Essential Tips for Road Tripping Europe

Road tripping Europe
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Taking a road trip is one of the most exciting things for me; it is my favorite way of traveling. Why? Because there is no luggage weight limit, no securities check in which you have to take shoes and everything else needed off, I can take my dog with me, it is beautiful to see places and landscapes throughout the journey, you can stop whenever you want, there is no fear of flying – for me – to name a few. And if there is something I love, that is road tripping Europe, it is the best way to travel the old continent.

I can’t even count how many road trips I have taken only around Europe, and there are many things that I learned from them all. So, thinking of all of you who plan to take a road trip around the old continent, Europeans or not, familiar or not with the rules, here are some essential tips for road tripping Europe:

Plan the route and times

Road tripping Europe
Tunnel in Slovenia

Even if it’s a last minute trip, plan the route and the times, really. I have done both last minute and well in advance trips and that’s what I learned with my successful and unsuccessful ones. You need to plan the route because there might be construction works along the way, it might also be that you will have to pass through the mountains – very common in routes passing through Switzerland – or that a certain motorway is faster than the other and so on.

As for the time, of course, everyone wants to keep to schedule, but you never know how much traffic you will encounter along the way – especially if you are traveling during the holidays or at certain times, like between 7:00 – 09:00 and 16:00 – 19:00 in a weekday. You also don’t know how the weather will be, which brings us to the next topic.

Check the weather

Road tripping Europe

Depending on the season, which you are taking your road trip, checking the weather is crucial. The weather in Europe is very inconstant, forecasts can vary a lot from one region to the other, and you want to avoid fog, snow, ice and strong rain along the way. Even though the forecast won’t change your departure date or your plans, at least it will prepare you for what’s coming.

Have a map or a GPS

Obviously you will need to know how to get to your destination, and even if you are not a big fan of GPS, I hope you like maps because you will certainly need one. Whether in paper, on your phone, or one that comes in the rental car, find something to show you the way. Since I moved to Europe in 2011, I use Navigon Europe app on my phone, it’s expensive, but if you live in Europe it is totally worth the price.

Road tripping Europe
Toll in Italy

Tolls and vignettes

One of the most important tips on this list: be aware of tolls and vignettes. Each country has its own way of charging for using their motorways, some have tolls, others have vignettes, which are a small sticker, which you have to attach to the window shield of the car. Make a little research on your itinerary to discover which one you will have to use along the way, some I can already tell you beforehand:

Germany: Free for cars with less than 12t (for now)
Switzerland: Vignette
Austria: Vignette
Czech Republic: Vignette
Hungary: Vignette
Slovakia: Vignette
Slovenia: Vignette
Italy: Toll (one of the most expensive I have experience so far)
France: Toll
Croatia: Toll
Spain: Toll
Portugal: Toll and Via Verde (a type of vignette required in some motorways)
Poland: Toll
Great Britain: Toll
Ireland: Toll

For other countries and prices, I have found some useful websites, but these ones were the best so far: Tolls.euΒ and The AA.

Where and how to buy them:

Tolls: you can pay in cash or credit cards.
Vignettes: you can pre order them online, or simply buy in gas stations near the border of the country (that’s what I always do)

Speed Limits and Traffic Cameras

Road tripping Europe
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Beware of speed limits on the motorways; they vary from country to country, normally the maximum is 120 and 130Km/h, when in rural areas is 80 or 90km/h. If you have a GPS it will normally give you this information, if not, then make a quick research online (here is a good option) in regards to your destination.

Also, traffic cameras and police cars can be anywhere on the motorways, so do try to stick to the speed limits, even in Germany (not all motorways allow you to speed up as much as you want).


Road tripping Europe
Photo credit

It is important to get familiar with the road signs if you are not already. I have found a great pamphlet with a list of many of them here, which might be helpful to you.

Always have change

Coins will be your best friends on your European road trip. You will use them a lot if you need to go to the bathroom on the motorways. Once I needed to use the toilet on a long journey and had no coins, I had to stop in 5 different places, 4 of them had an automatic machine at the entrance door that would only accept coins. On the 5th time I found a public one for free, which was disgusting and had no toilet paper, since no one is taking care of it.

It is also important to have cash with you in case you need it, because finding an ATM machine is also no easy task depending on the motorway.

Rental Cars

If you are renting a car, there is one very important thing you need to know: if you rent it on western European countries and want to drive to Eastern Europe, you will most probably have to pay extra for it. That’s because there are chances of the car being robbed when visiting these countries, so rental companies charge you more and it is advisable to pay extra for insurance.

