Always keep your registration certificate, valid driver’s licence, motor insurance certificate and passport handy in the glovebox.


The rules vary from country to country when it comes to what safety gear you’re required to carry in your vehicle. For example, in Austria it’s compulsory to pack a first-aid kit, while elsewhere you’re required to have a fire extinguisher, hazard lights and a reflective triangle. See for more information on specific countries.

Road rules

Again, rules vary between countries, especially when it comes to drink driving and speed limits. You’re probably going to be chugging along at 60mph anyway, but log onto for driving rules across Europe.


Free camping is tolerated in most places as long as you keep a low profile – not always an easy task if there are a dozen vans parked together and an impromptu toga party going on.

Otherwise, campsites range from top-notch to bargain basic.

Expect to pay from €10-€30 a night plus extra for each additional person. In summer, book ahead.

The best grounds fill up fast.

Check out or for more information.


In Europe motorists are charged a small fortune in tolls rather than road taxes.

The tolls coming into Paris, for example, can top €50.

On previous van tours, it was not unknown for punters to deliberately drive through the toll gates in France and Spain, posing for the infringement photograph with bare arses hanging out the window and dodging the fine because their van was UK-registered.

Unfortunately, boom gates have now stopped that practice, but you can still avoid many of the hefty tolls by minimising the time spent on main roads.

Often a toll-free route will run parallel with a highway.

And hey, you’re on van tour – it’s about the journey as much as the destination, so there’s no reason to rush.

Ordering a pint

After all those kilometres a hard-earned drink is in order, and downing a cold can or three is part of the fun on van tour.

But you’ll be left high and dry unless you learn these phrases for ordering a beer:

France: Je voudrais une bière, s’il vous plaît.

Spain: Una cerveza, por favor.

Portugal: Uma cerveja, por favor.

Italy: Una birra, per favore.

Germany: Ich möchte ein bier, bitte.

Holland: Een biertje, alstublieft.

Greece: Qa hqela mia mpura.

Under the bonnet

If you’re as un-mechanically minded as me you probably think going ‘under the bonnet’ is a euphemism for something you might do in the sack.

But on van tour, it pays to know the basics of roadside maintenance and troubleshooting. If no one in your posse has any mechanical skills, consider doing a basic course before you leave.


For more on van tours see:

A to Z of the European van tour

A van tour of Europe