If you’re thinking of finally taking the plunge and hitting the highways and byways of Europe this year, you’ll have to start planning your road trip as soon as possible – there’s more to it than just working out when and where you’re going to stop off.
Once you’ve sorted your itinerary you’ll need to familiarise yourself with the different road rules and regulations – so here’s a quick guide on (pretty much) everything you’ll need to know when planning a road trip around Europe.
In case of emergency
Most European countries’ driving laws insist you pack high visibility jackets for yourself and any passengers, as well as a warning triangle in case you break down.
In Spain, however, the rules of the road require you to pack two warning triangles. Check the specific requirements for the country you’re heading to.
And if you need to call the emergency services while abroad, the number is 112.
Getting the paperwork straight
If you’re taking a UK-registered car to the continent you’ll need to display a GB sticker or have a European flag badge on the number plate.
If you’re going to be driving across any non-EU countries you’ll need to display a GB sticker even if you have an EU number plate.
If you’re stopped at the roadside you may be asked to show your documents, and if you fail to do so you could be fined or even have your car impounded, so make sure you have the following:
- Full driving licence (preferably a photo card)
- Your vehicle’s V5C (also known as the log book)
- Your car insurance documents
- Passport and travel insurance
- A visa and International Driving Permit (where necessary)
And if you’re hiring a car while abroad, don’t forget to get a driver check code from DVLA online as the paper counterpart licence is no longer valid.
Make sure you’re insured
If you’re hiring a motor in Europe, you’ll most likely sort out the insurance with the car hire company.
If you’re taking your own car over there, your UK policy should cover you to drive within any EU country – watch out though, even if you have fully comprehensive cover this may drop to third party only cover, meaning it’ll only pay out to damage to third party property and not your own vehicle.
And remember, your standard breakdown recovery likely won’t cover you for European travel so you’ll need to upgrade before you leave.
Low emissions zones
A growing number of European cities now operate low emission zones, congestion charges and other restricted access schemes, so make sure you’re up to speed with any restrictions before you travel as many affect foreign-registered vehicles and require pre-registration.
Don’t push it to the limit
Alcohol limits in Europe are often lower than those in the UK – usually 50mg per 100ml, compared with 80mg in England and Wales – so it’s best to avoid alcohol completely if you’re going to be driving.
If you need to wear glasses when driving, you’ll have to carry a spare pair if you’re driving through Spain – it’s probably best to carry a spare pair anywhere you’re going, just in case.
Have you ever come unstuck driving across the continent? Or do you have any invaluable advice for anyone taking a road trip to Europe? Let us know…