Are you heading across the Channel for an adventure this summer? Exploring Europe is the perfect choice, but as with any holiday there are a number of things you’ll need to consider, especially if you’re driving.
Driving is a great option as it allows you to travel at your own pace, but before you head off to go mountain climbing in Switzerland or sky diving in Italy there are numerous things you need to plan. Let’s take a look at what you might need to consider.
Preparing your car for a long drive
Before going anywhere it’d be wise to fill up on petrol to minimise any potential inconvenience. Also, as you may be on the road for a long time you’re likely to need to fill up again along the way, so make sure you budget enough money to keep you going. Its also good to know what petrol and diesel are in the language of the countries you’re visiting.
Check the condition of your spare tyre (if you have one) or make sure your tyre inflation kit is in the boot. It could be a good idea to have a set of maintenance tools, just in case you run into a spot of trouble. Speaking of maintenance, is your car due for any repairs? Does it need servicing? If so, make sure this gets done before you go away.
It’s also good practice to check your tyre pressure is at the level recommended by your car’s manufacturer, and make sure the oil, water and windscreen washer fluid is topped up before embarking on a long journey.
Taking care of insurance
It is absolutely vital you know what you are insured for. Double check with your insurer that you are covered to drive in a different country. Policies from drive like a girl provide full policy cover in many EU Countries for up to 30 consecutive days; although temporary replacement cars are not available abroad, and repairs undertaken abroad are not guaranteed, as they are not carried out by the drive like a girl approved network of repairers.
Breaking down abroad could be the thing of nightmares, especially with the language barrier. Having breakdown cover can give you peace of mind and, depending on which level of cover you choose from your provider, can offer you roadside assistance, recovery back to the UK and onwards travel so you don’t have to miss out on your holiday.
Preparing yourself for the journey
Preparation is key to a successful holiday. If you want everything to run smoothly be sure to plan your route before you set off. If you have a sat nav with European mapping this is great, but it’s always a good idea to have a good old fashioned map as a backup. Be aware that if your sat nav has a speed camera detection function, this is illegal in France so you must disable this function before you cross the Channel.
We’d suggest packing plenty of food and water for your drive. You can always stop off along the way for a bite to eat, but with such a long journey ahead it’ll save you time and money to have some home prepared snacks. If you’re driving through France you can enjoy the aires, or rest areas, which have picnic tables and toilets so you can take a break, grab a bite and stretch your legs. If you don’t take food with you, the aires with restaurants usually offer good quality food at relatively reasonable prices, unlike some service stations in the UK.
Are you wearing comfortable clothing? If it’s going to be a long journey you’ll want to be comfortable. Sensible footwear is a must. You might even want to avoid short skirts or shorts as the seat may irritate or burn your skin, especially if you have leather seats. Read more about your driving wardrobe here.
Take breaks along the way
Tiredness is one of the biggest causes of accidents, so it’s essential to take regular breaks. According to an article in the Telegraph, 50% of Britain’s motorists habitually drive for more than two hours on a long motorway journey without taking a break. Half of those never stop for a break during motorway journeys lasting four or more hours.
It’s dangerous to drive when you’re tired; drive like a girl advice is to stop for a break if you’re tired, don’t drive for longer than 2.5 hours at a time and take a break for at least 20 minutes. When on a road trip you could share the driving with your friends or plan in an overnight stop. There are plenty of roadside hotels that you can book into in Europe.
Know the rules of the road
Just like you had to learn the Highway Code to understand what road signs mean and what the rules of the road are, be sure to familiarise yourself with the rules in any country you’re going to be driving through so that when you get there you don’t get in any trouble with the police.
In some places you’re required to have and/or do things that you aren’t here in the UK. For example, in France you by law need to carry a breathalyser in your car. Take a look at our list of what you need to carry in your car in Europe so you know what you need to have with you.
Drive safely, as you would in Britain. So no drink or drug driving, no speeding and no texting behind the wheel. Be aware that speed limits differ across Europe, as do drink drive limits.
Make the most of your trip and visit as many places as you can. Chill out and enjoy the break you deserve. Oh and remember to drive on the correct side of the road.