There are many ways to travel around Europe. Few options are more comfortable and flexible than hiring a rental car and taking a road trip. However there are a few regulations you need to be aware of when renting a car in Europe.
Hiring a car in Europe means that you can take things at your own pace. You can go wherever you’d like, and not have to worry about using public transport or finding a reliable taxi driver. It also means that you can drive just to enjoy the scenery and find that perfect spot for a spontaneous picnic, rather than always travelling with a specific destination in mind. A hire car provides freedom, so that you can enjoy the journey in full.
Basics of renting a car in Europe
You will, of course, need to ensure that you’ve covered the basics with your hire car. Have you got insurance? Do you have breakdown cover? Are you carrying forms of identification, including your driving licence, in case you’re stopped by a law enforcement officer?
Beyond the basics, different countries will have different rules. There may be some things that you hadn’t even considered. So before you choose your hire car, here are three things that you should know about renting a car in Europe:
1. You may need a car safety kit
Your hire car may, or may not, include a European car safety kit. If it doesn’t, it’s important to know that they’re required in most European countries.
If you’re creating your own kit you’ll want to include a reflective jacket, a warning triangle and a first aid kit, spare bulbs and a fire extinguisher as an absolute minimum. Whilst it seems inconvenient to take these items on holiday, it’s essential in case you’re stopped and checked. If travelling in France, you will also be required to carry a breathalizer.
Check local driving laws when driving in Europe
Whilst the items listed above are enough to satisfy the law in most European countries, it’s very important to check the law in specific countries before you travel.
The AA has produced a handy PDF guide, showing exactly what you need for your emergency kit in Europe, according to each country’s laws and regulations.
If you’re concerned about finding the right equipment then many specialist retailers, and online stores, sell European car safety kits that already include everything you’ll need. Often, they’ll even have every item packed into a handy carry bag.
2. ‘Drink and drive’ limits may be stricter in other countries
It’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t drive after consuming alcoholic drinks, and certainly shouldn’t have them open in your vehicle whilst you’re driving, but did you know that in some countries the rules are a lot more strict?
For example, in Cyprus it is illegal to eat or drink whilst driving at all. Much like using a mobile phone, these activities are considered to be distracting and to lower your reaction times. This means that you can’t have a can of your favourite soft drink sitting in the cup holder for sips as you drive, or stop at a fast food drive thru and enjoy a few sneaky bites on the road.
You’ll need to make sure that you factor in regular stops when driving around Europe. It’s important to keep yourself fueled, as well as refuelling your vehicle. Do bear in mind, that when driving in Germany you can actually be fined for running out of fuel, particularly on the Autobahn
By making regular stops, you can enjoy guilt-free visits to many of Europe’s best cafes.
3.You’ll need to keep a spare pair of glasses
If you’re driving a hire car in Europe, and you use prescription lenses when driving, then you may be legally required to carry a spare pair when you travel.
In Spain, for example, you must carry a spare pair of glasses in case your first pair breaks. The same rule applies to contact lenses.
It isn’t enough to say that your passenger-seat partner would take over the driving duties if your glasses were lost or broken. You’ll be required to pull a spare pair out of your bag, to show that you’re following these road rules.
Whilst we often think that we can test the limits on holiday, and whilst the likelihood of being stopped and asked to show your spare pair of contact lenses might seem very low, the risks simply aren’t worth taking.
Making sure that you’re prepared to drive a rental car in Europe. Following the specific rules in each country will ensure that your holiday goes to plan.
*This is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links for products or services which our readers may find useful.