Are you dreaming of taking a cross-country road trip through Europe? You’re not alone. If you want to turn your dream into a reality, here are some strategies to plan the best road trip ever.
1. Manage your expectations
Unlike in the US, you are not merely driving through different states. You are driving through various European countries. As you would expect, the languages, laws, culture, and road signs differ. Now, this can be both exciting and scary, which is why you need to plan your trip at least a few weeks in advance.
Unless you’re a full load transport service, you can’t just drive through the highways of Europe as you please. You would need a highway vignette, which is a pass to use the roads in certain countries of the continent. The validity length of your highway vignette depends on how long you expect your Euro trip to be–it can range from a few days to even a few years.
2. Organize your documents
This is an important step that you should be crucial about, lest you run into some trouble during your road trip. Ensure that your passport is valid at least six months beyond the dates of your road trip, as this is a requirement that some European countries have. Moreover, check if your driver’s license will be valid throughout your road trip.
If you plan to rent a car for your road trip, some car rental companies require an international driving permit aside from a driver’s license. Check out the auto associations in your home country for steps on how to obtain one.
To ensure that everything is taken care of before you leave the country, start getting your documents in order as early as possible.
3. Determine your budget
To help determine how much money you should bring, here are some things that you should consider:
- Document fees
- Highway vignette or tollway fees
- The destinations you want to visit
- Car rental fees and gas
- Food and entertainment
Some destinations are more expensive than others, so make sure you do your research while planning your itinerary. If you’re on a tight budget, choose cheaper destinations, find budget accommodations, and travel off-peak, especially in tourist areas.
Once you have determined your budget, start booking your plane tickets, accommodations, and other arrangements that require pre-booking.
4. Research the rules of the road
European countries have different sets of rules for the road. For example, you drive on the right side of the road in France, and you drive on the left side in England. Learning the rules of the road of each country that you plan to visit is the best way to maintain the safety of everyone around you as well as yourself. Moreover, you don’t want to ruin your road trip by running into trouble with the authorities.
5. Download offline maps
Online GPS apps are handy when driving through unfamiliar roads, but don’t forget to download an offline app as well. An offline app will help keep you on track even if you have no signal or data, which can be a lifesaver if you get lost somewhere where you can’t speak the language.
It’s also a good idea to bring a physical map just in case. However, make sure you know how to read it before you leave.
6. Pack the essentials
Packing the essentials is crucial for any road trip. But for a long-haul journey like a cross-country Europe road trip, you might want to pack more than the usual. Here are some must-haves that you should take with you on your trip:
- Non-perishables (emergency food)
- Extra gas tank
- First aid kit
- Pillow and blanket (in case you need to rest on the road)
- AUX cord
7. Let your bank know
Contact your bank and let them know which countries you will be passing through (not just the countries you’re stopping by). You never know when you’ll have to use your card, so it’s better to let your credit card company be aware of your entire itinerary.
8. Take it slow
We get it, there are so many things to see in Europe, and you want to experience all of them. However, unless you’re planning a long road trip, don’t rush through each country in the hopes of seeing everything because that’s not possible.
Instead, take it slow. Enjoy the moment. You want to enjoy the road trip, not rush through it. Moreover, driving can take a toll on your body, so it’s best if you get ample rest between each day.
Are you ready to take on the challenge of the ultimate Europe road trip? Whether you’re visiting only three countries or ten, these pointers can help you make the most of your dream trip.