Driving in Europe…

I’ve only been driving around Europe for 3 months so far and straight away I have made some mistakes driving on European roads, but on the other hand I’ve enjoyed every minute of driving, even in massive traffic jams when you can get a cold drink from the fridge or pull over and make a brew while you’re waiting. I understand some people reading this would have been driving on Europe roads a lot longer than me but here’s a few points from my experience so far:
  1. Remember to drive on the correct side of the road – sounds stupid but my first week when I was leading the way when my friend Matt was with me in his van, I pulled out of the car park where we stayed and I started to drive on the left……I now have a hand written note in chalk pen on my windscreen reminding me this every day…although I’m used to it now.
  2. Drive with your lights on low beam – in most Eastern Europe countries this is the law. The reason for this is when it’s mega hot the road heat waves causes a mirage. Your lights are for the oncoming traffic to see you better, like when people overtake.

3. Turn off your Gas bottle – I have a refillable LPG bottle to the rear of my van. If any of my pipes started to leak the gas would just leak causing problems, even if you have a sink hole below your bottle. Also if someone crashed into the back of me this could cause big problems. This is something else that’s written in chalk pen on my windscreen to remind me.

4. Have your van measurements handy – I have the height and width of the van stuck to my dashboard. I originally did this when I booked my ferry from the UK to France to remind me. Once in France, I headed under a low bridge on a dual carriage way going 40-50mph with the traffic flow. I must have missed the bridge height sign and I actually thought I was going to hit it…I screamed and shouted $#IT!!! it must have been 2.8m and my van is 2.6m high.

5. Try keep your van tidy – optional I know but it makes life much easier when you’re looking for something and its there for you. A few times I’ve been looking for things for ages and thinking how the hell can I lose something in such a small place.

6.Have a Van Document file – I’ve mentioned before in my previous blog about the Police but I’ve been pulled over for checks and only yesterday I was pulled over by a road side check point and was breathalysed. Every time this had happened the police have asked for the van registration (V5 doc is fine if you’re from the UK) and Van Insurance. I have an A4 folder next to my driver seat with all this information in and other bits.

7. Secure everything in the back of your van to avoid rattles and breakages while driving. I designed the van quite good to avoid this happening, one thing I wish I did is place something on the cupboard and fridge doors because twice now everything has fallen out when I hit a corner downhill too fast. One of those window twist lock/catches would do fine. I will buy some from somewhere in Europe.

8. I’ve spoken about van security before but while writing this blog in Budapest my side window got broken into. Lucky nothing was taken and I was parked in a supermarket while attending a festival. Nothing was on show to steal and my extra padlocks inside the doors were on. I got the window replaced a few days later and all okay now. It was just an inconvenience but I stayed positive and still enjoyed the festival.

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