Exploring the world with your RV is one exhilarating experience, as you can get to enjoy other cultures, meet other people, explore the different wonders a certain country has to offer, and gain insights into how other people live their lives in a different place. Travelling can be easy if you are just bringing you and your family with your luggage with you, but bringing your RV with you on these international travels can be a challenge. However, we did not say it is impossible — it is still doable. Still, we need to do several things and prepare several papers for a smooth travel experience.
Traveling in an RV abroad can be a challenging experience. Still, you must plan accordingly, arrange for RV transport overseas, secure the needed documents, stock up on your necessities, get travel insurance for you and your RV, and do some research for your trip to be smooth sailing and hassle-free.
This article tells you everything you must know about traveling in an RV abroad. This will also discuss the different processes RV travelers have to follow in terms of transborder travel. Lastly, this article will also tell you the different paperwork you need to prepare before you can travel around the world in your RV with ease and comfort.
Planning Your RV Itinerary is Key
First thing you must do before anything else is having an itinerary on where you want to go. This will tell you which things you should plan accordingly based on where you intend to go abroad. You should know to search for RV parks and public places where you can stay the night without any issues.
When we say issues, we mean the police knocking at your door in the wee hours of the morning, asking you to leave the spot for some reason, or homeless people trying to camp out on your RV, either through your awnings or any vacant space outside. This is important as you are not expected to be on the move at night, as you are supposed to be resting too.
Planning where you are supposed to go is also important because it will determine what kinds of paperwork you must prepare or special RV transport options, especially if you are going to the other side of the world, such as Asia, Europe, etc., or Africa. The requirements for your trip to Argentina might be different from the requirements you need to arrange and secure for your trip to Japan with your RV, so planning is key.
Lastly, planning is important because it will also tell you how much money you need to prepare for this trip, including all the required fees while crossing the border, your budget for necessities, and some extra for treats and trinkets along the way. Going overseas will never be complete without shopping for treats wherever you are, so you must save some money for that as well. It will also allow you to prepare for the insurance you need for yourself and your RV.
Getting Travel Insurance for You and Your RV
Speaking of insurance, it is a must that you get a travel insurance policy for yourself and your RV. It is because it will protect you from unwanted and unexpected expenses during your trip. Before going overseas, make sure to talk to your agent about the coverage of your current life insurance policy and see if it also covers overseas trips and the unexpected situations that might happen while you are on your trip.
Of course, if your current insurance policy is not covering your trips, you must go and get another one that will ensure you during your trip. This can come in handy in case you get into accidents, or you have to be hospitalized overseas. Your travel insurance would cover your hospitalization, palliative care, and in some cases, even the medicines you have to buy during the trip.
Aside from your personal insurance policies, you should also get your RV insured. This is important because you are basically driving throughout your trip. Suppose you get into an accident and your RV gets damaged. In that case, the damages it suffered will be covered by the insurance policy you got for your RV. However, you have to check if damages done overseas are covered so that you can search for a good insurance policy that will cover everything.
Always talk to your insurance agent about your concerns before the trip, and keep their numbers handy in case of emergencies. You can save it on your phone or keep cards in your wallet if you cannot speak, and the medics need someone to talk to in terms of your hospitalization. I have written an article talking about RV insurance that you can check here.
Prepare for Lots of Paperwork to Accomplish
You have to prepare for a lot of paperwork that you need to accomplish before your trip to go on to your overseas trip with your RV as smoothly as possible. Before you decide on the specifics of your overseas trip with your RV, you must prepare all the needed papers and documentation for your travels. You should have these with you when you are traveling, and they should be within easy reach, especially when you are going on border checks.
Some of the required documents you must bring with you include the following:
- Travel visa (if needed)
- US passport (make sure it is active)
- Driver’s license (updated)
- A credit card that you can use overseas
- Small notebook for your detailed trips and itineraries
- Auto and medical insurances
- Any items you have to declare
There might be other things you must prepare depending on where you are going, so make sure to do your research to prepare accordingly. Ideally, you keep them in a clear file folder that you can easily grab and show to the border police or immigration agents if you are stopped for border checks.
You must also understand that some countries have much stricter requirements for traveling overseas with your RV, so do some research before you decide on where you want to go. This is important because complying is much better than resisting, and it puts so much hassle on your trip.
