If you’re planning to embark on a family trip to somewhere on the continent, chances are you’ve thought a bit about how you plan to get there. Driving to your destination can not only save you a significant amount of money and hassle, but it can also be a fun way to experience more of the countries you’re travelling through.
From the UK and Ireland you can drive to one of our European parks and campsites in France, Spain or Holland. Work out how to get there and how to get around with our travel planner map or with an online route finder before you set out. You’ll find GPS coordinates for each park and campsite on our campsite pages as well as the full address and map.
Your European Driving Kit
To legally drive in Europe, you’ll need to have the following documents to hand:
• Your full, valid driving license
• Your national insurance number
• Your passport / proof of ID
• Proof of vehicle and travel insurance
• The vehicle logbook / V5C certificate
• European Breakdown Cover documents, including the policy number
• The vehicle’s MOT certificate
It’s also the law to carry the following equipment:
• Reflective jackets – one for each passenger
• Warning triangle – this should be placed 30 metres from the car to warn oncoming traffic
• Headlamp beam deflectors
• GB car sticker
• First aid kit
• If you’re driving in Spain, you must carry a spare set of front, rear and indicator bulbs for your car
It’s also worth, although they’re not required by law, having a map and a printed copy of your route, so you’re not solely relying on GPS.
What is an International Driving Permit?
If you’re only travelling to countries within the European Union, your UK driving license and passport is enough. However, if you’re planning to visit non-EU countries, you may require an International Driving Permit, which needs to be ordered at least three months prior to the date of travel.
What is a Camping Card International?
Planning a camping trip while you’re driving in Europe? It could be worth getting a Camping Card International:
• Insures you for up to €1.8 million third-party insurance, for any damage at the campsite/s
• Covers up to 11 people
• Campsite and attractions discounts
• Not comfortable with leaving your passport as security? You may be able to leave your CCI at the campsite’s reception instead
How will Brexit affect driving in Europe?
As it stands there is no definitive answer to this question. The current Brexit deadline is the 31st October 2019, and the government recommends getting an International Driving Permit or Insurance Green Card, just to be on the safe side, if you’re planning a trip after this date.
Driving in France Requirements
If you’re planning a trip across the Channel, be aware that there are some specific requirements for driving in France. It is compulsory to carry a breathalyser with you in the cabin of the vehicle, as well as a spare pair of spectacles if you wear glasses for driving.
Crit’Air Clean Air Stickers – Do I need one?
To help improve air quality in some of its major cities, France has introduced Clean Air windscreen stickers for vehicles passing through some of its urban areas. One of these stickers costs under €4, and failure to display one could result in an on-the-spot fine of up to £117, so we strongly recommend purchasing one prior to your journey.
Which areas do they affect?
The Clean Air stickers are currently used in two different types of low emission zones, known as Permanent Low Emission Zones (ZCRs) and Temporary Emergency Low Emission Zones (ZPAs). Some of France’s most prominent areas currently use the stickers, including Paris, Lyon, Toulouse and Marseille.
Permanent Low Emission Zones (ZCRs)
Based on their Clean Air Sticker, ZCRs will not let certain vehicles into these areas. Any vehicle that doesn’t have a sticker will risk a fine.
Temporary Low Emission Zones (ZPAs)
ZPAs follow the same rules as ZCRs, but only when the location is at risk of dangerously high levels of pollution. However, you may still receive a fine if you don’t have a Clean Air sticker.
Taking the Ferry from the UK
We live on an island, so a self-drive trip to Europe from the UK or Ireland means crossing the Channel. Here’s why we think that’s great:
• Ferry and Eurotunnel crossings are usually charged per car so it can work out as an affordable option, particularly for a family
• In the privacy of your own car or ferry cabin you don’t have to worry about disturbing other passengers if you’re travelling with kids or pets (or both)
• From shops to kids’ play areas to restaurants, a ferry journey offers plenty to keep you entertained while you travel
At Canvas we love the flexibility and freedom ferry travel adds to your camping experience, which is why we offer the option to add a ferry or Eurotunnel crossing to your booking to create a self-drive camping holiday to Europe.
Ferry prices start from £50 return for Dover-Calais crossing – find out more about the different ferry and Eurotunnel crossings here.
For more travel tips and news, be sure to stay up to date with the Canvas Holidays blog.