There are many different ways to explore Europe. But in some countries if you want to experience different areas and plan on moving around quite a bit, renting a car may be the best way to do it. Driving in Europe can be a ton of fun as you explore the countryside and make stops at your leisure. The important thing is to know what to expect and to be prepared. You are driving in a foreign country after all. Below are 8 things you need to know before driving in Europe.
Automatic vs. Manual – If you can drive a manual vehicle you will save hundreds of dollars on your rental. Automatic vehicles are available but you will pay a premium for one. And be sure to book an automatic very early as the supply dwindles, especially in summer months.
Renting in One Country and Returning in Another – If you plan on renting in one country and returning the car in another you will pay a hefty fee. You may want to look at other options such as taking a train from one country to another and renting another vehicle when you arrive.
Tolls – Tolls in Europe are expensive! Your vehicle may have an EZPass type of device that will record all your tolls on the expressway. The rental car company will later bill you for your tolls.
Size of Vehicle – Pack lightly as it’s difficult to rent a very large vehicle in Europe. You will also pay a lot more for a super-sized SUV.
Driving in Major Cities – Don’t! If your journey includes staying overnight in some of Europe’s major cities be prepared to park your vehicle for the duration of your stay in that city. Don’t try to drive around to see the sites or go out to dinner. It will not be enjoyable to maneuver through traffic and then try to find parking. Take trains, taxis, or Uber to get around. Trust me, it is totally worth it.
Parking – Be prepared to pay around $50 per day for overnight parking in city hotels. Hotels in off the beaten path cities may not charge but in the major areas where space is at a premium you will be charged for parking.
Diesel or Gasoline? Make sure you fill the tank with the right type of fuel! Many cars in Europe take Diesel only and putting the wrong type of fuel in your rental can harm the engine. Insurance will not cover drainage and repairs.
You may need an International Driving Permit – Most countries require an International Driving Permit. It does not replace your driver’s license, it is to be shown together with your license in the event you are pulled over. Check with your rental car company as to whether your country requires an IDP. You can obtain the permit at your local AAA office for $20.
If you're planning on driving in Europe it will be much more enjoyable knowing what to expect. I hope this was helpful in preparing you for your next adventure!
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I work with my clients on creating personalized travel itineraries while consulting on everything from destinations to excursions and logistics of the trip. Through my personal travel I seek unique activities including private guides and tours for exceptional experiences. More on Belkys