Check the Dos and Don’ts in Your Country of Destination
This is one important thing that not a lot of RV travelers take seriously. Most travelers think that they just need to take care of their own belongings, needs, and wants, and they can freely go anywhere they like. Checking what is allowed and not allowed in your country of destination is important to avoid any hassles or customs police seizing your possessions or having you pay exorbitant fines.
Suppose you are going to the Middle East with your RV. In that case, you should remember that many things considered legal in the United States are illegal in these countries. Some include alcohol, pornography, sex toys, guns, arms and ammunition, certain drugs, and religious books, including the Bible. They might ask you to surrender these to them, or you might be asked to pay high fines, so do your research.
Checking the dos and don’ts in your country of destination does not only mean that, however. It also expands to the cultural cues and other things you cannot do when you are in that country. That includes hand gestures, actions, dress codes, and so on. It is really important to research the countries included in your itinerary so that you can be prepared.
Arrange Your RV Transport Concerns and Needs
This is one huge chunk of your RV travels overseas, as you are taking a huge vehicle with you. You cannot just bring them with you on your plane as you would on your scooter or your wheelchair with you. You must arrange for your RV to be transported, especially if you are going to the other side of the world.
Fortunately, you are not alone. Many RV travelers often bring their RVs with them on overseas trips, and there are two known methods you can use to bring your RV with you, wherever you are.
If you’re planning a longer-term trip throughout Europe, transporting your RV from the United States may really make sense. Taking your RV with you ensures you’ll be ready to begin RVing as quickly as you land. Suppose you retain your US license plates on the vehicle. In that case, you won’t have to bother about dealing with local registration, acquiring a local driver’s license, and all that other nonsense. Furthermore, the delivery costs are actually fairly reasonable.
One of the methods you can use is the Roll On, Roll Off method, or more commonly known as the RoRo method. You may transport them as Roll-On, Roll-Off (RoRo), which involves driving your RV up a ramp further into the open hull of a shipping vessel, tying it down for shipping, and then driving it back down the ramp on the other side of the vessel.
Alternatively, you may send them inside a regular shipping container. Depending on how much space is available, it can be 20ft or 40ft, which is then loaded onto a shipping container ship. The former is far less expensive and simpler, and that is what most people choose for vans and recreational vehicles.
You may move your RV or van across the seas with one of the many large vehicle shipping firms that are available today. Wallenius-Willemsen and K-Line are two well-known companies. Most people, however, do not arrange their RV shipments directly with the shipping company but rather via an agent or broker that specializes in RV shipping.
This second option has the advantage of organizing everything for you, even the massive amount of paperwork and documentation necessary for delivery and customs clearance, which is no small issue. SeaBridge is a well-known brand that a large number of RVers trust. Another important one is IVSS.
The size and value of the rig are the two most important considerations in determining transportation expenses. For cars, RORO costs are often quoted by a cubic meter (CBM = length x width x height in meters), depending on the kind of vehicle being transported (larger vehicles have higher CBM rates). Vans and small recreational vehicles (RVs) are now priced between US$50 and US$53 per CBM.
Everything that “stands out” in the measurements, such as side mirrors, bumpers, hitches, and air conditioning, must be included. As a result, people will frequently remove as much of this material as possible before shipping. It goes without saying that the greater the total capacity of your car, the higher the cost.
If you want to get marine insurance, the cost is around 1.5 percent of the total cost of your rig if you choose to do so (so, the more expensive your rig, the more it costs for shipping and insurance). Security costs, gate fees, document fees, Terminal Handling Charges (THC), and clearing fees may also be assessed.
The other aspect that affects shipping prices is the location of where you ship from and to. Shipping from the United States requires selecting an exit port on the East Coast, which is far less expensive than shipping from the West and selecting an import port on the opposite side of the world. Halifax, Canada, Charleston, South Carolina, and Brunswick, North Carolina are popular export destinations.
Antwerp, Belgium, Zeebrugge, Belgium, and Southampton, United Kingdom, are all popular import ports. The port you choose has an impact on your prices! Some US-EU routes are more affordable than others. Therefore it’s important to engage with a shipper and shop/ask around for the best deal.
These are about European destinations, so if you are going to Zimbabwe or the Philippines with your RV, do some more research as they might have different options and rules regarding overseas travel with RVs.
People recommend making your reservations 1-3 months ahead of time of your travel dates, as cargo shipping routes are often not established more than 3 months ahead of time of your travel dates.