Β Other important points:

  • Most car rental companies charge more for drivers under 25;
  • Here is a great website to compare car rental companies prices;
  • Even though some countries allow you to drive with your original driver’s license (non-EU), others require that you have an international driver’s license, which you will need when renting the car;
  • Always consult with your chosen car rental company about any other specifics, like the list of countries you need to pay extra to take the car there.

Road tripping Europe


It’s very simple, the left lane is for takeovers; so unless you want to pass another car, stay on the right lane. Simple. Same rule applies for the UK, though on the opposite side of the road.


Toilets on the road

Road tripping Europe
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Normally there are plenty of places offering toilets on the European roads, and they are mainly in gas stations and restaurants. Most of them are paid, it pretty much depends on the country and establishment. There are also public ones, which I don’t really recommend unless is an emergency, since they are not frequently taken care by someone, it has no toilet papers and the smell can be very bad. However, you might still find some decent ones, I already did, but I haven’t always had the same luck.

Tip: take toilet paper with you just in case and don’t forget to take coins.



Road tripping Europe
Photo credit

European motorways offer some public parking spaces, for both trucks and small cars, where you can park and take a break, or maybe fix something on your car. They have a blue sign with a white P.

When parking in a city, be careful to pay attention to the signs around, in Europe you normally have to pay to park on the streets, especially if it’s at the city center. For this, you will have to pay it in a machine with coins and will receive a little receipt, which you need to put on the dashboard of your car.

In case you have mobility problems or are traveling with someone in this situation, you have the right to the Blue Badge, which allows you to park your car on disabled parking spaces. For more information click here.


Road tripping Europe
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There are many important things you should know when it comes to safety, and here are the main ones:

Compulsory equipment: some things you need to have in your car, rental or not, for your own safety and for others as well. Some of them: reflective jackets, warning triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, among others. I found an amazing document with a list of compulsory equipment for driving in Europe.

Winter tires: if you are taking your road trip during winter, make sure your car has winter tires; it is not only mandatory but also safe. If you are renting a car, it will probably have it already.

Insurance: make sure your car is insured before going on a road trip, that is an advice not only for Europe, but anywhere in the world.

Emergency number: 112 is the number you have to keep in mind, it is the emergency phone number for Europe, which can be called from fixed and mobile phones. Even though this number doesn’t replace the national emergency number of each country, but by knowing this number you are safe.

Tips for saving money


The gas price may vary a lot among the countries; some are cheaper than others. By knowing that, you can plan your trip better when it comes to where it’s best to put gas or not and in the end save some money. For updated prices, you can check this website.

Give a ride

On websites like bla bla car you can offer a ride to where you are going, this way you help someone and earn some extra money with it.


Any other essential tip to add to the list? Let me know on the comments below.


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Road tripping Europe

About Allane

A Brazilian living in Germany. Married to W. mommy to a baby girl and a Golden Retriever. Traveler, writer, aspiring photographer, diver, wine appreciator, Formula 1 fan, avid reader of historical and young adult fictions books. City girl, nature lover, believer of a better world, one little change at a time.

  • I’ve heard so many horror stories about the vignettes – that’s how they get the unsuspecting tourists, especially from outside of Europe. Good tips!

    • Ohh really? I never heard about it before!
      Thank you, I hope they will be useful to you when you come again πŸ˜€

      • I think the Swiss one is an issue. Back in the 90s we were tipped off by relatives about it and still a lot of people don’t know about it.

        • The Swiss one is a bit expensive too , their vignette is annual, I think it costs around 45CHF or something, but you can use it for 1 year. However, you only need for 1 or 2 times it’s not worth it πŸ™

  • This is such a comprehensive guide for a tour in Europe, one just nee to take a print out and follow the instruction and get going. These small details what really matters, what the documents and tools to carry, where to stop and where to be careful in parking the vehicle…yes these petrol station and places to get a grab are far off in some routes and one need to be careful and have the backup ready…

    Technology, GPS makes all the difference and if you have made such trips like you have done so many of them, it becomes a cake walk but as rightly said it is better to be prepared and prevent any untoward incidences…

    As always Allane such a pleasure reading the finer nuances in each of your post and so much insights and such lovely pictures keep me glued…
    Take care!!!

    • Thank you Nihar. Since I do a lot of road trips around Europe, I figured it would be useful to share some tips for those planning to do the same πŸ˜€
      Yes, GPS makes a huge difference nowadays, especially with regards to saving time!

