Hello fellow travelers and adventure seekers!
I know I have kept telling everyone that my new post is coming out soon, but it’s crazy how busy I have been and I’ve not had time to work on my blog at all. Apologies! However, on the bright side, I have some great news! I have started uni! This was never the plan for this year, considering I only applied to uni few weeks before starting date. It’s absolutely unreal and I still have to pinch myself every day to realize that it’s really happening. But set all of that aside, I have finally published my European Roadtrip post!
I am back from my two month venture in Europe and my God! What an experience! Seeing so much of different countries and cultures is an eye opener. I have so many stories to tell! However, this post will not be about me. There are some tips and advice that I want to share with you if you are preparing for an European road trip.
There is no feeling like freedom when travelling. Being able to pack whatever you want, put it in the boot of your car and just set off! The freedom to change your route, stop wherever you wish, and see whatever you want. After this trip, I have fallen madly in love with the idea of road trips and I am sure that you will too, once you do it.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE EXPENSES
Yes, the freedom of a road trip is the best thing about it! However, there will be some things that you will need to book in advance to save yourself an absolute fortune! If you’re crossing The Channel then I strongly suggest that you pre-book your ferry tickets. The price difference in booking in advance or buying the ticket last minute will definitely shock you! Also, book your hotels or hostels (unless you’re camping) in advance if you’re planning to stay in big cities. Getting rooms last minute in Amsterdam for example, is near to impossible on the night. So do some research, decide on the dates that you’re going to be spending in cities and book. My favorite site for hotels is booking.com, but if you’re more of an adventurous soul and like the idea of hostels (I absolutely adore them) then the best place to book is hostelworld.com .
Toll road research is also a must! You will come across at least one toll road through your journey. If you’re not aware of it, and haven;t paid for it, then you are in for a shock when you will get a fine sent through the post. Don’t assume that just because you’re in a different country, you won’t get a fine. Rest assured- you definitely will get it through your letterbox sooner or later.
Be vary of petrol prices as they can change drastically from one country to another! I suggest you fill up your car in Dover (if travelling from England) and then get on the ferry. Petrol prices in Belgium and Germany can be more expensive than you think! Also, petrol prices on the motorways are usually higher than they are in town and cities. If you have one on the way to your next destination, I would advise you to fill your car up there, rather than motorway petrol station. It can work out cheaper if you need to fill up your tank full few times. If you want to make your road trip as cheap as possible, do some research before you go.
Make sure you pack some food with you that would be suitable to eat in a car! If you will stop at petrol stations every time that you will feel a bit hungry, your expenses will go up drastically. But be careful on what you pack! I would advise some fruits, water and biscuits/crisps. Please, don’t start packing sandwiches, because trust me, in the heat (if it’s a summer road trip) last thing that you will want to put in your mouth will be bread!
CHECK YOUR CAR
This is a must and not to be left out! Make sure you get your car to the garage before your road trip! It seems quite obvious thing, but in the excitement of planning such a trip, it is easily forgotten about. You have to make sure that you leave yourself plenty of time to do this, as your car might need some things fixing. This can take up more time than you think.
Air-conditioning! Oh please don’t make the same foolish mistake that I made. I didn’t check my air-conditioning! Considering British weather, you don’t use it often, so some of you might still not know that your A/C might not be working. Please get it checked out! The last thing you want in your road trip is driving in 33°C heat with no A/C! Trust me, it’s not fun at all!
Make sure that your car is equipped with everything that is necessary by law in ALL of the countries that you will be visiting. Make sure that you have basics such as spare tire, fire extinguisher, high visibility jacket, emergency triangle. first aid kit etc. All of the information of what you will need is found at https://www.rac.co.uk/pdfs/driving-abroad/driving-abroad-checklist. Please, also check each country’s requirement separately as some of the items that we deem as ‘recommended’ might be ‘essential’ in other countries, such as breathalyzer, which is essential in France!
If you are starting your journey from UK, don’t forget to adjust your headlights! You can end up with a hefty penalty if you don’t do it! You can order stickers from eBay, that you simply stick on your headlights when boarding a ferry.
HAVE A ROUTE PLANNED
Yes, the best part of road trip is that magnificent feeling of freedom! However, make sure you plan your route. You can always take detours or stop somewhere that you didn’t originally plan to stop. But make sure that you know where you’re going! This way, you can figure out approximately how many miles you will drive on your journey. This will allow you to figure out how much money you will be spending on petrol. Also, you will be able to work out how long it will take you to get from A to B. Don’t forget to add few more hours to each part of your journey for traffic jams, stops and detours.
If you will be driving through Germany, I would advise to plan your trip carefully. Try to avoid driving through Germany on weekdays! Weekends id the best time to drive through this country and enjoy the smooth ride! This is because there are very few lorries on the roads, which makes the journey more enjoyable and there will so less traffic!
HAVE A BACK UP
Don’t rely entirely on your Sat Nav! It can stop working, or not load the map for a certain country. Make sure that you carry European road map with you! Also, memorize all of the biggest cities around your stopping points. In this way, if your sat nav stops working, you can follow the signs until you get to the city. This will give you a brief idea of where exactly in the country you are. Another thing that could prove to be useful in the road trip is a power bank! When you need to charge more than one phone, or if your car charger has stopped working, there is no better feeling than knowing that it’s all cool, only because you have a back up plan!
THE LEGAL BIT
When you’re planning on which countries you wish to visit, make sure that you check the entry requirements! Just because this is Europe, doesn’t mean that every country on this continent is a part of EU.
If you wish to bring back anything from your holidays, don’t forget to check how much of what you’re allowed to bring back. This can be found at https://www.gov.uk/duty-free-goods/arrivals-from-eu-countries.
ENJOY THE CULTURE
This is going to be the best part in your journey! Don’t be just the average tourist. Be a traveler and adventurer! Go off the track, talk to locals and enjoy the hidden gems. Definitely check tripadvisor as you can find some magnificent places that don’t get advertised! Learn few phrases for every country. Locals will love you when you try to say something in their language.
I hope that you have found this information useful and that you are finally taking the plunge and planning your road trip of a lifetime!
Have a great time guys!