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Travel

Everything you need to know about driving in Europe

Monday, 13 November 2017 GMT
Author: Staveley Head

We Brits love taking a holiday across the Channel into Europe. With UK residents making 19.3 million trips to the continent between January and May 2017. However there are a number of things you need to know if you’re planning on driving in Europe and want to stay on the right side of the law (and the road).

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Here are some of the things you’ll want to bring with you and be aware of on your European adventure. 

Documents

Ensuring that you take the correct documents with you if you’re driving through Europe is important. The last thing you want to happen is to be stopped and fined (or at worst having your vehicle taken away) for not having all your documents in order. It’s a sure-fire way to ruining your holiday!

The documents you must carry are:

Before you set off you should make sure that your car insurance or motorhome insurance covers you to drive abroad and that your breakdown insurance extends to travel in Europe. 

Drive on the right

This is a biggy and definitely something you don’t want to get wrong. Although it may seem obvious that you need to drive on the right, it can be easy to forget this rule, especially if you’ve stopped for lunch or to fill the car up at a petrol station. A handy tip is to write it on your hand for a few days, just whilst you get accustomed to driving on the other side of the road. 

Toll roads

Toll roads are often forgotten about an aspect of driving on the continent. Although we do have tolls on some stretches of motorway like the M6 and M25, they are much more of a regular occurrence on European roads.  Many countries operate toll roads, so it’s always handy to have plenty of loose change in the correct currency at the ready.  It’s also useful to have some money set aside for any unexpected costs. 

Be prepared

Drive carefully and be aware whilst on the roads. Remember the local driving style can differ massively to that in the UK. It’s recommended that you drive defensively, remain observant and expect the unexpected at all times.

Talking about being prepared, the list below will help you adhere to the various laws that each country has in place across Europe:

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  • A GB sticker – If your vehicle doesn’t include the GB euro-symbol on the registration plates (Europlates) then you’ll need to display a GB sticker when driving in the EU
  • A warning triangle
  • Reflective jacket
  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Headlight converters
  • Spare prescription glasses (if required for the driver when driving in Switzerland) 

Map your travels

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Sat-navs are an invaluable piece of kit. Many modern cars and motorhomes are beginning to feature them as standard – which is great news. Just make sure that you have it programmed with the most up-to-date maps of Europe (and always carry a map just in case). If your vehicle doesn’t have an existing sat-nav then you can always buy a dashboard or windscreen mounted version. It’s important to remember that sat-nav requirements can vary from country to country. For example, in France, it’s illegal to use a sat-nav with radar detection that indicates the location of fixed speed cameras.

 

Beware of thieves

Be vigilant whilst using the roads in Europe. Don’t leave any valuables in sight, make sure you park in well-lit areas and don’t let thieves distract you, as highlighted in the Foreign Office’s video below: 

Don’t let thieves drive you to distraction from the Foreign Office on Vimeo.

 

Where will you be going?

Europe is full of wonderful locations. There are charming villages, historic towns, glorious beaches and beautiful countryside waiting to be explored. But when you’re in the planning stage of your holiday - either in the UK or when you’re on the continent – check the weather reports and annual temperatures of where you’re going. Locations in Europe can get extremely hot in the summer, so if you’re not good with the heat or if you’re travelling with young children, you may need to adjust where you go.

Need a little inspiration for your travels? Check out our blog and discover some of our favourite caravan holiday destinations in Europe.

 

Do you have any tips for driving in Europe? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter

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