Buying a motorhome abroad – Part 2
Some European dealership are much bigger than anything in UK and have extensive export experience

Some European dealership are much bigger than anything in UK and have extensive export experience

Buying a motorhome abroad, especially in Germany and Belgium, seems to be quite a popular activity – and to my surprise it’s seems to be done fairly widely on a semi-DIY basis, i.e. buying from a dealer over there but doing the collecting and/or all the importation paperwork yourself. It is not for the feint hearted but it obviously can be done and the DIY approach is obviously the way to save most money compared with buying in UK.

If you have read my previous article on this subject then you will be aware that I have used an experienced British agent, Nick Legg of Bundesvan, to do the inspecting and importing for me which I found as easy, if not easier, than buying from a UK dealer. I told Nick what I wanted (which I knew pretty much exactly) and paid him a deposit – and in due course he turned up with the new motorhome at my door to exchange it for my banker’s draft.   That was a few years ago and nowadays electronic payment would work better.

He also handled the few warranty issues we had very well and I fancy that Nick’s contacts and experience with German motorhome dealers allowed him to negotiate a better deal with them than I could have achieved myself – and indeed he did secure a big “trade” discount on one of the vehicles we were looking at just recently.   Unfortunately so far we have been less successful, although not, I hasten to add, due to any fault of Nick’s.

But clearly it is possible to do it all yourself, providing you accept that effort and some extra risk are required – for example because it seems to be impossible to get anything other than third party cover for your transit journey back to UK.  Anyone (or at least lots of people) could work out how to use the internet to search for suitable dealers and motorhomes and there are some well written guides to the importation process on the internet too, for example there is a good one on Adam & Sophie’s Blog covers a lot of the ground.

The paperwork with the DVLA is a bit daunting, especially because now that you can no longer use a continues………

Buying a motorhome abroad
A step up to real luxury when touring

A step up to real luxury when touring

We have been looking for a change of motorhome for quite a few months, or rather toying with the idea, with no particular timetable – nor indeed much in the way of dissatisfaction with our existing vehicle, a Hymer B674 which we bought new eight years ago.

The temptation was that there are always bigger and better motorhomes and we were of an age when we wouldn’t be continuing to tour extensively for many more years, so if we were ever going to treat ourselves to the next step up in luxury, now was probably getting close to the time.

Budget comes into it too of course, and Lancashire Thrift, so there is no way we would be buying a brand new top specification monster of a motorhome. But we’re on our second Hymer and we like them, and we have always fancied their top of the range S Class models, so maybe we should have a serious look at getting one of those.

We would never have bought a new S Class because they cost roughly twice as much as the “ordinary” B Class but they depreciate more quickly than cheaper models and they tend to get looked after quite well, so a used one would be a possibility providing we didn’t mind buying a used one again, which we didn’t. On this basis what would have been way outside our budget was potentially affordable so we started looking around.

Our current vehicle is a 2006 Hymer B674 which I mentioned we’d had from new. It was our third motorhome and we’d reckoned we’d learned enough about what we needed so although we did look at some in the showrooms and at shows, we actually ordered it from the catalogue and from a small unofficial importer of German motorhomes called Nick Legg continues………

Nightstop Thoughts – by Ian Biggar and Sue Stanley
Ian & Sue's Blog offers some good reading

Ian & Sue’s Blog offers some good reading

Editor’s Note:  This article was submitted as a comment on a previous article on this subject but it runs to 1,500 words and is very well written, so I thought it deserved a bit more accessiblity than it would have posted as a Comment.  Ian and Sue are experienced motorhomers and they write their own Travel Blog, which you can visit by clicking HERE.  It contains some very good reading.

I see you are pursuing a topic close to our hearts.

Although members of the Caravan Club for many years, we haven’t been following the forums on CC for the very reason that you felt driven to set up another venue for discussion of this topic! So here is our five-pennyworth on the subject…

The establishment of plentiful aires/overnight stopovers for motorhomers around this country is a dream close to our hearts and we have followed the progress of various UK campaigns, but their dedicated efforts seem dwarfed by the enormity of the project to catch up with our continental neighbours.

Most local authority’s departments that have an input to this are ignorant of what motorhomes are and what motorhomers do, and show indifference to the revenue motorhoming can bring to tourism in their area. They seem unable to swiftly remove itinerants on public land, yet are up to their eyes with over-restrictive by-laws, planning rules and regulations, which they hasten to embellish and over-use to restrict even daytime parking for motorhomes, let alone overnight stops!

