The ultimate guide to taking your touring caravan or Motorhome abroad
Taking your touring caravan abroad is one of the best things you can do. It’s so wonderful to tow your home along on the back of your vehicle, allowing you to set up camp wherever you please and enjoy a nomadic life on foreign roads.
Before you go, there are some things you’ll need to know in order to make sure you stay on the right side of the law. You’ll need to carry certain items to ensure you’re respecting the laws of your host country. Lastly, it is worth investing in security devices to make sure you can enjoy your international tour without worrying about theft.
UK driving licence – you should always have this with you wherever you travel, including in the UK.
International Driving Permit – this is required in non-EU countries.
Insurance – third party cover is obligatory throughout Europe. If you are going beyond the EU, check with your insurer that your policy covers you before departure.
Green card – this is required in certain countries as proof your chosen insurance covers the minimum requirements of the country you are travelling in.
There are certain pieces of kit that are legal requirements for any touring caravan on the road. Make sure you purchase the items before you leave the UK, since as soon as your caravan hits foreign soil you’ll be breaking the law if you don’t have them.
The equipment you will need depends on the country you are visiting. The items below should only be used as a guide. Always check the legal requirements for the country or countries you will be driving your touring caravan in.
Warning triangle and nationality sticker
These two items are required in practically all EU countries, so don’t leave the UK without them. In Spain and Croatia, the law states two warning triangles are needed. In Ireland, warning triangles are only recommended. Please note, if your registration plate is EU standard plate (and includes the country identifier in a blue strip on the left-hand side) then you do not need a nationality sticker.
This garment is designed to keep you safe in case of breakdown. It is required in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France and Italy. It is recommended in the Netherlands.
First aid kit
Required in Austria, Croatia, France, Germany and Greece. Recommended in Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Ireland and Switzerland.
Required in Austria, Croatia, Italy and Spain. Recommended in Germany, Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and France.
Required in Greece. Recommended in Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland.
Snow tyres or chains
These allow you to drive safely on snow and ice-covered surfaces. Required in some provinces in Italy and some roads in France. In both Croatia and France, you’ll need snow tyres marked M&S.
Red and white marker boards are required in Italy and Spain if you have overhanging loads such as bike or surfboard racks.
It is of utmost importance to check what items are legally required where you are travelling. Each country has its own laws about what you need to carry in your touring caravan. For example, in Croatia it is required you carry a shovel, a breathalyser test is required in France and a motorway tax sticker (called a vignette, available in post offices, customs offices and some petrol stations) is required in Switzerland. In Spain, you will need a spare tyre and, if you wear glasses, a spare set of spectacles.
While these are not legal requirements, they are highly worth investing in for your peace of mind while touring abroad in your caravan.
A hitch lock slots over the towing hitch head and fixing bolts, so that potential thieves cannot attach your caravan to another vehicle. Some can be used in transit. For maximum security, make sure the hitch lock completely covers the fixing bolts and hitch head.
Wheel locks and clamps
Wheel clamps fit on to your caravan wheel when it is stationary, meaning it cannot be rolled away easily. Wheel locks fit through your wheel and attach to the break, and offer even higher security for your vehicle. Because they take longer to fit and remove than wheel claps, they are recommended for long stays.
Immobilisers lock your caravan’s wheel to the axle using a bolt system. This means your caravan cannot be moved without the immobiliser being unlocked.
Caravan alarms are similar to house or car alarms, and will sound if somebody is detected inside your touring caravan. They are a great visible deterrent to opportunist thieves.
These devices allow you to track and follow your touring caravan if it is stolen. Some models will send you an SMS if your caravan is stolen or broken in to.