driving Europe

Driving in Europe

With great roads, driving in Europe is a great way to indulge in its dramatic scenery. It may also be necessary when staying in a villa or apartment located outside major cities. Considering driving is easier said than done when you’re from a foreign country.

Having to familiarize one’s self and to remember Europe’s driving rules are daunting as it is. You may also be worried about getting stuck in London’s roundabout as per the more memorable scene from National Lampoon’s European Vacation.

In order to address this woes, you can hire a full-time chauffeur to drive for you. However, it will be costly and your companions may not approve of it. So you will need to know the general guidelines about driving in Europe to avoid running into problems especially if you are the assigned driver.

Expect Aggressive Driving

If you’re driving in Italy, France, and most especially in England, a leading country in the world for road rage, you will need to stay calmer and more focused in order to drive with confidence in Europe.

British roads can be congested. And with average speed hoving around at 11 mph in London, drivers may tailgate you, honk, or yell just to get everyone to drive faster. It is best not to react with aggressive tactics of your own out of frustration or annoyance. Antagonizing selfish drivers may only increase danger and can lead to a road rage incident.

Meanwhile, as you reach Germany, Germans cruising at over 140 mph is common due to good roads and tires. You have to drive as fast if the rules state it. More importantly, it still boils down to focus. You can’t do anything else while driving so you can act quickly.

If you find yourself driving in Europe at a slow pace, let the cars drive around you. Pull over if someone flashes their lights. It just takes a few seconds so you can continue driving in peace after. Stubbornness is rude which may make you on the receiving end of yelling, cursing, and honking.

Speaking of honking, be thoughtful about the usage of it. Others may use it to communicate anger but don’t do it too. Aggressive driving doesn’t make you a better driver. Use honking for its original purpose of potential crash or danger.

Encountering Roundabouts

round-a-bout

When you find yourself driving in France, a roundabout, an efficient form of an intersection without a traffic light, is commonly encountered. So it is important to know the general rules in case you don’t see the “yield sign” at the entrance of a roundabout.

The traffic flows anti-clockwise. Vehicles inside the roundabout have the right of way so you should prioritize letting them out first. When you’re already driving inside the roundabout, stay on the outside lane if you are exiting. Make sure you use a signal when doing so. Stay in the inside lane if you need to make a U-turn or left turn.

This is easier said than done especially if you’re driving in Arc de Triomphe roundabout as it has 8-lane with no visible lanes painted on the ground. The plus side here is that you may circle it as many times as you need. So don’t be discouraged if you miss your exit the first time.


Road Signs to Remember

Since the implementation of the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals in 1978, members of the European Union utilize a standard set of signs and signals You should familiarize yourself with it to make driving in Europe easier for you.

What you’ll see below are the common advisements and sights and not one that is valid only in a particular country. It may not be all of it but it helps.

Priority Sign

  • An inverted white triangle with a red border means that you need to give priority to oncoming traffic when entering. It is otherwise known as yield and may not have a text indication.
  • A yellow diamond sign indicates that you have the right of way at approaching intersections. Other lanes of travel will yield.

Mandatory Signs

  • If there are two cars inside a red circle, one black, and one red, neither passing nor overtaking is allowed for the duration of the no passing zone.

Prohibitive and Restrictive Signs

  • A blue circle with white numbers indicates the minimum traveling speed zone. A number will be indicated on it.
  • A red circle with a dash inside means no entry is permitted. This is usually due to an approaching one-way traffic.
  • A red circle with a slash on a blue background means no parking is permitted in the advised zone.
  • A white circle with a red border and a car inside it means vehicles are not allowed in the approaching area.

Direction, Position, and Indication Signs

  • A sign with arrows arranged in a circle means you’ll be approaching a roundabout. The sign will indicate the direction of the exit.

Additional Panels

  • An upright triangle with a red border advises the public of a particular form of danger as indicated e.g. merging lanes, bumps, etc.

Parking

crowded street

A good rule of thumb is to use common sense to avoid parking inconveniences. Don’t assume that just because there is no meter, you can leave your car. If the rules are unclear to you, ask locals.

