RV travel in Turkey: Crossing the border

When I looked into taking my UK registered motorhome / RV into Turkey I found the information available online not as clear as I would have liked. So here, with a series of ongoing posts, I’d like to share my experience hopefully in a way it might help you, should you be considering going to Turkey in your RV.

I entered on the main route between Bulgaria and Turkey.

Yes, there are major major queues for the trucks. You’ll start seeing them on the sides (sometimes both) of the road and eventually taking up a lane.

Just keep going past them and take the same lane as is indicated for cars.

On the Bulgarian side, they asked for my passport and car registration, but did not want to see my dog’s passport.

Then there was a bit of (expected) confusion on the Turkish side. Before you get there, there is a “duty free” shop and atm.

The first booth on the Turkish side is for your passport and visa (if required). Again they are not interested in your dog’s paperwork.

Regarding my visa, I got mine online but a) for a later date and b) I forgot to print it! (whilst they were happy to look at the visa on my phone, the dates were incorrect..)

They were however incredibly friendly and sent me running across many lanes to a guy in some obscure booth where I managed to get a special sticker for about €15, despite the guy speaking zero English. With this sticker, the original border agent was happy to give me a 6 month visa, all stamped into my passport.

Then you proceed to what they call baggage control, effectively customs, where they check the inside of your vehicle and also your vehicle insurance. My default UK insurance does not cover Turkey and I had to buy insurance there, but this is only available after this step. So you effectively exit this stage, head to a building marked D3 with a huge sign saying auto insurance and present yourself. They will need your passport and vehicle registration doc (V5 for the UK) and it is vital the name in the V5 matches your passport name.

I paid € 155 for 3 months insurance, for a motorhome. After he gives you the papers you have to go to the booth next door where the guy stamps it, and also in your passport. (you have to leave Turkey with the vehicle you arrived in.)

Then I tried to exit but the guy at the final check said “computers says no” (I kid you not) and said I have to go back to the baggage check as I skipped that for the insurance.

I subsequently reversed about 400m across about 10 lanes, much to the amusement of most of the police and other officers. At baggage control a very friendly guy showed me to a booth (on foot) and then, after a few more stamps and entries in a computer, they waived me off without checking any of my motorhome contents!

This time, the guy in the end booth was happy but he had one question. He asked me “why did I reverse back to baggage control?” He said I could have simply turned around (and drive into the traffic flow) but anyway, they were all very impressed with my reverse driving skills. I could only accept the compliment, thank the man and drive off…

Right after you exit there is a major service station with restaurant, and a guy in there selling Turk telecom sim cards. You can grab a 5gb one from him for about €15, which is a bit more than you’ll pay in Istanbul but still not bad.

From there the next hassle was to buy a toll pass (HGS) but three of the first petrol stations I tried said their system was down, try the next one. By then I’ve gone through two toll gates with alarms blaring and cameras flashing, so I’m expecting a fine in the UK post, but it’s not much (and I could do nothing about it).

I eventually found a guy that sold me a “nationwide” pass for about €60 but I suspect I was conned, as at a few subsequent tolls I still had to pay… So who knows!

All in, not a terrible experience. My advice would be to try and get insurance beforehand, maybe even in Bulgaria, and do more research about what to expect to pay for the toll pass, and how to check the credit has been applied to your account (they have an app to can install for that).

That’s it for now. In my next post I’ll talk about the drive to Istanbul and parking options there.

Back in Belgrade

I’m currently in Belgrade, Serbia. Google tells me I was here about a year ago. After parking in front of a friend’s home for a few days I moved to Camp Dunav campsite a little bit out of the city.

When Olli and I was here last we met a young dog who ‘belonged’ to the campsite… Its quite a typical arrangment here. Businesses would put food and water out for one or two dogs who then claim that space and protect it. But they tend to have to fend for themselves, sleep outside etc so it can be quite hard on them.

I was delighted to see this dog doing well, as he is a gentle soul that loves to chase shadows and play with your feet! He was so happy to see us again and play a bit. He gets on well with Olli. I call him Fred and today I taught him to shake my hand with his paw, it took no time at all.

He learned by watching what Olli does. I doubt however if I can teach him to roll over as he was very amused when Olli did this and thought it was a game! Lovely dog, Fred. See you next year!

Wrapping up the summer season

Wow. How quick did that go? I can’t believe I’ve been based around Lake Balaton in Hungary since mid-May, and it’s now September. It really feels like I only arrived a week or so ago.

