We are taking a 3 month sabbatical this year , and had originally planned to do a road trip across Europe. We changed our minds and decided instead on travelling through Southeast Asia. We live in England so we figured picking up the European destinations would be easier for us on short-haul trips in the future.
Before we changed our minds though we did alot of planning, so I thought I would share it here as a resource for others to use in the future.
If you haven’t yet decided on Europe as a destination for your three month sabbatical then I have lots more articles on the site start here: Three Month Sabbatical Ideas
We’ve already been to alot of places in France, Spain and Portugal so decided on a route that took in Scandinavia and Central Europe.
It starts in Amsterdam, and snakes up through Scandinavia, then back down through Central Europe ending in Dubrovnik. The route goes through a total of 16 countries, with around 6,000 miles of driving or 60 miles a day.
It was a pretty ambitious route, so we’re not quite sure how far we would have got and there was always the option to slow down and not complete the total distance if we felt it was too much.
Here is the list of countries that are visited:
- The Netherlands
- Czech Republic
Europe Road Trip Itinerary
I used a spreadsheet to plan out a general idea of destinations and distances. We were not going to stick robustly to this, but it was a tool that helped us decided how much we could fit in. Planning in the route and driving time allowed us to visualise what felt reasonable.
Below is a screenshot of the itinerary but if you would like a copy to play around with then CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD.
We had made plans to hire with EuropCar. They offer flexible, long-term rentals. Our plan was to pick up from their site at Amsterdam airport and then drop off in Bari. Because they have so many locations though we could have changed this along the way if we decided that we wanted to slow down.
The quotes were better than I expected, with no mileage restrictions. Small cars were coming in at around £3,500 with larger ones around £5,000.
Here’s an example quote I put together for a 3 month period today using their website.
Europe Road Trip FAQs
What side of the road do they drive on in Europe?
All countries drive on the right hand side (left hand drive vehicle) other than the United Kingdom, Malta, Cyprus and Ireland.
Do I need an International Driver’s License/Permit in Europe?
If you are not an EU resident then it is a good idea to pick up an IDP before driving in Europe. You probably won’t need is – a driver’s license and passport is usually enough – but for the cost of $20 it might get you out of a tight spot. It is recommended for driving in Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, or Spain. This article will help you to understand more as it may very depending on your home country. It is always best to check your government advice website before travelling.
Is it safe to drive in Europe?
The short answer is yes, but the long answer is ‘it depends’.
Big cities can get very congested, and with roads generally designed in a time long before cars, they are a lot harder to navigate than the block-based systems of America.
In the countryside you’ll generally find big, well-maintained roads with roads getting narrower and single lanes the more rural you get.
Brush up on your traffic regulations, as there are some different things to know (no right turn on a red light for example). Rick Steves has a good page that walks you through some great tips for European driving.
Anything else I need to know?
Here are some useful tips:
- Highways normally have a speed limit of 100-120km/h. Primary roads are usually 80-90km/h. City roads are generally around 50km/h
- All European countries have very strict drink driving laws, with four having a zero tolerance approach. Check here for the full list.
- Alot of big European Roads have a toll on them, so it is worth keeping small change available to pay. Most now take card or can be paid in advance, but it’s not worth getting caught out.
- GPS units can be expensive on hire cars, so download Maps.me for your phone and use it as a sat nav without using any data.
- Roundabouts tend to be used much more than traffic lights, so get to know how they work.
- Learn the road signs in advance. This Wikipedia page is really useful if you want to learn more.
I hope you have found this useful. If you want any further advice then feel free to drop me an email at BenReeveUK@gmail.com.
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