OK, so I am not going to pretend to know everything about riding (or driving in general) across Europe, as this was my first real trip, but some of these things may help for when you do (or for if you ride anywhere really)!
Driving On The Right
Obvious but important - you do have to ride on the other side of the road! This is usually not a problem as coming off the ferry (or train) you are directed to the right side of the road. Just remember that roundabouts are reversed and the left hand lane is the overtaking lane. Slip roads tend to be tight compared to ours and do not usually lead to roundabouts so remember this when you get your knee down!
Very tricky to spot, especially in France so I would recommend sticking to the speed limits unless you know the roads and the location of the cameras. Also bear in mind that speed/camera warnings are NOT allowed on your satellite navigation units when travelling through France and I have also been advised that just turning them off isn't acceptable. Outside of France in the nearby countries this doesn't seem to be an issue.
[Image from: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/]
Vehicle and Riding Equipment
When travelling in Europe there are certain items that you must have / be wearing by law. These are:
- Spare set of bulbs
- High-viz jackets (must be worn if you break down and can only be yellow or orange)
- Some form of warning triangle (I use a helmet cover with one on it available from http://www.getgeared.co.uk)
- Breathalyser kit (you must have 2 per vehicle and this is really only a requirement in France)
- From January 2013 - In France you must have a minimum of 150cm2 of high-viz reflective clothing on your riding apparel. This can be spread out or in one area but it must be there ! The French have become a bit OTT about motorbikers but this is obviously something you need to know.
- Also, you are meant to use headlight adjusters to prevent your headlights from blinding the oncoming vehicles (as they are set for driving on the left). You may find that a small piece of tape in the corner is sufficient. For this trip we didn't adjust the headlights but brought some tape for good measure (which we were never required to use). So its up to you what you do, but it is a legal requirement.
Documentation, Helpful Hints and Legal Stuff
When travelling make sure you bring important vehicle documentation with you such as valid MOT, logbook and insurance and your driving license (and in addition obviously your passport!). It is a good idea to let your insurance company know before you set off also otherwise you are technically not covered.
In addition to this - make sure you let the bank know which cards you are taking with you and which countries you will be in during your time away. This will ensure that they are not blocked on suspect of theft and fraud. If you have online banking there is usually somewhere on there where you can list the dates you are away and the places you will be in against the cards you are taking.
[Image from: http://www.nhs.uk/]
Throughout Europe (although I think it is only the EU) you are entitled to free basic health care. You can apply for the free card here: https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/startApplication.do and in the very least you should have this even if you decide not to arrange travel insurance whilst you are away. Make sure you get it from the address above as other websites will try and charge you for it !
In regards to the law and riding over in Europe, you must be18 or over and hold a valid full UK license (car or motorcycle depending on what you are taking over there). There used to be restrictions if you were under 21, but new EU regulations seems to have lowered the legal age. In some cases, through special country agreements, you can be 17 but I do not know the specific details surrounding this.
Things To Take With You
Completely optional items in addition to the ones required by law, but after the trip we did I do feel they are important things to have with you at all times:
- Spare pair of motorcycle gloves
- An extended tool kit - ratchets and sockets relevant to your motorcycle in addition to the basic motorcycle tool kit that comes with your bike
- Motorcycle jump leads
- Tape ! Electric tape usually does the job for most things
- Chain lube
- Puncture repair kit
- Spare set of brake pads (ask Emma and she will definitely agree!)
- Pacsafe - this way you can lock everything you need to the bike whilst on route somewhere or on the ferry. All valuable we left in the tank bags which we took with us at all times (unless we were leaving stuff in our rooms or our tent)
- (Not strictly something to take but...) if you will need your phone or headsets constantly charged then a 12v socket fitted somewhere to the bike is a godsend. I used mine to keep the phones charged, the headsets and to power the pump for the air-bed when camping.
If you are looking at camping the stuff we brought with us were:
- High Gear Atom 3 Man Tent
- Sleeping Bags
- Dry Bags & Compression Sacs for packing
- Tesco double air bed
- 12v air bed pump
- Tesco camping stools
- Travel pillow (though that was just for me!)
- Camping kettle, mugs, plates, cutlery etc.
- Solid fuel stove + fuel (fine for boiling water for mug shot pasta, tea etc. but you would need something bigger and better if planning to cook properly)
- Wind up torch
- Leatherman penknife tool
- All purpose washing liquid
- Travel towel
- The one everyone always forgets - TOILET ROLL!
That is pretty much all I can think of for now, but if you would like to know anymore then just ask !
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