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Help! We Are Off To Spain For The Winter


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If you have spent part of or the whole winter caravanning in Spain then we would love to hear from you.

 

My wife and I plan to go by boat to Spain and then drive to southern Spain in Jan 2011 returning in early Apr 2011. This will be our first trip caravaning outside the UK ever.

 

We have a 4x4 plus a twin axle caravan with a strong but smallish awning, oh and one small dog . We hope to camp somwhere along the very southern coast line unless you know better!

 

What tips can you give us:- or please point us to any previous any posting that could help us.

 

1. Where's the best places to camp and or visit?

2. What do we need to have in the car and caravan to avoid a run in with the local police in 2012?

3. And any other pointers that will help put my wifes mind at rest

 

Thanks in advance John & Sylvia, Hayling Is

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Can't help with sites but others I'm sure will.

Drove solo to Nerja in January 2011 via Portsmouth/Santander and stayed in a hotel for 3 weeks (I don't fly) so I did some research beforehand on legal requirements.

 

To stay legal in Spain you will need:

. . 2 warning triangles (when broken down put them 30m either side of vehicle)

. . High vis vests for each person (not the dog :) ), accessible in the car - and put them on before getting out of the vehicle if you are stopped.

. .. Spare bulb kit

You will NOT need:

Long Vehicle signs or speed signs on the rear of the van (refer Vienna convention)

 

Hope I haven't forgetten anything, but I'm sure others will add them in.

 

I would strongly advise getting Red Pennant (or similar) breakdown/recovery insurance.

Have a nice trip - I'm very envious.

Jimbo

PS. Take some shorts - it will be quite mild, even in January.

Edited by onewheelonmywagon
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I've spent the past 18 winters in southern Spain. For three of them I travelled via Bilbao, but I eventually decided I preferred to travel from Calais and through France. From Bilbao (or Santander) the road climbs steeply most of the way to Burgos, but the routes are well engineered and dual carriageway. From Burgos the route takes you via the A1 to Madrid then the A4 all the way to Seville. Should you want Malaga or Marbella it’s best to take the A44 at Bailen.

 

The journey from north to south can easily be done in two days of 300 miles. There’s a site north of Madrid at La Cabrera – KM57 or another one south of Madrid at Aranjuez. The route all the way is dual carriageway and toll-free.

 

There are three ring motorways around Madrid. The M30 goes close to the city and is therefore always very busy. The M40 swings a bit wider but can be busy at times. Also the exit from the M40 to the A4 is from the ‘fast’ lane so can be exciting in rush hour. I prefer the M50. Although it is slightly longer, it’s usually less busy. There are some peage motorways around Madrid including one which heads south, however they are of little benefit.

 

Filling stations are fairly frequent along the route, but some have long service roads which cover a distance before rejoining the motorways. On the A1, the ones at KM150 and KM49 are useful. On the A4, the ones at KM98 and KM192 are also good.

 

Once away from the coast, the overnight temperatures can drop well below freezing so be prepared for cold night on the journey. Snow falls can also be expected, but the highway authorities are excellent at keeping the roads clear.

 

All along the coast there are many sites which are open all the year. For stays of up to 30 days most of them give discounts of up to 50%. For shorter stays, winter prices are the same as summer.

Edited by John Douglas

Citroen C5-X7 Tourer+Avondale Rialto 480/2
https://jondogoescaravanning.com

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I've spent the past 18 winters in southern Spain. For three of them I travelled via Bilbao, but I eventually decided I preferred to travel from Calais and through France.
Can you advise why you use Calais route instead of sailing to Spain, is it a cost decision?
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, is it a cost decision?

 

Partly - it became too expensive. But mainly I found the cruise very boring.

Citroen C5-X7 Tourer+Avondale Rialto 480/2
https://jondogoescaravanning.com

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You will NOT need:

Long Vehicle signs or speed signs on the rear of the van (refer Vienna convention)

 

 

 

 

i don't want to highjack the OP topic, but is that true? have i missed something recently?

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There are quite a number of contributors to this forum who spend winters abroad and I am sure you will find links to their own websites/blogspots etc as they respond. Check ours out at the link below, covering our winter 2008-9 in Spain and Portugal.

 

You are away for three months. You may want to stay put at a sunny spot and relax, or you may want to spend some time touring. If you are staying put you will find most sites give a hefty discount for stays of 2 weeks or more. If you are travelling, which is what we will be doing next year (I hope) then an ACSI card is a must. This gives you a fixed rate campsite fee. This year it was €13, 14,or 15, but I suspect it will be up slightly next year. The 2012 card is not yet on sale, but you can pre-order it from Vicarious Books.

