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Motorhome Travels in Europe – Navigating Ferry Options

Motorhome Travels in Europe – Navigating Ferry Options

If you’ve already travelled along the best UK motorhome routes, it may be time for you to hop across the channel to mainland Europe.

There are loads of advantages to doing so. Motorhoming abroad gives you the ultimate combination of flexibility, comfort and autonomy – not to mention you’ll get to enjoy Europe’s top drives. So, if you’re planning on taking a ferry before touring Europe in a motorhome, what are the main things you need to know?

We’ve written this article to let you in on our best tips and tricks. But they’ll come later – first, you need to know what the main routes are.

What are the main ferry routes?

There are quite a few options when it comes to taking a ferry to Europe. Without a doubt, Dover is the most popular place from which to set sail. According to data released by Statista, more than 4.3 million ferry passengers passed through Dover’s port in 2020 – hardly surprising considering how close it is to the European mainland.

Over 75% of Dover’s traffic goes to or from Calais – but just in case you have a different departure or arrival point in mind, here are some of the different routes available to you.

Ferry routes to France:

  • Dover to Calais
  • Dover to Dunkirk
  • Folkestone to Calais
  • Newhaven to Dieppe
  • Plymouth to Roscoff
  • Poole to Cherbourg
  • Portsmouth to Caen
  • Portsmouth to Le Havre
  • Portsmouth to St. Malo
  • Poole to St Malo

Ferry routes to Spain:

  • Plymouth to Santander
  • Portsmouth to Bilbao or Santander

Ferry routes to the Netherlands:

  • Newcastle to Ijmuiden
  • Hull to Rotterdam
  • Harwich to Hook of Holland

Ferry routes to Ireland:

  • Liverpool to Dublin
  • Liverpool to Belfast
  • Pembroke to Rosslare
  • Fishguard to Rosslare
  • Cairnryan to Larne
  • Cairnryan to Belfast

If you’re wondering about the best ferry routes to Portugal, there’s bad news: there are none. Even still, you can sail across to Spain and drive to Portugal from there – in fact, we’d go so far as to say that this is one of Europe’s must-travel motorhome routes.

This goes for any other European countries you might want to visit in your motorhome as well. Getting across the channel is the main thing, but you can go pretty much wherever you want after that.

With the main ferry routes covered, all that’s left is the promised advice. So, what are our best tips for navigating your ferry options?

Book in advance

You must plan your journey thoroughly. Positions on popular routes fill up quickly, so you need to reserve your space on the ferries as far beforehand as possible.

When it comes to booking your space, you’ll need to know your motorhome size. If you list these incorrectly then you could find that the ferry service refuses to let you on board. You should be able to find your dimensions in your handbook, but you can always turn to a trusty measuring tape if necessary.

Find cheaper times to travel

The cost of taking your motorhome on a ferry can differ depending on when you travel. If you can be more flexible when you make your journey, you might be able to save a decent bit of cash.

It’s best to avoid travelling during peak times such as the summer holidays. The summer months are always the most expensive times of the year, so try to plan your trips outside of them. You might also be able to get a discount by travelling during the week rather than at the weekend, or by picking unusual times such as the middle of the night.

Get the right documentation

You’ll need to have all your paperwork squared away before you set off, including all of the following:

  • A valid UK passport
  • Your driving licence
  • Motorhome proof of ownership (V5C document and a purchase receipt)
  • Proof of MOT
  • Proof of insurance and a Green Card
  • A GB sticker for your vehicle

Additionally, there might be some changes that could affect you when travelling to Europe in your motorhome after Brexit, so be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for any new developments.

Consider pets

If you want to take your pet with you in your mobile home, you’re not alone – and you’re allowed to according to Rule 57 of the Highway Code. Even so, there are some things you need to consider when ferry travelling with pets in your motorhome.

Many ferries allow you to travel on them with your pets, usually offering two options. You can either leave them locked in your vehicle or place them in onboard kennels. These options may differ from ferry to ferry and are often accompanied by charges.

There will also likely be individual requirements for each ferry service. So the most important thing is that you check the specific guidelines for your ferry before you book.

Additionally, you need to research the requirements for travelling abroad with pets for your destination, including the documentation and medical treatments your furry friends will need to get into the country.

Regulations when traveling in France

As of the 1st January 2021, a new law came into effect in France requiring heavy vehicles (over 3.5 tonnes) to have ‘Angles Morts’ (blind spot) warning stickers fitted. As such, the new law includes vehicles from all countries – whether in or outside of the EU – with an authorised total weight of more than 3.5 tonnes.

As well as trucks, coaches, buses and vans, it includes private vehicles over 3.5T, such as motorhomes.

What do the yellow and red stickers mean on motorhomes mean?

The blind spot stickers are designed in a bright and eye-catching yellow and red. The purpose of this design is to draw the attention of other road users, i.e cyclists, pedestrians to safeguard them and showcase that these vehicles have blindspots.

Failure to comply

Non-compliance will result in a 4th class penalty fine (€135) that can be decreased or increased, associated with a loss of 1 to 6 points on the driving licence.

Get peace of mind for your travels

On the off-chance that something goes awry during your ferry travels, you’ll be thankful that you chose to safeguard your motorhome before setting sail. We’ve been providing specialist protection for motorhomes for around 30 years, including breakdown cover for most EU countries.

If you’d like to find out why we’ve been rated excellent by over 5,000 customers, give us a call on 0208 984 0666 or email us at info@comfort-insurance.co.uk.

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Comfort Insurance

We’re a family run business with over 30 years' experience in the provision of specialist motorhome and campervan insurance. With a wealth of awards under our belt, we pride ourselves on providing a friendly and professional service, offering you the most comprehensive cover money can buy -  starting from just £220!

Comfort Insurance

We’re a family run business with over 30 years' experience in the provision of specialist motorhome and campervan insurance. With a wealth of awards under our belt, we pride ourselves on providing a friendly and professional service, offering you the most comprehensive cover money can buy -  starting from just £200!