Thinking of wintering in Spain - next year.

Aug 3, 2017
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1st just a bit of background: we spent some time last summer at Motorhome Shows and,as you do, got talking to a few fellow campers, many of whom talked about spending the winter in Europe. We are thinking of giving it a try. Spain is number one on our list.
2 The questions. Where should we sail from and to?
What does it cost to go across on the Eurostar with an RV. Ours is around 23ft.
Where should we head for? We’d like warmer weather, walking and hopefully something to do at night, a meal, a drink that kind of thing.
Initially we are thinking of going just for a month, to see if we like it. What would we need to take? Hubby is not very adventurous food wise and I haven’t been to Spain for thirty odd years, but am assuming we can get what we need out there. What about things like Sky tv? And of course, safety, we heard some awful tales of being robbed! Mind we hear them at home... how long do you go for and do you move around? I aren’t bothered about the coast but hubby and the dogs would probably prefer that... what can we expect to pay to camp? If we travel through France (my preferred option, I love France.) what are the tolls like now and what are the roads into Spain like? We will have a lot think about, dog passports etc but is it worth the effort?
 
Nov 12, 2015
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Never done it (still have work in the way) but can answer a few questions.

What port will depend on where you live as it may be easier to get a ferry close to your home rather than drive to south coast. You can go all the way to Spain on a ferry a lot will depend on budget and sea legs as that route can be a bit choppy in winter.

Cost of the Tunnel, why don't you just go on line and price it up rather than expect someone to do it for you, I believe middle of night prices are a lot cheaper than day time and even the day of the week will make a difference. We always use ferries as they are always about half the price (or less) of the tunnel for us but we are not so flexible as some as to when we travel.

There are a lot of people on here that do winter abroad and can recommend sites but a lot seem to head for the southern costa's for the weather. As for food I a m sure from memory they have butchers, super markets etc. so you should be able to get everything you like except UK specifics like tea etc. much like France but you never know if he tries something he may like it.
 
Aug 18, 2011
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Spain has the best roads in Europe,,,never had a problem with crime in 15 years of travelling there. Yes they have great supermarkets and on the Costas you can buy anything,,there is even an Iceland in Benidorm..Travelling down through France it will be closed,,not many sites open,,everyone in bed as soon as its dark.If you want mild weather you need to be close to The Med south of Salou,,,,Just book your ferry/tunnel one way and then you can return home when you like,,BUSBY.
 
Feb 20, 2017
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I would have thought if you are going to winter in Spain then the cheapest crossing and a wander down avoiding some if not all of the toll roads would be a nice way to go - maybe taking in places you have not been on the way down before reaching your ultimate destination. TV in Southern Spain is going to be challenging but if you search this site you will find all the info you need. Experienced members have posted toll free routes to Spain and again a search of this site will find them.

Join up - there is a wealth of info here.
 

Riverbankannie

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With dogs, I would choose the tunnel option, I think with an RV the price would be comparable to ferry and worth any difference.
I usually make sure I have enough of my favourite tea bags and some marmite otherwise you can get everything else. Lidl and Aldi stores everywhere as well as French/Spanish supermarkets that look same as home but local markets are much better.

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Feb 9, 2008
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I have put some route recommendations below that you may want to consider. However, if your an RV with high fuel consumption it may be better for you to get a ferry to Spain, although I suspect even with low MPG it will be cheaper to drive down from Calais. You need to do the math as I do not know your MPG consumption.

Firstly, routes and route maps for France and Spain. This first link is an award winning database about France. It’s big and with a host of information on best routes to many locations. I have selected the famous N10 route from Calais to Irun which is used by many motorhomes when travelling to Spain. It’s almost Toll free (more on that a little later) and almost all duel carriageway from start to finish with the exception of about 100 K. This route is great for motorhomes small, medium and large. Note: (HGV’s are not allowed on French roads, Sunday’s, so plan your journey over a weekend if possible).

https://about-france.com/tourism/no-tolls-routes.htm

Tolls: We avoid the toll road from Calais to Abbeville and save 12.50 Euros. The non-toll route is quite scenic and fairly straight forward, between Boulogne-sur-Mer and Abbeville.

