Are you planning a massive road trip through Europe and need some advice? Here’s everything you need to consider for a successful trip.
With over 670 million visitors in 2017 alone, Europe remains one of the top vacation destinations in the world. And there’s a good reason why!
If you’re looking for a vacation filled with culture, history, and amazing food, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Europe. But with so many countries to choose from, how can you decide which to visit?
A road trip through Europe gives you the chance to visit multiple countries while maintaining a bit of spontaneity. Of course, there’s still a lot of planning and preparation that needs to be done to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Do you want to know what we’re talking about? Keep reading to discover our top tips for planning an unforgettable European road trip.
Check Your Passport Early
As soon as you decide to visit Europe, your first step should be to obtain a passport. This process will take at least a month, but can sometimes take upwards of two months in America. Do some research to learn how long it will take in your country and be sure to apply with plenty of time to spare.
If you already have a passport, you’ll also want to make sure it’s not about to expire. As a general rule of thumb, your passport should be valid for 6 months after your trip’s end date. If it’s about to expire, make sure you get it renewed before you leave.
Depending on where you live, you may also need a visa. Americans are granted a travel visa upon arrival in Europe, which is just a stamp in your passport. But if you’re from another country, you’ll want to do some research to learn if you need to apply for a visa ahead of time.
Identify Your Travel Style
You’ve likely heard of people backpacking through Europe and staying in cheap hostels along the way. You’ve also probably heard of all the amazing Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury hotels.
There are many different ways to travel through Europe, and all of them have their merits. But in order for you to fully enjoy your trip, you should identify your budget and travel style.
This will dictate what kind of car you rent, what hotels you stay in, and what activities you do.
If you’re a luxury traveler, you may opt for 5-star hotels, private tours, fine dining, and some spa days to help you relax. A mid-range traveler may opt for 3 or 4-star hotels, group tours, and more affordable restaurants while budget travelers will likely stick to hostels and cafes.
Decide Your Method of Transportation
You may immediately think of renting a car and driving yourself when you hear the term “road trip”, but that’s not your only option. You may also decide to book transportation with a driver.
If you choose to drive yourself, you’ll need to get an international driver’s license, learn traffic laws in every country you’ll be in, and learn a little bit of the local language to read the signs. Plus, you’ll also have to worry about finding a place to park.
Booking transportation with a driver can be a lot easier. You can sit back and relax while your driver takes you to your destination. You can opt for this type of transportation between cities and then walk or take local transportation when it comes to getting around in your current city.
Plan Your Route
While there will be plenty of time to be spontaneous, you shouldn’t plan to “go with the flow” when it comes to organizing your route. This can lead you to waste a lot of time and gas by traveling in an inefficient manner.
Instead, decide what cities you want to go to ahead of time, and map out the most efficient route you can.
Create an Itinerary
There’s a lot more wiggle room when it comes to the actual itinerary. You may want to decide on a certain number of days beforehand and book your hotels, so the logistics are already figured out.
But when it comes to how you’ll spend your days, you can be as planned or spontaneous as you want. You may want to have activities booked in advance and a schedule of how you’ll spend your day. Or, you may decide to just wander the city and see what piques your interest.
Get a Hotel in a Good Location
Whether you decided to get a car rental with a driver or drive yourself, you’ll want a hotel in a good location. Driving around a city can be nerve-wracking, and it can be difficult finding somewhere to park.
Instead, you’ll want to walk or take public transportation within the city. So, look for a hotel that’s close to the attractions you want to see or near a bus stop or subway station.
Are you only planning on spending a few days in each city before moving onto the next? This means you’ll constantly be carrying your luggage in and out of hotels.
To make this easier, consider packing light. You can check the weather before you leave and pack only what you think you’ll need. If you’re planning to be gone for a few weeks or months, plan to do laundry while you’re in Europe to save room in your suitcase.
Decide How You’ll Use Your Phone
It’s always a good idea to have a working phone while you’re abroad in case of an emergency. But your phone may not automatically get service in Europe.
Many companies have temporary international plans that you can use, or you can opt for buying international SIM cards.
If you go the SIM card route, make sure you unlock your phone first. You’ll also need to buy different SIM cards for every country you visit, so this may not be the most convenient option if you’re traveling to many different countries.
Get Travel Insurance
Sometimes things happen that impact your trip. Maybe you need to fly home early or cancel a hotel room. Travel insurance can help cover you in the event something happens.
Most will cover things like trip cancellation, flight delays, lost luggage, and even medical emergencies. But there’s a wide variety of travel insurance policies to choose from, so be sure to do some research before buying.
Download the Right Apps
Travel apps will be your new best friend during your road trip through Europe. There are a ton to choose from, but a few of the best are listed below.
TripIt is the ultimate trip planning app. It organizes your documents and itineraries, so everything is conveniently located in one place. You can also share your plans with loved ones back home, people you’re traveling with, and people who are picking you up from the hotel or airport.
Road Trippers is like the new and improved version of Google Maps. You can view a map of where you are complete with tons of nearby attractions, hotels, and restaurants, many of which Google Maps may miss.
You can also download maps ahead of time to use offline. This is a great idea if you plan to travel to small towns or drive through rural areas where you may not be able to connect to the internet.
You can also outline your road trip route and share it with family members back home, so they know where you’re going.
There’s no denying that public transportation can get a bit confusing. But MetrO makes it easier.
This app has maps and valuable information on public transportation systems, including subways, buses, and trains. Once you’ve typed in your itinerary, you can even use this app offline.
Language barriers can make traveling through Europe all the more difficult. But iTranslate can help you when you’re in a pinch, and it can be used offline.
If you’re really worried about this, consider upgrading to the premium plan for $39.99 per year. You’ll gain access to voice conversation and camera translation features which can make communicating with others and reading signs easier rather than having to type everything in like you would with the free version.
mPassport is that app you hope you never have to use, but it’s important to have in case you need it. This is a medical emergency app that lists the hospitals and doctors closest to you. You can also find non-emergency places, like pharmacies and dentists, and translate various medical terms.
Planning Your Road Trip Through Europe
Don’t just rent a car and wing your entire road trip through Europe. Instead, follow these tips to ensure you’re well prepared so your trip goes as smoothly as possible.
Do you want to get the luxurious experience? Then consider hiring our chauffeur and limousine services to enjoy a comfortable ride between cities.