Road Travel Tips

  • FUEL PRICES – It’s well worth checking beforehand on fuel prices in European countries you might be driving through. According to Fuel prices Europe you would currently pay about 20% less for unleaded petrol in Austria or Luxembourg compared with Belgium or Germany. And prices are often much less away from the main roads.
  • BUSY ROADS – If you want to avoid the busiest traffic when travelling in Europe by car, then avoid the July-August school holiday period (something you can as a Senior!) and also try to travel at weekends as many countries have lorry bans in force, particularly on Sundays.
  • MOTORWAY TOLLS – Driving on toll roads can be expensive, particularly in France where you will pay about £10 for a 100 miles, so if possible plan your route through toll-free countries like Belgium and Germany, or one’s with relatively small fixed charges like Austria. The AA European Tolls site gives toll charges throughout Europe and Mappy allows you to cost your itinerary for both tolls and fuel. Of course as a Senior you may well have time enough to take more relaxed rural routes avoiding the toll roads.
  • KEEP RIGHT – If you are not used to driving on the right (or the left), then tie a piece of ribbon on your steering wheel to remind you! (That tip is care of from William Croft, the author of Old Trails and Frontiers – Driving the American Southwest.)
  • CAR HIRE – If I am wanting to hire a car, rather than check through lots of different car hire sites, I use Auto Europe to research the deals on offer. I have used Auto Europe in several countries in Europe, and also in the USA and South Africa, and have been pleased with the service they provide.
  • CAR HIRE EXCESS – I sometimes opt to pay a little more for a ‘fully refundable excess’ when hiring a car. However in many countries including Spain and Italy, this will not cover for tyres, windows, under-car damage, etc. In order to have a true fully refundable excess including all these aspects, I take out insurance with carhireexcess.com. This costs about £2 a day in Europe or about £40 for a year, but can give peace of mind when driving in an unfamiliar country. Some car hire companies, such as Economy Car Hire/Zest Car Rental and  Holiday Autos, allow you to purchase additional excess cover when booking a car.
  • SAT NAVS – Whether you are driving your own or a hire car, a sat nav is really a necessity, but see Let the Sat Nav take the Strain for advice on sat navs and keeping them updated. Take your own if hiring rather than pay several pounds a day. Don’t forget to switch off your speed camera indication when in France, or face a heavy fine (see European Driving Rules in Quick Links to the top left).

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