Useful links & Info
Useful Internet Links
Motorhomefacts.com is a mine of info, there are forums on lots and lots of topics as well as travel blogs. There are also downloads for your satnav to be found here. Lots of info is free but certain parts of the website are members only - it costs 10 pounds a year but worth the outlay.
Visit this site for info on the places this person has stayed on her site, she gives her views as well as the GPS and a map http://www.mycamperstops.com
If you need motivating or ideas on where to go to then David and Janice otherwise known as the Grey haired nomads have some great reports of their extensive travels on their website http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/Grey-haired-nomads
If you don't have one of these then go to www.nhs.uk for more information and a link to a downloadable application form.
In some countries it is possible to obtain your prescription medicines over the counter, but not always. See how much your doctor will allow you to take away, they are often reluctant to give you more than a couple of months supply and ask about the cost of a private prescription which will allow you to take more medicines with you.
TV & Satellite
You can spend a few grand getting an all bells and whistles job that goes on the roof, we started out with an 82 cms dish which got us BBC1 BBC2 ITV Sky News until the middle of Spain but the further down Spain and Portugal you go the more difficult it became to get even these. On the Algarve you really need a 1 or 1.4 metre dish to get what you want. Since BBC has focussed its beam on UK then if you want to watch the terrestrial channels then you will need to do this on your computer for which you will need reasonable wifi. We recommend you look at filmon.tv.
If you have enough wifi then consider getting an android box which can be used to watch movies and sports.
It is possible to get the terrestrial channels by satellite but this requires logging on to another satellite in the opposite direction to Astra 2 and acquiring a special set top box into which you can feed the codes that are to be found on the internet. We think that this is a back up for Free to Air channels and not meant for public use but you can't keep the enterprising Brit away from his telly. If you want Sky and the UK terrestrial channels then you would need two dishes and two set top boxes. If you are touring this isn't practicable so probably time to collect some DVDs to watch while you are away.
BBC iPlayer does not work abroad - and it knows where you are! The only way to get iPlayer and the other catchup services is to have a VPN account which may cost you an annual subscription and means that a UK website (like BBC ) that only serves UK residents treats you as if you are in UK. The VPN will also allow you to access your Netflix account or Amazon Prime account.
We solved the problem of no sat signal by copying TV programmes onto our DVD recorder and taking that with us. You could also copy your DVD collection onto a media player and take that too.
If you want to keep it simple then don't forget a short wave radio.
We have downloaded radio podcasts from BBC ( and it is possible to do this outside UK). This makes a pleasant change from your own music library and there is a great selection available including The Archers for radio soap addicts.
Dont forget to get a CCI card as it can give discounts at campsites and will be taken as ID instead of your passport at some places. ACSI also sell similar cards.
Vicarious Books sell a wide range of books - here is the link
We have used Camping Cheques which means paying for nights in advance, we find that there are two advantages, firstly it cuts down choice to a more manageable number of good campsites and secondly it reduces the amount of cash that you need to take with you. It only works out of the peak season for camping - although often this means six weeks from mid July to end of August but varies from campsite to campsite.
Here is the link:
Another book that is good for out of season camping is the ACSI book - the book is issued each year and a membership card is contained in the book. It fixes the price of the campsites to one of 3 prices, 12 14 & 16 euro in 2013. The quality of the campsites varies but there is a good spread, go here for more info: http://www.campingcard.co.uk/gb/en/home/uc33-l2-n253/
There is also a bigger ACSI book that covers all the campsites inspected by this Dutch organisation ie not just the sites that are in the out of season book mentioned in the previous paragraph. This comes with a DVD so you can load a programme onto your laptop and undertake more tailored searches for campsites. You can buy this from Vicarious Books, see above link.
The Caravan Club also publishes a couple of books on european sites. Personally I am not too impressed but others swear by them. They have a very limited description of the campsites and the last time I looked did not have GPS positions but rather hopeless descriptions as to how to get to the sites.
If you are travelling outside the peak season (July and August) there is usually no need to book your pitch in advance. This of course gives you greater flexibility which is the great thing about motorhoming - you can go where you please and when you like. If you are spending a long time at any one site then you can often find discounts for long stays.
Finally don't forget the aires and stellplatz - carparking areas designated for motorhomes and often free and always well located. Vicarious Books have a number of books detailing the aires in europe and can be a great place to overnight. However note that while some have electricity and water in the summer that these facilities disappear in winter. Not recommended is overnighting on the aires de service on motorways.
One of the things that being in the European Union has not done is to bring uniformity to the world of gas cylinders - every country has its own style. Only in Portugal Italy and perhaps Morocco is it possible to get your own empty gas cylinders refilled.
There is no easy answer and means that -
- you need to make the most use of the electricity that you have paid for when going on site and not waste your own gas. This could mean buying a slow cooker or Remoska or an electric hot plate - anything to avoid using your own gas.
