Driving in Europe - Everything You Need to Know

Lisa Harper

By: Lisa Harper

If you’re planning to drive in Europe then our handy checklist is sure to prove invaluable.  Whether you’re driving to one location or are heading to multiple areas or countries you can make sure that you’re fully prepped for your journey. 

Essential Documents for Driving in Europe:

- Full valid driving licence

- Car insurance documents – make sure your insurance covers the countries you intend to travel to

- Valid passport - essential for crossing borders

- V5C certificate (vehicle logbook) as proof of ownership or hire documents if you have hired the vehicle

- Personal travel insurance documents – again make sure your insurance covers where you intend to travel and any activities you are planning to carry out

- European Breakdown Cover Documents – we think the extra expense of European breakdown cover will definitely prove its worth should you run into any problems with your car on your journey.

- A valid MOT certificate if your car is older than three years old

Driving in Europe

Essential Equipment for your Car when Travelling in Europe: 

- A reflective jacket for each occupant of the vehicle (kept in the cabin of the car).

- Warning triangle – one triangle is compulsory in most European countries, however if you’re heading to Spain you’ll need two, as in the event of a breakdown you need to place one in front and one behind your vehicle.

- Headlamp beam deflectors are necessary as most of Europe drive on the opposite side of the road. However if your headlights are manually adjustable, then just adjust them so they won’t blind other drivers.

- Carrying a breathalyser is a compulsory requirement in France.

- Crit’Air clean air stickers – A sticker that clearly identifies a vehicles emissions levels, is essential if you are planning to head to some French cities. It costs less than £4 so is hardly going to break the bank and will avoid you having to pay a substantial fine.

- A GB Car Sticker is required for driving in Europe if your car doesn’t have a GB Euro number plate.

- A first aid kit is not only a sensible piece of kit to carry, in certain countries like Austria it is actually a legal requirement.

- If you are a glasses wearer then in some European countries you are required to carry a spare pair in the car with you (for example France and Spain).

- If you’re heading somewhere snowy in some European countries it is necessary to carry snow chains.

Additional Recommended Equipment:

- Fire extinguisher

- Replacement bulbs

- A high quality torch and spare batteries

- A jerry can allows you to carry extra fuel if needed – a great idea if you’re travelling off the beaten track and fuel stations may be few and far between.

- Spare water and engine oil so you can top up as needed.

- A Satnav along with a good old fashioned paper map that will cover your entire route (just in case you lose GPS reception).

- Photocopies of any essential documents are a good idea just in case you lose the originals.

- Monetary change in the currency of the countries you are intending to visit will come in useful for toll roads (of which there are plenty in Europe) and parking.

- Hands free setup for your phone, if your car doesn’t have automatic connectivity, is indispensable as like in the UK using a hand held mobile phone while driving is prohibited in many countries.

When Driving in Europe Remember:

- Speed limits in Europe are in km/h so if you’re travelling in a British vehicle keep an on the kilometre per hour reading on your speed dial.

- Drink driving limits vary across Europe so if in any doubt do not drink and drive.

Top Tips For Driving in Europe:

Make sure your are prepared for driving in Europe by following these top tips:

- Get to grips with the rules of driving in Europe well in advance of your journey. Then you will only need to make a quick check of these regulations a couple of days before you set off.

- Plan your route, thinking about where you want to stop off and how far this means you will be driving each day. If you intend on doing lengthy stretches it might be best to share the driving.

- Going on a road trip is all about enjoying the freedom if offers. So if you’re not planning to stick to a pre-determined route, we recommend at least booking your accommodation for the start, middle and end of the trip to give your journey some structure.

- Even is your spouse, partner or passenger is not intending to drive it’s a good idea for them to take their driving licence etc. This means if you aren’t feeling up to driving or something happens which would prevent you driving, then you won’t be stranded.

- Make sure your car is ready for the journey

- Double check your car’s MOT certificate to make sure it is valid for the time you are away and for the time you get back.

- In many European countries there are a host of restrictions on trucks travelling on Sunday. The result is Sunday can be a great day for a long stretch of hassle-free driving.

- Avoid carrying unnecessary valuables, if you’re spending a good portion of your day on the road chances are your iPad, kindle or laptop aren’t going to get much use, so don’t take them!

- Pack lightly but remember to include items suited to each of the different places you are visiting. Even in one country weather conditions vary greatly. For example the temperature in Normandy might be more on par with that in the UK whereas head south to Cannes and the temperature should start to heat up.

- Heading onto the autobahn in Germany? Be prepared for cars suddenly appearing in your rear-view mirrors. Some drivers really want to make the most of the lack of speed limit, leaving you only two choices, move over or put your foot down.

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