An important distinction, regularly re-iterated in Europe, is the difference between “parking” and “camping” – as soon as the chairs, table or awning come out you are Camping and the authorities will take a stern view. We as motorhomers need to remember that and act accordingly if we are not to damage our own interests. We mustn’t act like itinerants of the infamous kind, or give the impression we want to park up for months, raise our kids, pester the populace and despoil the area! All we are asking for is the right to park.

So, the various motorhome groups are all doing their bit, but who has influence with the real power brokers in government, tourism and local authorities?

Lets look at the situation in France, Germany and Italy. All are countries with strong and continues………

UK Nightstops – Discussion Summary
Some motorway service areas have quiet corners

Some motorway service areas have quiet corners

As I mentioned, I originated a Thread on the Caravan Club forum to explore ideas for nightstops for motorhomes in UK, and to include provisions for other camping units, notably caravans.  I’m hoping the Caravan Club would get involved in providing them, to bring a bit of experience and weight to the scene, to set a better standard for UK than the variable one found abroad and, for the benefit of CC and its members, to broaden the scope of CC’s commercial activities.

Clearly any caravan site, including CLs, is capable of providing one night accommodation for motorhomes (and caravans and trailer tents) but they are primarily holiday locations and they are geared to advanced booking, relatively early arrivals and longer stays.  In contrast nightstops cater for casual arrivals, parking rather setting out a pitch and a shorter stay pattern.  The busier arrivals and departure pattern which shorter stays and later arrivals would bring to a Club Site would probably be unwelcome to many holidaymaker caravanners, wanting a bit of peace and quiet.

Caravan Sites and CLs are regulated according to the provisions of the Caravan Site and Control of Development Act 1960 together with model standards for things like pitch spacing and the provision of camping facilities.  This might lead you to assume that all overnight stops for camping vehicles and trailers would come under the same regulation – but no, because in UK there is already provision for overnight parking which operates simply as permitted parking.  Overnight stops on motorway service areas are one example and there are some local authority car parks (not that many at present) where overnight parking of camping vehicles is permitted. Some private car parks also permit overnight stays, for example motorhome dealerships. continues………

Motorhome, GoldWing, brake lights and a cruise control fault
Rainy Suffolk - awaiting unloading

Rainy Suffolk – awaiting unloading

Our motorhome hadn’t turned a wheel since we came back from France in early October last year; it hadn’t even had the flies cleaned off the windscreen.   That wasn’t the plan when it was parked in the garage but subsequently there was always either too much else to do or too little interest in getting it out again just to clean off some flies.

Owning a silver-coloured motorhome has its advantages when it comes to hiding the dirt if you are not fond of cleaning and polishing.  Keeping it in a garage makes life a lot easier.

As part of our de-cluttering at home, prior to migration to Suffolk, closer to grandchildren, I needed to move one of my GoldWings to Suffolk ahead off the main move.  My GoldWings are ageing classics and so am I these days, so riding it down there in January didn’t appeal.  So the box van trailer I bought some years ago for moving bikes around (to go touring in the Alps) was the way to do it.  I could pack all sorts of other stuff into the trailer too and because of this the towing job was going to be too much for our car, but the motorhome, with a much bigger towing capacity, could do the job.

Both motorhome and trailer would however need some work to ensure they could make continues………

Failing older drivers – and motorhomes

If you live in Lancashire, ring 01772 456412

As we get older, we inevitably suffer decline in our reaction times, awareness of what’s going on around us and some other elements of our driving skills.  Those of us who don’t recognise this and take appropriate action, or decide to carry on regardless anyway, can become a source of serious risk to other road users.

Even previously very good drivers can become bad and dangerous ones unless we do something to prevent it.  Every so often we see a news story about some elderly driver causing chaos by driving the wrong way around the M25 or something along those lines.

What can be done?  How can we extend an individual’s safe driving career when derioration starts and, if that’s not achievable any longer, how can we safeguard the interests of other road users, by making sure that older drivers give up driving when they need to do so?

Refresher traing is one way of helping, and that’s what this article is about.  I volunteered for such a Course and enjoyed it.  It helped me to consider whether I was driving safely and showed me how to keep myself driving safely for longer.

Formally re-testing older drivers might be another way of discovering who is developing continues………