Driving in Europe

A motoring holiday across the continent can be a great way to see the different sights and landmarks of Europe at your own pace. However, this type of holiday still needs thoughtful preparation. Here are some suggestions to help you prepare for the road ahead:

Plan ahead

  • Consider servicing your car before setting off – it could lessen the risk of a breakdown while abroad. Also, check your tyres, including the spare, and consider replacing them if the tread depth is less than 3mm.
  • Having breakdown assistance cover while abroad makes a lot of sense. Comprehensive Europe-wide cover is available with Saga Breakdown Assistance.
  • If you have a Sat Nav, check it has continental maps installed. If not, you can usually download or buy the appropriate software from the manufacturer’s website.
  • Think about hiring a Sat Nav if you don’t have one, as it makes journeys a lot less stressful. Alternatively, browse websites online such as the AA route-planner as they plan a door-to-door route for you. Also, take a printout of the route and pack up-to-date maps too, just in case.
  • Ensure you know the driving laws for countries you are visiting.
  • Be covered for cancellations, loss of belongings and medical emergencies by taking out travel insurance. Comprehensive single-trip and annual multi-trip policies are available from Saga Travel Insurance.

Take the right documentation

  • You need your driving licence with you when motoring abroad. If it’s a photocard version, you’ll need the paper counterpart too.
  • Insurance ‘green cards’, that prove your insurance covers the minimum cover in the country you’re visiting, are no longer necessary for EU countries, but may be required for some non-EU states. Check the Association of British Insurers website (www.abi.org.uk) for guidance.
  • Your UK motor insurance policy gives you legal cover to drive in other EU countries. However, it only ensures third party cover and, even with Comprehensive cover, some insurers may not cover accidental damage that happens abroad. If you have a Saga Motor Insurance Comprehensive policy, EU-wide accidental damage cover is included and can be extended to many non-EU countries.
  • Take your insurance certificate and vehicle registration document (V5) with you, or good copies of them. If you’re driving a company car, or have leased or borrowed one, you also need a letter from the owner stating that you have permission to take it out of the country.

Your driving checklist

  • Driving license
  • Insurance certificate
  • Vehicle registration document (V5)
  • GB identification badge
  • Headlamp beam converters
  • First aid kit
  • Car warning triangle
  • High visibility reflective jacket
  • Spare set of bulbs
  • At least two single-use breathalyser kits.

Caravan and motorhome advice

  • Stow belongings as low down as possible and distribute their weight evenly. Carry heavy items in the car or over the caravan axle, ensuring they are well secured.
  • Beware of overloading. Check your car’s handbook for its maximum towing weight (including passengers and luggage). The laden caravan’s weight should not exceed 85% of the car’s.
  • Find out the correct ‘nose weight’ of the caravan (normally between 50kg and 75kg). Check it by placing a set of bathroom scales, with a flat piece of wood on top (to spread the load and prevent damage to the scales) under the caravan’s towing bracket. If the nose weight is too high, shift or remove items stowed in the caravan until it’s right.
  • Minimise the risk of a puncture by thoroughly checking tyre condition and pressure (see the vehicle’s handbook).
  • Fit extensions to your wing mirrors to make sure you can see safely along the sides of the caravan. Several countries including Germany, Spain and Italy require them by law.
  • To avoid problems with height barriers and width restrictions, attach a note to your dashboard listing your vehicle’s height, length and width in metric measurements.
  • Make sure you have adequate and effective insurance cover.

How Saga can help

If you are 50 or over, Saga Caravan Insurance, Saga Car Insurance and Saga Motorhome Insurance offer policies that give you year-round cover for motoring in Europe. Motorhome breakdown cover and Saga Travel Insurance are also available.

 

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Driving in Europe