Being on the steering wheel, taking frequent breaks to enjoy a dip in water, to hike a bit or take a small detour to enjoy the local flavour and listening to nice Bollywood or Punjabi – Road journey waale foot tapping numbers… is how we like to travel – whether in India or Abroad. Renting a car is of-course an economical option as compared to cabs and other commute options across the world.
Here is a basic guide on how to go about planning a Europe Road Trip
- Copy of Passport
- Copy of Visa
- Driving License
What kind of Driving License(DL) is required? Is the Indian DL valid?
License requirements are simple enough:
Any tourist staying less than 6 months in any country can use his license from the home country as long as it is in printed English.
Card licences are preferred but as long as the category of vehicle is clearly mentioned, you are good in most cases. S/he can rent any vehicle that the home country license entitles the holder – eg. if someone is allowed an automatic car in their home country, same is allowed here as well. They cannot drive a manual car here.
Its more complicated for motorcycles as they have various categorized defined by the vehicle power – A1, A2, etc. An Indian license only have categorization as automatic or geared motorcycle, so we can drive any big or small bike if we have a license for geared motorcycle.
Anyone staying for over 6 months (or 1 year in some countries) is required to get a local license after this period has elapsed in that country.
Pro tip is to get rentals from Airports instead of city centers as the staff at airports is usually more proficient with different license types as compared to those at city centers.
The chances of being denied a rental car due to the staff not understanding your license or Credit Card details is much lower at the airports. Pick-up and Dropping off too becomes much easier.
Recommendation is to call up the rental company once, before booking to check if they accept your driving license. If required, send them the details so that they can verify, avoid any issues when you go to pickup the car.
My personal experience in Croatia has been great, we took it at Dubrovnik Airport, travelled across the country. On the last day, at the Zagreb Airport, parked it at the designated slot and drooped the key in the drop off box. That’s it!
A certain sum would be blocked on your credit card as a security deposit.
What about Insurance? Is it compulsory?
Insurance is a must.
All the rentals come with basic insurance with the rentals fees. Additional insurance of “zero access” is add on the rental.
Recommend opting for *zero access* insurance for added peace of mind in case of any mishap. Else the insurance process could become a bit of a headache.
You can get “Zero access” insurance from third party also which is comparatively cheaper than provided by the car rental company. It is a hassle and I would not recommend if you are going on a holiday and need peace of mind.
Which are some of the reliable companies?
These are some of the prime Rental companies in UK and Europe:
There are other rental companies too (local to each country). Hence, the above is not an exhaustive list.
Traffic Rules & Surveillance
Its strongly recommended to understand local driving rules in UK and Europe for your safety and that of others on the road.
EU esp. has a very strong adherence to priorities which can cause commotion on the road for all if not followed. Most of the countries have strong surveillance system, so watch your moves, because you’re being watched!
Most of the countries in Europe are Right-handed drive except for UK, Ireland etc. One may need a bit of time to get used to the Right-hand driving, but its not a rocket science. If you can drive in the busiest towns and smaller lanes in India with diverse temperamental folks, you can easily manage outside.
Also, the rule that we largely don’t follow here in India is regarding the baby car seat. This is applicable if you are traveling with infant or kid/s.
Read all the instructions carefully When Parking In a Town or any main city. Your car could be towed or you could be heavily fined for the slightest parking infraction. Arcane rules apply (and are usually only displayed in the local language or in a font size which we may not pay attention to).
Once it so happened with us, we came back to our parking slot, happy & exhausted, after visiting Edinburgh castle, to find an envelope stuck on the car glass. We were fined…! We had to pay a real huge penalty, in Edinburgh because we missed reading a line (written in a real small font), which said, we needed to change the parking slot after 3 hours. So yes, Read & Re-read.. !
Most highways offer parking bays/lay-offs at reasonable distances so one can take a little break and stretch their bodies, while often enjoying scenic views across farmlands, or even the sea line!
Most accommodations come with parking slots; but service apartments could be tricky – so check that out before hand lest you be driving twenty circles of very similar looking city squares and end up losing the way back; and your patience. This usually happens when choose to stay right in the main town/city or famous tourists spots.
Tip: Carry coins as machines generally accept coins only. There are machines that accepts cards; however, cash is always better to avoid any delays due to technology.
Parking in Europe is certainly costlier than in India. However, based on our experience, local travel is expensive in Europe. Radio Cabs are expensive, especially if you have to travel to the countrysides. Self-Driving is the most economical option in this case.
Self-drive is also the most economical option if you are traveling in a group or a big family. The cost gets divided in the group.
For a Solo Traveller, this may not the best of the option.
Taking possession of the Vehicle
Always check the car i.e. number of types (including spare), car jack, tool kit, air pump, any know marks or dents of the car. Anything not working and get that video recorded before you take the car. This is useful when dropping of the car and the rental agency checks the car for damages.
Ideally it would not be an issue if you have taken Zero access insurance as everything is covered. However, would still recommend following this tip.
What about Refueling?
Refueling can be a task, mind you. You have to re-fuel the car yourselves in Europe. Gas stations do not have service attendants. Most rental cars, have the details of the type of fuel to be used (in the rental documents, on the back side of the keys, orin the flap of the refilling nozzle) and the fuel systems are rather easy to use.
What about “Breakdowns”?
All car rentals provide car breakdown assistance as part of the rental service. this would also generally include roadside assistance in case of any breakdown or flat tyre etc. They also provide a 24x7 helpline number in case you need assistance with the car or any of its features.
What about “Drink & Drive”?
For those who just won’t follow the ‘Do not drink and drive’ precaution, some countries allow small limits of alcohol consumption – look before you leap – or pay deep.
Folks, I hope this information helps you gain better clarity on the topic.
If so, fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride with good desi foot tapping music.. I am sure you will love the experience.
Tejal is an avid traveller based out of Mumbai. She loves Traveling, Photography and enjoys sharing her stories through pictures and videos on Instagram and Facebook. When she is not road tripping around the world, She works as a Consultant, Coach and Facilitator.