Taking your motorcycle abroad can be a thrilling experience. Many countries such France, Spain and Italy are more motorcycle friendly than the UK, and of course offer some of the best biking roads and scenery anywhere in the world.
What can I expect?
Riding in Europe is similar to riding in the UK, and you’ll soon get used to travelling on the right-hand side of the road (in fact many people find this to be more natural), though do take care at roundabouts.
Of course there’s more to riding abroad than which side the road you travel on, so make sure you brush up on rules of the road for each country you plan to travel to. Motoring organisations like the AA and RAC often list these in detail including speed limits for different types of roads, blood alcohol limit (don’t drink and drive), and local nuances such as the French helmet law.
What should I take with me?
It’s important that you take with you your V5C registration document, insurance certificate green card and for your driving licence. It’s usually a good a idea to make copies of each, and store them separately. Additionally if the bike is not registered in your name, you’ll nee a signed letter of permission from the registered owner.
In many countries, motorcyclists are required to carry a spare set of bulbs and fuses, and a high visibility vest or jacket in case of breakdown. All of these are available from places like Amazon.
Breakdown cover and trip planning
It’s also worth arranging European breakdown cover for your trip. Check your existing policy to see if you are covered, if not cover is available from the usual organisation.
Planning your trip will make for a safer more pleasurable ride as you’ll be less stressed knowing exactly how to get to your destination. It’s also more efficient too, which will save you money on fuel.
For European wide route planning and toll fare calculation we recommend the excellent via-michelin planner. It’s one of the few trip planners with motorcycle options, and offers scenic route suggestions, as well as total fuel and toll costs.
Foreign currency – take the right card
Not specifically motorcycle related but having the ride credit or debit card will be important factor on your trip and could save you a fortune, as well as potential embarrassment. It’s no secret that UK debit cards don’t tent to work in at French service stations. Unfortunately many service stations in France are unmanned, especially on a Sunday or Monday which could leave you in a pickle. The same is true for toll roads certain in France and Spain but potentially elsewhere too.
When travelling ideally you want to have at least two forms of payment with you. One credit card for tolls, fuel pumps, and emergencies, and one debit card for general day to day spending. Rather than going into detail here, see Money Saving Answers article on the best card to use abroad.