As many of you might have noticed, we are currently spending time with my family in Germany and this time is the first time that we have our own car with us. Before this autumn, we have always flown over from Bristol, but Ben doesn’t really like flying, because he hates waiting around at the airport and having a car with us allows us to be more independent when it comes to days out or spontaneously popping out when my mum has to work and can’t drive us about.
Before we hit the streets of the Netherlands and Germany however, we made sure that we are safe to drive in Europe. There are a lot of regulations and advice available online, but I thought it would make sense to share our top tips about driving in Europe. Here they are:
1. Make sure that your car is insured in Europe and that you have AA breakdown cover or similar.
2. You must carry your vehicle registration and driving license with you at all times and have to be able to produce a copy of your insurance policy.
3. Carry a first aid kit and warning triangle on board and check, if you need to carry items such as a fire extinguisher, reflective waistcoats or a breathalyser.
4. All cars from the UK or Ireland have to be fitted with headlamp adjustors. If these aren’t fitted correctly or not at all, your insurance won’t pay out, if you are involved in an accident.
5. Get your car checked over by a mechanic before you go on your big journey. We thought our car was perfectly fit for our trip to Germany, just to find out that all our tyres had to be changed and new break pads fitted. It was a big and unexpected expense, but at least we left the UK knowing that our car is safe for the journey.
6. Make sure that you know about the speed limits in place and don’t forget that everything is measured in km/h and not mph.
7. Don’t drink and drive – the legal blood-alcohol limit may be lower than in the UK and you might be risking your driving license.
8. In continental Europe, you drive on the right-hand side of the road at all times – even on empty country lanes.
9. Plan your route ahead of your journey and print off alternative routes in case your sat nav dies (this might have happened) or your Google maps app sends you through a nature park (this might have happened too!).
10. Most important rule of all: Avoid stress and tiredness by having regular breaks and keeping the kids entertained. Books, a portable DVD player and a variety of snacks will keep them happy and there are also lots of activity and colouring in sheets available for download.
Disclosure: This post was brought to you by AA, but I would genuinely suggest following these tips when you are driving in Europe as they will make your journey much more relaxed and most of all safer.