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Chris and I very often go on a road trip. Mainly around Europe, with our most recent ones being Monaco ( you can read about it here) & South of France. We also have an upcoming trip to Poland in August.
A part from driving on the other side of the road you need to take into consideration different laws across Europe and all the essential equipment you need to buy before your journey. Below you will find my checklist we use rigorously every time we travel abroad in our car
Planning your Road trip
With todays technology this is pretty easy. All you need to do is type into Google your current location and your destination point and everything will update itself. Google maps will calculate the best route for you, including estimated journey time. All you need to do is plan for your break stops and potentially overnight stay- depending how far you travelling. Again, you can add all your stop points into your journey planner on Google maps.
My other favourite app to use is Waze. Waze give you live updates on the traffic situation and best routes to take to avoid being stuck for hours. You can also set up your arrival time and the application will calculate exactly what time you need to leave based on the current traffic situation. It will also send you a notification if you need to leave earlier than originally planned- so clever!
Remember to take into consideration any toll roads and the cost of them. Some can be very pricy. For example drive from Dover to Monaco cost us over £100.00!!! I almost had a heart attack every time I had to pay. Alternatively, plan your journey to avoid paid roads.
Book your crossing to the other side
You have only 2 options really. Eurotunnel or Ferry. We find that ferry’s are normally cheaper and more reliable when it comes to time keeping. Especially during summer. When you traveling by ferry you can spend the time shopping in duty free shops, grab something to eat or have a quick power nap. The disadvantage is that they take little longer to cross the sea. Also if you travel with your pet, you need to leave him in the car by himself which I think is very unfair as they don’t know what is going on.
Eurotunnel is definitely more convenient. Firstly, the time of the crossing is half compared to ferry. You can also stay in your car with your pet. The tickets are normally more expensive to ferry crossing, plus I don’t think I have ever been on a Eurotunnel that left on time.
Check your Road trip kit
This is probably one of the most important points. The fact you come from a different country doesn’t give you the excuse to not follow the law in the country you are in, even if you only driving through it.
Check the most common road laws of the country’s you are going to visit so you have a rough guide on what to buy such as lights deflectors, warning triangle, high-vis jackets or alcohol breathalyser. You will also need to check what is required in your first aid box. Make sure all of those are easy accessible from the driver/ front passenger seat. You don’t want to be unpacking your car on the hard shoulder in a search of warning triangle.
Good Samaritan law
Good Samaritan law is followed in most European countries. It means that if you see a road traffic accident you need to stop and help to best of your capabilities.Even if you don’t know the basic first aid, you could potentially saves someone’s life just by calling an ambulance. The Good Samaritan law varies from country to country so make sure you are familiar with all the details before you travel. You can read more about it here
Before any travels you should have your car checked professionally. Make sure that everything is in working order, you have spare tyre and all liquids are topped up, such as oil and windscreen spray. When travelling with your pet ensure you have special seatbelt or cage for them, so they are secured during your journey.
You are going to spend a fair bit of time on the motorways and as we all know, motorway petrol prices are rocket high. By coming off the motorway and driving an extra couple of miles you can reduce the cost drastically. The Waze app is brilliant for this. It will not only show you petrol stations near your location, but it will tell you exactly how far off your route they are and what is the cost per litre. You will be surprised how much prices can very in 20 miles radius. We normally try to combine petrol stops together with rest breaks. We found that Supermarkets are the best for this as they have best of both, cheap petrol and cheap food. The toilets are also much cleaner than the ones at the services, plus they are free.
When traveling anywhere in the world having local currency is a must. But traveling across Europe you need to remember to buy small amount of currency’s of the country’s that you are going to visit on your way. Its important to have few coins with you just in case you need to pay for the toilet
Prepare your Road trip playlist
This is a must! Can you imaging traveling for so long without listening to your fave tunes and singing along?! Of course you also have an option of listening to local radio station playing German Hip- Hop or French pop.
I love a road trip! Even if they take longer than flying, sometimes can be boring and super tiring especially when you are the driver. Road trips give you freedom of going any place you want, discover areas that you would not necessary visit or change your plans last minute without having to worry about changing your flights etc. If you want to stay somewhere for longer or you want to move on onto the next place without hanging around. Traveling by car gives you freedom!