Quick! We’re raising the drawbridge. Closing the borders. Bidding adieu to our continental cousins. And while this might sound a little silly, there may no better time than now to take one last trip to Europe by car, before we’re all banished for good for acting so haughtily.
If you do decide on one last bout of freewheelin’ freedom on the European roads, it’s vital that you’re well prepared and ready for action. If not, you’ll be lost, lonely and longing for Blighty. So, we’ve teamed up with Lookers, who stock a variety of car servicing parts, to give you these 4 IDEAL tips for your last minute road trip to Europe.
DON’T LEAVE IT ALL TO CHANCE
Yep, we know half the fun of a road trip – let alone a last minute one – is the impromptu nature of things. You’ve got nothing on your mind except what’s playing on the stereo and where you’re next pulling in for a snack, and that’s just the way it should be. But let’s be honest; it’s unlikely you’d drive somewhere in the U.K without the faintest idea of how to get to your destination, so why would you leave your navigation skills to chance when driving abroad? You may know how to order a couple of cervezas in a Spanish bar, but that won’t get you from A via a remote, winding road to B.
Make sure, then, that you invest in a map or use an internet route planner or sat nav to ensure you don’t take a wrong turn and get lost in an unfamiliar area. And have a few stops along the way planned and perhaps actually booked. Winging it can be really liberating and all that, but it can also get pretty tiresome.
PACK ALL OF YOUR ESSENTIAL DOCUMENTS
Hey, we’re not saying we’ve offended a whole continent with delusions of grandeur, and cops will be relishing the chance to bust you for a minor traffic offence, but it’s definitely wise to stay on the right side of the law on your last minute road trip to Europe. While a national driving licence can be used in any country across the EU, some other regions in Europe will require you to additionally have an International Driving Permit before you can rent a car or drive a vehicle on a public highway. Depending on the countries you’re planning to visit, you may also need to carry proof of insurance, especially when you’re crossing certain borders. Generally, you’ll find that staff at the car rental agencies you choose will happily explain more to you about such requirements.
ERRATIC CAR RENTAL RATES
Cars often have a high rental price in Europe, especially if you’re looking for a short term arrangement. That being said, you can still find savings, especially if you rent a vehicle for a week instead of daily. It’s also beneficiary to book a car in advance as rental agencies may be willing to reduce costs during times when their inventory is high. To find the lowest prices, you should shop around and check a number of car hire companies before making your decision. You may also want to consider a wholesale rental consolidator.
As much as it may seem like a chore, take the time to read through all of the terms and conditions before signing any rental agreement. Unnecessary charges often lurk just out of sight of skimming eyes. Also, it’s crucial that you give your rental vehicle a thorough inspection and note down (even photograph) any damage that you find before driving it away from the rental office. You don’t want to be charged for something that wasn’t you, do you?
LEARN THE LOCAL TRAFFIC LAWS
From one country to the next, each nation across the globe will have their unique set of traffic laws, some familiar, some obscure. In Switzerland, for instance, you’re not allowed to wash your car on a Sunday; so hands away from the soap and bucket! In Germany, it’s permitted to drive in nothing but your shoes; marvellous news.
Laws may differ from town to province and city, too, so you need to make sure you’re well prepared. By learning all you can about the specific rules of the road where you plan to go, such as seatbelt use, speed limits, and blood alcohol levels, you’ll avoid any hiccups (yep, stay away from the booze) with the local police. And unlike the UK, driving on the right-hand side of the road is universal throughout continental Europe. But you knew that already, right?