Friday, 23 September 2011 10:24 AM
If you are planning a caravanning holiday in Europe, it is easy to get carried away with details such as which places to visit and what to pack for your journey.
However, you should get the practicalities out of the way as soon as possible, such as making sure your car insurance is valid for Europe and purchasing appropriate touring caravan insurance.
Although a lot of camping sites have security, it is worth buying protection should you have an incident on the road or theft or damage occurs when you are parked up. Once you have booked your pitches, bought your caravan insurance and made an itinerary, you are on your way to enjoying a European driving holiday.
Caravanning in Germany
Germany is a great place to enjoy a driving getaway, especially because of its wide autobahns. While you may be tempted to test out the blanket speed limits on these motorways, remember you have a caravan behind you!
One of the best places to drive in the country is along the Romantic Road in the Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg provinces.
To ensure nothing puts a dampener on your holiday, make sure you have researched German motoring rules. These include having a GB sticker on your vehicle, ensuring your motor and caravan insurance documents are to hand and fitting headlamp converters. Because you will be driving on the right-hand side of the road, these prevent other road users being dazzled by your lights.
You are then ready to hit the famous road, which is based on a Roman route connecting the many towns along the way.
Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau is a tourist destination you should not miss, with the majestic building open for tours. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Residential Palace in Wurzberg is also worthy of your time and, indeed, the Romantic Road starts here and ends in Fussen.
The beauty of driving through Germany is that you stick to nobody's timetable but your own, providing you with a wealth of freedom.
Easy access to France
Getting to France by car is easy and you have the choice of the ferry or the Eurotunnel.
Most ferries dock at Calais and although they can take a little longer than travelling through the Eurotunnel, allow you to grab some refreshments to enjoy on deck while gazing out across the ocean. If you have been in your car for a while, it is a good idea to stretch your legs and take in the sea breeze.
For the ultimate convenience, the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle departs around every four hours from close to Folkestone - junction 11A on the M20 - and the journey takes just over 30 minutes. Although nothing should happen to your vehicle on board the shuttle, fitting caravan security devices can provide you with peace of mind when you leave them unattended.
Once you get to Calais, it is perhaps worth sticking around for an hour or so to admire the Flemish-style town hall complete with belfry. If it is sunny, relaxing on the sandy beach can put you in the holiday mood for the rest of your journey.
From Calais, the beautiful region of Picardy is within easy reach. Combine stunning views with the area's World War I history by visiting the Upper Somme Valley. Marvel at how it has transformed itself after its violent past, with a stroll along its pools a pleasurable way to pass the time.
Why not take some photos from the vantage points that overlook this pretty valley?
Like Germany, France has strict motoring rules - don't run the risk of breaking them, as it is likely to ruin your holiday and dent your budget if you get caught.
In France, you will also require headlight converters, a GB sticker and copies of your caravan and car insurance. You might also face a fine if you do not have a reflective jacket or warning triangle. The jacket must not be kept in the boot but within easy reach in the vehicle - the point being you should not step out without it on.
Once you have dealt with these motoring practicalities you are all set for hitting the road and enjoying a European getaway.