Welcome to Mumsnet!

We’re delighted you’ve found us. Join in the conversation on the UK's busiest site for parents

Get started »

8 things you need to know if you're driving in Europe this summer

These tips from Mumsnetters will help make your journey as smooth as possible.

Share this on Facebook

1. You're legally required to carry some extra kit

"You need things like a UK sticker, warning triangle, first aid kit, spare bulbs and so on, to meet legal requirements overseas."

Laws vary across Europe, so check requirements for ALL the countries you'll be driving through. The AA has a comprehensive checklist of what is/isn't legally required.

In France, all passengers need high-vis jackets and they should be in the car not the boot (the idea being you put them on before you exit a car).  You can purchase everything you need from the likes of Halfords or Amazon.

2. Set speed-camera detection to OFF

"Make sure speed-camera detecting devices are switched OFF on all your navigation services. Whether that's in-car, co-pilot on your phone/tablet, or your sat nav. In France at least, you can get fined for having the warning."

3. Check your insurance cover works abroad. Really, do this


"I was surprised to find that our fully comp car insurance isn't valid in Europe. It drops down to third party coverage.  I had to pay a (small) extra premium to cover us." 
"Your regular breakdown cover will probably not cover Europe. I buy a policy from the RAC  specifically for European travel - a comprehensive policy for our car and family size has cost about £72 for 15 nights. Worth every penny if something does happen." 

4. Budget like a boss

"Go to viamichelin.co.uk put in the details of what type of car you have and it will cost out the journey for you. We've used it for all our French trips over the last few years, and it's pretty accurate. It will also tell you the prices of the tolls, which have always been exact."           

5. Always know where your next meal is coming from

"Pack a cool bag with water/juices (pre-frozen, to act as ice blocks!) and sandwiches, crisps, cereal bars, fruit etc. And don't forget a pack of wipes for clearing up afterwards."
"Pack lots of water as it gets increasingly hot and you don't want sticky fluids around. Have a fresh black bin bag each day for rubbish, and no bananas or oranges that'll stink the car out."

"There are electric cool boxes that you can plug in to your car to keep drinks cool and fruit fresh. I invest in a load of chilled coffees that come with a straw - I do all the driving myself so caffeine is my friend."

6. Tolls can be fun (honest)

You can get an automated tag for the tolls from saneftolling.co.uk  which will save faffing around at each individual point. 

Or, as one canny Mumsnetter suggests, turn it into an in-car game: "Give the DC the money to pay the tolls. One of them will be on the correct side of the car to do so. And if they are taught/know the French, the toll people will be amazed and delighted."

7. I spy will only take you so far

"Audiobooks are brilliant because you can all listen together and then talk about them."

"I've just bought some at amazing prices from the online BookPeople. Roald Dahl's entire collection on audio was just £20 instead of £100."
"Audible for audio stories for you too. I play myself some novels while DC are on headphones listening to a DVD. Podcasts are great too - and free (Radio 4 Woman's Hour have some pretty outstanding articles)."    
"Definitely pack a DVD player and a screen for each seat so no one is twisting necks to see. Invest in some comfy kiddie headphones so you can enjoy some peace for a while."

"I prepare a travel kit for each child with a juice carton, packet of raisins, colouring book, coloured pencils, magnetic puzzle, little games, child-friendly map of the route, etc. They also all have a travel pillow and a little blanket."       

8. "It's like Breaking Bad in our car..." 

"We always have a pretty well-stocked first aid kit permanently in the car with things like: ibuprofen (tablets and gel), Calpol, Solpadeine, insect-bite cream, antiseptic cream, dressings, threadworm tablets, antihistamine tablets etc. It's like Breaking Bad in our car but it saves driving around looking for pharmacies when you would rather be doing something else."

"Plastic bags for rubbish. Sick bags for emergencies, wet wipes and loo roll just in case."

Liked this? Try these:

Family on car holiday

Essential info for hiring a car abroad


Passports: what you need to know


10 things you need to know about travel insurance


Last updated: about 3 years ago