Dog Travel Blog

Real life experience of travel with dogs and Pet Passports in France

And, finally, for the caravanners/motorcaravanners

Reverse polarity

This really does exist so be prepared. We came across it 50% of the time. Any caravan/motorvan accessories shop in the UK will have polarity testers on sale. Make sure you buy one and take it with you to test polarity when you arrive on your pitch. You’ll need an adapter in case there is reverse polarity on your pitch – it’s simply a short cable with one male and one female plug that sits between the socket and your lead. All it does is swap the live and neutral wires. There’s lots of information on the web on this or via the Caravan Club.


Electric points

These can be a mixture of normal camping sockets as used on UK sites (the round ones) or European sockets (two pin sockets plus an earth prong). Make sure you take both types of plug – the new standard three pin plug you use in the UK plus the old style French two pin plus earth. You can get these from caravan/motorvan accessory shops.


Dogs on campsites

Don’t be surprised to be charged a nightly fee for your dog. Usually around 2 euros per dog per night. Some sites charge, some don’t. Some may not charge in low season.

Security on campsites

Sadly, some campsites are targeted by thieves. Just because you are on holiday doesn’t mean to say you should forget about keeping your possessions safe. In two of the sites we stayed at, tents were slashed and belongings stolen while people slept. Cars were broken into (alarmed and not alarmed). It seems to be a bigger problem in France than in the UK. The sites which were affected were both situated on river banks although other sites were just as open to thieves coming in during the night. Our advice is DO NOT leave anything of importance in your car or your awning even when you’re on site. If you are tenting, chose your site very carefully and try to pick one which offers good security.

Petrol at the weekends/bank holidays

We can confirm that petrol IS hard to come by at the weekend and on bank holidays if you only want to pay with cash. If you are happy to pay with a credit card, you won’t be affected – most supermarket petrol stations are open 24 hours but for self service with a credit card (ie there is no one manning the station). If you are travelling on an Autoroute, the (very expensive) petrol stations will be open for payment by cash or credit cards. Some areas are better than others but, on several occasions at the weekends, if we hadn’t had a credit card to use, we would have been stuck without petrol.

By the way, petrol was amazingly expensive. Sometimes as high as 1.40 euros per litre on the Autoroutes, never lower than 1.19 euros per litre at the supermarkets (for 95 octane petrol). Differently to the UK, diesel is much much cheaper than petrol in France. We had no choice but to use the Autoroute stations on long journeys with the caravan hitched but we always sought out the supermarkets when we didn’t have the caravan hitched. Off the Autoroutes, non supermarket petrol stations will still be as dear as the Autoroute stations so find a supermarket if you can!

Using your credit card

We’d seen some talk on the internet that using UK credit cards is difficult in France because our chip and pin system is different to theirs. We only used ours at petrol pumps and it was fine. You can sometimes select English on the pump to give you directions of what to do with the card. Usually though, before filling up, you insert your card on the pump and it asks you to wait a moment, then you select your choice of petrol, you confirm it by pressing V for Validate, then you’re asked to enter your pin number and again press V to validate and, once you’re told your card is accepted, the display will ask if you want a receipt and then you can fill up.


French Aires are a pleasure to stop in compared to our UK service stations. If you don’t need petrol, chose one without because these are often wooded picnic areas with parking areas just for caravans and motorcaravans (although cars seem to like them too and often park there instead of their own parking areas!). There are always toilet facilities, very often motorvan waste disposal points and there is always a drinkable water tap. The toilets have music!

Autoroute Tolls

Despite costing us a fortune in tolls, we did use the Autoroutes when moving between sites. When tugging the caravan it was just easier for us as the motorways are so empty and we were usually travelling long distances. When approaching the toll booths, slow down and take your time. The left hand lanes are almost always reserved for cars with electronic toll cards, then there are lanes for credit cards only but these are more often than not height restricted so for cars only (the heights are low and you won’t get under it if you have a bike on the roof). Usually, we found a lane near the middle or to the right hand side would generally have a manned booth and be non height restricted. The lorry lanes are usually on the far right hand side and don’t assume that these will be manned as some lorries carry the electronic card.

posted under | 13 Comments »

13 Responses to “And, finally, for the caravanners/motorcaravanners”

  1. ALYSON says:

    Many thanks for all your info, we’re taking our 2 dogs to france next year (yiikkkees) in our motorhome, have just sorted out their passports

  2. Lulacat says:

    All good advice here on this blog – much appreciated from a single woman returning to UK with 3 puddy tats and a little doggie, after living in Spain for nigh on 11 years.
    Just about to buy a cheap (very!) little camper/motorhome and travelling and driving alone – which can be a bit daunting at times but looking forward to the adventure!

