Preparing properly for your European road trip.
If you're looking for an unforgettable experience, a European road trip is one way of creating those memories. A road map of Europe holds the key to many wonderful treasures, and if you're lucky enough to be able to undertake such a journey, a European road-trip planner is essential. In this blog, we share a checklist for traveling to Europe and travel essentials you'll need, but before we get into the details of what to pack, let's look at how Europe is different from the USA.
The most important thing to note if you travel from the USA to Europe is that the driving rules in Europe differ a lot from those in the States. Cars abroad are generally more compact, the parking spaces smaller, and the roads narrower, especially in the old European villages. The best family SUV for such a trip would be something slight in size, like an Audi Q5, or a compact family sedan such as a BMW 3 Series. If you don't have to transport a family, a small car is still the best for getting around Europe, and has the benefits of better gas mileage too.
Manual-transmission cars are very common in Europe and they are cheaper to rent. Make sure you can drive a stick shift or you will need to specify an automatic rental car explicitly. Also, keep in mind that they drive on the left-hand side of the road in the UK, so familiarize yourself with the driving laws of the countries you are visiting.
Packing for a trip to Europe requires a somewhat different approach. A hardshell wheeled suitcase does not always work well in many of Europe's cobbled streets or if you have to scale stairs in ancient places without lifts or escalators. This is why so many people tend to prefer a backpack in Europe. Bring enough warm clothes for winter, plus everything else you would need in a place where it snows. For summer, it is much easier to pack light, but always have jackets and warm clothing handy. Also, break in your walking shoes before your European holiday, because you'll do a lot of walking at sightseeing spots.
Here is a short checklist for your general luggage:
So, what do you need to drive around in Europe? We call it your European driving kit: while some things are compulsory, there are a few necessities we strongly recommend you have on hand when driving around Europe. The following is included in the compulsory road-trip essentials list:
Your traveling-to-Europe checklist also contains several recommended items that you should have in the car with you and these are the most important ones:
In terms of documentation, these are the most important:
A European itinerary planner is essential - there are just so many amazing must-see places. You simply must plan and prioritize. Regardless of which route you plan to take, follow our guide on driving long distances and staying alert while driving.
Here are just a few suggestions that will whet your appetite:
The road to Europe is often paved with cobbles and is almost always host to amazing sights. You can ship a car from Newark, NJ, to Bremerhaven, Germany, through a shipping company if you want to take your own car, but we recommend rental in Europe and making use of public transportation the rest of the time. Taking your own car will also mean you'll have to go to significant trouble to prepare your car for the vacation. Our European travel tips should set your mind racing to plan your own unforgettable getaway.
The majority of Europe drives on the right, just as in the US, except for the UK (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland), and Ireland - they all drive on the left, as the ancient Romans did, and never changed over to the right when the French and Americans did. There are some exceptions, like Cyprus and Malta. Be sure to confirm this when you plan your vacation.
Americans traveling to Europe should visit the Travel.State.Gov website to find a list of US consulates and embassies of European countries to check which travel restrictions apply in which countries.
Anyone with an international driving permit who is at least 18 years of age is allowed to drive on European roads in a vehicle that weighs less than 3.5 tonnes (around 7,700 pounds, so some motorhomes will not qualify). However, in order to be eligible to rent a car, you must be at least 21 years of age.
Europe generally caters well to disabled travelers, especially if you make use of the rail network. Make sure to book an accessible hotel beforehand; there are plenty. Wheelchair users should remember to carry an extra cushion and bring a tire-repair kit and replacement inner tubes.