 

To add to Jimbo's post above, if you wear glasses you are obliged to carry a spare pair in your car.

 

Two non essentials I would take with me: Tea Bags (Spanish ones are not the same) and, if you use them, bars of soap which are not easy to find unless you like the olive oil/palm oil sort.

 

Where to go? The very south, west of Gibraltar, is perhaps the warmest but it can get very windy. Between Gibraltar and Alicante is perhaps the mildest. Lots of big resorts along this coast, but also lots of quieter areas. A few miles inland is a different Spain. Inland "must visits" would be Ronda, Granada, the Sierra Nevada which will be snowcovered and breathtaking, Cabo de Gata and Mojacar on the coast.

 

have a super trip and let us know how you get on.

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If you have spent part of or the whole winter caravanning in Spain then we would love to hear from you.
use headlights when in ANY tunnel.

check out this list,

 

cheers rodders B)

TRAVEL KIT. doc

Edited by Gordon
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cancel your tv licence & save 3 months fee - easy to do, ring them & arrange, if you pay monthly stop your direct debit (but make sure you tell them).

if you have Green Flag breakdown cover, tell them the dates you are away and they will add the days onto the end of your policy - another saving.

advise you credit card companies you are on your travels

take an European adaptour for electric connection - available any caravan shop

take a couple of bottles of wine and some beer for the journey down

 

HTH

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Just to add to what has been already stated.

 

Fit headlamp deflectors unless they can be adjusted to dip vertically. Even if they do not actually achieve much look as if you are trying. If you have a bike rack or anything attached to the rear of the van you need one of those red and white diagonal boards, the Spanish are quite hot on that one as many EU vans have bike racks on the back. . Obey all speed limits, even if the locals do not and carry your car documents in the car as you may be pulled for a general document check.

 

Try to be as inconspicous as possible and it is very likely no one will bother you. Motorway service areas usually have secuirty guards wandering around all the time so it is very unlikely anything will happen to your outfit, unlike here. There are also more Police about so we have always felt safer in Spain. Just do not get on the wrong side of them. They all carry guns.

 

We carry toiletries for the trip as these are very expensive. We also carry a Camping Gaz 907 cylinder as back up as that is available everywhere. Depending on where you go you may find supermarkets carrying almost the full ranfge of UK goods due to all the expats living there. Remember the days will be short even if they are warm. Have some entertainment for the darker evenings unless you are on a rally, where this may be provided. TV is possible but you need a very large dish if you go to the south.

 

Hopefully it will be better than last winter which was cold and wet, even in Morocco, so we heard. Have a good trip.

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Slightly off subject Its worth checking your insurances (house,car, caravan) being out of the country for a long period for restrictions .

 

As said the long vehicle sign needed for Spain .(over 12 mtrs under ECE70 ).

 

 

 

Dave

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If your outfit is 12M or longer you will require the Spanish long vehicle sign. We can definately advise that foreigners are being fined on the spot for not having this. It's no good quoting the Vienna convention (or any other pop songs), the Spanish police are doing it. AND THAT'S THAT! If you have booked your ferry to Santander or Bibao then you need a route to the South - Salamanca has a nice all year site (Hotel Regio), and a nice site to stay over in Cordaba (La Albolafia) is also open all year. Why not try La Rosaleda for a week or several in Conil de la Frontera? We can recommend these. Take care you don't get caught by Jack Frost as you pass over the high ground of central Spain where temperatures may be as low as -6 or 8!! Work your way East along the south coast and soak up the sun. Enjoy.

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Without trying to tell anyone how to ‘suck eggs’, even granny the following is my advice on the finances for a long trip.

 

1. Always carry more than one bank card from at least 2 banks, and make sure there is available cash in them all. Have your spouse carry his/her cards as well, even if they are from a joint account. Yours may be lost/stolen or just not work.

2. Never believe your bank when they say ‘if you tell us prior to your trip, all will be fine’. Invariably it won’t be as my daughter will confirm after spitting blood and feathers at L. ..ds after having done just that, her card failed on the 1st night. It took the bank 3 days to sort it by which time she was on her way home.

3. Always carry some cash with you. I recommend a minimum of €300 and usually carry €500. Again, at 9pm on a Friday night when the only bank machine in the isolated village says ‘niet’ you can survive until you can sort it. If you are worried about hiding it there are bound to be places in the van that will take some time to find, if yours is the unlucky one to be targeted. Even taping it to the back wall of the Thetford toilet compartment is going to take a while to figure out. Oh s. .t I have given away my secret!

