Preparing for a Drive to the Continent

mobile tyre fitting Oxfordshire

Family holidays, business, cheap alcohol and cigarettes – these are just some of the reasons we Brits travel in our thousands across the channel every year. Whilst we could fly, take the train or even cycle, a hugely popular way of getting to France is to simply drive down to the south coast and hop on a ferry or a Eurostar train with our cars.

Now, whilst I’m sure we’re all aware that our continental cousins drive on the opposite side of the road to us Brits, there are plenty of rules and regulations that can catch us out. Moreover, there are certain things we need to do in the UK in order to prepare for our drive in France and beyond.

1. Choose between ferry or channel tunnel

If you are concerned with getting across the channel as quickly as possible, booking your car onto the channel tunnel is often your best bet. That said, check for delays before you travel as the service is prone to backlogs.

If you want a cheaper option there are several ferry operators that provide several dozen channel crossings every day. There is not a great deal to choose between the operators and a search online will usually put you in touch with the cheapest on your desired date of travel. The Dover to Calais crossing is the shortest and usually the cheapest, but others are available if you live along England’s south coast.

2. Prepare the vehicle

The next thing you’ll need to do is ready your vehicle for the drive south and across France and beyond. Now this should involve the usual preparations that take place before a long journey, such as ensuring the petrol tank is full, windscreen washer fluid is topped up and oil levels are healthy, but you might also want to carry out a more in depth inspection too.

Checking the state of your tyres is a very good idea and should be carried out well in advance of the trip to give you plenty of time to replace them should they require replacing. If you’re local to the area, a search online for ‘mobile tyre fitting Oxfordshire will put you in touch with a fantastic outfit of mobile tyre fitters who can replace your tyres whilst you’re in the comfort of your own home.

3. Stock up on the necessary equipment

European laws on what you must have in your vehicle are slightly stricter than here in the UK. Many European countries, including France, require you to carry a safety kit and a reflective triangle that can be set out behind your vehicle should you have to pull up at the side of the road. The French moreover require you to carry a portable breathalyser kit, which can be picked up for a few pounds at the ferry terminal.

Other useful but not necessarily essential pieces of equipment include a torch, a flask of your favourite hot drink, some warm clothes and some bottled water. Take a packed lunch if you are unsure how long you’ll be travelling between pit-stops.

4. Turn off speed camera detecting equipment

In France it is now illegal to travel with any equipment that can detect upcoming speed cameras and you can be fined up to 1,500 Euros if caught with such equipment that isn’t turned off. This means you’ll need to turn off the functionality on any sat-nav you were planning on using or investing in a new sat-nav if you’re unable to selectively switch off the camera detecting part of the kit.

5. Brush up on your local knowledge

Finally, before you set off it’s a good idea to brush up the local laws and customs in any country you’re going to be travelling through. A pocket guide of local phrases is also a useful addition. You should be aware that the drink-driving limit is lower in most European countries than it is in the UK and so it’s usually best to avoid driving after any alcohol consumption to be sure.

It’s also worth knowing that the French authorities are removing warning signs for speed cameras on many of their roads so be careful to stick to the speed limit.