Kit out your vehicle correctly
If you’re travelling in cold climes, having all the right sleeping gear and clothing is one thing, but there are a few technical things you’ll need to consider too. For example, if you’re a butane gas user, you’ll want to switch to propane for the winter – it’s far more suitable for lower temperatures. Whereas liquefied butane fails to change to gas vapour in temperatures below 0 degrees C (32F), propane will vaporise in conditions as low as -40 degrees C (-44F).
Fridges can over-cool in colder months, so purchasing a cover for the external air vent is a good idea. Dometic and Electrolux fridges need covers in temperatures below 10 degrees C, while Thetford fridges require them when the temperature falls below 8 degrees C.
Make sure you request an overhaul of your heating appliances before you go away. Heating services are not normally included in standard habitation services, as they require extra dismantling work. Specify it as an extra when you take your vehicle in.
Have snow chains or winter tyres handy if travelling on the continent. In Germany, for example, it’s a legal requirement to have winter tyres fitted, and getting stuck without appropriate ones may land you an on-the-spot fine. To find out which countries require special measures in winter take a look at the AA website.
If you’re heading to somewhere warmer, there are still a few bits and pieces you won’t want to forget. In Spain, you’re required to carry a spare pair of glasses, and while it may not be compulsory in other countries, it’s always a good idea particularly if you’re driving alone. It’s also mandatory in Spain to carry two warning triangles if you’re towing.
If you’re heading to Italy, be aware that small petrol stations often close between 1pm and 3.30pm, as well as on Sunday afternoons. With that in mind, try to ensure you have enough fuel to avoid getting caught out during those hours. And be sure to distinguish between petrol (benzina) and diesel (gasolio).
Ultimately, it’s always worth doing research when you’re travelling abroad. Knowing the small things and being well prepared means less chance of coming unstuck in an unfamiliar place where you may not speak the language. Happy winter travelling!
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