Preparing your car for a journey across Europe

Preparing your car for a journey across Europe

When planning a long getaway, most holidaymakers will naturally start looking at flights to their preferred destinations. But one way to save money on a holiday is to go somewhere by car; flights can be very expensive and, although it can be stressful, taking the trip on four wheels can be a great way to see the sights along the way and avoid the horrors of airport car rental desks. There are many things to consider before making that drive through Europe and this handy checklist should help prepare you.

First of all, your car needs to be in tip-top condition. Breaking down abroad can be very expensive, not to mention a logistical nightmare, so run a few checks on your car to ensure that it is up to the test. Check under the bonnet to make sure nothing looks out of place. Visually inspect your tyres, wipers and mirrors to see if anything is in need of any attention or replacement. If in doubt, it’s best to have your car inspected by a mechanic so that any major problems can be resolved ahead of time. You can find more details on what other checks to make on your car.

With your car ready to hit the European roads, you should think about whether or not your insurance policy will cover the trip. Contact your provider for confirmation – and think about what type to get if your policy does not cover non-UK trips. The most basic additional cover is known as a “green card” but it really is basic – so make the necessary arrangements if you feel you’ll need more protection during the drive.

When you come to plan the route you’ll be taking onto the continent, you should consider how you’ll be crossing the English Channel. Although taking your car aboard the EuroTunnel train costs more money than boarding a ferry from Dover, it will get you to the other side in half the time. If time isn’t a concern and you’d prefer a more scenic journey (and don’t get seasick!) then the ferry would be much more fun.

Don’t be caught out by the differences between English and European driving laws; it’s more than just a matter of knowing which side to drive on. For example, in France all road vehicles must be stocked with a breathalyser device. This is intended to lower the incidence of drink-driving accidents and drivers who fail to produce their own breathalyser when stopped will face an on-the-spot fine. Some European countries also require a basic road rescue kit – also intended to boost driver awareness and road safety. High-visibility jackets, fire extinguishers and first aid kits are all minimum requirements in certain countries so be wary of what it is you must have in your car.

Now that you know what preparations to make for your trip abroad, make sure to do your homework and get everything in order before you set off for sunnier climes this winter.