      Happy that you liked the post πŸ˜€

      • Allane, you have indeed became an expert and with such details, you yourself is much like a Google and GPS combined, you have the information on the tip and your mind works like magic…

        When I plan my Europe road trip you will be the first person I will be disturbing for the information and I know I will get all the inputs to make my trip a grand success…

        Hope it happens soon, tied up with various business engagement.
        Have a lovely weekend.

        • hahaha thank you Nihar!! Yes, of course, I will be happy to give you some tips when you are planning your Europe Road Trip πŸ˜€ I hope it will happen soon too! And if you include Munich on your itinerary I’d be happy to meet you in person πŸ˜€
          Have a wonderful week!

          • Yes Allane, there is no question of not meeting, if I come to Munich I will have some wonderful surprise gifts from India for you…Enzzo I have heard so much and meeting him will be equally awaited…but always for such trips my fingers are crossed, it is some time better not to plan so much in advance…allow it to happen…

            You too have a lovely week ahead.

          • That’s so nice of you Nihar, thank you so much. It would be lovely to meet you in person!! Well then, fingers crossed it will happen. πŸ˜€

  • This is so helpful. I already pinned it! Thanks!

    • hahaha awesome!! Happy that you liked it πŸ˜€ I hope it will be useful to you!

  • Glad to know that I’m not the only one who thought that the Italian tolls are super expensive. Back in the 90s when my family and I road tripped in Europe we tended to avoid the French highways because of the tolls, but recently I realized that Italy is worse!

    • I know right? Road tripping in Italy is very expensive in the end. I am often impressed by how much we pay in tolls.
      I’ve been planning a long road trip around Italy for a while now, but when I think of how much we will spend on tolls I change my mind πŸ™
      I just don’t understand why, if at least the motorways were amazing!

      • you can try more scenic routes if you’re not in a hurry! (done that in France). I did a road trip from Athens to Brussels via Italy and if I remember well I paid more for tolls in Italy than the Swiss vignette.

        • That’s amazing! From Athens to Brussels? That’s a long way, but I would love to do it! And I’m sure the Italian roads ended up being more expensive than the Swiss vignette πŸ™ it’s impressive how expensive they are.

          • my “dream” road trip is Athens to London! well we spent 24hrs on the ferry to Italy and did the total trip in a little bit more than 48 hrs (my cousin was studying in Brussels and had a deadline). The alternative way is to go via the Balkans (FYROM, Serbia etc) but quality of roads in this part is questionable (definitely not highways).

          • Definitely an adventure, it’s a long way! I would definitely be great to stop in towns in between and make it a long trip around Europe. That’s pretty cool!! By the way, I will be in Athens this year… will let you know when πŸ˜€

          • oh yes let me know when you’re visiting!!

          • Yess I will πŸ˜€

  • Places People Stories

    Some very good tips! I do not have so much experiences with road tripping in Europe, since we just did it when I was a child. But have been thinking about doing it again soon and these are some great tips I will take with me πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Hanne, I hope they will help you on your road trip πŸ˜€
      And how exciting, I hope you guys include Munich on your itinerary πŸ˜€

  • Thank you so much dear πŸ˜€
    I hope it will be useful to you guys!

  • Gin

    I remembered once in croatia I took the wrong lane for the toll (it was electronic vignette toll lane) and I got fined .. was super scary but also not well indicated !

    • Ohhh noo sorry about that!! I am always very worried about doing the same too, so I’m glad W is the one driving most of the time πŸ˜€

  • You know what, I have never actually done a road trip before ever (apart from just at home here in England) so I would love to do one, either in Europe or west coast of the US. Although I am hopeless at map reading!! My friend got caught out with not knowing about the vignette in Slovenia so that’s a really helpful tip for first time road trippers!

    • Ohh you have to do it!!! Road trips are so exciting πŸ˜€
      Get a GPS and you will be totally fine, really. Driving in Europe is really easy, but of course, it’s important to know about these little rules, like the vignette.

  • I hope you do, it’s amazing, and there are so many great places to see! Yes, in the US is also amazing, I’ve done road trips there before, but I was younger and don’t really remember a lot of things πŸ˜€ next time I will make sure to note down some tips πŸ˜€ Once I went from Winnipeg, Canada to California πŸ˜€

  • Thank you Corinne!! It is indeed very important, many people aren’t aware of them πŸ˜€

  • Yes it is πŸ˜€ Thank you Anda!

  • Thank you Vlad!! That’s awesome!! Thank you for the tip, I will definitely take a look, it might help a lot this year as I’m doing lots of road trips πŸ˜€