Logistics of Full-timing.

The “Essential" Items

The Car. Your car must, obviously, be reliable and man enough for the job. All the caravan clubs and road experts recommend the caravan weighs no more that 80% of the weight of the car, and although not a legal limit (that is that specified by the car manufacturer) is a ratio that, hopefully will prevent the van ever taking charge. Our caravan when fully loaded weighs 1800 kilos so the choice of tow car is fairly limited, our car  is a SsangYong Rexton, which has proved to me, despite what many UK reviewers say, a reliable  and reasonably comfortable tug. The last car we had was a SsangYong Rodius but unfortunately, like all car manufacturers seem to be doing, SsangYong relaunched the car with a 2 litre SsangYong engine rather than the previous 2.7 litre Mercedes engine, so when it was time to change we went for the Rexton which at the time still had the bigger engine, that too now comes with the smaller engine so we will probably not buy another.

Car Insurance must cover us for an extended period in mainland Europe, something we thought would be easy to achieve. Not so! All UK car insurance policies are, we understand, required to include EU cover, most limit this to just a few weeks per year, thirty days is common, with sixty day and even one hundred and twenty days not unknown. What they all seem to have in common is that you have to return to the UK every 30 days, one company informed us that we did not have to go through customs etc., provided we disembarked from the ferry we could after driving onto UK soil at the bottom of the loading ramp spin around and go back on the same ferry. Unsuitable for us as we can be away for six months or more and don’t want to bring the car back every thirty days to satisfy a car insurance policy.

We eventually found a suitable policy from Stuart Collins who have been providing a motor policy for UK registered Cars (Left or Right hand drive) with annual foreign use. This is a UK motor policy therefore it includes use here also without limit of time.

There is a downside to every thing and the downside to our Stuart Collins policy is that it restricts us to EU member countries only, we had wanted to visit Turkey but thats out, as is Morocco another place we are told is worth a visit - Oh well there are plenty of other places to see.

This year we wanted to visit Morocco and Stuart Collins were still adamant they would not cover us there so we changed to Saga Insurance. They seem to give cover equal to Stuart Collins but they were prepared to cover us in Morocco - pity we did not in the finish get there, you can find out why by clicking here

Breakdown Cover. We had been RAC members for over thirty years but they do not automatically cover a member swanning about in mainland Europe, although they will quote for a limited period holiday.  The AA, Green Flag Caravan Club versions all, we understand, operate the same way. Step forward the ADAC, this German club covers members throughout Europe.If you clicked through to the ADAC website you will have noticed that it is all in German. I have a translation of the benefits that can be accessed HERE. Our thanks to Diane who provided what she called the “ADAC booklet with poor translation”.

The Caravan  is very much a matter of personal choice we have met people whose perfect van is a tiny Eriba no more than six feet square through every shape and size up to the monster we lug about which is a Bailey Unicorn S2 Cartagena bought as a result of our previous van developing cracks in the nearside wall (for the full story click HERE). Our Cartagena, named Fiona after Mrs Fiona Shrek, is butt ugly on the outside but practicable and comfortable inside, it is however an 8m long twin axle van which makes it unpopular in some countries particularly France. The main thing going for it is that we have been able to upgrade the payload from the standard 160 kg to 281 kg - a much more realistic figure for full-timers.

Caravan Insurance. The Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravan Club both provide a very well thought of caravan insurance that we used for many years, however we have found them increasingly expensive and have for the last six years used Towergate Insurance a well known and well respected name in the caravan insurance industry. For us there is another reason, other than financial, for using them. On a twin axle both The Caravan Club, The camping and Caravan Club and many other insurance providers insist that both axles are locked with chassis manufacturers wheel locking devices if you have watch this YouTube video you will understand what a pain this is. Towergate Insurance allow us to fit just one - easy peasy.

Travel Insurance is it seems a very emotive for some who insist that it should not be needed within the EU we take a more pragmatic approach and get it from Globelink International who offer a policy that although you must be in UK when it starts can be for three, six nine and twelve months away and if you wish it can be extended by a quick phone call to a maximum of eighteen months. If however you return to the UK for any reason the policy expires. Having said that, on two occasions we have had to make an emergency return home for a few days and on both occasions Globelink Int. allowed the policy to continue without penalty, provided of course we didn’t make a “curtailment” claim.

EHIC or European Health Insurance Card. However good your travel insurance your EHIC is essential many travel insurance companies will refuse your claim if you did not have your EHIC (to minimise their liability) when the illness or other health disaster occurred. If you apply on the official NHS web site is is free but some commercial sites will charge you for doing what you can easily do yourself for free.

Medication All people of a certain age seem to need medication and we are no exception. I take only Simvastatin to help lower my cholesterol but Sue takes a small range of drugs and the two doctors we have been registered with since starting our travels have refused to give us supplies of our drugs to take away with us, quoting rules and regulations in the way that “Jobsworths” are wont to do, we do have travelling pals whose doctors will allow them six or seven months worth at a time but for us it is necessary to purchase our medications as we go. We have so far purchased drugs in Holland, Spain and Portugal simply by going into a pharmacy and (to ensure we get the correct medication) presenting an old NHS repeat prescription and asking for four months supply, which depending on the country, will cost somewhere between €15 (£12.24)and €25 (£20.40) per month an extra expense but not the end of the world, and we have been told that if we keep the receipts we can reclaim the money from the NHS but so far we have not attempted this.

ACSI Book. The ACSI book should, perhaps, be the first item in this list, for around £14.00 you can get the two volume ACSI European Site Directory complete with a card that when filed in and presented at the reception of participating campsites, and there are over 2700 of them, entitles you to reduced price that can easily get you your purchase price back on the very first nights stay making it saving saving saving from then on.

© S W Ghost 2016