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Essential items for a road trip in Europe

31 replies

RockingMyFiftiesNot · 02/08/2020 14:19

Was hoping to spend 3 or 4 weeks driving round northern Spain and possibly into France this summer. Probably not going to happen this year now but am carrying on with the finer planning details regardless (lots of time to fill which I won't have when things are slightly more normal). Accommodation likely to be a combination of hotels and self-catering. I've pretty good lists from previous holidays of 'usual' holiday stuff , and for the car know we'll need spare fuel, additional insurance and will need to check extra things that might be required legally in those countries. What I would appreciate help with is things that you have found useful on driving holidays - either things to make life easier on the road, or things you have taken with you that you wouldn't take when flying (for example when we used to drive to self catering holidays, I'd take a bottle of star drops which can be used for hand washing clothes as well as cleaning and washing up. )

Thank you!

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RockingMyFiftiesNot · 02/08/2020 14:56

(Title says 'essential' but I guess I mean useful as well as essential).

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doyounothavegoogle · 02/08/2020 14:57

Chargers/adaptors
Fully loaded i-pod/phone...whatever you use (with the right leads)
Spare bulbs
A cool bag
Shopping bags
A few rubbish bags
A blanket/rug
Spare water bottles
A credit/debit card that will work in the tolls (humans are a rarity)
If you are doing lots of motorway driving you might consider a "fast-pass" thing for the windscreen.
A euro or a token kept handy for shopping trollies.

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newtb · 02/08/2020 14:59

Warning triangle
Fluorescent waistcoats

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AveEldon · 02/08/2020 15:03

kettle w continental plug
tea bags
bottle opener
kitchen towel
butter knife
cool box or bag
ikea food clips
washing up liquid
j cloth
tea towel
persil

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tanstaafl · 02/08/2020 15:06

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RockingMyFiftiesNot · 02/08/2020 15:21

Great suggestions, some of which I already had on my list, some not - but all helpful tk anyone else reading this thread for help. The USB adaptors are great!

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NoEuropeWho · 02/08/2020 15:30

We did this last year! Good timing for once. All self catering though.

Useful things we took:

Small plug in car fridge from Halfords that can be strapped down using the middle rear seatbelt. Saved having to buy new butter, milk etc every time we moved on to new accommodation. Also useful for packed lunches.

Kitchen stuff packed in a plastic box with a lid. Along with the usual washing up liquid etc, take a small knife and a big knife with removable covers and a chopping board as the ones you get given are always rubbish. Small sandwich bags also v useful for everything. Corkscrew. Matches.

Get a usb charger block with 5+ outlets for all the gadgets. Pop it in a little box with all the relevant leads plus one euro adaptor. Voila.

Hammam towels.

Everyone gets a transparent Ikea laundry bag for their clothes instead of a solid suitcase - easier to squash down. Blue Ikea bag for laundry.

Picnic rug always packed at the top!

You’ll need to take various bits of paper (V5C, green card insurance thing, travel insurance, European breakdown cover) - check this depending on where you’re going and what happens after Brexit. Then stick it all in an envelope thing and keep in the glovebox - obv take it out and with you if you’re parking anywhere dodgy!

You’ll also need stuff like headlamp converters, hi-vis vests, first aid kit etc - look this up for each country.

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RockingMyFiftiesNot · 02/08/2020 15:42

Thank you @NoEuropeWho very helpful. The car fridge is a great idea.
We have driven to Europe a lot so know the basics to take with but this will be the first time we've travelled around quite so much. Normally we've had 1 or max 3 bases, so I thought there may be things that would be particular to that scenario that I hadn't thought about.

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uniglowooljumper · 02/08/2020 15:46

Money!
A solar charger for your phone
A power bank for phones

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KingOfDogShite · 02/08/2020 15:47

A Sanef Toll Tag for your car so you can just drive through the toll booths.

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goatley · 02/08/2020 16:23

Great plan. I am missing my driving trip to France this year - there is a possiblity of it later in Autumn but I daren'tplan yet.

Anyway in previous years we have travelled with 3 kids in tow, lately just us two adults.

We have a 5 hour drive down to the south coast for Tunnel/Ferry - so would always set off at 2/3 am. I'd pack up a bunch of sandwiches and snacks in a cool bag - and freeze small bottles of water which act as ice blocks and can be drunk cold as they defrost. Saves a ton of money at the service stop en route. It counts as breakfast too on the ferry/tunnel. I still do it for just me and DH as it is practical to have everything there ready to go.

Bag clips from Ikea - great for half eaten bags of crisps etc.. keep a corkscrew/bottle opener in cool bag too - always useful. Along with a few bits of plastic or old cutlery for impromptu picnicking. Carrier bags - for shopping and one as an in car garbage bag.

Toll tag - amazing time saver and get billed a month later via my credit card. No need to faff with coins. I have one from APPR. APRR

Double check your breakdown covers Europe, insurance and IDP.

For self catering even if you don't usually eat this kind of thing pack a few packs of quick pasta/mug shots just in case you are held up and can't shop. I always take loo roll from home (as I buy that in bulk anyway), kitchen roll and dishwasher/laundry detergent.