At Abbeville, join the A28 and cross the river Sein at Rouen. We take the second exit immediately after crossing the bridge (about 50 m past the first exit at the end of the bridge), swing down and under the bridge you have just crossed and continue on this road and join the A13 motorway until the N154 which takes you down to Evreux. (Note: there are a number of different options for getting through Rouen and no doubt other members will have their own preferences. We find this very straight forward on both outward and return legs). Approaching Tours on the D910 join the A10 toll road at Jct. 19 and exit at Jct. 23. This will take you through the city via the toll road, (about 2.50 euros). At Jct. 23 take the exit lane for Montbazon which returns you to the D910. (Reverse for the return leg). That’s the last toll to pay until you hit the bottom of the A63 after Bordeaux.

To save toll fares on the A63 south of Bordeaux please read the route recommendations in the above link. Do not come off the A63 near the bottom as all roads will be heavily congested and it’s worth paying the last few tolls. (Fuel costs approx. €126.72. (Based on 1056 K @10K per Ltr. @€1.20 per ltr. 3.5T motorhome)). This route is also recommended during winter, due to its proximity to the Atlantic ocean, which means little to no problems with ice and or snow, unlike using the A75 to cross the Massif Central. Although the A75 is quickly cleared, it is advisable to have winter tyres fitted and there may be some small delays due to snow ploughs clearing this route.

If heading to the Mediterranean side of Spain, it’s worth taking the N121-A to Pamplona after crossing the Spanish boarder on the A63 at Irun. It’s clearly sign posted (Large white sign) about 300 m after passing through the last toll booth and crossing the river. You will find more details in this link for the N121-A and how to navigate Spain toll free.

https://about-spain.net/travel/no-tolls.htm

If you decide to pay Tolls in order to save time getting to Spain, your best route options are in this link.

https://about-france.com/tourism/routes-to-spain.htm

Should you choose to plan your own routes anywhere in Europe and also establish Toll costs, (or toll free costs) use this link. Under route options, select caravan then select toll roads. Toll costs for a class 2 motorhome will be calculated for the whole journey. You can also choose Non toll routes and other options. This is currently one of the best online free route planers.

https://www.viamichelin.co.uk/

As for stop overs on routes, you can’t go wrong using the App below which is free but I would recommend getting the paid version for about £6.00 which you can then use off line. You will find numerous places to stop along the above route and I have deliberately not made any recommendations so drivers can make their own choices. This app is also brilliant for finding other places too and highly rated by many users.

https://www.campercontact.com/en/content/app

There is another popular app/website that is used which you may also find useful if you’re doing a lot of wilding and looking for free overnight stops. It too is used by many motor homers in Europe. Get the paid version to use off line for around £9.00

https://www.park4night.com/

Finally, probably the best off line maps ‘App’ and used by many. It also includes a sat-nav function which is quite good and can also be used off line. Again many motor homers use this, especially in Morocco.

http://maps.me/en/home
 

Mr Incredible

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After much research and indecision, we have our ferry from Portsmouth to Santander booked for 26th January and its our first time abroad. I think that I have thought of everything, even a large dog bowl and a "beware of the dog" sticker on the door even though we don't have a dog!
I suppose all the usual stuff like Breakdown Insurance and printing out your motorhome insurance, passports etc will occur to you too. Plan ahead if you are thinking of getting an ACSI card as I only applied for mine about two weeks ago and have now found out that it can take a month or so to arrive. Therefore mine is likely to drop on the mat when we are on the ferry!
 

Teuchter

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I have been caravanning for 32 years but in 2014 I have"gone over to the dark side"
We live near Portsmouth so we just take the ferry to Bilbao or Santander and do a semi circular route - Zarragoza, Alacante, Murcia then slowly potter along the South Coast of Spain into Portugal and meander up to Lisbon then Back into Spain at Caceres, back to Santander or Bilbao and home - we take about 8 weeks usually - this year we are starting late as some other events "got in the way" so we are off Feb 4th back on Apr 2nd :)

As to food ass @Riverbankannie said take plenty of tea bags and everything else is readily available in Aldi, Lidel, Mercadonna etc - oh and don't forget the FB pies you need a good stock of them as they are hard to find in Spain! :)

