Driving in Europe can be a daunting prospect. However, it doesn’t have to be. The key is to be well prepared and to take extra care so that you don’t have to sort out issues when you hit the road.
Much of the information that we offer is common sense. However note that rules and regulations vary from country to country and this guide is simply a general checklist of things to consider before you set off. It is always worth researching your destination thoroughly to make sure that driving in Europe doesn’t drive you round the bend!
First of all you need to make sure that your vehicle is in good order for your own safety and for that of other road users. Make sure that you check your tires, oil and water levels, that the bulbs in your lights are working and that you have a few spares, and that the battery is fully charged. You wouldn’t set off for a long journey at home without checking these things, so ensure you do the same before setting off on your holiday. If your car’s not been serviced recently it is worth booking one ahead of your trip – it’s worth the extra piece of mind alone.
You wouldn’t go to the airport without your passport or tickets. Likewise, make sure you have everything you need when driving in Europe in advance of your trip. Essentials include: both parts of your driving licence, your vehicle registration document (Vc5), motor insurance certificate and passport.
This should go without saying, but make sure you have adequate breakdown cover. If your cover does not extend to Europe then you can probably top-up your policy to make sure that it is does. The last thing you want is to break down on a foreign motorway with no contingency in place!
Many car insurance policies already include cover short periods of time abroad; but this is normally only at a third party level. Make sure you check with your provider before you go. It is essential to make sure that the countries you intend to visit are covered. Driving in Europe can be a great adventure, and often you have the freedom to move from country to country – so don’t let a limited insurance policy stop you. You may consider insuring extra drivers for your trip, as having a break every couple of hours is a good idea, especially if you are driving in unfamiliar conditions.
There are many items that you are legally required to carry whilst driving in Europe that you are not required to carry at home. Fines for non-compliance can be hefty, so we recommend purchasing or borrowing all of the items to take with you; breathalysers, GB stickers, high visibility jackets for each passenger, warning triangles, headlamp converts and spare bulb kits. These items will cover you for the majority of countries in Europe however we recommend that you research each of your destinations thoroughly.
Obviously you need to know where you are going when driving in Europe. If you use a sat nav then don’t wait until the night before you leave to check if it covers your destination! If the maps you need are not included, you should be able to download these for a small fee. For those who do not have a sat nav, good old paper maps are still a great option. We recommend that you purchase these well in advance so that you can study them and plot your route accordingly.
Some readers will be familiar with the congestion charge in London, or the M6 toll around Birmingham. However, toll roads are few and far between in the UK, and many of us do not have to worry about them. This is not the case when driving in Europe, where toll roads are much more common, especially on the main motorway networks. These charges can add up, so doing some research before you go will pay off.
Book your vehicle in advance – this way you will get a much better deal that if you simply turn up at a rental desk when you arrive at your destination. Furthermore, you will have plenty of time to read through the terms of the agreement and consider the value of additional costs. This simplifies the decision-making process and makes it easier to decide which product is right for you. Make a note of the fuel level before leaving, and if you start off with a full tank, return the car with a full tank – this will help you to avoid exorbitant charges should you return with than less fuel that you started with. Take photos of the car before you set off too, and make a note of any damages. This way you can’t get blamed for any existing damage.
It is useful to have a reasonable grasp of the local road rules wherever you are driving in Europe. Check speed limits and factor in different and any specific conditions for the countries in which you will be travelling. Remember that your need to measure your speed in kilometres per hour and in most countries, make sure you drive on the right side of the road!
Very helpful, good communication kept me up to date on progress. Really good customer service which is just what you need when under pressure of illness. "
ERV Customer - April 2018