Featured image by Alex Alvisi
Heading overseas on an Easter driving adventure? Don’t get caught out – follow our top tips to help you on the road to a holiday to remember.
- If you fancy a driving holiday abroad, but don’t fancy the hassle and security risks that can sometimes come with taking your own car to the continent, hire a car on arrival. With a few tips to help you stay savvy to local laws and customs, you’ll soon blend in with all the other motorists, whilst heading off on an adventure on your own terms.
- Plan your route in advance. Part of the appeal of car hire abroad is to explore further afield, and you may well find yourself in uninhabited areas or in places where locals are unlikely to speak English. Check out route planning websites such as Green Flag before you set off.
- Drink driving laws vary from country to country, and you may be surprised to find we’re pretty lenient in the UK and Ireland, allowing up to 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to drive legally. However, many European countries frequented by British tourists allow only 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – including France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. In Norway and Sweden, the allowance is even smaller at 20mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. And in Croatia, a zero tolerance policy on alcohol applies. That means if you’re found to have any alcohol in your blood whatsoever when driving, you’ll be classified as over the limit. Play it safe and stick to soft drinks if you’re driving.
- Most people are aware that drivers in continental Europe drive on the right-hand side. However, it’s very easy for this fact to slip your mind when doing something that doesn’t take much thought, like pulling out of a petrol station. Keep a sticky note on the dash board that will catch your eye every time you enter the car to help jog your memory.
- Know what to do in an emergency. Dial 112 from anywhere in the European Union in the case of an accident or any other distressful situation.
- Looking to purchase a few of your favourite foreign tipples? Don’t overload – a few cases of wine can equate to having an extra passenger in the car. Make sure you also know the customs rules before you spend your hard-earned cash on foreign goods that you won’t be able to bring home.
Think you’re a seasoned European driver? Laws and common practices can vary vastly from place to place. After all, every country has its quirks when it comes to driving. Here are a few things we’ve picked up on our travels across Europe:
- Austria: A toll sticker is required for any vehicle travelling on the motorway. Pick up a 10 day pass for around 8 Euros before you set off. Your local Austria car hire station can advise you on where to pick one up.
- Spain: The relaxed nature of the Spaniards does not translate to their driving policies. On-the-spot fines are very common, so make sure you keep to the speed limit at all times. You’ll also need to be equipped with a high visibility vest, spare tyre and 2 warning triangles, which will all be found in your hire car.
- Germany: We’re sure you have better things to do on your holiday than wash your car. But if the fancy does take you, make sure you’re not shining up your set of wheels on the street on a Sunday – it’s against the law!
- Norway: Be prepared to shell out a lot of money for toll fees or take longer to get where you’re going by avoiding motorways, bridges and tunnels.
- Switzerland: There’s no leniency here when it comes to speeding. Even going 5kmp/h over the limit can result in a spot fine.
- Czech Republic: It’s every man (and woman) for themselves on the roads here – don’t assume your fellow road users will indicate or give way, even when you know they should be.
- Netherlands: Cars don’t rule the roads in Amsterdam. As well as thousands of cyclists to contend with, you also need to be on the lookout for trams. Remember to always give way – they’re bigger than you.
- France: All drivers are required to carry a self-test breathalyser by law.
Ready to go? Check out our other blog post for more practical tips about hiring a car and driving in Europe.