Driving is a great way to explore Europe and the different countries within the beautiful continent. But if you aren’t careful with your driving plans, you might end up spending a bit too much money on your travels. So, before you hire that convertible to drive from London to Amsterdam, you should get accustomed with these bits of information.
Most important things to sort out is the car insurance with your rental vehicle. You can often do this with the service provider, but do look around to find the best price for your needs. You can often find European-wide car insurance online, which helps you freely drive from one country to another. Currently, rac.co.uk offers this type of insurance for just an additional £9. If you only drive in a single country, you naturally don’t want to end up paying extra. When buying car insurance for your holiday, bundle it up with your travel insurance and always insure everyone who might be driving the car!
When you are ready to hit the road, always carry the paperwork with you. You should definitely take copies of your car insurance, car hire contracts and your travel documents (including driving license). Keep a few copies in your luggage and a few in the car to ensure you have the right documentation to show.
Aside from the insurance, you should also focus on getting the right breakdown cover. You don’t want to find out that certain exclusions apply and end up forking out the cost of the repairs yourself. Shop around for different options instead of opting automatically for the one provided by the rental company.
Get the right gear
Your luggage should have some extra room for useful items for the car journey. While the rental vehicle probably has a first aid kit to guide your journey, there are a few interesting items you might be required to have on board by law. If you are planning to drive in France, you will need to have your own breathalyser kit in the car. You can find these kits online. While the fine for not having one in the car is not very expensive, you might want to have it on anyway.
Furthermore, if you use glasses for driving, you need to carry a spare pair while driving. This is written in the law in France, Switzerland and Spain. So, get your spare pair with you on travels.
In a number of European countries, you might also need to have a reflective jacket with you. Again, it’s worth checking with your rental company, if they can provide this. If not, buy one online and pack it with you. You also need to have an emergency triangle and working emergency lights. Remember to check and test these before you drive away with your rental vehicle. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to check with the service provider.
Learn the rules
Speaking of breathalysers and glasses, you definitely want to learn the local laws before hitting the road. In terms of drinking, you find different European countries to have different limits, with the UK having a higher alcohol per blood limit compared with Germany, Portugal and Italy, for instance. Perhaps the soundest advice is to skip driving altogether after you’ve had a glass of wine with the meal.
The speed limits vary depending on the kind of road you are driving. You can check these online and always keep an eye on the signs on the road. If you are unsure of something, use Google or ask one of the locals.
This might sound like a silly advice, but don’t forget to fill the gas before hitting the motorway or ‘Autobahn’ in Germany. Running out of fuel is actually a fineable offence in the country! In Sweden, you need to have the headlights on even during the day or you might be fined.
Slow down and enjoy the views
Europe has plenty of amazing sights and the roads make non-car lovers fall in love with driving. But you don’t want to start turning into a rally driver on your holiday; no matter how tempting the roads seem. Europe loves tracking and a lot of roads don’t rely on traditional speed cameras, but instead measure your speed based on a few tracking stations. Therefore, if you drove too fast, you’ll be fined, even if you drove slow when the picture was taken! So, just obey the speed limit and enjoy the stunning scenery. Interestingly, the fine in Europe can also depend on other relevant factors and not just the speed you drove. For example, in Italy the time of day can add extra to your speeding ticket, while in some countries your income can increase or decrease the size of your ticket.
Plan your journey
Finally, before you hit the road, you should do some planning. You’ll have a much more enjoyable time driving from one place to another, if you don’t need to panic on the motorway. You can find maps and other relevant route information from websites such as rac.co.uk. Depending on your phone service provider, downloading an app might also be handy. Be aware of your route and check out a few stations for stopping in case of emergency. Leave enough time for the journey and always have a Plan B.
With the above tips, you should succeed in driving in Europe. If you plan your journey in advance and you learn the main rules, you can avoid costly mistakes and fines, having an affordable holiday. All that matters now is finding the right type of wheels and having an enjoyable road trip!