I love traveling by car. In June last year, my husband and I traveled from Belgrade to Paris in order to attend WordCamp Europe (it was great!). We took a slightly longer route and we traveled for more than 4000km within two weeks. Whenever we go by car, we make tours which include visiting various places, even if we only have one day for a break. If it’s a long trip from one big city to another, we make stops in smaller towns that we like or would like to see. Strangely, exactly those “on a side stops” often make a bigger impression on us than the “main destination”. 🙂 Also, it can cost less than the other means of transportation if you want to see the whole coast of Spain (like our friends) or 10 European cities in 14 days (like we did). 🙂
Here are the practical things that can help you organize a relatively cheap but magnificent vacation!
- Use an energy saving car – no one cares if you drive “the beast” or “the funny one”. If a hybrid is out of reach there are models of automobiles that spend as little as if they were hybrids but they’re much cheaper to buy/rent (earlier model of Ford Fusion, Dacia Sandero, Kia Rio)
- Prepare your vehicle for the trip in advance – you don’t need pricey kinds of surprises on the way. Also, you need a good GPS, no matter how good you know European roads. You can use an app (like Google Maps or Maps.me which works offline) or install a GPS device directly in your car for less than 400 euros (that is if you don’t have it already).
- Make sure you have all the right documents – International driving license, Green cards if they are needed (Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina), Vignette for every country if needed (here’s a useful link), and check if your car meets all the eco rules and standards (like in Paris, for instance).
- Prepare your itinerary. See which would be the convenient stops on the way and book your rooms via Booking.com or Airbnb.com (or another service of your choice). Your schedule is flexible so you can decide to see more than one place in one day and sleep a couple of days in a row in one place that you really like. If you reserve only one day ahead you will experience that kind of freedom where you don’t know whether you’re going to be in Milan or Venice tomorrow, and the feeling is very liberating! This way, you can get the last minute price for accommodations. Also, if you are tired and not in the mood for driving for another 6 hours tomorrow, you can just drive for one hour and get in that charming village on the sea that you saw three days ago, while you were researching for the trip.
- Bring favorite food and beverages, not because you don’t want to pay for food abroad, but because you may not be able to go out each time when you’re hungry. It just might happen that you are in the middle of nowhere at 11 PM without a working store! And if you’re a vegetarian or you have other special food preferences (intolerance or allergies), you might not be able to find anything that won’t destroy your stomach. Be prepared, make your own food just in case.
- Pack a jacket wherever you go. And don’t forget the medicines. You do not know how they call that painkiller in Hungary and even a small headache can ruin your joy. 🙂
Don’t forget your passport and have a nice trip! 🙂