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Jul 12, 2013
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Mid winter in France can be very cold indeed, with few if any campsites open. Also, when it freezes, water can become difficult to get as taps are turned of to protect them.
France is not alone with having cold weather, northern Spain can prove equally uncomfortable.
Not until you get south of Valencia can you expect to get comfort from the sun, although even here the wind when blowing from the north, can be cold.
Safety. Yes, it has to be acknowledged that some parts of Spain have a reputation for motoring crime, which is confirmed by large signs in lay-by's and even warnings in "All the Aires Spain". The areas concerned are largely between France and Barcelona, which your route need not include.
Where to go is more to do with personal taste, although Benidorm to Gibraltar should have something to satisfy you.
Food too is personal, although most dishes familiar to you will be available. However, each nation seems to produce better quality meals with their own traditional fare.
Cannot help with the TV, as we have not had time to turn ours on in Spain.
Good luck!
 
OP
Titchdog
Aug 3, 2017
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Thanks so much, everyone. We do not holiday abroad, I have been to Spain on package holidays when I was younger (awful) and to France when our son was younger. But it’s daunting and you have so much to think about (you’ve given me even more!) But all things we would need to think about. I had written off the ferry to Santander already as we have two dogs and I think it would be too much for them. It might be we’d get to Mediterranean France and stay there for a while to break the journey. But so much for us to look at. Plenty of time to browse as the weather is awful. Currently bracing ourselves for the next batch of gales, snow and ice! Wintering in West Yorkshire is only for the brave.
 
Nov 12, 2015
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Thanks so much, everyone. We do not holiday abroad, I have been to Spain on package holidays when I was younger (awful) and to France when our son was younger. But it’s daunting and you have so much to think about (you’ve given me even more!) But all things we would need to think about. I had written off the ferry to Santander already as we have two dogs and I think it would be too much for them. It might be we’d get to Mediterranean France and stay there for a while to break the journey. But so much for us to look at. Plenty of time to browse as the weather is awful. Currently bracing ourselves for the next batch of gales, snow and ice! Wintering in West Yorkshire is only for the brave.
As you have never been abroad can I make a suggestion to go over to France in spring/early summer to get the feel of travelling abroad, using Aires, shopping etc. This would give you confidence and get to "know the ropes" and with more sites/Aires open would mean less of a rush to the south and a more leisurely holiday. Then if you like it and have built up confidence go for Spain next winter and maybe this year if you have to get away fly somewhere and get a hotel or rent an apartment, hire a car and have a look around MH Aires and campsites to see what its like?

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Emmit

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After much research and indecision, we have our ferry from Portsmouth to Santander booked for 26th January and its our first time abroad. I think that I have thought of everything, even a large dog bowl and a "beware of the dog" sticker on the door even though we don't have a dog!
I suppose all the usual stuff like Breakdown Insurance and printing out your motorhome insurance, passports etc will occur to you too. Plan ahead if you are thinking of getting an ACSI card as I only applied for mine about two weeks ago and have now found out that it can take a month or so to arrive. Therefore mine is likely to drop on the mat when we are on the ferry!

@Mr Incredible You have a PM
 
Jan 8, 2013
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Where should we head for? We’d like warmer weather, walking and hopefully something to do at night, a meal, a drink that kind of thing.
Initially we are thinking of going just for a month, to see if we like it.

Book the tunnel some time this summer for a couple of weeks and take a trip along the Normandy coast. Loads to see (WW2 sites and museums) and not much travelling. Plenty of camp sites and free Aires. The tunnel will cost about £180 return and a cheap and easy introduction to MoHo life in France. To make it even easier buy a European maps sat nav and download the Camper Contact app.
 

filopastry

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@Titchdog it is a little daunting during the planning and preparation stages but once you are this side of the canal and given yourself half an hour to settle the nerves and relax you will wonder what all the fuss was about. Truth be told the shock will be when you re-enter the UK. It is then that your nerves will begin to jangle, heavy traffic, traffic jams, everyone in a rush and should you make an error .... you WILL be fine. Deep breathe, repeat I can do this and all of a sudden "The world is your lobster"

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Feb 26, 2013
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I would agree with the suggestions of trying a shorter trip to France first, ideally during the warmer months, to get a feel for travelling abroad in the motorhome. To get all the way down to the south of Spain for warmer weather is a long trip there and always seems even longer coming back! We went last year and were disappointed by how crowded all the coastal places were, and how chilly it was inland...... Our favourite part of the trip was the days we spent in the Pyrenees on the return, somewhere we will return to this spring. We also have two dogs and always use the tunnel. Its very easy and no stress for them at all. Good luck with whatever you decide.
 