4. Do not carry Travellers Cheques. These are not accepted by banks anymore and you can only cash them at Bureau de Changes at main towns and airports.

5. Carry some form of charge/credit card that will allow you to pay large sums in an emergency. Don’t bother carrying the card that you have nearly ‘maxed out’. Even with insurance you may have to pay sums up front and you need the means to do so. You need to be able to pay up to £1000 if necessary. You can sort it all out once you are home. Get, and keep all receipts.

6. Be able to access your banks through the internet so you can check what is happening while you are away. Don’t use internet cafes for this unless you are desperate and if so, close the web page and browser after use.

7. Although we are all watching the pennies, if your finances are so stretched that you are living on the last few pounds then I respectfully suggest that a long trip abroad is possibly not the best plan.

We have all come home with literally only pennies left, but do not start that way.

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If your outfit is 12M or longer you will require the Spanish long vehicle sign.

I stand corrected. See http://www. caravanclub. co. uk/planning-your-trip/overseas-trips/overseas-advice-leaflets/outfits-over-12m-travelling-to-spain/

My van is 7. 34 and the car is 4. 63 = 11. 97m (then there's the tow hitch :wacko: ) - need to get out the tape measure.

Jimbo

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. Even with insurance you may have to pay sums up front and you need the means to do so. You need to be able to pay up to £1000 if necessary. You can sort it all out once you are home. Get, and keep all receipts.

 

How true! When my wife was admitted to USP Hospital in Marbella last winter, they required a card so that they could be guaranteed €2000 immediately. Fortunately I was able to quickly arrange it - but at the time I had no guarantee that Red Pennant would cover the treatment. A very worrying few days.

Citroen C5-X7 Tourer+Avondale Rialto 480/2
https://jondogoescaravanning.com

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you say you are looking at southern spain, just a comment that if you mean the coast from tarifa to portugal ie atlantic coast it is very windy. So windy it has the highest suicide rate in spain during winter. Even the kite / wind surfers leave.

 

Also agree about the micro climate from Alicante south is very good.

 

last word yes the weather is much better than the uk but spain still has a winter so take appropriate clothing

 

toanda

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use headlights when in ANY tunnel.

check out this list,

 

cheers rodders B)

 

addition, don't forget spare specs, and carry in the car.

spain it is requirement.

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Why not try La Rosaleda for a week or several in Conil de la Frontera? We can recommend these.

 

wish people wouldn't keep recommending La Rosaleda as its full of Brits already & theres going to be a C & Cc rally there as well. got my pitch booked from mid november onwards :D :D :D

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wish people wouldn't keep recommending La Rosaleda as its full of Brits already & theres going to be a C & Cc rally there as well. got my pitch booked from mid november onwards :D :D :D

Make sure you go to town on the evening of All Saints, and join the locals in a really lovely celebration. Conil is a working town with little tourism, but the area has loads to see and we loved it there.

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Hi all

We just are so taken-a-back by your responce, so many helpful tip's . ...thank you so very much all of you. .. Its taking a little while for it all to sink in.

We are currently planning the ship trip for the 8th of Jan 11 and then to drift down to the south over what could be two days or even a week. It will depend on the weather at the time, how our scottie dog is doing and the way we feel about the place we are at the time.

 

All your points and tips are so helpful.

 

Our outfit is just over 12m long so we will have to be sticking up some signs on the rear.

 

Some years ago we read an artical in one of the camping mags by a couple who prepared for such a trip by making a list of all the things they needed to take.

Then due to the weight of it all they had to delete 50% from the list er!. They then kept a note of all the things they used while in Spain for 3 months. Then reported using just less than 30% of every thing they had loaded!

 

We are at the list writing stage wright now and running out of paper lo lo. .. but how will we know what we wont need to take. .. oh dear!

Has anybody got a proven list ?

 

kind regards J&S on Hayling Is.

Edited by jonsylv
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I copied and amended this from a list provided on here some time ago - hope it helps

edited to add: re-reading your post, I suspect you are after an equipment, food and accessories list

 

 

Money (£ and Euros), ATM cash card, credit card

Mobile phone (pre-programme emergencies numbers).

EU Driving License.

V5 Car registration document (photocopy not accepted).

Letters of permission for use of car abroad (if a company car and / or lease / contract hire car).

MOT certificate (photocopy not accepted).

Car insurance certificate, must state valid for EU (Green Card may be required in some cases).

Accident Report Forms (French & English dual versions available from insurers).

