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Europe 2015

Ali in Austria

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It is that time of year when apart from snow clearing I have a bit of time on my hands.

If anyone is planning on venturing in to Europe this year, particularly the Alpine Regions, and wants some help, information or advice then please feel free to ask. If I can help I will. We do not have to be on your itinerary :D

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My pleasure but please bear in mind this is just general advice. When I have done this before on other web sites I have been met with scorn and even hostility and abuse from some. Please just take from it what you will.

This is a list of tips I wrote for a club I ran in the UK a few years back for a annual jaunts in to Europe. Much of it is still valid.

Clueless Touring Tips

1. Make sure your Passports are valid for the period you will be travelling !!!

2. Make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card which replaces the E111. Get one here;

http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcare ... -ehic.aspx

It is also worth reading about your entitlements in each country and what you have to do

Make sure you are on the Official NHS Site where the card is free. There are a number of similar looking sites who charge a fee.

3. You will need to be in possession of your Driving Licence, Insurance MOT and Registration Document . You will need originals but carry copies to hand over in the first instance.

4. Arrange Travel Insurance to cover cancellations, possessions and medical bills. Make sure motorcycling is an approved activity.

5. Check your Insurance covers you for riding in all countries we will be travelling through. Do you need to notify them of the dates you are travelling abroad? Do you need a Green Card? In particular, if venturing in to Litchenstein make sure your Insurance Company covers you there. For some bizarre reason many don't

6. Arrange European Breakdown Cover. Don't just go for the cheapest. Check out the conditions for bike repairs, repatriation etc. Some will arrange for your bike to be repaired locally but if you have gone home in the meantime, any travelling costs involved in recovering it are down to you. The German Motoring Club ADAC are very popular amongst those who know. Covers you all year, even in the UK (AA are the agents) and will get your bike home if it can't be repaired promptly. You need to ring them though as the On Line facility requires a German address.

7. Make sure you have the correct emergency equipment as required by law in the countries we are travelling in. A reflective vest in the event of motorway breakdown for each person, a First Aid kit and a spare bulb kit are all that is usually needed. The French requirement for 2 x Breath Test Kits is still on the Statute Books but is not acted upon.

For driving in different countries go here http://www.pensionhausmaria.com/location.asp. Scroll down to just below the Google Map and click on the icons in the Widget.

8. Arrange for your motorcycle to be suitably serviced prior to setting off and allow for the miles you will cover during the Tour. Consider Tyres, Chain & Sprocket life etc... Long distances on motorways kill tyres!!!

9. Prepare a small tool kit of basic tools and include cable ties, Gaffer Tape, insulation Tape, fuses etc... just for an emergency. Do you have sufficient Scott Oil if applicable. Carry a small bottle of suitable engine oil.Not always easy to find what you want in an emergency.

10. Consider filling your tyres with a tyre sealant – It can save no end of grief. This is a personal preference by the Author who to date has never been troubled by a puncture. Even a simple thing such as a tyre repair is not easy to get done especially if you are in a remote area and don't even think about weekends.

11. Save your old T-Shirts, socks and undies, clean of course, to wear during the day while riding and then throw them away. Creates space for the presents to bring home. Seamless underwear is more comfortable when in the saddle all day.

12. Save small plastic bottles with tight lids. These are useful to decant shampoo, shower gel etc in to save room and weight.

13. Places like Superdrug and Boots often have small travel packs of washing powder etc on offer like BOGOF.

14. You will experience extremes of temperatures on the Tour. Pack accordingly. Many thin layers are more effective than bulky items. If you have separate waterproofs, pack them so that they are easy to get at. A spare pair of Gloves is useful in case of getting wet through.

15. Save up all those little packets of silicon that you find in all sorts of purchases. They are very handy to place in boots and gloves overnight to assist with drying them out.

16. Are your panniers ect waterproof. Pack items in bin liners.

17. Roll items up when packing to avoid creasing. Share groups of items between panniers / bags in case of an accident so that not all of one thing is ruined.

18. Pack for the travelling days so that you only have to access one pannier, box or bag.

19. Photocopy all documents including drivers licence, insurance, breakdown insurance, travel insurance, EHIC Card, passports, Ferry tickets, booking details and pack them elsewhere than the originals or carry the copies on a USB Stick or Flash Card.

20. Carry a debit & credit card or two of one or the other just in case. Make sure you know the Pin Numbers.

21. Carry a full spare set of keys for your house, motorcycle, luggage and any locks you may be using and store them safely. (Do not lock them in a pannier or top box).

22. Carry a spare visor - Clear and tinted. The sun in Alpine Regions is very bright but the tunnels can be extremely dark. Avoid wearing sunglasses on routes with tunnels.

23. Dress code is as comfortable as you feel. I just don’t want to see any of the blokes wearing them. (Appropriate to the Authors Tours)

24. Don’t forget some swimwear if you want to take advantage of the pools, sauna, Jacuzzi, sunbathe etc. Many hotels have included wellness facilities.

25. Carry some Euros. You will almost certainly have to pay some Tolls so make sure you can carry Euros which are easy to get at when at a Toll Booth. There is nothing worse than the feeling you will get holding up a queue of traffic while you look for cash. Likewise, have somewhere easy to stuff your Toll Ticket when you enter the appropriate area. There is usually a pull in immediately passed a Motorway Toll Booth for you to replace gloves etc. Some Motorway Toll booths charge all bikes the car Tariff when using a Card Payment Lane. Use the manned booths.

