Let me be honest with you, I was not a fan of road trips till I went on one in Europe. My version of a trip is to get to my destination in the shortest and fastest time possible and enjoy the place exploring it by foot or public transportation and of course eating around. Driving around for hours or days? No way! Until I went to Europe…Driving through 6 different countries was an amazing experience! Passing through the big cities, small cute towns, beautifully lush and green grounds in Switzerland. My journey began in Amsterdam, continued to Belgium, France, Switzerland, a few miles of Austria, then through Germany and back to Amsterdam. After having driven through Europe for 10 days, I definitely learned a lot of things that are different from driving in the U.S. Keep on reading to learn more of my Europe road trip travel tips, you are going to need them especially, if you are planning a trip soon!
Europe Road Travel Trip Tips
Visa/Border Control process– First and foremost, crossing borders in the Schengen countries was a piece of cake! Reason being, there are no borders! The only country where I was stopped for a brief 2 mins and 45 seconds was upon entering Switzerland from France, I was asked why I was entering Switzerland and to show my passport, quick and easy, no issues. Most of them just have barricades to slow you down, and no border control patrol. There were no flashy signs welcoming you to a certain country, so it is very easy to miss when you do cross borders.
Gas is expensive- After my road trip in Europe, I have stopped complaining about the $2.85/ gallon gas price in the U.S. I rented a mid-size sedan Volvo, I believe I spent over $500 for gas for 10 days!! I did not drive the car around in the cities, parked it as soon as I got to one city and explored via public transportation or foot. Each fill up cost around 80-90 euros, ouch!
Get lost– The views are simply stunning in all of the the European countries, especially during summer, example: the beautiful mountains of Austria, little towns in France, etc. If something catches your eye, don’t be afraid to make a quick stop and enjoy the scenery, grab a cup of coffee with croissant or eat at a local mom & pop restaurant, it doesn’t get anymore authentic than that!
Parking– Get ready for a sticker shock! Due to limited space, parking is expensive and tough to find in the cities. I highly recommend leaving your at your hotel/Airbnb, or outside the city and explore it via foot and/or public transportation.
GPS– If you are planning to drive around 5-6 different countries, I highly recommend getting a good and reliable GPS and have your routes marked on an old fashioned map, relying solely on your phone for directions might be a little risky especially when driving through mountain regions. Click here for the exact GPS I used and click here for the atlas I carried with me.
Road trip essentials- Don’t hit the road without the essentials. Travelling with kids? Make sure to have plenty of snacks. Travelling with adults? Have more snacks! Audio books are a great way to keep yourself entertained, in addition to other essentials such as an umbrella, pillows, comfy shoes, travel journal, camera, and a jamming playlist! Click here to get your snack box.
Plan your outfits- The goal is to look cute and be comfortable. Before you pack, check the weather conditions, and what activities you are planning during the trip and couple extras. Even though you can pack tons in your vehicle, don’t forget your luggage restrictions for your flight.
Car rental– I rented my Volvo from the Amsterdam airport. Wherever you rent your vehicle from, make sure to ask some crucial questions such as: Who to call or what to do if your vehicle breaks down? Where can you locate the car manual? What all is covered by your car insurance? Is your vehicle allowed in all the countries you are planning to drive through? Do you know where the car registration is? Extra car key? Some vehicles have a mileage limitation, I highly recommend
getting one that includes unlimited mileage to avoid any additional costs.
Emergency car kit- Do not start your road trip without an emergency car kit. Unfortunately, things happen which you have no control over, but you certainly can do your best to be prepared when something does happen. Click here for my recommended emergency car kit, I keep the exact one in my vehicle at home too. Another thing I highly recommend carrying is a first aid kit, you can either DIY one or purchase this travel friendly one here. Also make sure you have all the emergency phone numbers handy such as local police, emergency number, roadside assistance, etc.
Staying connected– Staying connected with your loved ones is very important at all times especially when travelling outside the country. Bring an unlocked phone and purchase a local SIM card as it is the most economical option, if you are not able to do so, contact your local phone company before your trip to check for an international plan option. Download all apps, movies, music, etc on WiFi beforehand.
Pit stops: Gas station food in Europe wasn’t too bad actually, I bought lots and lots of bread, chocolate and more desserts. Chocolate in Europe is always better (in my opinion), I mean I did go to Belgium and Switzerland. Keep some cash on you, most of the restrooms are not free and require coins to enter, keep some change on you.
Last tip is to simply have fun and enjoy the beauty of Europe! You will be in your vehicle for a long time, I highly recommend paying the extra few bucks and getting a comfortable vehicle. Have all your hotel/Airbnb reservations printed/written down, you will need the addresses. I had an excellent time road tripping through Europe (once I got over the crazy gas prices!), the views were simply stunning, cute little towns as detours and some amazing food all over. Each country has its own beauty and is just waiting to be explored. I hope you enjoy your road trip to Europe!
Click here to purchase the essential guide to driving in Europe which includes all the driving rules you need to know!