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The European Road Trip Dream.... but a little advise is needed!

Advice needed on which car to use, how to get the car, best routes, and what to take!
13 years ago, January 16th 2010 No: 1 Msg: #99956  
Hi all.... first time using this forum so thats to everyone in advance.

My girlfreind and I are intending on driving around Europe in the summer of 2011, a long way off I know but we feel we should start planning soonish now we are definately going to do it!

Our ambition is to drive all over the continent in about two months visiting Europes most famous cities, sceneries and landmarks. That much we both have in common however how we do it is currently being debated....

The Car

I want to buy, either as a permanent replacement of my current car or another car to then sell after the trip, a convertible sports car. I really just want to drive over the alps several times in a sports car!

She is undecided but thinks we wont be able to fit enough stuff in a sports car and should look into campervan type things or a larger car because we would like to keep costs down once we are on the road and camp etc which would need a fair bit of stuff.

Where we are going

Currently we would like to go to/through.... France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Gibraltar, Spain, and possibly a few more! Any suggestions would be great!

currently our initial plan looks something like this....


What should we take

If we are in a sports car as little as possible I guess but if anyone has experience of a road trip like this we would love to hear from you!

So the main questions are these:

1) What type of vehicle should we take? And any suggestions?

2) Is there anywhere we should definately be going to?

3) Should we stay in hotels/hostels/B&Bs/camp?

4) What should we be planning on taking?!?

thanks all!
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13 years ago, January 22nd 2010 No: 2 Msg: #100797  
N Posts: 15
Hi Andy,

1) I would recomend getting a European made car, as this should save you time and money if you need any repairs carrying out. Maybe a Peugeot or Citroen, or a Volvo for the space.

2) If I were travelling Europe in the summer I would try to visit plenty of music festivals - but that's me!

3) As it is summer you should try and camp.

4) Don't worry about taking vehicle spares, unless you have a very rare vehicle.

Stew Reply to this

13 years ago, January 22nd 2010 No: 3 Msg: #100815  
i have a similar question to andymet87....only this is from the girl's perspective! my boyfriend and i are going to drive from paris to the french alps (to meet up with the tour de france), down the french riviera, then to barcelona.

we know it's going to be pretty pricey to rent a car and fill up on all that gasoline! we won't have AS much stuff as andymet87 since this will only be about an 8-day trip. what type of vehicle should we take (i'm looking for SAFE and inexpensive)? we're thinking the overall cost of the car travel will be around $800 USD. that sound about right?

in terms of vehicle size, i'm guessing we'd have about 2 large suitcases and 3-4 smaller cases. i'm going to try my hardest not to bring that much with me...but i'm a girl! 😊

i am NOT a camper, and i've had a few pretty terrible hostel experiences when i studied abroad in europe a couple years ago. if anyone knows of any B&Bs along this route ROUTE , please fill me in!

any help, advice, recommendations is appreciated! 😊 Reply to this

13 years ago, January 25th 2010 No: 4 Msg: #101038  
Hi Andy and Jajy

I drove and camped round Europe this summer for 3mths. Firstly way before the car get a sat nav ... it'll save your relationship!! I had a Garmin but I'm sure there are others now that have good reviews on their European maps!

As for the car I took my Toyota Corolla, got European breakdown cover of course and was with someone else so having a right hand drive wasn't a problem. If you're going to drive at all on your own make sure you have a left hand drive otherwise you'll be performing gymnastics at toll booths. I personally had my car converted to LPG which would have been perfect and very cheap - problem was that after Belgium and Holland the fitting for filling up changed - if you explore this option and can solve it it would be a very good option as LPG is easily available everywhere in Europe (you can't drive more than a km in Poland without seeing it!!)

I personally don't know too much about the hostel front but you can of course 'posh camp' if you have a car with inflatable mattresses, cooking equipment etc ... all together two of us did the journey for around £50 p/d - that's everything, transport, accom, sight tickets, fuel ... and that's seeing some very expensive sights in Italy!! If this is at all useful please just get in touch again and I'll give you a list of some of the things that I found invaluable (mattress inflator that plugs into the cig lighter etc!!)

Jajy you mention safe, I found European travel very safe, I started trying to make sure that things were out of view in the boot all the time and although kept with that a lot I got very laid back over time and certainly had no problems.

As for where to visit I was a sucker for Eastern europe, have a quick look of my blogs but Slovenia and Austria were stand out beautiful and driving the whole sea coast of Croatia was not only great scenery but a fun drive in itself.

