Road-tripping through Europe is must for any serious traveller. With a seemingly endless supply of fabulous food, cities steeped in rich culture and more wonders than you can shake a stick at, a road trip through Europe’s backroads will be a trip you will never forget. However, if you’re to make the most of your time on the continent it’s important that you start off on the right foot; here are some of the absolute essentials you need on your European road trip.
Plenty of change
Many of Europe’s roads operate a toll system, which is something that many uninitiated travellers often forget. Make sure you factor this into your budget and carry plenty of change with you, so you’re not caught out. Thanks to a single currency across most of the continent, a simple jar of Euro coins in your car’s cup holder usually suffices.
Pack your EHIC
Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a must. Australia has a reciprocal arrangement, whereby you are able to receive healthcare at a reduced cost in the European Economic Area (EEA) should you need medical treatment, but only if you are carrying one of these cards. Application is free, so there’s no reason not to carry one, though if you’re running short on time there are services you can use to help get your card quicker for a small fee.
Invest in a sat nav
While those twisty, narrow European roads may look picturesque right now, they can be an absolute nightmare to navigate, especially after dark. Towns which were built hundreds of years ago can be a sprawling mess of and seemingly illogical roads to anyone who isn’t local. A decent a sat nav on your dashboard will not only show you exactly how the road will look before you get there, but it saves you the roaming fees you’d probably incur using your smartphone’s Google Maps app.
Know the rules of the road
Check and then double check that you know the rules of the road in each individual country you pass through. Although many European countries follow similar rules and it’s immediately obvious whether the French drive on the left of the right when there’s cars coming at you, it’s nice to know before you set off. On top of this, road signs and traffic signals tend to differ depending on where you are. It’s easy to get caught out, so make sure you look into this in advance.
Pack the automotive equivalent of trail mix
While the quaint villages and isolated inns you visit can provide some cracking photo opportunities, they may not necessarily offer the hot meal you were expecting after a long day in the saddle. Pack some dry food to keep in the car with you as you drive – trail mix, biscuits and energy bars which will curb your hunger pangs and keep you going. Driving hungry means driving distracted, and you don’t want to be driving unfamiliar roads when your head isn’t in the game.
Keep your insurance handy
Make sure you carry your insurance papers, passports and any other documentation with you in the car. Also, make sure you take it with you when swapping rental cars and modes of transport. We’ve all left CDs in a rental car – leaving your insurance papers behind is just a much more expensive mistake.
Know your rough route
Plan your route before you go. You can always deviate slightly if you’d like or if you find that your route is closed, but underestimating the complexities of the road networks in Europe is a huge mistake. There are many pedestrian-only areas in town centres and cities, and lack of this kind of knowledge can add unnecessary hours onto your trip.
Hold off on the drinking
Tempting though it is, sampling the finest wines that Europe has to offer, make sure you hold off on the alcohol until the day’s driving is done. Europe has incredibly strict rules on drink-driving and most countries carry very strict penalties for anyone flouting the law – especially when that person is someone who can be made an example of.
With these top tips and absolute under your (seat)belt, you should be ready for the trip of a lifetime. Charge your phone, update your track list and start getting your visas in order. Soon enough you’ll be riding through some of the most historic and picturesque locales in the world, trying the best wines, seeing the most unbeatable sites, and living life as it’s meant to be lived on your Euro road trip.