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NoEuropeWho · 02/08/2020 16:29

Aha, well in that case just concentrate on being able to load and unload easily. We found that in Spain especially we often had to park a short distance away (top tip: check this properly with the owner on Airbnb etc as ‘parking provided’ can mean different things...) so no use carrying multiple small bags. Plastic box for kitchen stuff, Ikea bag for swimmers, towels and toiletry bags (so doesn’t matter if you have to pack a bit damp), bag each for clothes, box/bag for sundries (mostly small child equipment for us, but also things like your charger box, Bluetooth speaker, umbrella etc.). Then work out how to Tetris it together. You can pack it all up inside your accommodation and then it’s easy to transfer to the car. Apols if this is obvious, but on one-stop holidays I tend to use the car like a giant suitcase and stuff things in all the nooks and crannies but you can’t do that every couple of days. Oh and (if you can) try and leave a bit of space in the boot for a food shop so you can do en route without having to unpack first. Use your car nooks and crannies for wet wipes, tissues, insulated water bottle, pen and paper, spare glasses etc. Take a set of car keys each (in case you lose them Shock).

I’m sure there’s more. Happy holiday planning!

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NameChange657 · 02/08/2020 16:44

If you're thinking of driving into france, check the government website. I am sure you need to carry 2 breathalysers (easily bought on Amazon), a warning triangle and a high vis.

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NameChange657 · 02/08/2020 16:47

Oh, and additional travel insurance! If you just use the E hic or E111 card in Spain you may have to go to a state hospital, if you have additional insurance the private hospitals are on a whole rated a lot better. It's often quite inexpensive too, and hopefully you never need it. But it is a peace of mind! And breakdown cover for Europe, I rang up AA and added it on for a month. Never needed it , but again, reassuring to know I had it. Happy planning!

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BrieAndChilli · 02/08/2020 16:50

We drove through France and Switzerland to Italy last year and then coming home we drove through Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Brussels and France.

We had back of the seats storage things with a clear pocket for tablets, and lots of other pockets for drinks bottles/snacks/travel games/colouring pens and notebook etc.
Travel pillows and blankets.
Small bin for car
Everyday I made up a little bag for everybody with snacks in, meant you aren’t constantly handing out and digging around for snacks plus no arguing over how are more of X or Y before the others had any!!
We bought a multi usb plug charger that reached into the back of the car so they could all charge devices at the same time!!! Very important!!
I made up little bags for each night with pjs for everyone, clothes for the morning and also a seperate bag with toiletries etc so when we stopped all we had to grab was the toiletries bag and the clothes for 1 night bag. Micro fleece towels that dry quicker as you won’t want soggy towels in the car (if staying at budget places like formula1, other hotels had towels for us to use)

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RockingMyFiftiesNot · 02/08/2020 17:07

So many great ideas, thank you all. I should have said we will just be two adults so no children's stuff required but most of the suggestions are relevant regardless.
I will thoroughly check out all the car requirements (yes I think you still need two breathalysers for France but will check). It's more the things that make life easier with a many-stop trip.
I'm thinking I'll take a bag with things we'll require every stop (toiletries/electrics, nightwear etc) and then 'decant' clothes for that stop into a lightweight bag (rather than unload all the clothes each trip) . I will also take something like an IKEA bag as someone suggested for dirty washing which can be left in the car until we stop somewhere for long enough to wash it

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Firefretted · 02/08/2020 17:17

Lightweight microfibre travel towel - they dry really quickly and pack down into a small, portable pack.

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CaurnieBred · 02/08/2020 22:20

I def echo the car bin: ours hangs from the back of a headrest. Keeps the car much tidier.

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AmelieTaylor · 02/08/2020 22:29

We travelled around Europe by car for several months. We took very little as due to Renault cock up we had to collect the car in Paris! Going in the ferry with just backpacks. & carrying our wee 2man tent.
Thank his I did it when I was 25, now I'm 50 I 'need' so much more 🤣 back then a clean pair of knickers and our 'let's go' travel guide were the 'essentials' 🤣🤣

I was supposed to be on my way, by car, to the south of france Now 😢 buggering virus!!

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poppyleaves · 03/08/2020 20:41

We've done lots of multi centre holidays and I would recommend packing cubes, so you're not unpacking your case at every destination. There are loads of types online, I like the soft cloth bag type like these www.etsy.com/uk/shop/drawstringuk as you can fold them up as they empty and squash them into holdalls.

I'd also recommend a plastic A4 envelope to hold printouts for apartment details, ferry, passports etc something simple like this www.amazon.co.uk/Rapesco-0688-Foolscap-Transparent-Assorted/dp/B000NLZAYC/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=plastic%20wallets&qid=1596483605&sr=8-8&tag=mumsnet&ascsubtag=mnforum-21

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RockingMyFiftiesNot · 03/08/2020 21:02

Thank you all. So refreshing to read such helpful, positive posts after some of the threads I've been on recently!
So many great suggestions, thanks

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Funf · 05/08/2020 09:01

Breakdown cover
Credit card one each from different banks
Basic first aid stuff ( Tooth repair stuff, painkillers EHIC card thing)
Travel insurance
Good phone contract with plenty of data
Portable power thingy for phone.
Some one in the UK who can source parts and post out of required.

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RockingMyFiftiesNot · 05/08/2020 10:24

Thank you. We have driven to Europe many times, this is the first time we'll have not been based in one or two places so there may be some things that would make life 'on the road' and being in and out of multiple hotels easier. Tho am trying where possible to have more than one night in a hotel and then visit surrounding areas so we get a bit of a break.

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WouldBeGood · 05/08/2020 10:29

Cold pizza is great for car snacks on a long journey 😃

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RockingMyFiftiesNot · 05/08/2020 10:33

Ooh now that is a great idea @WouldBeGood, thank you. We'll soon get sick of sandwiches!
I can't believe how detailed my planning is becoming for a trip that might not happen til next year. I've already decided I'll take pasta salad and mixed salad for the initial journey, again knowing we'll eat lots of bread. Other 'on the road' snack meals welcome! We usually travel with fruit, dried fruit and nuts.
Will take some clingfilm!

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