Handy advice for going camping in Europe

Handy advice for going camping in Europe
  • Research the driving laws of any country you go to if you're planning on hiring a car, as some might be different to what you’re used to at home. For example, France requires a minimum distance of 50 metres between your car and the one in front, and all drivers in France legally have to carry a portable breathalyser test. (They cost about two Euros for a single use test and are available in most French garages and supermarkets.) France also requires at least one high visibility vest to be carried in every vehicle. In Spain, it's one vest per passenger as a minimum.
  • Check rules on showering and bathing for different countries you visit. If you're planning on a dip in a natural hot spring at a campsite in Sweden, for example, you might be asked to shower naked and rinse out your swimwear in front of the lifeguard before being allowed in the pool, to avoid contamination of the natural waters. In France, men are only allowed to wear Speedo-style swimming trunks in the pool, not shorts, and everyone going for a dip has to wear a bathing cap.
  • Driving while wearing sandals or flip-flops (or barefoot) is illegal in Spain, as is driving bare-chested.
  • It’s illegal to run out of fuel on the autobahn in Germany.
  • In Denmark, drivers must have headlights on at all times, even in the daytime (dimmed). Drivers must also check their brakes, steering and lights before each journey – and honk their horn for good measure.
  • Dirty cars are illegal in Belarus.
  • Drivers in Serbia must always have a three-metre rope and a tow bar in their driving kit.
  • You can’t eat or drink while driving in Cyprus, or toot your horn within the vicinity of a hospital.

If you're taking a caravan to France, here are the specifications you need to know, depending on who you're travelling with:

DFDS (caravan up to 4.35m x 8m)

P&O (declare vehicles over 6m long and/or 1.83m high [1.80m for Irish Sea routes] at the time of booking; caravans of any size cannot be carried on fast sailings)

Stena Line (caravan/trailer up to 12m long)

Irish Ferries (campervans/caravans/motorhomes up to 8m long+; any vehicle over 12m must be booked as freight)

Brittany Ferries (motorhomes, caravans and large trailers up to 9m long and 4m high)

Condor (campervans/caravans/motorhomes up to 13.5m long and 6.5m high, weighing no more than 3.5 tonnes; only one gas canister, up to 5kg)


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