10 top tips for driving in Europe

10 top tips for driving in Europe

As longer, warmer days are approaching, more people will be looking to hit the road and drive onto the continent for a holiday. Road tripping gives people a unique look at different places and travelling by car means you can take in so many different locations on your journey. 

However, there can be some important things to consider and look out for to make everything run that little bit smoother! From preparing your car to improving your route and getting clued up on rules and costs,  

Below is a list of the top 10 things to consider before setting off on your European driving adventure! 

1. Check your route in advance so you’re prepared for tolls. 

Tolls are a major part of driving in France and other European countries so can add a large chunk of money to your total holiday cost. The Michelin Route Planner can be a great tool for this as you can input details of your specific car and it will generate not only the route and tolls cost but also a fuel estimate!  

2. Check your car before you leave 

Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted the condition our cars are in. When you’re heading out on a cross-country road trip you may be doing more miles in a week than you would usually do in a month. Therefore it’s even more important to check things, such as the condition of your tyres that will deteriorate faster than usual if you use them more. 

3. Make sure you have all the right documents 

When you’re taking your car abroad it’s always worth making sure you have a printed copy of your car and travel insurance documents, breakdown cover and your driving licence. If you’re stopped by the police or have an accident this will make your life much easier. We mentioned tolls above, but you may also need to pay for these in advance (or as you cross the border you can sometimes purchase these too), for example, in Switzerland you need to buy a Vignette to drive on their motorways.  

4. Familiarise yourself with driving laws  

Driving laws vary from country to country and it’s always worth researching what you’ll need to prepare before you leave. When you cross the Channel into France, it’s often easy to pick up a travel pack that includes stickers to alter your lights, breathalysers, roadside breakdown triangle and more to cover you for a lot of requirements. However, rules vary slightly over borders even within the EU. 

5. You might need an International Driving Permit 

If you have a plastic photo driving licence from the UK you’re permitted to drive in the EU, Norway, Iceland or Lichtenstein without getting an additional permit. However, if you’re still using a paper licence, or if your licence came from Jersey, Guernsey, Gibraltar or the Isle of Man you may also need one.  

6. Think about your route before you leave 

Sometimes it’s easy to hit go on the sat-nav and follow it blindly to your destination, but sometimes this can also put you in Paris during rush hour. With a little bit of research, you can usually find a route that will get you there on time and also let you stop to see some extra sights along the way. 

7. Let Google Maps do what it’s good at 

This might seem like a bit of a cop-out but when you’re travelling hundreds of miles in a day, you don’t want to waste precious time stuck in traffic. Some people may choose not to use Google Maps because of roaming charges while abroad, but if you do then make sure you download offline maps for the regions you're travelling to. This means that if you lose signal or turn your data off while travelling you should still be able to follow a route and won’t get lost - but you will lose traffic updates. 

8. Plan some of your stops 

If you know some of the places you want to stop, that can take the pressure off on your drive. For example, if you’re driving with young children and you know they’ll need to stop every couple of hours then finding services with toilets, good food and fuel all at the same time can be a massive help. Some gaps between fuel on European motorways can be large, particularly if you’re switching roads, and it’s best not to be caught out! 

9. Know what to do if you do break down 

What you need to do if you break down abroad are also something that varies between countries, as strange as that might sound! It’s definitely worth getting familiar with what you might need to do if you end up stopped on the hard shoulder of a European motorway. Hopefully, you’ve made sure you have European breakdown cover and if you call they should be able to assist you, but that’s not always the case. 

10. Pack goodies to make the drive easier 

It’s always worthwhile to make sure you have snacks and drinks packed in case you can’t stop or don’t want to keep stopping. Then there’s another vital kit such as making sure you have your music - and can play it once you’re out of the UK! In some cases, this might mean going old school with CDs or checking you have your playlists saved for offline mode so you’re not downloading them around the continent. 

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