Driving across Europe

Driving across Europe

A road trip across Europe can e an amazing and exciting adventure. The changing scenery from one country to the next is exhilarating. Crossing mountain passes and driving through long tunnels blasted out of granite hillsides will leave you breathless. Stopping along the way to sample the local culture and flavors is something that no flight or train journey will offer you. But it can also be full of problems if you don’t think it through a little first.

Firstly, make sure that your car is road worthy for the trip and that you have some kind of breakdown coverage that spans the whole of Europe. Make sure that your insurance is in order too, as that can lead to big fines if you have an accident and are not covered. Having an international drivers license is a good idea too, as it will be recognized by most authorities. And lastly, do not forget to bring a GPS along. While maps are fine and great fun to plan your journey, if you buy a GPS before setting of and have the latest maps uploaded, you will save loads from a rental agency, which typically charges up to $10 a day for one

Before you plan a trip, get and idea of where you want to go. Of course, you don’t need to limit yourself to that plan, for that is the joy of driving, you can stop off anywhere. But having a basic plan gives you a better idea of what to bring along, as some stretched of road don’t have much to offer in the way of service. For the most part though, you will find everything that you could possibly need within 20 miles or so of any given place. There are various different roads you can travel, some are toll highways, others free. It just depends on how much of a hurry you are in.

Most of Europe has a fantastic road system, with Germany being the most outstanding. The south of the country feature the Black Forest and Bavaria, which is very traditional and beautiful. The entire north of the continent offers clearly signposted highways with well cared for roads. It may have something to do with the fact that the landscape is flatter, but all along the way you will find quaint towns an villages. The further south you get, the roads become a bit more rough, though by no means are they dangerous or neglected. EU directives insure that all roads are suitable for even the biggest vehicles. The public services in almost across all of northern Europe are amazing, from Scandinavia through the Netherlands.

Eastern Europe is less developed in many places, so you might want to slow down and take in the scenery a bit more. Getting off the main highways and really exploring is much more fun than hours on the same road with the same scenery. Try Czech Republic, Poland or Slovakia for a truly old world experience. You will discover medieval villages that have not changed in hundreds of years. You will find vineyards, mountain hideaways and castles. It is a truly romantic journey.

Traveling across Switzerland and Austria as well as the south of France, you will encounter majestic mountain ranges with stunning views. The Swiss have their own road tax system, so look into that if you plan on driving there. Much of these mountain areas can get pretty covered in snow during the winter, and though they are cleared regularly, it is best to be prepared, especially if you plan on wandering off of the main highways. This is also true of Norway, Sweden and Finland. If you are there in the winter, be prepared to drive on ice sometimes.

Spain and Portugal are an absolute delight to travel by road. Both nations have a countryside that varies vastly as you pass through it, ranging from mountains to beaches and you will never tire of the views. Slow down a little in these countries as sometimes the roads get a little narrow. If you have time, take a drive through the Sierra-Nevada mountains or the stunning Picos De Europa. The views of this stunning landscape will last a lifetime

The U.K is a completely different driving experience. Firstly, they drive on the left side of the road. This is not too difficult to get used to if you have hired a left hand drive car within the country. But if you hire a car on the continent and bring it to England, you might find driving a little difficult, though not impossible. Also, driving in back country road in England and Scotland can be a bit hair raising, as they are often now wider than 1 car and have thick hedges or a ditch on either side. They are beautiful to drive along, but just be aware.

The E.U. has a pretty standard set of laws regarding driving in Europe, and you can find most of these online. But remember that each country will have it’s own set of rules and road signs. These days most use symbols that are internationally recognized, but it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with them before you start. Being well prepared is your best defense against any dramas. Just remember that millions of people drive across Europe every day with no incident at all.

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