Tips for driving in Europe

Taking your car abroad, by ferry or Eurotunnel, lets you travel long distances in comfort, and explore places you might not be able to reach otherwise. However, the idea of driving in Europe can be daunting, particularly if you haven’t done it before.

Before you go
If your car is due a service, get this out of the way before your holiday. Check the condition and pressure of the tyres, and make sure fluids are topped up.

If you have breakdown cover, check whether European travel is included. If not, you will need to take out a separate policy covering the period when you’ll be away. You should also inform your insurer that you will be taking your car abroad.

Some countries require you to carry certain items, so be sure to check the specific requirements for each of the countries you will be passing through on the way to your final destination. In Spain, for example, motorists must carry a warning triangle, hi viz jacket, and spare wheel. If you need glasses to drive, you should take a spare pair.

You will also need to take your driving licence, insurance certificate, V5, and MOT certificate if applicable.

Invest in a European road atlas. If you have a sat nav, there may be a European map pack already installed or available for download.

Be aware that in France, it is illegal to carry a device that can warn you of speed cameras, so turn this feature off if your sat nav has it.

On the road
It’s easy to forget to drive on the right when you leave a motorway or set off after a break. A sticky note on the dash will remind you. Roundabouts can be confusing, so follow the arrows.

Be aware that while you are driving abroad in a UK right-hand drive car, you will be further from the centre of the road than normal, making it more difficult to see ahead.

Motorways are a fast way to cover long distances, but you may incur tolls for using them. Toll booths are usually automated. When approaching a toll, make sure you select a lane marked as taking cash or card payments, rather than a payment tag.

In some countries, including Switzerland and Slovenia, you will need to buy and display a motorway pass. Alternatively, choose a non-motorway route and enjoy the sights along the way.

With some advance preparation, you can enjoy a safe and worry free driving tour filled with memorable stops and spectacular scenery.

Useful links

UK Government advice on driving abroad 

AA European Driving Advice

RAC Driving Abroad 

Compulsory Equipment when driving abroad