One of our favorite ways to explore a new place is by driving through it! So, naturally, in Germany (home of the Autobahn), we had to take a road trip and explore the area!
We visited Alsace, Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein, and Germany over the course of 2 weeks and learned a ton about driving through Europe in the process! Here are our favorite tips so that you can enjoy your European roadie, too!
◦Opt for GPS. One thing we really relied on was in-car GPS. It helped us out so much when our phones didn’t have reliable service. We literally would have been lost without it! (Ha ha ha… get it?!). Whichever navigation method you chose, make sure you are familiar with toll roads as well, since they aren’t always too much faster and tolls can add up quickly!
◦Map to parking garage. When driving to villages or cities, we always tried to map to a parking garage near city centers or points of interest. It saved us the stress of navigating unfamiliar roads searching for parking spots. It takes a little more research up front but helps out so much when you reach your destination!
◦International driving permit. This is a debatable tip. We’ve always gotten international driving permits through AAA before leaving on trips that involved driving in Europe. That said, I don’t think we’ve ever had anyone ask us for it. We still recommend though, as it’s fairly cheap and it’s better to be on the safe side!
◦Familiarize yourself with street signs. We love the charming signs in France that signify when you’re leaving one village and entering the next, the signs on the autobahn that show no speed limit exists (the limit does not exist!) and tons of other signs! But we’d be lying if we told you all these signs were super intuitive. Before you enter a new country, it’s a good idea to do a quick search of common street signs so that you know where to park, what the speed limit is, and if you’re going the right direction!
◦Book rental car directly and avoid 3rd parties. The jury is still out on this but we had a pretty terrible experience using a third party company to book our rental car. It’s common for business in small towns in Europe to be closed when you’re planning on picking up or not have your car available if there’s limited inventory. The best way to avoid this risk is to book directly with the rental company rather than using a 3rd party (like kayak, booking.com, etc)
◦Watch your speed. Sure, there are spots in Europe with no speed limit, but there are just as many spots where speeding is taken VERY seriously. Switzerland is notorious for issuing speeding tickets, and they can get very expensive!
◦Invest in a small cooler. If you’re planning a long road trip with numerous stops, you might want to consider investing in a small cooler right away so that you can take groceries between towns. We did not do this and ending up discarding food at every destination. It killed us because we try so hard not to be wasteful AND the cost of the cooler was easily offset by all the food we dumped!
◦Have a co-pilot. With all the unfamiliar territory, signs and roads, it’s always helpful to have an extra set of eyes in the front seat to help you find your way.
These are our favorite tips for a road-trip through beautiful Europe. Do you have any other tips you’ve learned? Share them below!