With summer upon us, it feels like high time to start planning the next big adventure. A European road trip is a great alternative holiday idea – but this once-in-a-lifetime adventure will require some planning.
Here are some top tips to get prepared for successful holiday driving in Europe.
Familiarise yourself with local law
Overseas driving is about more than just getting used to driving on the ‘wrong’ side. There are 27 countries in the EU and 50 on the continent of Europe, with just as many legal systems and driving codes.
It is essential to get to know the law in the countries you will be travelling to – core driving concepts can be markedly different, and there may be laws you’d never think of.
For instance, in Germany it is illegal to drive without winter tyres at certain times of year, and in Portugal it is illegal to carry bicycles on the back of a car. You might think you’ll feel at home in Cyprus, since Cypriots drive on the left-hand side – but did you know it is illegal to eat or drink at the wheel?
Take some time to understand local speed limits for a smooth trip, as well as how to convert MPH to KPH.
Always check the specifics of your insurance cover
You need to be insured to drive in Europe, but your normal insurance may not be valid in certain locations. Always check before you travel, and if necessary, upgrade with some temporary international insurance.
Bear in mind that telematics technology makes it possible to secure affordable deals as a young driver – at home and abroad.
Pack a car kit with all the necessities
There are certain products European countries recommend or legally mandate drivers must carry. These include: a displayed GB sticker, a warning triangle, reflective jacket, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and headlamp adjustment.
It is a good idea to prepare a kit before travelling, so you don’t get caught out. Since France has some of the strictest laws on driving equipment in Europe, you don’t have to embark on a long trip to get caught out – so plan ahead to avoid fines.
Take a look at this helpful kit from Halfords – with a selection of the necessities, in one handy bundle.
Service your car
Long journeys can be risky. If your car isn’t used to extended distances, covering such huge grounds can strain the vehicle. Make sure you book in for a service before you travel. After all, nobody wants their holiday cut short by expensive repair fees.
Purchase breakdown cover
Your Euro road trip just might be the holiday of your dreams – but if things go wrong, overseas breakdowns can be a nightmare.
Your UK breakdown cover may also be invalid in Europe, so make sure you upgrade before you travel. Single trip breakdown cover is available from a wide range of suppliers, so you can drive with peace of mind.
Plan your route and go easy at first
Driving in Europe can be a daunting experience, but amazing at the same time. Start slow at first, focus on getting used to new lane systems, and try not to let more energetic driving customs throw you off course.
Don’t be over-ambitious with your route. A complete circuit of Europe may sound like a great idea – but a simple trip to France or Spain may be more realistic for your first big trip.
Since there are few experiences more daunting than being lost and unable to understand the road signs, satellite navigation systems can revolutionise your international driving experience.
For a device that’s able to cope in any corner of Europe, take a look at this guide to the best sat navs you can buy.