I’ll start this post by telling my own story:

I grew up sitting in the back middle seat squeezed between my older sisters while my dad drove my family around on “quality family bonding trips”.  I particularly enjoy driving and feel pretty confident about driving for long periods of time.

Last year, I planned a trip to Europe, and wanted to maximize the amount of travel in the shortest amount of time while saving the most money on my trip. I decided to rent a car from Amsterdam, Netherlands and drive about 3,600 kilometers (that’s roughly 2,240 miles) around different destinations around Europe.  This was absolutely not easy, and this method of travel is not for everyone.

If you’re feeling up for the challenge, here are some tips I can provide you:

  1. State the obvious, know which country you’re traveling to. Being from the United States, I did not feel confident about driving on the left side of the road sitting on the right side of the vehicle in London, UK. There are also countries that drive on the left side of the road but the steering wheel is also on the left side (for example, the Virgin Islands). This is a huge factor to begin your planning when deciding to drive on your own.
  2. Determine whether or not you need an International Driving Permit.  Check out the list of countries around the world that require you to carry one.
  3. Each country has its own driving, parking, and traveling policies.  Many countries in Europe will require that you purchase a vignette sticker, which is an indicator that you’ve paid the road taxes. Countries vary on policies, where to purchase one, how long the sticker will last, and prices.
    • Vignette Stickers
      During my drive around Europe, I purchased vignette stickers from Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic and Germany.
  4. I would not recommend that you drive in the car alone, especially for long periods at a time. It’s safer to have a copilot with you and helps the time fly by if you’re driving in between destinations.

While driving around an unfamiliar destination is not always recommended, it is a lot of fun if you are well-prepared. Driving is a very unique experience in that you get to see and freely interact with beautiful countrysides, towns, and people on your own schedule.  I hope these tips will help your research process in considering it as an option for your next trip!

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