Checklists and Essentials

Breakdown Kit

Below is a list of items that are required to be carried in one or other of the countries of Western Europe.
If you were to carry all of the items on the list in your motorhome you would meet the legal requirements of all of the countries in Western Europe and probably Central Europe as well.

Some are obvious such as passports and driving licences others are not quite so.

  • In most European countries you are required to carry proof of ownership or the owner’s permission to use the vehicle and evidence that the vehicle complies with your home country’s laws.
  • You are also required to carry evidence of adequate vehicle insurance.
  • Your lights must not dazzle other road users; the solution being the use of ‘beam benders’ or masks on the headlights.
  • Many countries, including France, now require that a person who has to exit their vehicle on a motorway must wear a fluorescent jacket/vest. Many people have now taken to carrying as many of these vests as there are people in their van so that they do not fall foul of these laws.
  • Carrying a warning triangle that must be displayed 30 Metres to the rear of your vehicle should you break down is now a standard requirement in most European countries and it is recommended that two should be carried in Spain. We also carry a number of LED flashing beacons.
  • Spain also requires that drivers who need corrective glasses should carry a spare set.
  • If you do not have number plates with the correct GB badge (‘GB’ below the circle of small gold stars) you will need a GB sticker. The ‘GB’ number plate is accepted in EU countries and many other European states such as Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Check if this applies to any other non EU state that you are visiting.
  • A first aid kit is a legal requirement in Germany.
  • If you have a load, such as bikes on a rack, that protrudes beyond the rear of the vehicle a square, diagonally striped board must be used to mark it in Italy and Spain.

Items that you are legally required to carry whilst travelling abroad include:

  • Passports
  • Driving licence photo ID card (or old “pink” paper version)
  • Vehicle registration documents original NOT copy
  • Vehicle insurance documents original NOT copy
  • MOT certificate (if the vehicle requires one) original NOT copy
  • Headlamp converters/beam benders
  • Fluorescent jackets . (with a CE 471 mark) one per person
  • Spare bulb set for VEHICLE bulbs
  • Two warning triangles (with a CE mark) (2 for Spain, 1 elsewhere)
  • GB sticker (needed if your number plate does not have the correct badge ie ‘GB’ surrounded by small gold stars.)
  • First aid kit- to DIN 13 164 (Germany)
  • Diagonally striped square rear marker board. (Plastic or aluminium for Spain, Aluminium for Italy)
  • Spare prescription glasses for the driver(s) if needed.

Emergency Light Kit


These can only be a guide as Motorhomes work on different systems and some of the items will not be needed. Not many motor homers manage to get it right all the time and stories abound of those who drove off with the electric hook up cable cable attached, damaged a shower tray with a falling shower gel bottle or, worse case scenario, finished up with a lasagne wedged in their dashboard radio after an emergency stop.

There is an internationally recognised system called ICE (In Case of Emergency)

Put the names and mobile phone numbers of the people you would wish to have contacted in an emergency under the headings ICE 1, ICE 2 and so on in your mobile phone. If it is ever necessary then they can be contacted on your behalf by anyone knowing the system –eg paramedics, police etc


Some of these might be provided by your dealer or have been left in a pre-owned van.

  • First aid kit
  • 2 warning triangles
  • Reflective jackets for all in van
  • Torches and spare batteries for them (or a wind up /shake up torches)
  • Smoke detector
  • Carbon monoxide alarm
  • Fire extinguisher and fire blanket
  • Spare bulbs and fuses (inc. for habitation area)
  • Spirit level
  • Levelling ramps or lengths of wood
  • Gas bottles (usually propane)
  • Gas bottle spanner (if required)
  • Pigtail between gas bottle and van (if required)
  • Water hose(s)
  • Tap adapter
  • Hose connectors
  • Toilet fluid
  • Plastic or rubber gloves
  • Tool kit (basic tools , this does not cover the kit supplied with the van which has a jack etc)
  • Electric hook up lead(s)
  • 16 amp to continental adapter
  • Polarity tester
  • Polarity changeover lead
  • TV aerial extension cable (for sites with TV available from the hook-up bollard)
  • Spare prescription glasses if you wear them



  • All doors, windows , roof vents and lockers closed and locked
  • All loose items secured ( NB check bathroom )
  • Fridge switched to 12v (unless it’s automatic) and locked
  • Tables locked in position
  • TV aerial or satellite dish in travelling position
  • Maps, directions etc needed to hand in cab
  • Money for tolls handy
  • Dog, cat, children secured ?
  • Anti-rattle precautions wedged in place
  • Plugs in sinks ( prevents smells from the waste tank if it is getting niffy)