Legally European driving requires you have a few spares like bulbs and a triangle and dayglo jackets in case of break down but I quite agree, other than that don't over burden yourself. Don't camp after the end of Sept ... the temperature really does start to drop off then and the nights draw in very quickly.

Like I say I'll happily give you more info if I'm barking up a useful tree!

Best wishes and good luck ... it's a fun journey

Cheryl Reply to this

13 years ago, February 22nd 2010 No: 5 Msg: #104465  
B Posts: 42
I am currently driving around Europe I am about 5 mth though and have another few to go. I parched a standard car in England as I fly in and will fly out of there but have been all over the EU. A sports car will fit all you need if you do not take a lot of camping equipment. I am staying at hotels and b&b just getting cheap last minute rates on the net. I loved Andorra and Gibraltar think they are must see. Take as little as you can.
Have fun.
Reply to this

12 years ago, April 28th 2010 No: 6 Msg: #109796  
Hi there,
Me and my girlfriend toured 10 countries in europe last year. We are no experts in travel or touring but here is our advice and what we done.

1)any newish or well looked after vehicle would do the job. European make would be better for parts but it doesn't really matter much, as long as you have decent European breakdown cover you should be alright.
I went last year in my 97 bmw 318is (E36) which was perfect,
Very reliable car which is sporty, very comfortable to drive and sleep in. also it has lots of space for camping equipment. was great on the swiss alps and felt perfect driving across Germany on the autobahns. It has an mpg reader which helped keep fuel costs down. Theses cars are pretty cheap on ebay. LPG would be an added bonus.

We are going again in a couple of weeks and are debating weather to take the car again or take my 2k ford transit so we can camp in the back, which I think would be better for the longer journey we plan. These vans are also cheap and very reliable and easy to convert into a camper.

Because there was 2 of us toll booths and driving a right had drive car was not an issue. Just remember Bum to Kerb.

2) Berlin is an awesome city, best city for me(take the free walking tour around berlin, A*), rome is a must. we done like a top gear road trip going over all really nice routes over the swiss/italian mountains. Norway has the most amazing scenery.
depending on your combined interests you may consider a third reich tour which is european wide.

I like your route, in fact I might use it for my next trip with a little detour to drive up the Croatian coast, and maybe to Istanbul aswell. And seeing as the route goes so closley to andorra, may as well check that out too.

3) We took All the camping and cooking equipment We never used the tent the car was so comfortable to sleep in.
There are so many good rest stops and large service stations with sleeping areas all over the place(especially Germany and frence)
we slept at them every night and it was perfectly safe. this saved on any camping/ hotel costs. we also stopped at these places to pull out the cooker
and make lunch/dinner. They all had toilets, showers and a tap for water.

4) Obviously when driving in Europe you are required to have things like HI-vis vest/jacket, warning triangle, spare light bulbs and a fire extinguisher. maybe more check that out.
European breakdown cover
Travel insurance
Satnav - i used a tomtom go one xl which is 3 years old and it worked perfectly. i also used it for walking around city navigation. i also have garmin on my mobile phone for backup
Map - Just incase
First Aid Kit

Other than these things you should try keep it to a minimum, its so easy to overpack.

I took a big removal crate that has fold over lids which fitted into my boot perfectly with loads more space for food, clothes and other stuff. It also doubled up as a table to cook on
In the crate was:
a small 2 man easy to pack tent. (never used)
a blow up double matteres with 12v pump which plugged in to the car. (never used)
sleeping bags
Tefeal Camping satainless steel cooking pots and pans,
plastic plates and bowls.
Small single burner camping cooker with spare gas
Head torches
18v Makita work light with spare batterys
waterproof over jacket and trousers

We also took a 25 litre water container. Which we filled up at every rest stop if needed.
Multi 12v socket- plug 4 things into the same socket like bed pump, phone charger, satnav, battery booster charger.
Battery booster, which had tyre pump built in and work light, which was useful.

I also had all documents at the ready in the glovebox like insurance, green card, bookings for eurotunnel, etc. which came in handy at customs coming back home. They wanted to see absolutely everything.
I dont have a figure for you but our only costs was food and fuel, the whole trip was relatively inexpensive, we enjoyed roughing it in the car and living on the cheap.