Although the actual shipment time is just around 10 days, you may need to hand off your RV a few days before that schedule at the origin port. It may take several days for release/clearance at the opposite end of the journey. As a result, count on a total travel time of around 2-3 weeks.
You must choose wisely because this will make or break your overseas trips with your RV. Suppose you think you can handle all the requirements in overseas travels by yourself without needing any help. In that case, you can choose the RoRo option. On the other hand, if you think you are too busy to deal with shipping your RV overseas by yourself, then choosing to avail of the services of these vehicle shipping firms can be the best option for you.
Of course, suppose you are traveling to Mexico or Canada. In that case, you can just drive to the border and show them your passport along with your needed visas, and you are definitely good to go. Except if you plan to go to the Bahamas, this is a part of your RV overseas travel that you should consider.
Get Some Advice From Seasoned Overseas RV Travelers
Of course, you can ask some of the overseas RV travelers what they did when they took their RVs with them on overseas tours. You can get valuable bits of information from them, whether the extra documents you must secure or the budget you need before you can go on a trip.
They might also give you some tips and tricks on traveling overseas with your RV as smoothly as possible. You can also ask your RV club if they are recognized wherever you will go so that you can take advantage of the perks and privileges you currently enjoy with them domestically.
Some RV clubs have partnerships with various international brands, so you might be able to gain exclusive perks as a member of your RV club. It can come in terms of freebies, discounts, assistance, or anything you need from them. This is a great way of maximizing your RV club membership. I have also written about RV clubs, which you can check here.
Safety is Always Your Priority
Driving in a foreign nation might be intimidating, especially if you are driving a large car on the other side of the road from where you are accustomed to driving. Check to see that you have all of your RV supplies organized and ready to go before you leave your house.
Do not rely on having a signal or internet connection to check maps all of the time; instead, download some maps of the nearby region or bring some physical maps with you just in case. You can also buy local SIM packs with the right data packages for your convenience.
Make certain that your RV is equipped with a functional GPS system so that you can navigate your way about. Check the driving laws in your area to make sure you do not inadvertently breach any. Most countries generally allow GPS, but some places might not, so always check before buying a GPS system for your RV.
Take your drive as professionally as you would if you were driving in your own house. An RV may be used to travel anywhere globally, with some individuals even taking RVs on safari or traveling throughout Europe in their vehicles. Make a plan and go off to see the sights of the globe.
Change your locks into new ones, especially in your storage area. If your doors and windows have issues, repair and fix them before you go on a trip because burglars and thieves might take advantage of these issues and use them to their advantage. Lastly, keep your valuables away from plain sight, especially in countries where pickpocketing and theft are rampant.
Make Necessary RV Adjustments and Modifications
Suppose you are traveling overseas with your RV and are planning to stay there for a long time. In that case, you might want to make the needed changes and adjustments to your RV for your convenience. This includes changing your outlet sources from 110V to 220V if you are also planning on using appliances from the countries of destination, which might need an adaptor or a change in the plugs and power outlets.
You should make these necessary adjustments as some countries might not have the abundance of resources for RV campers compared to the US. This would save you more time and effort and save you from the stress that you might experience once you run out of your necessities and need replenishment, only to find out that they do not have that in your country of destination.
Stock on Prime Necessities and Preferred Items
Speaking of stocking up on your resources, you must stock up on your necessities, such as food, water, cleaning materials and tools, batteries, emergency needs, medicines, and so on. Medicines should be stocked up because your prescription medications might not be available in your country of destination, which can be a problem if you take them for maintenance needs.
It is also helpful to stock up on your favorite foods in case you might feel homesick. However, always take this opportunity to enjoy the local culinary offerings of the country you wish to visit in the future. After all, it is a part of creating wonderful memories while traveling with your RV overseas.
Lastly, have some cash with you, both in dollars and the local currency. You might be surprised that countries do not have credit card machines, so cash is always the best option for you. Always coordinate with your local bank to get the best foreign exchange rates, and if you are a credit card user, check if your credit card can be used anywhere without any hassles on your end.
Traveling in RV Abroad Can Be a Fun Experience
Traveling overseas with your RV can indeed be a challenging experience, but we did not say that it is impossible. Suppose you can plan accordingly, research thoroughly, and prepare for your needs and unexpected situations. In that case, it can be a satisfying journey. Whether you are going on safaris in Africa or just enjoying the countryside life in Asia, taking your RV with you is the best choice.