Preparing for your stay in France
Ensure that your passport is valid. If you do not have one or your previous one has expired, apply for one at least one month before departure. All children now have to have their own passports, including babies.
Forms are available from the Post Office, and on line at: www.ips.gov.uk
or tel 0870 521 0410 for further advice.
The European Health Insurance Card is the size of a credit card and each member of the family has to have their own card. The EHIC entitles all UK residents to reduced cost (sometimes free) health care, if it becomes necessary when travelling in most European countries. It is issued by the Prescription and Pricing Authority and is free of charge. The quickest way to get an EHIC is to apply online at www.ehic.org.uk and you should receive it within 7 days. You can apply for your spouse/partner and any children up to age of 16 (or 19 if they are in full time education) at the same time as applying for your own. You will need to provide your name and date of birth and NHS or National Insurance number (CHI no.in Scotland and Health & Care no.in N.Ireland). You can also apply by calling 0845 606 2030 and it will be delivered within 10 days or pick up a form from the Post Office.
Taking Money With You
Take enough euros to cover emergencies and to see you through the first few days (for motorway tolls, food etc.) particularly if you are travelling at weekends. It is probably better not to carry too much cash - if you lose it or it is stolen there is no easy way of replacing it. Travel insurance usually only covers loss of money up to £200.
Credit Cards such as Mastercard and Visa (Carte Bleue), can be used for making payments in various establishments, and for drawing money from ATMs. There is always an extra charge per transaction. In France Visa is the most commonly used credit card and is widely accepted at motorway service tolls and in many large shops and petrol stations. Be wary when trying to use your credit card at fuel stations in rural France and in supermarkets at night. Many are fully automated outside opening hours and do not accept debit cards on UK accounts. Cash is not an option either, so have a good reserve in your tank when leaving major routes.
Car and Caravan/Trailer Tent
Make sure that you have your car and caravan thoroughly serviced before departure. Please remember that for vehicle recovery insurance policies, you are required to service your vehicle in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. Carry a simple spares kit (available from the AA, RAC or local dealer) and a temporary plastic windscreen. Take a spare wheel and tyre for your caravan - failure to pack this causes many spoiled holidays. Do check tyre pressures on car (and caravan or trailer). Also check wiper blades and exhaust system. Adjust your headlights so that the dipped beam does not light the wrong side of the road. This can be achieved by deflectors or beam convertors, which can be purchased from AA or RAC offices and retailers selling car accessories. A good hook-on wing mirror is essential for each side of a vehicle towing a caravan or wide trailer.
Before Driving Off in a Motorhome or Towing a Caravan/Trailer check:
- Gas is turned off
- Water and waste bottles and toilet have been emptied
- Indicators and lights (car /caravan motorhome)
- Roof lights, hatches and windows are closed
- Fridge door is secured, it is changed to car setting
- Hob and sink covers are secured
- Rear View mirrors are fitted and correctly adjusted
- Steadies are up and caravan handbrake is off
- Coupling and safety chain
- Caravan electrics cable is not touching the ground
- Jockey wheel has been raised.
Taking your Dog/Cat Abroad
In order to take your pet abroad, it has to have its own passport. You need to plan this very carefully and make the necessary arrangements well in advance. You will also have to book an appointment with a vet in France to arrange for tape worm treatment between 48 and 24 hours prior to return on the ferry. For further information, contact your local vet or go to:
www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad. Some changes were made to the pet travel scheme at the end of 2014.
You also have to pay for your pet to cross the channel and for a nightly stay on most campsites. The dog will have to remain in the car, or in a special kennel, throughout the ferry crossing, so a short crossing or night crossing is recommended. It is essential that your dog is kept on a leash while staying on the site.
It is a good idea to take a large shoulder bag for documents, camera, guides, money etc. as well as plenty of drinks, food in an insulated bag and games for the children. Pack a separate overnight bag if spending the night on the ferry or in a hotel.
Before You Leave Home
- Have the car/caravan/trailer/motorhome serviced
- Turn off major electrical appliances, except fridges and freezers.
- Lock all doors and fasten all windows.
- Cancel newspapers and milk.
- Give neighbours contact address and telephone no. and leave spare house key with friends or relatives.
- Make necessary arrangements for your pets.
- Water plants