We are already getting set for a different summer this year than recently. There are fewer restrictions, the weather looks set to be hot, and many people are choosing a different form of holiday, with camping expected to be the choice of many more people than usual, in particular camping in vehicles.

For this reason, and facing the summer period, the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) has launched a series of tips to choose the best option of all. It is common for the DGT to serve as a guide for drivers and use their profiles on social networks to provide educational guides on safety. But perhaps this does not usually happen when it comes to recommending the perfect holiday solution.

Differences between caravan, motorhome and camper van

The first thing that the DGT explains is that there are three types of vehicles that allow us to carry the house on our backs. They are the caravans, motorhomes and camper vans, which now enjoy great acceptance in the market. In the first case, caravans, they are vehicles without a motor and that need to be towed. As long as they do not exceed 3,500 kg maximum mass, they can be driven with a B driving licence without problems.

Motorhomes, the best known model, are motor vehicles that have a living area and that can vary depending on the model. The maximum number of seats allowed is reflected in the vehicle registration certificate.

Finally, camper vans are also motorised and, although they have not been manufactured to function as motorhomes, they can be conditioned to live inside. They are subject to the same traffic regulations as other cars.

Now we know the difference, the DGT offers us some advice.

Going backwards

When it comes to towing a caravan, the most cumbersome manoeuvre may be preparing to drive in reverse gear. If it is the first time that you drive a vehicle with these characteristics, it can be difficult to get used to all its peculiarities. For this reason, the official body asks unaccustomed drivers to “practice beforehand”, guaranteeing that nerves and haste will not be combined with lack of experience at the worst possible moment.

Wind

Covid testing in Torrevieja

The wind is the number one enemy of the caravan and motorhome on the road, given the low aerodynamics, to a greater or lesser extent, of the models available on the market. If crosswind gusts are dangerous in general, their tremendous effect is greatly increased by driving a caravan. When driving a motorhome, it may not be so dangerous, but it can be very uncomfortable. Its voluminous bodywork is to blame for this.

Height

The total height of the caravan or motorhome is also a fundamental aspect and it is a fact that we should learn it by heart to avoid possible damage when we enter a tunnel or other structure across the road. On the road, a low tunnel may appear and it is possible you could get trapped if you are not very careful and assess the dangers of the situation. Also, the great width of these houses with wheels can prevent passage through those small towns of deep Spain with narrow streets.

Speed

The maximum speed allowed for a motorhome with a maximum authorised mass equal to or less than 3,500 kg is the same as for any car. In any case, it is advisable to moderate the speed, due to its large size. Motorhomes that exceed the 3,500 kg maximum authorised mass and caravans do have a specific limitation: 90 km/h on highways and motorways and 80 km/h on conventional roads.

Be careful when parking

The difficulty of motorhomes is their large size, in every way, and so it makes things tricky when you want to park. When making these manoeuvres, we must pay close attention to the signs that indicate a height limit (those of gauge) or width, to avoid getting stuck, which is the greatest danger when parking. The DGT emphasises, therefore, these tips that should be taken into account if it is the first time that we buy one of these very useful vehicles in summer.

Camping

Once you reach your campsite it is normal to put down the stabilising legs, maybe open the windows, and prepare for a great holiday. However, whereas on the campsite this is fine, this is not permitted on the road.

In Spain, the law is quite clear, motorhomes and campers are not allowed to “camp” on the street. But the question arises as to what defines “camping”, and what is simply a vehicle which is “parked”, albeit of a larger size, in the same way that any other car or van may occupy a space on the road.

There is a distinct difference between “camping” and “parking”. If any of these actions are performed, the vehicle is considered to be “camping”.

Emitting noise, such as by using a generator.

Extending sun blinds and shades.

Vehicle stabilisers or “feet” deployed.

Emptying or disposing of fluids.

Furniture such as tables and chairs placed outside the vehicle.

Side or “swing” windows opened, protruding from the vehicle perimeter.

The above activities can only be conducted in authorised places, such as campsites.

There are activities that a motorhome or campervan can perform whilst stopped which do not fall into the category of camping, in which the normal traffic rules apply.

Occupants inside the vehicle, eating or sleeping.

Opening the skylight or rooftop window, as this does not protrude from the vehicle perimeter.

Using wheel chocks on an incline.

Turning the wheels so as they are secured against the kerb.

All of those activities are permitted, so long as the vehicle is correctly and legally parked. These activities also apply day or night.

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