    • Toni says:

      Hi Lulacat

      Did you buy the van and travel? I am planning to do just that in France, Spain and Portugal next year. There will just be me and my three yorkshire terriers.


    • Jacky says:

      Hi i have small dog and thinking about going traveling in campervan have you any advice where to go and safety on my own

    • Jacky says:

      Hi can you give me advice about woman on own with dog and camper van where are good places to go and what safety precausions do i need

      • Editor says:

        Get the All the Aires book from Vicarious Books. In the summer, the aires will always have other vans, on the coast especially (very busy and great atmosphere). The book will show what amazing places the aires are (ie not service stations!). Or there are hundreds of small campsites to choose from all over France. We go to the mountains rather than the coast because we live by the coast. Go for it and have a wonderful time!

  3. Belle says:

    Hi. This is a useful and easy site to easy, just brilliant, so thankyou.
    I got a rescue dog 7 wks ago (originally Portuguese!)He has passport vacinations etc but we are travelling through Europe to Hungary and back in a week and I was wondering if you knew of any ‘dog diseases there that might be problem. Vet has recommended Advoticks . Any ideas?

  4. sylvia brazenall says:

    what a brilliant site planning on taking 2 dogs to varna bulgaria and living there ( have house there). small camper no time restriction, in about 2-3 yrs time hence hoping to iron out most practical difficulties never driven abroad either and no spring chicken travelling from the midlands out of season and cooler weather, as il be travelling through several countries im getting quite confused about tolls and border restrictions and customs . any help/advice greatley appreaciated.thans thanks thanks.

  5. Carol Bray says:


  6. Melissa says:

    Hello and thanks for this blog – really helpful stuff.
    I wondered if you would be able to help me with something…I desperately need a holiday and am thinking about renting a camper, packing up and driving to France or Spain.
    My furry best friend will be coming along if I go but I am worried about passport control and checking the dog etc.
    Hes a rescue and a big lad at that but still has a few stranger issues due to being beaten senseless by the “people” that had him before we found him.
    Do they have to check the dog over? get him out of the car? will he have to have any contact with anyone or do they just check the passports?
    any info surrounding this would be sooo helpful!
    Thanks in advance

    • Editor says:

      Can only speak for our experiences at Eurotunnel. At Calais there’s a Pet Reception Area where the chips and passports are checked. The staff are behind a tall counter and they pass you the chip reader so they don’t go near the pet themselves. You are, however, in a queue with other people and their pets and it can get a bit crowded at times. They also have some new arrangement in place now where the check gets done with the pet in situ in the vehicle but we haven’t tried that yet. I think they put that in place in busy periods. Don’t forget that whichever vet you choose for the worm treatment in the days leading up to travel back will do a thorough health check on the pet so there will be handling at that point. I suggest a muzzle if you’re particularly worried. Hope that helps! 🙂

  7. Jayne says:

    This site is really useful and has helped with planning our first trip with our cairn. We will be travelling back from Barcelona to Calais, with no planned route as yet, but wondered if you are aware of a vets we could use a few days away from Calais and we can plan a route around that stopping point. We have a motor home so tend to be very flexible in routes with a point to aim for. Thanks. Jayne

  8. Scott and Sue says:

    Lots of helpful information for the newcomer travelers. We are taking our first caravan tour of Europe in October with our cocker spaniel Toby and plan to take the Eurotunnel. We want to travel directly to a winter site in Murcia, can anyone advise a timescale for the 1200 mile journey from Calais to the Murcia campsite.

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