Have you been dreaming already about your upcoming holiday? And have you already started planning your road trip through Europe? If so, you can use my 8 steps that I have applied when planning my 30,000 Km European road trip through 41 countries. Sit back, relax and you will have the best road trip possible!
If are you planning to travel by yourself, make sure to check out this amazing blogpost about the pros and cons of solo travelling! You won’t regret it!
Table of Contents
Determine the route when planning your road trip
Is that not the first step when planning a road trip? Just determine the route and get your van or car ready with all the essential road trip equipment? But did you know that there are several ways to document and create your route? And do you already know how to share it online? For my crazy road trip through Europe I have used the application Google My Maps. Now you might think: “Google Maps? What is so special about that?”
Actually, it is not Google Maps, but Google My Maps (See blogpost: How to use Google My Maps for your next road trip). This application has much more options then Google Maps and allows you to directly share or embedded your created maps to a website or blog. You can also make large screenshots, which you can use on your social media like I did on my Instagram.
Also make sure you select the right road trip vehicle. For example, I did my road trip in a Volkswagen Beetle but maybe you enjoy touring Europe in a Motorhome! Whatever it is, go for it!
Find interesting activities in each country and book beforehand
Make sure you book your activities beforehand. Think of things like hotels or hostel bookings, parking-spots, restaurants reservations, tour guides etc. If you can make a reservation that has a free of charge cancellation policy, you should go for it. For example, when I visited a few of the most beautiful landmarks of France during the summer I already knew that it would be a nightmare to find accommodation with parking. I made sure I booked that baby 3 months in advance. 🙂
Check the weather conditions for every country
Well duh! Who is not going to check the weather conditions when going on a holiday? Yes, that is correct but did you know that the general weather applications only give a general weather forecast? And what if you plan to your perfect holiday in March, instead of the high season?
When I arrived in Norway, I knew I wanted to climb several mountains and hiking paths, but once I arrived the weather was not looking good at all.
That was a hard pill to swallow as it was high on my bucket list to climb the Trolltunga (See blogpost: Hiking the Trolltunga) and to visit the Lofoten Islands (See blogpost: Hiking on the Lofoten Islands)
Now what? I was sitting in the city of Bergen in my hostel room when I received a message from my Norwegian neighbour (back in the Netherlands) saying I should use The weather application YR. This application showed a much more accurate weather forecast and I was lucky that the next day there would be a period of 20 hours with no rain and a bit of sun.
If I had believed the general weather forecasts I would have never gotten this amazing shot!
But don’t underestimated the beauty of Europe in the winter. It has some amazing locations which you must visit!
Check rental companies and insurances
If you do not have your own car yet you might want to consider either borrowing a car from friends and family or renting a car. Always check with several rental companies what the prices are for long term rental. Normally, the rental companies on airports are much more expensive then rental companies nearby towns,villages or cities. Also the season influences the price of the car.
Double check as well if the car insurance covers all the countries you plan to visit and if it includes a triple A service for when the car breakdown. Most of the large rental companies have a 24-hour help service
Check visa’s and other documents
Although travel through Europe is not that difficult it is important to understand that not all countries are that easy to get acces. You might have a Schengen Visa, but do you know which countries are actually included in the Schengen? Also, traveling through the EU is no problem for you? Well, that means Norway, Switzerland, most of the Balkan countries and soon the United Kingdom are not on the list.
Next to visa’s you should make sure you have the proper insurance and vehicle registration ID and also a green card. If any of these documents are not in place it could give you trouble when you are crossing the border.
Toll, road taxes and traffic rules
How does the saying go again? “There is nothing certain, but death and taxes?” Well, that is also the case for the Toll, Vignette or road taxes in Europe. For toll roads you will have different payment methods in different countries and Vignettes need to be bought before you enter the country or within a few km. after entering it. Not paying these taxes will result in huge fines.
With road tolls you can also decide to take roads that are free to use, but do not expect the best quality. Only France and Spain are an exception to this rule as their road quality is perfect. There are also a few countries where you wil not pay any taxes like The Netherlands, UK, Germany and Finland.
For more information check out our Ultimate European Road Trip Guide section
Finding the right accommodation when planning your road trip
Thankfully, that is not too difficult anymore. With applications like Booking.com or AirBnb, it is easy to find cheap accommodation (See blogpost: Finding cheap accommodation on your road trip) in almost any European country. I actually did all my bookings trough Booking.com as it was just so easy to use, but only for the first night. If I wanted to stay longer I paid directly as it was normally cheaper then doing it through the application.
If you plan to travel by motorhome, you should check it this amazing blogpost on living in a motorhome: Real Talk!
An important tip:
When planning your road trip always check if there is car parking at the accommodation and if there are any additional costs involved. Parking can be very expensive, especially in the city centers.
There you have it. My 8 steps for planning your road trip through Europe. If you have any questions or feedback please leave a comment. I also love to hear about your own road trip experiences!