Blogspot @ Head-over-Heels

The travel blog for the backpackers guide to the world

Driving a car in Europe

Posted by | charlottec | October 5, 2011 | No Comments

Many backpackers are usually on a tight budget, so the idea of having your own transport doesn’t really go hand in hand with the traditional backpacker image. However, it can be an inexpensive way to see more remote locations, and to get off the beaten track.  And it’s even better to share costs if there are enough of you travelling together to fill the car to capacity.
If you’re visiting from America, there are a few things to bear in mind about driving in Europe.  Most cars have manual transmissions – so if you’re only used to driving an automatic, it might be worth asking if you can practice in a friend’s manual car before you set off.  You can hire automatics in Europe, but they generally are more expensive, and, once you get the hang of using a manual transmission, it adds to the driving experience. Make sure you have an International Driver’s Permit as well as your normal driving licence.  Also, read up about the road regulations for the countries you’ll be driving in.
Fuel prices are more expensive in Europe (including the UK) than the States, so be prepared for some jaw-dropping totals when you fill up the tank.  One way to avoid such expense on fuel is to drive a hybrid car. Hybrids are more fuel-efficient as the engine is assisted by an electric motor. However, these can be more expensive to hire in the first place, so work out whether you’ll be doing enough miles to justify it.
If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of driving while travelling, make sure you’ve got people to share the car with – you can often meet other travellers who will want to journey with you for a few days or weeks at youth hostels.  If possible, check out the car’s credentials to make sure that you’re driving one of the many low emission cars that are now available. In this way, you’ll keep the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases that your trip produces to a minimum.


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