Road trips are one of the best ways to explore multiple destinations whilst getting a true feel for different cultures.
While it’s undeniably easy to get around much of Europe thanks to its extensive public transport systems, driving offers another level of freedom and flexibility that allows you to go where you want, whenever you want, as well as making the off-beaten tracks much more accessible.
Find the Right Car
The first step toward a European road trip is finding the right vehicle.
When renting a car, keep in mind that most Europeans drive manual.
If this comes as a discomfort to you then be prepared to pay more for an automatic.
Bear in mind that if you are dropping your car off at a different destination from pick-up, there will likely to be additional fees.
Preparing Your Car
Before you start driving in Europe, it is important that not only you are prepared, but that the car is too.
Carry out a thorough check of your vehicle before you embark on your trip.
There are several maintenance check you can do yourself, such as checking the oil and coolant levels of the car and testing the tread depth of your tyres.
Make sure the car’s MOT is valid throughout the course of your road trip. For extra peace of mind, you could book the car in for a service before you travel.
You car should also carry the essentials when travelling on a long journey; spare wheel, jump leads, screen was and oil.
Prior to Setting Off
Driving in the dark can lead to reduced concentration levels and fatigue so it is important that you put safety and stop for regular breaks.
Conduct some thorough research into the town and cities you will be driving through.
If you are road tripping through or around Europe, it is important to understand the diversity of each country, particularly when it comes to driving regulations and road rules.
The beauty of Europe is that you can be driving for a few hours and find yourself in a whole new region, country and culture so having the correct travel documents is essential.
Once you have chosen your destinations, it is a good idea to invest in a good quality road map.
Although most people use the GPS functions on their phone, you should always have a map handy just in case the battery dies.
Unlike air travel, packing for a road trip shouldn’t feel like a task of restraint.
Pack as if you are packing an overnight bag for a short stay – and then a couple extra.
Ensure everyone in the car has a spare change of clothes and clean underwear.
Toiletries can be shared and purchased so, if you forget a shampoo, don’t panic.
Pack a separate back for just the electronics and make sure everything is fully charged the night before you embark on your journey.
If you plan to go away for a prolonged period, then consider keeping valuables and precious artefacts in secure storage back home.
Many homes that are left vacant for lengthy periods are far more prone to robbery and theft.
Finding affordable and flexible secure storage is fairly cost effective and a sensible choice.
The Best Drives in Europe
If you are looking for inspiration, then here are some of the best drives in Europe.
Italy – The Amalfi Coast
This drive is along the spectacular coastline and is suitable for those that are experienced and confident when driving.
The traditional starting point if Sorrento, then following the narrow zig-zag road to Salerno.
The winding roads mean it is not for the faint-hearted, but it will make for an unforgettable experience with breath-taking views.
Germany – Route 500
This is a panoramic stretch that runs through the Black Forrest, between the towns of Freudenstadt to Baden.
It is a popular holiday route and can get busy in peak season.
Spain – San Jose to Cabo de Gata
This amazing drive showcases the very best of Spain.
It runs though one of the truly unspoilt areas of Spain in all its natural beauty in the Mediterranean.
With stunning beaches and charming towns, this is the perfect place to rest and refuel.
France – Route Napoleon
This road follows the route once taken by the legendary general as he marched from Elba to Grenoble in 1815.
The route starts in the French Riviera and runs along the bottom of the Alps.