Finding a parking spot in European cities are fairly difficult as it is not designed for parking. Prices of parking in central areas are at a steep price. Meanwhile, at touristy places where pedestrians are prioritized, cities have removed parking spots. Thus, it is best to park on the outskirts of a metro stop and take the public transportation.

Another alternative is to park on the outskirts of town and avail government sponsored park-and-rides if applicable. You spend less because the parking itself may be free. At the same time, you avoid having to park at Europe’s narrow streets.

Carry Cash

Despite the availability of cashless payments via credit cards and mounted tags for tolls, it is always a great idea to bring cash. Some of the reasons include the following:

  1. You may need to fill up at an old gas stations which only accepts cash for payment.
  2. There are still toll roads which will require you to pay cash.
  3. In a lot of countries like France, if you incur a violation, you will need to pay the fine to the office on the sport. It is good to be ready in case it happens.

It may seem that European drivers are aggressive but you have to know that they are just accustomed to their ways. Keep in mind all the information in this and follow the rules. Driving in Europe will soon be a breeze for you. Finally, one important piece of advice to all Americans driving in Europe: keep both of your hands on the wheel and focus.

7 Tips for Successful Travel


Travel is easier and more accessible compared to the time of our forefathers. This is thanks to the technological evolvement of airlines and the availability of cheap air travel.

With the cost of flying relatively affordable, travel enables us to experience the unknown and discover a new culture. Those are good reasons for traveling but, in general, it is actually key to understanding others.

Ready to head on an adventure? Go through these essentials first to improve your chances of a successful travel.

1. Passport is Valid

There is nothing wrong with quickly seizing the opportunity of cheap air travel particularly when there are promo fares and discounts.

Just don’t overlook the validity of your passport as you may be refused to board the airline at your point of origin or on your connecting flight. What is worse is that you will be refused entry on the country you are going to. This will make you incur unnecessary expenses that may be hefty in price.

Thus, ensure that your passport won’t expire within six months of your actual travel date. If your passport is expiring soon, allot sufficient time for renewal before booking your overseas travel.

2. Have Required Documentation

Travel documentation passports ect..

A valid passport is an obvious document you need to have with you when traveling. What you also need at hand is a printed copy of your ticket. It serves as proof that you are planning to return to your home country.

Another documentation you may need to obtain depending on the country you are going to is a visa.

3. Know the Basics of Country You’ll Travel to

Aside from knowing if a visa is required to enter the country you’ll travel to, you also need to know the currency exchange rate. This is to avoid being scammed.

Learning basic phrases as well is helpful since head and hand gestures may mean differently due to cultural differences.

You also need to know if there are clothing restrictions to avoid disrespecting a country’s norms.

4. Know the Weather Condition

bus in bad weather condition

Knowing the weather condition of the destination you’re traveling to enables you to determine which type of clothing to bring. You will want to stay warm and dry especially when it is freezing outside. On the other hand, when it is hot and humid, you will want to wear a breezy type of clothing.

5. Obtain Travel Insurance

Don’t neglect to secure a travel insurance even if you think you don’t need it. More so if you already saved some cash from booking a cheap air travel.

There are unlikely situations that you may encounter. And depending on the travel insurance you availed, your medical costs, trip disruptions such as flight delay, and/or stolen luggage will be covered.

Choosing the right travel insurance depends on your trip and the activities you’ll partake in.

6. Get Vaccinated
Vaccinated

Find out which vaccinations you may need depending on the place you are traveling to and get the shots needed. Or better yet, visit a health care professional, at least a month before for international travel, to ensure that you will complete the series of vaccine needed. Such helps keep you from contracting serious diseases as well as keep you healthy while traveling.

7. Acquire an International Driver’s Permit

Finally, if you plan to get behind the wheel in a foreign land, secure an international driving permit. Know if you can quickly adjust to driving on opposite side you’re used to. Familiarize yourself also with the traffic laws you’re driving in.