How to get where you are going with as little stress as possible.
There are a host of different route planning devices, Google, Garmin, TomTom, Waze, AA, RAC etc……
But if you are towing a caravan or driving a campervan, you’ll know that some roads aren’t quite what they say they are. I once towed a caravan down a one-way system to a campsite only to find the one-way system out of the campsite was a lot narrower.
If you’re driving through a small village and see the dreaded height limit barrier, or my personal favourite, “caution weak bridge” then planning ahead can save a lot of aggravation.
A number of companies sell caravan and camper van specific navigation systems, there’s the TomTom Camper Go, the Copilot plus or the Snooper Ventura to name just three, However I already had a car TomTom route planning system and wasn’t too keen on buying another device, so I set about investigating how I could plan my route using my existing TomTom device and avoid potential problems when towing.
My solution involved several tools
TomTom’s online route planner
https://mydrive.tomtom.com/en_gb is TomTom’s online route planner and very handily comes with the option to choose your vehicle type, be it car, motor cycle, truck or camper and caravan. If you choose the camper and caravan option an additional option appears “Vehicle measurements”, if you click on this option you can then set vehicle type, length, width, height, gross weight, axle weight and maximum speed.
This will them allow you to plan your route for the type of vehicle you are driving or towing.
Dependant on if you already have a TomTom device and what model of device you have, you may be able to login to the Tomtom online system, plan your route, and then save it as one of your routes and then access it on your device,
Via Michellin online planner
https://www.viamichelin.co.uk The Via Michellin website has a great feature in that it will not only plan your route, but it will also cost it and give you toll road costs. The website doesn’t allow you to choose your vehicle’s height and weight, but you can select the brand, model, engine and fuel type of car you are driving and if you are towing a caravan or not.
For me this planner is great as if you aren’t in a rush to get somewhere then perhaps there is a cheaper more scenic route.
There is also a via Michelin app which you can install on your phone or tablet.
Google Street View
The online Tomtom and Via Michellin are great, but for me it often seems the first 10 minutes and last 10 minutes of the drive are the trickiest. The reason for this is that campsites or stopovers are often hidden away in some scenic location well off the main road. If I’m going somewhere I’ve never been before then Google street view can be a huge help. It can allow you to actually see what the entrance to the site is like.
Finally I always have a paper map of Europe in the glove box or under the seat, just in case technology or battery power fails me, I also find it allows me to have an indication of the town and city names I should be looking for on the road signs.
I fully appreciate that for some people all this planning may seem over kill, and to be honest even with all this planning it didn’t prevent me from accidentally towing a 7m caravan through the centre of Budapest in rush hour. But these tools are there, and I’ve found that they can come in very useful.