For those travelling to Garda for the Europeans, a little forward planning can help. This article is edited from the one posted on the UKFFA website, for other nationalities.
Trailer bearings and tyres
It may be wise to replace your wheel bearings, especially if you have been dipping the trailer in salt water all season. New bearings are not expensive and can be easily fitted (I am told). Also check the tyres for cracks and bulges.
The standard tyres as fitted to our trailers usually have a speed rating of 75 mph (120 kph). Tyres are available that are rated to 130 mph, not that anyone will tow at that speed, but they will be more tolerant of the heat during the journey. It might be good practice to carry a couple of spare wheels as well. These can be attached to the trailer.
On the road – routes and assistance with toll gates
The most obvious route to Garda is via France and the Mont Blanc Tunnel (the shortest route according to Google Maps).
At the time of year most will travel traffic in France will be light, however it may be advisable to rent a magic box for the Telépeage channels at the toll gates on French Autoroutes. These could save up to 30 minutes on the journey and the additional cost is negligible.
For those from Ireland via Roscoff or Cherbourg, navigating around Paris or Lyon, these will be a godsend.
Once through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, the Italian Autoroutes toll booths offer a higher level or torture. They seem to be less logical than the French toll booths and I always observe much more congestion here. It is highly recommended that you rent a magic box for the Express Channels on Italian Autoroutes; the toll gates are especially busy around Milan (think Dublin, Paris or Brussels autoroute rings). The last time I travelled to Garda without such a box, I took 30 minutes just to get through the final toll booth.
The Mont Blanc Tunnel appears not cheap at €44.40 one way and €55.40 return ticket. But, the alternative routes involve multiple tolls that add up to or exceed this price.
There are alternative routes via Switzerland (Gotthard Tunnel) or Germany and Austria (Brenner Pass).
For Switzerland both the car and the trailer require a sticker costing just over €35 each (they do last for 12 months!). However, the St Gotthard tunnel always seems to have queues on both approaches as it is only one lane each way. It can also be congested at the Italian border at Chiasso.
For Austria, only the car needs a sticker. A 10-day sticker is €9. This can be purchased in advance via the same company supplying the magic boxes (see below) or from the Austrian Motorway company online shop.
This does not cover the Brenner pass road which also requires a special additional toll of €9.50 each way, either payable at the toll booths or purchased online from the shop above, enabling a rapid passage of the toll gates.
Tolls total €48 return via the Arlberg tunnel route or €28 return via the German autobahn coming into Austria further east.
TIP: ask me for my route via France, Germany and the Arlberg tunnel (€20 return).
So how do you accomplish all of this?
There is a company called Tolltickets which provides drivers with all the toll requirements for every country in Europe. You can rent/purchase all the items above, with the exception of the Brenner Pass toll.
I have used this company for over 6 years now and their service is excellent. Order your boxes and stickers (where required) 14 days before you depart, and all will arrive in time for your departure with a return label for use after the holiday (keep the envelope the items arrive in for this purpose).
You will be billed all your tolls and a small rental fee on your returning the boxes. You will value the benefit as you cruise past your first toll gates queue in France or Italy.
The website is in all European languages; the links below are to the English pages.
Direct link to Italian toll box page
Directlink to French toll box page
Simon Thompson July 2018.