Driving in Europe – International Driving Permit and more
Driving in Europe
Driving in Europe can be a lot of fun. You are off on an adventure at your own pace. Stop at small towns along the way and get off the beaten path. Driving in Europe lets you savor the things you want to see at your leisure and lets you head out when something isn’t to your fancy. Bored with that ‘must see’? Get in the car and leave! No waiting on the bus or train. Driving in Europe = freedom to see the sites as you want.
Driving in Europe – Know before you go! International Driving Permit
In order to drive in Europe you MUST have an International Driving Permit. These permits contain information from your driver’s license that is translated into 10 different languages. The International Driving Permit is to be used WITH your regular driver’s license from home s you need to travel with both.
Some places you won’t be asked for it at all, BUT you are supposed to have one. They are simple and cheap to get, but go with AAA to be sure you aren’t getting a fake.
AAA offers the International Driving Permit and you do not need to be a member for this service. The cost is $20 and you need 2 passport type photos.
Driving in Europe – Know before you go! Street Signs
Street signs can be baffling as so different than our own. Become familiar with the signs before you go for stress free traveling. Take a look here for comparisons of European Road Signs. Becoming comfortable with the ones you’ll see the most will really help you get around.
Driving in Europe – Know before you go! Car Rental
Book from home to get the best deal and make sure that the car you need is available. Some of the companies are familiar to you – like Hertz, for example. Do you need an automatic? BE sure to ask as a lot of cars in Europe have standard transmission. Do you need a car seat? BE sure to ask! IF they have car seats for you there won’t be many and you need to make a reservation.
Questions to ask before you book a rental car in Europe
Is it automatic?
Do you have car seat?
What is your additional insurance coverage?
Where do I pick up the car?
Am I allowed to take the car out of the country?
Is there a fee for dropping off the car in a different place there where I picked it up?
Driving in Europe – Know before you go! Gas
Ask about getting gas. Before you head off with your rental car you’ll need to know what type of gas it takes and how to open the gas tank lid. Easy to forget that all cars are different and sometimes the latch to the gas tank is in the car near the gas pedals. How much gas does the car hold? You’ll want to be aware when you get near empty. You won’t be familiar with where the gas stations are in this new country so don’t push it by driving on fumes. Gas stations aren’t on every single corner like they are in the states.
Driving in Europe – Know before you go! Car Problems
Get the information you need in case the car breaks down. Is it your responsibility if that happens or do you call the rental company for a new car. Who do you call if that happens? Check to make sure there is a spare tire and that you have the tools you would need to change.
Driving in Europe – Know Before You Go! Parking
Here in the United States, parking is very often free. With wide open spaces you can easily park except within the heart of giant cities. Things in Europe are smaller and parking spaces less available. Check to see IF the hotel has parking and if so, what will it cost. Sometimes hotel parking can be very expensive.
Driving in Europe – Know Before You Go! Compare Cost
The freedom of having your own car is certainly worth some money. When you get off the beaten path, mass transportation options become less and less available. On the other hand, in a very large city like Rome or New York City, a rental car is more a liability than a plus! The traffic can be maddening and the cost of parking and gas can be high. Compare the cost and energy needed to rent a car with the mass transportation choices like busses and trains to make sure you are choosing the best cost effective option for your vacation.
Driving in Europe – Know Before You Go! Crime
There are places in the world where rental cars are targeted by criminals. They figure you have baggage with cool electronic gear in it and break in with that idea.
Use these car rental safety tips to cut your risk of a car break in:
Hide your valuables.
Don’t even take your valuables! Leave in the hotel safe or at home.
Choose parking carefully. The dark place with no one around isn’t the perfect spot.
Leave the car unlocked. Sometimes the best thing to do is take ALL your belongings and then leave the car unlocked. The thief will get in, look around, and then leave without breaking the windows!
Always get the information when you rent for procedures in the event of a break in.
Driving in Europe – Know Before You Go!
Take a few minutes to become familiar with the car. When you get in adjust the seats and mirrors. Turn on the AC and the location of the parking brake. You’ll be paying even more attention to the road in a foreign country than at home so be sure to get a lay of the land before you leave so you can really focus. Be safe!
We rented a car in Santorini during our trip to Greece. We chose a red, convertible car to use to explore the island. What a fun experience! Read more about our adventure in Santorini.
Car trunks can be small. Pack light for less luggage to lug around! Packing light tips!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist