With the weather often being unpredictable in the UK, many people will be making plans to holiday in Europe this year in search for warmer climes.

If you are planning on taking a car with you to get the maximum amount of freedom, there are certain things you need to check to ensure you have the best time away.

European road trip checklist

We've written a checklist of some of the most important things to consider before you start your motoring holidays in Europe, to ensure you have everything you need, and to help you assist you in driving safely abroad.


1. Put your travel documents together

Like all holidays abroad, it's important that you have all your documents together, especially if you are taking the whole family.

Documents you will need for motoring holidays in Europe

You will need things like your passport and travel insurance details.

As a Start Rescue customer you can benefit from discounted prices on your travel insurance from Start Travel.

Right now, you can save up to 25% on your travel insurance policy. Full details of this offer can be found within the Customer Lounge once you have purchased your policy.

You will require information about your car insurance to make sure you can prove you are fully covered in whatever country you are travelling to.

You should also ensure that you have your V5C vehicle registration documentation. Proof of ownership is sometimes required via the V5C. Furthermore, if a vehicle is left following an accident or breakdown, the vehicle can’t be scrapped or repatriated by your breakdown provider without the V5C. 

Having all of these together, can help save time and reduce your stress should you be asked about it. It's also a great way to ensure you don't forget anything before you leave home.

Check document expiry dates

Of course, you should check that all documents - especially your passport and driving licence - are up to date and are at least six months away from expiring. 

French road signs

2. Research the driving laws

Many countries across Europe have different driving laws or etiquette than we do in the UK - mainly driving on the other side of the road!

Check the rules before you go

Checking the driving laws and etiquette before you go on your motoring holidays in Europe will assist you in driving safely abroad.

Failing to know the driving laws in the European country you are heading to could rapidly increase your stress levels and have you accidentally committing a social faux pas, or even breaking the law.

European road signs

Depending on where you are travelling to in Europe, many roads signs may not be in English, so unless you are fluent in the native language, you should make sure you can recognise the most important signs.

Drink and drug driving laws

It's also important to double check what the legal driving limit is for alcohol and any prescription medication you may be taking.

Other European driving laws

Looking into the country's driving laws will also tell you what information you should have with you in the car, and what the national speed limit is - helping you keep you and your family safe. 


3. Give your car a thorough once over

Have a look at our pre Euro trip trips checklist to make sure your car is fully prepared for the journey to Europe you are about to start.

This is crucial to ensure your holiday goes off without a hitch and that you can concentrate on having a great time rather than panicking about the reliability of your vehicle.

By doing all your pre-holiday checks, you can also help minimise the risk of you needing breakdown services.


4. Get European breakdown cover

Whilst carrying out pre-trip checks before heading off to Europe will help unfortunately break downs do still happen.

If you leave the UK without European breakdown cover, getting breakdown assistance in Europe can be quite a challenge.

Short term European breakdown cover

At Start Rescue we offer a range of short term European breakdown cover options ranging from just a single day up to 31 days.

Planning a longer trip to Europe?

If you’re planning on having more than motoring holiday in Europe within a twelve month period, or you wish to travel for more than 31 consecutive days our Four or Five Star Annual Breakdown Cover may be better suited for you.


5. Double check your car is legal

As well as ensuring that your insurance and breakdown cover includes travelling on the continent, it's important to make sure your car fits in with local requirements.

UK stickers (Formerly GB stickers)

This usually includes displaying the appropriate country identification letters in some form. Not doing this can put you at risk of getting hit by an on-the-spot fine,

Items you need to carry in your vehicle in Europe

In some countries there are legal requirements about what you need to carry with you as a driver, such as having a portable breathalyser to check for alcohol levels in France. 

Our article on equipment you should take when driving in Europe provides more insight as to what you might need.

Car breakdown warning triangle

6. Create a driving toolkit

Having a driving toolkit with you can really help you out should you break down or be stuck in your car for a long period of time because of heavy traffic.

A driving toolkit should contain:

  • A bottle of water for every passenger and the driver
  • Snacks
  • Suncream
  • Insect repellent
  • A USB phone charger or portable power bank
  • Wet Wipes
  • Blankets
  • Torch / Flashlight
  • High vis / Reflective jacket.
  • Warning triangle
  • Puncture kit
  • Anything else you might need should you be stuck for a while.

This is a great thing to have as a permanent feature in your car - even when at home - but can really make the difference when you are on holiday in a foreign country.

Take a map

It's also a great idea to have local maps with you. Satnavs are brilliant but they can break or be out of signal, having a map with you means you won't be left driving aimlessly.