The campsite will close next weekend (9 Sep) and most people here are packing up. For some of my other all-season neighbours it’s quite an operation – they move here with everything (and more) they will need to stay comfortably.

I’ve been doing a few odd-jobs, including applying a layer of colour restorer (Owatrol Polytron) to parts of the outside of Rayquaza and wow! It works a treat.

Here’s a video about it:

So where to next … ?

If I can get Olli’s paperwork sorted, I think I’m going to take the advice of a Dutch couple I know from this campsite (Eric and Johanna) and go to Turkey for October and November! But there are many “if’s” etc so let’s see if I can get everything sorted.

For now, most of my packing is done – thanks to the trailer – and I’m relatively ready to head to Budapest where I plan to spend most of September.

Preparing for the road again

Whilst it’s only mid-August now, I’ve been at Lake Balaton since early May and the season here ends 9 September. I had a few jobs I wanted to do on Rayquaza,  most of which I obviously did not find the time for! But a big one was to consider adding a small trailer so I can reduce the downwards weight in the motorhome and rather add that weight to a trailer.

This is quite important as the allowed maximum weight of my motorhome cannot exceed 3,500KG, which I’m quite sure it currently does. Apart from being unsafe it’s illegal and several other campers have been telling me about spot checks being done on motorhomes at highway weigh bridges, and very stiff fines being imposed on the spot for exceeding the allowed weight.

I did a fair amount of research and spoke to other motorhome owners where I could see they’ve added a trailer, and they all said the same thing – DO IT! It really improves the handling of the motorhome and obviously reduces the stress of knowing in the back of your head the motorhome is exceeding it’s allowed weight.

My camping neighbour here at Lake Balaton heard I was looking for a trailer and immediately recommended a supplier that provided hard-cover, lockable trailers.

It arrived last night (he was kind enough to go collect it for me, miles away) and WOW! I’m impressed. It seems to be German made and then imported to Hungary.

The build quality is fantastic and it was a great buy. For just under €1,000 as well, this is a trailer that will sell for easily double that in the UK. It’s watertight, very strong walls and roof and even with roofbars on top that will allow me to put the bike up there if I want (or the undeflated paddleboard if I want..).

I also really like the way it opens up so loading is easy (or showing the contents at a border crossing.)

All in, a good buy from this supplier – I can happily recommend them if you’re in the market for a trailer. It seems they are re-doing their website at the moment, but you can contact Gabor on utanfutocentrumkft@gmail.com and he’ll send you their stock list.

I’ll put up some pics and perhaps a video once I get this all loaded and hooked up.

UK > Holland > Germany > Denmark

I’ve been preparing to set off again, despite not having had the missing window (as a result of the incident near Barcelona) replaced. Seems it’s quite tricky to find that exact window, but before I replace the whole thing with a new frame and non-factory window, I thought I’d try in Germany, where Hobby (make of Rayquaza) is from. You never know! In the meantime it’s fine boarded up.

Overall, I had a lot of small jobs to do whilst I was here in the UK … after the break-in I never really re-packed the cupboards (almost done) and I’ve always wanted to fix some of the cupboard’s closing clips (done) whilst I had to pack up and store my winter clothes (done). Rayquaza also had it’s MOT (UK annual car inspection) test done. Other jobs included fitting an interior alarm to Rayquaza and adding a few other security bits I won’t talk about on here.

Olli had his Rabies vaccinations updated – and during the check-up I was told to run less with him, as our current efforts were apparently a tad too much for him. So now he’ll only join me for the odd short run. I also replaced his bike buggy with a new one, as they are relatively cheap and wear down quite easily. I’ve certainly had a lot of use from the old one and will keep bits of it for spare parts.

Overall I’ve also managed to take quite a bit of weight off Rayquaza with selling of pretty much anything I did not use as much as I thought, on eBay. Electric scooter, a range of video and other camera kit and some other items, all gone.

It feels good to have all these smaller jobs done now and I’m looking forward to setting off again. As the title shows, I’m heading for Denmark. In my dayjob we have a client there, and I’ve always wanted to spend more time in Denmark, so this is a great excuse.

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Olli and I are taking the Harwich to Hook of Holland overnight ferry next week – he’ll have to sleep in the kennels on the ferry – and then through Holland, past Hamburg all the way up to a town called Veijle.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is getting back into proper photography again. I ditched all the DJI videocamera for a superb digital camera, a Panasonic Lumix GX8. I just miss having a proper camera in my hand and looking through the viewfinder. So, be prepared for a few more pics on here soon!