Taking your car on holiday with you to Europe can be a great way to save money and ensure that you have transport for you and your family when you get there. However, it’s important to be prepared for the differences when driving on the Continent. |
It’s all very well planning the details of your stay in Europe – travel insurance, hotel bookings etc. – but if you’re driving you also need to think about the different laws that apply in the countries you’re driving through as well as driving on the dreaded other side of the road.
Plan your Journey
Key things to check before you set off is that your car insurance is valid in Europe, that your travel insurance will cover you in the case of any personal injury, and also that you have European breakdown cover – even the most reliable cars can let you down on long journeys.
Some UK car insurance policies will cover you in Europe but it’s important to make sure so call your insurance provider and check – there may also be stipulations about how long you can stay in Europe and still be covered.
Do Your Research
Another thing to do before you set out on your European road trip is to check the key driving laws in the countries you are going to (even if you’re only driving through to get to another country).
Each EU member will have its own laws: some demand you have a high visibility jacket in your car, some that glasses wearers must have a spare set on hand, while in others you are not allowed to wear flip flops when you drive. It is important that you familiarise yourself with these rules so that you don’t find yourself inadvertently on the wrong side of the law.
Another thing to look out for is roads with tolls; some EU countries will charge you to use the motorways so it’s important to have enough Euros with you to cover this extra cost. If you want to save money there is usually a good network of ‘alternative’ free roads which may be a little slower but will not charge.
Maps vs Sat Navs
Most of us rely on satellite navigation systems these days but it’s a good idea to at least look at a map before you set off so that you are aware of the general route and don’t need to rely too heavily on your sat nav. Always have a map with you so you don’t find yourself at a complete loss if you lose signal in the middle of nowhere.
Also bear in mind that sat navs which indicate traffic cameras are banned in France, so you will need to disable this function or else rely on your map.
‘Me to the Pavement’
It may sound obvious but the most important thing to remember when driving in most of Europe (the exceptions being the UK, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta) is that you need to drive on the right hand side of the road. If you’ve been driving for years then this can be harder than it sounds, as you rely on muscle memory more than you may realise.
A good way to remember is to always think ‘me to the pavement’, which means you as the driver will be on the pavement side and your passenger in the middle. Repeat this mantra to yourself at roundabouts, junctions and when you’re setting off and you’ll always be in the right position.
Be prepared for your road trip to Europe (travel insurance, breakdown cover, maps in hand) and you’ll have a fantastic time discovering the beautiful countryside that lies just across the Channel.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global single trip, family and annual travel policies including Europe travel insurance. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.
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