- you could consider buying foreign cylinders if staying in another country for some time, although I understand that to buy a gas cylinder in Spain you need a licence and to get a licence you need a fixed address in Spain, although sometimes the address of the campsite you are staying at will do. People say that car boot sales can be good places to pick up empty cylinders. On some of the motorhoming websites show entries with people giving away foreign gas cylinders.
- change your own gas supply to a Gaslow system which comprises refillable cylinders. You refill at the garages selling LPG. This is expensive to install and probably will take some time to pay for itself ( if ever) but you are paying for the convenience. Only Spain is poorly served with garages selling LPG. The aires books supplied by Vicarious Books also give the location of LPG garages.
- get a solar panel and additional leisure batteries. The cheapest place to get a solar panel and have it fitted is Morocco.
Crossing to Europe
Some people swear by Norfolk Lines ( now DFDS) Dover to Dunkirk but so far we have not found a cheap fare with them, perhaps we have been unlucky to date.
The Rolls Royce crossing has to be on Eurotunnel which is fast and drops you off on main roads at either end. If you go very early in the morning or overnight the prices are not too bad. We have used our Tesco points for crossings on Eurotunnel. You can use your Avios points (when will we stop calling them Airmiles?) for the ferry but not the tunnel.
In Calais there are places to park overnight while waiting for your ferry - the aire in town, the carpark at the port or at Cite Europe or a campsite. In Dunkirk there is an aire too. However with the ever increasing number of migrants at the Channel ports many people are not overnighting there.
I am not aware of anything so convenient on the Dover side and if you stay in the car park for the tunnel more than a couple of hours you get moved on, so if you are a long way from the ports then you may want to consider what we do which is to take a late afternoon crossing and overnight in France and. set off fresh in the morning
Brittany Ferries do the longer routes into France and into northern Spain. These are considerably more expensive and you have to do the sums as to what is more cost effective for you. We think that for us the extra cost of the crossing is on a par with the fuel needed to cross France but it depends on your circumstances and what you are travelling in.
Keeping in Touch
Take a spare mobile phone with you and buy a local pay as you go sim card for local calls ( and possibly cheaper calls home).
Get Skype on your laptop and open an account, it is free to download and the calls are free if you are calling another Skype account holder on their computer. You can call a regular landline via Skype for a tiny tiny amount - to do this you need to put money onto your account but this is very simple.
Get Skype on your phone - if you get in a wifi zone you should be able to make some free/cheap calls.
Visit McDonalds as these restaurants have free wifi.Your satnav will probably find the neared McDonalds but you can download the GPS points for the restaurants in UK and around Europe
Many overseas campsites have wifi, increasingly it's free too. Most towns have internet cafes although the headache here is learning to use foreign keyboards so schedule a longer visit to one of these cafes.
You can get internet via a satellite dish but this is really expensive and probably only worth it if you are still working and need the connection and can perhaps claim the equipment as a business expense for tax purposes.
You can also get long range aerials that allow you to use open hotspots some distance away, maybe up to a kilometre. Go to somewhere like wifi-link for more info . http://uk.wifi-link.com/ . Or check out the forums on Motorhome Facts as you will find some very knowledgable people there as well as people who are always looking at the latest technology.With each new year of travelling we find more and more campsites have wifi, and often it's cheap.
In western europe your satnav will have pretty good mapping. In eastern europe it has less info and may only provide you with the main roads only.
It is possible to download additional maps from the satnav makers, we bought a card with Turkish maps on which was pretty useful at around £40. However the card for Morocco is £80 and only shows the main roads in the northern half of the city, so we have not bothered. I have heard of people who have managed to download maps for free, particularly for Tom Tom.
You can download additional points of interest such as the French aires or campsites.
Another option is to buy Microsofts Autoroute which is loaded on to your laptop.
If you use an ATM you could face a charge with each withdrawal, but it is convenient.
You could consider a preloaded cash card like the Mastercard prepaid travel card http://www.mastercard.com/uk/personal/en/findacard/prepaidnew/travel.html
Alternatively you could look to get a Caxton Card which you load up with euro and whenever you want to top up you can send them a text and they will act. http://www.caxtonfxcard.com/
Check out your credit card,will they charge an overseas transaction fee every time you use it? Until recently the Nationwide credit card did not make that charge but now they do. Look at alternatives such as the Halifax or Saga credit cards, no overseas transaction charges and these cards give you a great exchange rate too.,
Do you need to tell the bank or credit card company where you are going so
that they don't stop your card because there has been a transaction in Budapest
While you're away
Did you know that the Post Office can keep your mail for you until you come back - a charge again of course.
Before you leave take copies of your passports driving licences and credit cards so that if the worst happens and you lose them you will have copies. Also make sure you have the phone number of bank and credit card companies so that you can cancel cards if you need to.
Ensure that you have put emergency phone numbers on your mobile too as a back up source of info.
Send yourself an email with vital info on - so in the case of utter catastrophe you could get onto the internet and retrieve information.