Teuchter

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I would agree with the suggestions of trying a shorter trip to France first, ideally during the warmer months, to get a feel for travelling abroad in the motorhome. To get all the way down to the south of Spain for warmer weather is a long trip there and always seems even longer coming back! We went last year and were disappointed by how crowded all the coastal places were, and how chilly it was inland...... Our favourite part of the trip was the days we spent in the Pyrenees on the return, somewhere we will return to this spring. We also have two dogs and always use the tunnel. Its very easy and no stress for them at all. Good luck with whatever you decide.


I agree that a lot of the coastal sites in the South of Spain are often very busy and that the inland ones can be f f f f fff freezing cold! however as long as you are not wanting to stay too long on one site then you can usually find space - that's what we have found anyway :)

A few miles inland from the coast but before the land rises towards the high ground is normally fine though :)
 

The Nomad

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Nip across to France a couple of times just to understand how Aires etc work and to find out just how motorhome friendly all of mainland Europe is compared to the UK.
Also understand that crime rates are way way higher in Britain than in countries such as Spain. You are far safer there than in England.

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Jun 4, 2016
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Nip across to France a couple of times just to understand how Aires etc work and to find out just how motorhome friendly all of mainland Europe is compared to the UK.
Can not wait to find this out ourselves about France , we have found out that Mainland UK is definitely MH friendly.
Height barriers or ANPR camera's at every car park
 
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As you are obviously novice travelers, I would suggest you join the Camping and caravan club and book on to one of their rallies in Spain. This will give you many expats to join in with on an organised and well run site. You can stay as long as you want and the longer you stay the lower the rate becomes. We spent a Christmas and New year at one, just 10 nights. It gave us a good Christmas and new year bash before we continued touring. There are some folks that use them for a full six month stint. Check it out - campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
Good luck,

Keith :cool:
 
Aug 18, 2011
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Thanks so much, everyone. We do not holiday abroad, I have been to Spain on package holidays when I was younger (awful) and to France when our son was younger. But it’s daunting and you have so much to think about (you’ve given me even more!) But all things we would need to think about. I had written off the ferry to Santander already as we have two dogs and I think it would be too much for them. It might be we’d get to Mediterranean France and stay there for a while to break the journey. But so much for us to look at. Plenty of time to browse as the weather is awful. Currently bracing ourselves for the next batch of gales, snow and ice! Wintering in West Yorkshire is only for the brave.
If you book ferries to Spain early you can get Dog Friendly cabins on one of the ships,,BUSBY,,

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Oct 10, 2009
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Hi @Titchdog
We have been members for a while and read all the posts. You will find a lot of help from previous posts. PhilandMena's response on this thread is a great example.
We have read them all and took the advice on board and it helped a lot.
On our first motorhome trip to Spain we are three weeks in and it is even better than we imagined.
I have a blog on the forum which may help as we considered many of the problems you have and have written about them.
Conal
 

Kim H

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We've been going to Spain over winter months for the last 4 years.....novices compared to some. We travel with 2 dogs and have tried over land and ferries. Our preferred route is a ferry to Bilbao or Santander with a pet friendly cabin. We've done the tunnel and driving through France but tbh we find it a hack when most of it is 'closed' for the winter. The ferry saves us fuel, miles, tolls and someone's driving whilst we eat and sleep :)
 
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@Kim H , I agree with you entirely. Pet friendly cabin to Bilbao or Santander is, for us, by far the best option. However, as you know, our dog only has three legs, and had big problems last year in managing to stand up in the Bay of Biscay. So this year we've decided to do Portsmouth to Caen.
Just wondering how you get on with two dogs in a pet-friendly cabin. (I'd love to have two dogs again.) Do BF allow you to book two into the cabin, or do you have to book a cabin and a kennel?

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