Driving across Europe may seem really daunting at first but after traveling out to Austria for the past 4 winters and passing through France, Luxembourg, and Germany I can tell you that it’s actually really simple and easy. It can actually be easier than driving in England sometimes!
We always choose to travel from Dover to Calais as it is the best option for us. The Eurotunnel is another option but we like to relax on the ferry with a coffee and have a bit of a rest before the long journey ahead. With P&O the crossing is really enjoyable, easy stress free boarding and friendly staff make it a lot less daunting for you.
The option to upgrade to the club lounge is a life saver too! When the rest of the boat is full of school kids on trips and excited tourists you can be sat in the peaceful and comfortable club lounge area. With sockets to charge your electronics and free wifi it means you can catch up on important stuff before you get back on the road. Hot & cold drinks along with snacks are complimentary in the cub lounge too which makes it even better value for money.
When you leave the ferry and set off on your journey you might find it weird driving on the other side of the road but you get used to it quicker than you expect! Make sure you have a reliable sat nav to keep you on track any avoid any stressful situations. Reading a map is absolutely fine but sometimes when you make a wrong turn in a foreign country it can turn you into a grumpy guts that nobody wants to sit in the car with! It’s important not to fall out with your passengers on long car journeys as they are the ones that are supposed to keep you entertained along the way!
Plan your route before you even leave for the trip, this way you will already be familiar with some of the city and country names and it will make you feel a bit more at ease as you drive.
Check that you have everything in the car that you need for each countries legal requirements – if you forget and have to buy them on they way they will be at least double the price! We always pack headlight deflectors, breathalizers (france) high vis vests, warning triangle and a set of spare bulbs. If you are planning a Winter adventure like us then you must get Winter tyres! Not only are they a legal requirement but they do genuinely help you out of snowy situations. In most ski resorts they are pretty good at clearing the roads and preparing them before a storm hits so unless it’s dumping like crazy then driving won’t be a problem.
Drinks & Snacks – Its always a good idea to go to pack a box or bag for the car journey. Take bottles of water, crisps and anything else that easy and mess free to eat in the car. Don’t take anything smelly though – Stinky crisps in a small space is not a good idea!
Tell your bank where you are going – You don’t want to end up stuck at a petrol station with a blocked bank card! It’s really easy to do and saves a lot of hassle on the trip.
Insurance – First check with your car insurer that you are covered for your trip, some policies have limits on the amount of days you can spend abroad so make sure you speak to the company before you leave. Break down cover is a really good idea for long trips, if anything happens you know that you can be rescued and either get the car fixed or taken home. Travel insurance is another really important thing that you must organise before you leave, even if you think you won’t be doing anything risky you should still get cover to be safe. The If you haven’t got one already then apply for your EHIC card too, this covers some medical treatment which can save you paying for things and having to claim it back through your insurance. This doesn’t cover everything though so you will still need travel insurance too. It’s worth checking what options your bank have to offer, my Lloyds account comes with travel insurance, breakdown cover and a service that replaces your bank cards really quickly if you lose them while abroad so it’s worth asking them about it.
Don’t try and do too much driving in one go, break it up a little so that it’s more enjoyable. Stop at different places along the way, you never know you might find some really cool places that you would never have thought to visit.
I hope this has been helpful, I really want more people to get out there and explore – It really is a lot of fun and you will want to plan more trips after you have done the first one!