  • External lockers and inlets closed and locked
  • Steadies wound up
  • EHU cable put away
  • TV aerial cable put away
  • Step and mats put away
  • All items below van removed (chairs, buckets etc)
  • Gas turned off
  • Levelling ramps or skid mats stored
  • Awning rolled in and secure
  • Bikes secure and covers, warning plates etc in place

Sometimes it is a good idea to check your exit route before you move off (low branches, one-way systems , boggy areas etc ) and make sure you know whether you are going to turn right or left outside the camping place gates. It avoids any unpleasantness as queues form behind you while you decide !


  • Fresh water topped up if necessary
  • Waste water dumped and cassette checked
  • Drinking water filled up, we usually carry a number of 5 litre water bottles
  • All deposited cards collected from Reception and payment made.


We also find it useful to have post it notes stuck near the habitation door to remind us of things we have done when we stop for a break or to service the van eg:

  • GAS ON

Breakdown useful Information

  • A laminated card giving the vital statistics of the van (eg height, length, mass, width, tyre pressures ) is useful if kept somewhere the driver can see it immediately when he is approaching a low bridge or narrow road . At these points the mind goes blank and it is a good idea to have a reminder. It is a legal requirement I understand for vans above certain dimensions.
  • It has been suggested that a diagram of the outline of the van showing these statistics is kept handy so that it can be shown at toll stations if there is any likelihood of argument as to the class of the vehicle. The class determines the amount you pay. Most motorhomes are counted as Class 2 if they are not towing or very long.
  • A laminated diagram of the van in outline marking the various inlets and outlets – eg water inlet, fuel inlet, waste water outlet, fresh water drain is useful when you are approaching a service point or fuel pump and your mind goes blank as to which side you need to park near the tap or pump.

We also keep a printed sheet for use in case of breakdown. From bitter experience breakdown companies want a whole variety of information. Having this to hand keeps down mobile phone bills and counters the senior moments which occur under stress and mean you can’t even remember your own name !

They will phone you back so be sure to carry your charged mobile with you if you have to leave the van. Remember to wear your reflective jackets if you have to leave the van and put out triangles if it is safe to do so.

It helps if you extract as much information from your sat nav or surroundings as you can to be able to tell the breakdown people exactly where you are. Most modern SatNavs have a useful “Where Am I ? ” feature which it might be useful to get to know before you need it !

  • Vehicle registration number
  • VIN number
  • Chassis number
  • Year and model of cab
  • Date when the van was first registered
  • Mass and length of vehicle (in case they have to truck it away)
  • Insurance company phone number (European)
  • Insurance policy number
  • Breakdown service number (European)
  • Your mobile phone number(s)
  • Dealer’s contact details
  • Manufacturer’s contact details


It is a good idea to make several good colour copies of these documents. Carry at least 2 sets of copies with you in separate places in the van or on a memory stick and leave one at home with a relation or friend whom you can contact at any time and have them fax copies if necessary. This is real belt and braces but things do get lost !

* indicates Europe only

For the van:

  • V5 (Log book)*
  • Insurance certificate and contact details
  • Breakdown policy and contact details
  • Service book for base vehicle and conversion ( if under warranty)
  • Green Card ( in going outside the EC)*
  • Instruction books as required (these can often be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website as a pdf file onto a laptop)
  • Recent weigh-bridge certificate if you have one
  • Insurance and proof of ownership of any towed vehicles or motorcycles

For each person ( or animal)

  • Passport*
  • Driving licence (including paper part if new-style licence)
  • EHIC medical insurance card*
  • Health and travel insurance policy and contact details*
  • Credit cards (tell your bank before you go)
  • Debit /cash cards (ditto re bank)
  • Spectacle prescription
  • Regular medicines prescription (or the tear off list that comes with a UK prescription)
  • Ferry tickets*
  • Campsite booking details, if made including telephone number (and directions !)
  • Address book with UK contacts listed
  • Camping Card International card (CCI)
  • ACSI card*
  • Caravan Club card
  • Camping and Caravanning Club card
  • Top up details for mobile phones (tell your provider you will be going abroad- ie roaming)

No doubt this information will be old hat to most of the reader s but even experienced and seasoned travellers can forget things and the above information is intended to be a guide only and not a definitive list and instructions.

Enjoy your travels and stay safe.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.