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A Summer Holiday Driving In Europe

Motoring in Europe is great. The highways are generally good to excellent, a rare treat indeed for British drivers more used to roads akin to the surface of the Moon. There is absolutely no reason why a safe and happy time shouldn’t be experienced by all on a European driving holiday: As long as the homework is done first.


With the weather in the UK being as uncertain as the social climate, some folk might well be thinking about holidaying abroad and taking the family car; and why not? It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned overseas driver or trying it out for the first time through the Channel Tunnel or on a ferry, the rules and regulations for drivers in different countries are like shifting sands, moving and changing, and it’s easy to get caught out. The French traffic police, for example, are a wily bunch and during the Summer season they are on the lookout for hapless motorists, so it pays to do the due diligence. Here’s some tips to help out:


Get The Car Serviced


Remember, you’re going to other countries where you are unlikely to speak the language fluently and breaking down could just make things worse. If your car has recently been serviced or even had its MOT test, it is still worth having your local car servicing garage give it a thorough check over. Is there plenty of tread on the tyres? Are the fluids topped up? You know the drill. A full professional service will ensure the car is working at its best so as not to let you down when you least need it. Make sure the tyre repair kit or the spare wheel and tools are all serviceable and ready to hand.




Remember to keep all paperwork, like car and travel insurance, MOT, proof of ownership and medical documents and the like (different countries may vary), in one secure place and that they are all current for the duration of the vacation. Depending on the country, you could be asked for more than you think. If you’re not a member of a motoring organisation, consider joining, especially one that will offer European coverage. It could help.


The Rules


Knowing them is your responsibility and different countries, if you’re crossing borders, have different rules even if they are all under the EU umbrella and of course they all drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road! Often you are required to carry a couple of high-vis tabards and personal breathalysers (a requirement in France for example). Warning triangles are another, so it’s best to check with your motoring organisation as to what’s needed where.


The Route

Take a proper paper map as back-up and know how to use it. Yes, most cars now have satellite navigation built in or you might use your smartphone, but what if they go wrong or if the signal drops out? Exactly. Being adrift in foreign lands can prove sketchy, especially if your children are on board.


And Talking Of Children…

On long drives children need to be distracted from boredom and pestering. They may not appreciate the views as much as their parents and, at best, singing ‘Ten Green Bottles’ or ‘The Wheels On The Bus’ will probably wear thin fairly quickly, possibly well before reaching Dover. Take small toys or electronics for kids to while away the time.


Plenty of water and snacks are a must as are warm clothes for warmth and comfort if it gets chilly; a phone charger (a power bank is handy too) is a must these days. Take a torch and anything else that might be needed. Oh: tissues and wet wipes. Don’t forget the wet wipes.


Touring by car is exciting and varied. A simple, well-planned trip could turn out to be the holiday of a lifetime so don’t let lack of preparation let you down. The most important thing you can take with you is a reliable, well maintained vehicle. If in doubt ask your local car servicing professionals for a pre-trip check.

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