes both ok.
  • Payload: We have a Weighbridge near to us at home, where you can book an evening appointment, so we trundled off there after we’d finished packing up ready to go the following day. We were ok, but at least that would have still given us the opportunity to jettison some stuff if we’d found we were overlaiden.
  • Sites - Booking Ahead vs Turning Up: We took the advice from this forum that for Jan/Feb that you should be fine just to turn up at your chosen site and book in, and that worked really well and we didn’t have any problems finding a space.
  • Aires & Sites – Apps: There are lots of Apps available for Aires and Sites. As we were travelling in Jan/Feb we bought the ACSI Card and App which we used quite a few times and it saved us a lot on Site Fees. We also used CamperContact (offline maps paid for) and Park4Night – both of which are very useful.
That’s the end of the list, I hope it may be useful – fingers crossed we can all get out and about in the not too distant future, when safe (and legal) to do so of course!
Aug 15, 2014
Exiled in Yorkshire
Funster No
SINCE 2006
Have I missed something, I have been to France many times in my van but I was not aware of a 2-3 pin EHU connector, may I ask where you purchased one, many thanks.

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