Whilst some travellers may prefer to stick to Interrailing, those wanting even more freedom will choose to embark on a roadtrip. Of course, a roadtrip of such magnitude isn’t something you can spontaneously do one morning. Careful preparation is needed to avoid getting into trouble or simply spending too much. Here are some important planning tips.
Get the right documentation
Obvious documents to take are your passport and your driving license/insurance documents. You should check your insurance covers you for travel abroad as some provider don’t. Whilst it’s not a problem at the moment, it’s also worth reading the ETIAS website for future updates on visas when going from a non-EU country to an EU country. Some countries, particularly Eastern European countries such as Hungary and Slovenia, may also require a driving permit known as a Vignette – you can buy this online just before you enter that country if necessary. Most vignettes only apply to highway use, so you could still drive into these countries without one, although you’ll be limited to non-highway routes.
Read up on the rules of the road
Every country in Europe will have different driving laws. Aside from the UK, most drive on the right hand side. There are other rules to look out for such as always having headlamps on in some Eastern European countries. Some countries such as Italy and Spain will have laws in place, but few drivers will seem to follow them. Try not to be tempted to run red lights and not give way – the locals may do it, but that’s no reason to put yourself in danger.
Avoid expensive city parking
Parking in any city will be pricey, except on a Sunday when it can often be free. Whilst you’ll undoubtedly want to visit the cities, you’re often better off parking on the outskirts and getting public transport in. Accommodation will be cheaper on the outskirts too and you may be able to use their car park. Some supermarket car parks will also be free – you’ll find Lidl’s all over Europe and may even be able to grab some cheap food whilst you’re at it.
Dodge the toll roads
In some countries, you can quickly spend a lot of money by constantly using toll roads. These are quicker than non-toll roads, but if you’re willing to take a more leisurely drive you may benefit from using Google maps to find the best non-toll routes. You can also use Google Maps in vignette countries to avoid highways and hence avoid paying for a vignette.
Book accommodation early
No, you don’t have to book all your accommodation before you set off. However, you can save the hassle of driving around a foreign city late at night by always booking the next night’s accommodation the morning before. Hostels and campsites will always be cheaper than hotels and you can save costs by choosing ones on the outskirts of a city rather than right in the hub. Alternatively, you could save money by taking a camper van or a caravan.