Everything I have said and listed above related to my trip and i hope it helps you plan your trip. Sometimes planning can ruin a trip, we toured australia and travelled south east asia and learned that too much planning is sometimes a waste of time and can lead to disappointment. A general outline plan is best.
Best of luck to you, hope you have a great time. Reply to this

12 years ago, May 9th 2010 No: 7 Msg: #110511  
Used to do the driving holiday once a year and have covered most of europe.

Don't buy a car for the trip - use it first and make sure it is reliable, a broken down car is not fun. I always had estate and found enough space for lots of stuff and could sleep in when required.
Points to look for in buying car - reliability - diesel - how far will it go on a tank of fuel, it isn't fun to have to be always looking for fuel on a sunday when your card won't work in the pumps

Next think about insurance and breakdown cover. I've had problems with insurers in getting insurance some offer 'free european cover' but if you go to a country not on the list they will not cover you some offer payment for european driving but again some countries may be an issue. I've had to drive uninsured in certain countries, buy insurance at the border - but also driven in war zones whilst covered.... Check your insurance before you renew!

Some countries have extra hazards (albania for example), some you might not have counted on travelling through might cause problems (Bosnia).

Look at service intervals, or prepare to do it abroad or yourself (you can change the oil at a motorway stop - but tends to be warmish) If you have a choice of cars don't get a little runabout - you can cook the engine on longer distances.

B&B tend to be more difficult as a car unless you know before where you are going, as are city centre hotels - often better to find something outside and get a train or bus to the centre for sightseeing.

Looking at your itinery I'd split it as Reading Athens via Berlin is quite a way, Gibralter and probably morocco (try driving a 2WD in the sand....) might be too much. I'd also try a quick stint first on long distance continental driving to get an idea of your ability. I reckon it takes 10 Hrs from calais to the door here nr Condom, Gers. In a van this is 18 Hrs - quite a stiff drive. Driving shifts used to drive Calais Venice non stop. Again possible but tough on the partnership!

Go this summer but just for 2 weeks - if you don't like it 2 months is a long time

Reply to this

12 years ago, May 19th 2010 No: 8 Msg: #111292  
N Posts: 5

Depending on how long you want to travel you should think about if it's worth it to buy a car rather to rent one.
If you want to travel less than one month I would suggest you to rent a car, then if you plan to go longer you should maybe buy a car.
In my example, I travelled 2 weeks with a rental car and it cost me less than 400 euros with insurance and eventually car substitution. Given that I don't use a car in daily life, it was the best opportunity for me.
Hope it can help.

Reply to this

12 years ago, July 8th 2010 No: 9 Msg: #115218  
B Posts: 58
I suppose you have made your decisions by now but just to add to the debate, we have been travelling in Europe for the last 3 months and will keep going for another couple. We have done it primarily camping and we have had reasonable luxury, for us. Our vehicle is a Citroen C3 and not much bigger, than most convertibles in luggage space.

We are carrying a tent that we can stand up in, a blow up mattress, pump, table, chairs, little one burner cooker and little cooking set plus a box for provisions and the normal cutlery etc. We have camped before with a 2 person tent and, if you are going to be in it for a while, it may turn out too small.

We also don't move as fast as you intend to. We now have a rule that, when we pitch the tent, we stay 2 nights. Works for us but we have a reasonable amount of time.

Camping and self catering creates space in the budget for those special restaurants, entry fees and other special things that wouldn't be possible if we spent it all on b&bs and camping is cheaper than hostels and even the cheapest pensions. It also allows us to stay out of a lot of the cities, but then that may not be a plus for every one. Enjoy Reply to this

12 years ago, August 20th 2010 No: 10 Msg: #117922  
N Posts: 13
Hi Andrew,

look into internation driving permit. Required in most countries other than France according to this site
Look for a car with a seperate trunk so that you can conceal your blongings. A left hand drive car will be best for most situations.
When you park check the ground for broken glass. If you see shards of window glass it could mean that others have lost their possessions. Most parking will be outside the walled cities.
Diesel is best for economy and plentiful in Europe.
Take various electrical configurations for the various countries to power your equipment check this site
Extension cord and surge supression an issue for you computers.
Rent a high performance sports car for the day or two runs over the Alps

sounds like a great trip

[Edited: 2011 May 18 08:17 - Jabe:6222 - No advertising on forums, please]
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12 years ago, August 20th 2010 No: 11 Msg: #117923  
International Driving Permit - waste of time if you have at least a pink european communities model permit (or 2 part), most police don't know the IDP in europe but do know the 'normal' european permit.

This has worked well for me in more than 40 different european countries.
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