EHIC plastic cards (for state medical cover abroad).

Personal travel insurance (include any relevant sports / activity cover).

Car & Caravan break down insurance (valid for the period of stay abroad).

Caravan insurance (valid for the period of stay abroad).

Passports (must be valid for return date to UK).

CCI card (useful Carnet card to use as ID at campsites instead of your passport).

Camping Cheques - paper or Gold Card (if using discounted off peak campsites scheme).

ACSI card (if using discounted off peak campsites scheme).

Channel crossing booking confirmation.

Campsite booking confirmation (check with campsites if booking required).

Camp site guide book(s).

Caravan Club Guide to Europe Volume One.

French phrase book.

Sat Nav (pre-programme destination & check suitable routes).

Road maps (look up the French road signs and meanings. Back up for Sat Nav).

Directions to camp site / destinations (back up for Sat Nav).

GB stickers for car and caravan (not required if number plate is of EU type).

Towing mirrors.

Headlight beam deflectors.

Spare bulb kit for car / caravan.

First aid kit

Spare spectacles if required

Fire extinguisher.

Warning triangle x 2.

High visibility vests (in case of breakdown).

Caravan hook up leads (2x25 metres as some EHU posts are some distance from the pitch).

Continental To Euro adapter for hook up lead (2 pin to 3 pin).

Reverse polarity plug in tester.

Reverse polarity adapter lead (make one yourself from 2 Euro plugs and a short piece of cable).

Edited by burstneraddict
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Three triangles are required in Spain when towing and, under certain circumstances, in France also.

 

If the caravan is left on the road a triangle must be placed either side and then the car still requires to carry a triangle.

 

Is it a legal requirement in Spain to carry a spare pair of spectacles?

If your driving licence is coded for spectacle wearing then carrying a spare pair is advisable in any country because if your glasses are lost or broken the alternative is not being able to drive (legally).

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Three triangles are required in Spain when towing and, under certain circumstances, in France also.

 

 

Is it a legal requirement in Spain to carry a spare pair of spectacles?

 

Yes it is - but I spend 3 months every year in Spain and I've never been asked to show them.

Citroen C5-X7 Tourer+Avondale Rialto 480/2
https://jondogoescaravanning.com

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There are general lists but as everybody has different ideas about what they need, it is probably not much of an advantage to use someone else's. Most people learn as they go along, and then make the same mistakes all over agin.

 

However, remember it is winter and last year it snowed in Malaga. It was also quite windy. Hopefully this year will be better but there is no guarantee of wall to wall heat and sunshine, although you will do better than here. It is the long dark nights that can be a bit depressing unless you are in a crowd and have ready made companionship. If not, then have some hobbies to fill the time. Most sites have libraries of English books and some even have games rooms with jigsaws etc. On some of the lkarger sites there are often weekend dances or bingo (if that is your wish) and at Christmas there is usually something organised.

 

The big supoermarkets usually have lots of camping type gear in the summer but ditch it for winter, so if you need any bits and pieces it may be a distance to find a dealership. However, there is a good chance another camper can help at least temporarily.

 

You have mentioned weight and it is always an issue to try and keep within your payload, although it soudns like you have abig enough outfit to carry most of what you want. Also check that your chosen site will take dogs, some don't.

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Loads of people seem to take everything except (and in some cases, including) the kitchen sink. Whenever I'm packing (I've been travelling for nearly 35 years) I work to one very simple formula - which is what do I use daily? Then I think out an average day, I rise, I wash, therefore I need toiletries, I dress so I need clothes - I work from head to toe - hat, shirt, pullover, vest, pants, trousers, socks shoes, then I eat breakfast, so I need cooking equipment, pans, bowls, plates, KFS, etc. Thats how I carry on throughout the average day. Then I think what are the most common spares 'll need for the van - Oil, filter, glow plugs, gaskets, fan belts, etc, That means tools. Basically I am very very methodical and this way I do not take hoovers, armchairs, windbreaks, camping tables, awnings and other such junk that I will never use. I am amazed at how many people I see in vans with awnings attched which have tables, chairs, carpets, hoovers and other junk in them on just about every site go to! A) I don't need it and, B, all that weight costs you more in Fuel. This is how I've worked for around 35 years now and it has never let me down except once when a stone burst my radiator and I hadn't brought one with me 'just in case'.

 

One other thing to remember if goingto Spain is you must have a first aid kit in the vehicle and if you have a dog in the passenger compartment of any vehicle it must have a proper restraint ie. a harness. A lead tying it to a door handle does not count.

Edited by JVH100
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