While most haulage in the UK is domestic, van drivers occasionally have cause to venture across the channel and deliver goods to clients in mainland Europe. If you’ve never driven on European roads before, then you’re in for a bit of a learning curve. Even experienced hauliers occasionally run into trouble!
Let’s run through a few of our top tips to make driving in Europe as painless as possible.
It should probably go without saying, but you’ll need a valid and in-date passport. Some countries will require that your passport be valid for six months after the date of your arrival – a measure basically designed to prevent you from outstaying your welcome. Bear in mind that first-time passport applicants can often end up waiting for six weeks before being granted the document, so be sure that you’ve left enough time.
If you’re injured or fall ill overseas and you’re not properly insured, you might end up with a sizeable bill. Spend a little on travel insurance and you won’t need to worry about such things. You’ll also want a European Health Insurance card, which will entitle you to the same medical treatment a native of the country would receive – which, in many cases, means you get it for free. Bear in mind that there are a lot of shady EHIC sites out there – so visit the official one rather than Googling.
Get a Physical Map
As advanced as your satnav might be, it’s still worth taking along a paper map of the area you’re going to be visiting. It’s not going to lose signal, break down or run out of batteries midway through your pilgrimage.
Get your Vehicle Insured
Most insurance policies will cover you wherever you’re driving. With that said, it’s worth confirming with your provider that you’re fully covered. EU law will give you a safety net in the form of the minimum legal requirement in the country in question (which is usually third party). With Brexit looming, this safety net might well be whisked away within the year, and so it’s worth erring on the side of caution.
Empty the Van
Obviously, you’re going to be using the van the transport stuff. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be stuffed with useless cargo. It’ll weigh you down and contribute to higher fuel costs. It’s also worth sorting and storing your tools properly with van shelving so you have a good idea of what is exactly in your van.
Service the Van
If you’re going to be driving from Dover to Donetsk and back again, it’s wise to ensure that the van is up to the job. This means getting the tyres properly inflated, the tread checked, and oil levels topped up.
Keep an Emergency Contact
If you lose your mobile phone on the continent and then run into trouble, you’ll regret not having made note of an emergency contact number or two. Keep these in a notepad in your glove compartment. Your passport also provides room for an emergency contact. Before you leave, let someone know where you’re going and how long you’re going for.