26. If you are taking electrical items such as Mobile Phones, MP3 players, don’t forget the chargers for them and get an adapter.

27. If you are on medication of any description, ensure you have a sufficient supply for the duration of the Tour. If necessary gets a covering letter from your GP stating that the medication is prescribed to you. In many European Countries you cannot even get a Paracetamol from anywhere other than a Pharmacy.

28. Suggested Non Prescription Medication – Sea Sickness tablets, Paracetamol or Aspirin & Ibuprofen & Diarrhoea Treatment. Hand Wipes, Sun cream and after sun (Alpine Sun will quickly burn you even in winter), Chap Stick or Lip seal, Hand cream, Plasters, Insect repellent, Antihistamine or Insect Bite relief treatment, tissues, and any other personal toiletries you may need.

29. If you wear glasses for riding, some countries require you to carry a spare pair.

Very good weather sites. The first is used by the local tourist offices out here for skiing information and up to 48 hours ahead is usually very accurate for anywhere in Europe.

http://www.yr.no/place/Austria/Styria/G ... _hour.html


These are very useful for Traffic and Road & Pass information. Open them in Google Chrome and they translate quite well.

http://www.alpen-journal.de/alpenservic ... aesse.html




Toll requirements

http://www.tolltickets.com/country/euro ... lang=en-GB

Countries such as Switzerland and Austria only require a Vignette if you use there motorways and some expressways. Switzerland is an annual Vignette from Jan to Dec and not cheap. Austria does a 10 day motorcycle Vignette for €4,80 (as of 2014). Get caught without one in Switzerland and expect a very hefty fine. In Austria it is about €120,- and they can have checks in Service Areas and on Off Ramps. You can buy one at most petrol stations in and around Austria and at ADAC and OÄMTC Offices. If you find yourself on a Motorway by accident, stop at the first Petrol Station / Service Area and buy one before proceeding to the Rest Area itself otherwise you could fall foul of a check. We had that happen to some guests last year.

A special note about Switzerland. It is a beautiful country with fantastic roads and scenery but Traffic Enforcement is harsh. Even a minor speed transgression can attract a fine well in excess of €1000,- on the spot and an instant ban. You can also expect a fine of a similar amount to follow in the post which if you don't pay, don't go back. 2 yrs ago a defective tyre was attracting €500,- fines and they were doing multi bike checks. If it is any consellation they don't single out Bikers but treat all motorists the same and there are no grey areas. Levels of Fines appear to be means tested with the value of the vehicle and your occupation taken in to consideration. If you get caught, play down your occupation.

If you are riding in a group, spare a thought for your companions. We all know the guy who holds everyone up.

If one stops for petrol, everyone should top off there tanks. After all, someone might need some depending where you are an hour or two later. There is nothing worse than having filled up for you have to stop half a tankful later because someone else didn't. Get everything done promptly. Fuel first then coffee and a p*ss in no particular order. If you need to tinker with your bike, do it first and not as everyone is about to set off.

Particularly spare a thought for the guy leading. It is often a thankless task which can be very tiring and stressful. Fetching his or her coffee at a rest stop works wonders :-). Be mindful that if you have Sat Nav Routes, different makes and even software versions can show very different routes even if everyone started with the same GPX File. If you have decided a time to set off, make sure you are all ready to go. There is nothing worse than starting the day moaning.

If you are using Sat Navs, make sure you turn off Toll Avoidance and Seasonal Road Closures otherwise you will miss out on many great roads. Don't follow the Sat Nav blindly. Zoom out to get an overview of the bigger picture and you may avoid those anomalies that make you exit a road only to rejoin it a short distance later. Carry a decent Map as visualising your route helps with following Sat Nav instructions. Even just being aware of where the sun should be can quickly alert you to any mistakes.

If you are camping, Here is a fairly good Data Base of Campsites - http://www.archiescampings.eu There is even an App.

Booking.com is great for locating accommodation with availability but it is usually much cheaper to then book direct. Be mindful that distances quoted are usually "as the crow flies" which can be very misleading in the mountains. Germany and Italy are on Holiday in August and accommodation can be limited in some popular areas. France on Bastille Day can be a problem and The Tour De France has scuppered many a plan. Individuals and small groups will normally have no problem finding accommodation. Larger groups may wish to book in advance.

If you haven't Toured in Europe before what you will find is that Bikers are welcome just about anywhere with many establishments and attractions etc having facilities, often free, just for them. It is quite common to see motorcycle gear, helmets etc just left on a bike and generally nothing will be touched. Just be careful in larger towns and cities, service areas and places where bikers aren't so common. Something like a Pac Safe is ideal to leave your gear secure in if necessary http://www.pacsafe.com/travel-accessori ... ctors.html

While most Petrol Stations accept Credit Cards, they are not accepted just anywhere and even many large businesses and supermarkets etc won't take them. Establishments from small B&Bs or Hotels to Cafes and Restaurants may not take Card Payments of any form and is not uncommon for those that do to make a small charge for the transaction. Many a traveller has had a nice lunch only to find they can't pay the bill and it doesn't go down well.

Finally, just a word of warning about Action Cameras. Some countries, Austria in particular, have very strict rules regarding privacy and surveillance. Using an Action Camera to record your holiday is fine (at the moment) but having a camera mounted on a vehicle in the event of an incident is not. In reality is there a difference? Only if you say you have it for the latter and then you are in big trouble.

I hope that helps. As I said, it is not the be all and end all. You don't need to carry the kitchen sink and we even have electrickery and washing machines out here these days so you can tell the wife she can pack light :D

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