Unwritten rules of driving in Europe: What you need to know before getting behind the wheel
Driving in Europe is exciting as it means a wealth of undiscovered sights can be explored. Before you head off for your road trip adventure, check out these unwritten rules of driving in Europe to ensure you’re well planned and prepared before getting behind the wheel.
Some countries have compulsory items to pack
Depending on where you wish to travel to, you may be required to have essential items in your vehicle. These will usually be items that’ll keep you safe in the eventuality of a breakdown. For example a reflective jacket, or a breathalyser and a GB sticker either on your number plate, or in your rear window. For more tips on this, the RAC have compiled a Euro trip planning guide with information on what to take to each destination.
You’ll need a permit
Along with your passport and driving licence, you’ll also need to acquire an International Driving Permit. This simply allows you to drive in certain countries and is required if you’re taking your own vehicle or hiring a car when you’re out there.
Leave the flip flops for the beach in Spain
In Spain, pack sturdy shoes to drive in as it’s illegal to wear some fancy footwear. Heels are a definite no no, as well as flip flops. Make sure you’re comfortable and can drive safely.
You need specific breakdown cover
It can be a nightmare to breakdown on the side of a road in an unfamiliar area. This is why it’s important to have the right insurance and breakdown cover. Most insurance providers do not include driving in Europe in their standard package. Make sure you purchase specific European breakdown cover for the extent of your trip.
Watch out for Low Emission Zones
Europe have wised up to the impact road users have on the environment, so much so they’ve introduced Low Emission Zones. You‘ll find these in some cities in Italy, Germany and France. You may not be allowed to drive in these areas or you’ll be charged a fee. Do check your routes before you set off to see if you need to register your vehicle or buy a low emissions sticker, which is required in Germany.
Keep your car clean in Russia, Romania and Belarus
Cleanliness is important in Russia, Romania and Belarus as it can be illegal to drive if your number plate is covered in muck. Do make sure you give your motor a good clean or expect a hefty fine.
Don’t eat or drink at the wheel in Cyprus
You may not want to drive on an empty stomach in Cyprus as it’s illegal to eat or drink anything while you’re driving. Leave the snacks behind to make sure you’re not tempted, or make sure you pull over in a safe spot to eat and drink.
Deflect your headlights
In Europe, it’s illegal to drive without headlamp beam deflectors. This is because headlights can dazzle drivers on the other side of the road, especially in the dark of night. You can get adapters to alter the positioning of your beams so it’s safe to drive. Sweden has gone one step further and made it illegal to drive without your headlights dipped.
Toll roads will cost you
There are many more toll roads in Europe than in the UK, some of which are unavoidable. They will cost you a small fee, so it’s a good idea to prepare yourself and decide how you’re going to pay beforehand. They do differ from country to country, some take cash, but most take contactless card payments.
You can drive down some of the best routes in the world
After all the organisation and the planning, it’ll all be worth it once you experience some of the best driving routes in the whole world. From the shimmering Amalfi coast, the romantic fairytale setting through Germany, to the regal atmosphere in the Loire Valley, there are so many unforgettable sights to see and explore.