European road trips have always appealed to me. I’m not at all afraid of flying but the whole process bores and frustrates me – it just takes so long. It is also ridiculously, eye-rollingly expensive. Driving has its own associated costs and pitfalls, of course, but I feel that the positives outweigh the downsides. The views can be spectacular and there are any number of opportunities to pause for a pitstop, which is very useful, especially when travelling with children. Road trips also have the scope to take on a certain autonomy. You will plan a route but you may end up stopping somewhere that was not in the itinerary, compelled to make an unscheduled detour either by innate desire, the allure of local scenery or, indeed, an overactive bladder.
If I have convinced you that a road trip is a great way to spend a summer, take a look at the following tips on how best to plan one:
Prepare the car
If your car is almost due for an MOT, try and get it sorted before the trip, just in case – head down to your nearest Kwik Fit for a comprehensive test. Make sure your kids’ car seats and boosters are safe and fitted properly, check the oil and water, keep emergency supplies in the boot alongside a first aid kit and anything else you might need. Also, don’t forget to research the driving and road safety laws of any countries you are travelling to or driving through so that you don’t unwittingly break any laws!
Plan the route
European road trip routes are as many and varied as the countries that make up the continent itself. Your first job is to think about where you would like to visit – this could be a string of places along one route or a final destination where you might like to spend more than a couple of days. Once you have some ideas in mind, do your research. Work out how many miles you realistically want to do each day and work out the fuel costs as well as any tolls. Think about where you might like to stop each day and then book accommodation in these places. Oh and invest in a satnav, just in case!
Prepare the kids
Whether your children are good travellers or not, a road trip is inevitably going to involve spending a lot of time in the car and even the best little travellers are likely to get bored. Stock up on drinks and snacks (preferably non-perishables) to keep them going and think carefully about entertainment. Tablets and electronics are great but bear in mind there will be times where you will have no WiFi and/or charging ports and plan other entertainment accordingly. Spotter booklets, audio CDs, colouring kits and reading books are all good ways of keeping children entertained on long journeys.
Where would you go on a European road trip?