Road Trip 2019 — It starts here…

This whole thing started with a Tweet.

Actually, no… it started with the Brexit vote. The Tweet came afterwards.

Allow me to explain…

For the last 10 or 15 years, I’ve regularly gone on jaunts around the world in a variety of completely unsuitable vehicles. I’ve driven a TukTuk (technically an AutoRickshaw) across mountains in India (Chennai->Mumbai, even my old colleagues from Trivandrum couldn’t quite believe that), I’ve driven a postie bike through the outback in Australia (Brisbane->Cairns), an Enfield around the Himalayas, a £500 jeep I bought on ebay to Timbiktu (failed! — ended up stuck in Pamplona trying to get a radiator replaced), and various trips around Europe piloting a motorcycle (often a KTM 990 Adventure — which I recently sold).

The last BIG European road trip I took was back in 2007, on a BMW F650. Back in those days you could get a ferry from Newcastle to Bergen (Norway), and then there’s a natural “loop” home that is:

Norway->Sweden->Estonia->Latvia->Lithuania->Poland->Germany->Netherlands->Belgium->France->UK

Unfortunately, that ferry route is now closed :(

Anyway, it’s been more than 10 years since my last big European road trip, so I thought it was about time I did another

This happened to coincide with all of the shambles around Brexit — so the idea formed in my mind that if I took the trip AFTER the date the UK is due to leave the EU, I’d be able to compare how easy it was for me to move around Europe in my 2007 trip (when we were in the EU) vs the now (when we aren’t in the EU).

At the moment, it seems like there could be 1 of 3 possible outcomes:

  1. UK leaves EU with the proposed deal
  2. UK leaves EU with no deal
  3. UK doesn’t leave EU

So, given that there’s going to be a ~18 month ‘implementation period’ if a deal is made, where nothing should be any different, I don’t actually expect to experience any difficulties if the result of Brexit is option 1 or option 3. If the result is option 1, there’s likely merit in doing this trip again AFTER the ‘implementation period’ has ended to contrast the difficulties afterwards (like all good story tellers, I’m already planning the sequel).

Certainly, the no-deal scenario will be a LOT more problematic, so I’ll give you some idea of some of the issues I’m expecting that to cause:

  • Driving license — this won’t be valid in any EU countries unless/until a separate deal is made
  • Insurance — not sure if this will be valid or not. If not, I imagine there would be ability to purchase through specialist broker before departing, or at a border crossing
  • Vehicle roadworthiness — a ‘new’ (under 3 year old) vehicle (with euro-type approval) I’m assuming will be fine. Anything older than that likely won’t be (EU won’t recognise an MOT) and a car without euro-type approval I would expect would require something similar to a local SVA test
  • Road tax — certainly I won’t have paid this in Europe. I expect some system of a euro-roadtax will be purchasable in Calais or on any channel crossing
  • Visas — not sure if these will be required or not or where you’d get them/apply. Again, this may be a formality at the French border/crossing similar to countries such as Egypt where you ‘buy’ a stamp to go in your passport at the customs check

For the purposes of the above, any other outcome (eg, extension of ‘implementation period’ or ‘extension of EU membership’) would still see the same result as options 1 or 3 (eg, no immediate change).

Clearly, this has the potential to be very frustrating — to the extent that it could be that I’m not even able to leave the country without some extensive vehicle paperwork. If that’s the case I’ll share my frustrations here.

The rest of this series could either be an epic on the endless issues with paperwork, or it could all go incredibly smoothly and mostly be about what route I’ll be taking, and depending on what vehicle I decide on maybe some vehicle prep etc.

I’ve got a good 6 months of prep time, and ~4 months of the winter period where I can prep any vehicle I purchase, so will attempt to make a few updates every month detailing my plans, route, progress etc.

In the next story I’ll go into more detail about my route, way points and vehicle selection.

My planned route so far…