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Why You Need To Take A Road Trip In Europe

Being the second smallest continent, Europe has some advantages when it comes to travel, and with Russia itself comprising a whopping 40% of that entire area, the majority of the countries occupy a relatively small amount of space. For those who are looking to explore an entire country, or several in one shot, this makes it even easier to do so in one trip. Added to the this is the general ease in which you can cross borders between most of the countries (at least those in the Schengen Area). Acting as one country for international travel purposes, the Schengen Area allows travel across the borders of the member countries without the need for going through customs or applying for any additional visas. Which, on its own, is a great motivating factor for a road trip in Europe.

Road trip in europe with one modern couple in germany

This perfect combination of close proximity and open borders comes together to create a continent that is fairly easy to traverse no matter what method of transportation you choose. And there are a myriad of options to travel Europe: trains and rail passes, budget and major airlines, bus routes and car rentals. For us, we love to travel by train, to kick back and relax as we watch the beautiful scenery pass by… but by far our favourite method of transportation while travelling is by car and when we’re in Europe we think car rentals and road trips, every time!

9 Reasons To Travel Europe By Car

We really do feel that a road trip in Europe is the best way to go. In 2015 we took a Germany road trip as well as a road trip in Spain, and both times our car rental from AutoEurope allowed us incredible access to both countries and opened up opportunities we otherwise would never have had. Here are our top 9 reasons we love to travel by car and why we think you need to take a road trip in Europe!

car rental road trip in Germany

1. Freedom to come and go as you please.

We love to set our own timelines, to avoid the restrictions of an airline or transit company’s scheduled departure times. We can choose where to go and when to leave and then choose how long we want to stay there before finding the next destination. When you travel by car in Europe, you are giving yourself the option to start and end your day when and where you want. It also means your travel days don’t equal a missed day of exploring.

2.  You can change plans on a whim.

Much like having the freedom to come and go as we please, we love to be spontaneous and having the ability to turn around, change direction, alter our timing or revise our schedule completely is not something we can do very often when we travel with other methods of transportation. But when we drive, it’s a whole other story. We’ve got the road ahead of us…or behind us, or to the left or right. Really, we can switch directions whenever we choose.

In fact, during our recent road trip in Germany, we found out a friend was flying into Munich the next day. We were in Frankfurt with no plans of heading to Munich but as soon as we heard, we changed our schedule hopped in the car the following morning and spent the day driving from one end of the country to the next. No looking up timetables. No worrying about getting the best prices or how we’d get around after. It was amazing.

road trip in europe

3. Sometimes taking the direct route, isn’t the best route.

Along with having the freedom to come and go as you please and to change your plans on a whim, is the discovery that there is often more to see between one destination and another than you realize.  During our recent road trip in Germany and our previous road trip in Spain, we found so much BETWEEN each of our destination points. Had we gone from Madrid to Almunecar and back again, we would have missed all the small towns and villages we got to stop at, the ruins and castles, old churches, local restaurants and a plethora of other hidden gems and parts of the country and culture rarely seen by travellers.

4. You can get outside the tourist hubs.

With a car, you’re really unrestricted. This allows you to get outside the major cities and transit routes where main methods of transportation for tourists, like planes, trains and buses, usually come and go. Instead, you can explore more of the country which means you can peel away the layers of the culture, experience some local flare and find accommodations that are more cost effective because they are outside the main areas. Not only do these accommodations have a better price tag than those in major cities, they also usually come with more amenities that you would otherwise need to pay for (breakfast, parking, complimentary water, etc).

Road trip in Spain with car rental in Europe

5. It can be comparable, or cheaper, in price… so why not take a road trip in Europe?

In addition to saving money on accommodation, we’ve often found that the price of a car rental was cheaper for us than booking transportation to and from the various places we want to see or need to be. While you do have to factor in any added expenses, such as fuel, we’ve noticed it still hasn’t impacted our overall budget.

We use AutoEurope and it has consistently found the cheapest rental price in each of the countries we’ve searched with an easy rental process. In fact, it was cheaper to rent a car, drive pretty much all day, everyday (filling up regularly as we went) in Spain for a week than it would have been to pay the quoted prices for bus, train or plane tickets between the various cities we were looking to see. Bring more people along for your road trip and you’ve cut down the price even more!

road trip in germany on castle road frankenstein castle

6. You can save on dining expenses and experience food like the locals!

We not only save on accommodation by having the ability to search and stay at the best valued hotels, but we also save on food. You can find local stores with ease and by stopping in at grocery stores and fresh markets you can purchase delicious local food and produce at a fraction of the cost of food in a restaurant. Because your transportation is also your storage space, you are able to easily carry your groceries with you. (Note: It’s important to choose your food wisely and plan to eat food that spoils first.) Finally, like accommodations, having a car also allows you to find and dine at restaurants off the beaten path and have some incredible local experiences.

Travel in Europe with car rental in Germany

7. Your luggage travels with you, not the other way around!

From checking luggage, to carrying it with you, to lugging it down the street, to bringing it on the bus and off again, luggage can get cumbersome and heavy. We seldom had to think about our luggage, let alone carry it with us. Whether we stayed at a hotel for a longer period of time, or switched frequently, it was easy to bring our suitcases and backpacks with us wherever we decided to go!

8. It’s a backup accommodation.

Yep, you read that right. We’ve taken numerous road trips during our relationship and almost every single one involved some form of slumber in the car itself. Whether we took turns resting up while the other drove, napped at a service centre or full-on slept at a rest stop, we’ve used the car to catch up on our Zs when we were between hotels. It can come in handy when you’re looking to travel longer distances overnight in order to maximize the daylight hours or when plans fall through and you just didn’t make it to the next destination in time to check into a hotel. If delays happen while you’re on a bus, train or plane you’ve got to hope you can find transportation to your hotel and that it has late check-in! Otherwise, you’re out of luck and wishing you had four wheels of freedom to rest up in!

dashboard of car rental

9. You can travel with your own personal soundtrack!

Okay, so this one may just entice us, and with the ability to play music on cell phones and mp3 players, it’s possible to listen to music pretty much anywhere. But we love listening to music while travelling. Associating memories and music can be powerful and it’s also just plain enjoyable. For us, turning up a local radio station or plugging in our own music with the car’s audio jack really enhances the experience. We can cruise along the roads, taking in the scenery and enjoying some great tunes we’ll probably largely associate with the trip for a long time to come!

 

There you go! 9 of our top reasons why you need to take a road trip in Europe. For us, renting a car in Europe is a no-brainer. Between the cost-effectiveness, freedom and ease of travel and our enjoyment of driving around and really seeing as much of a place as possible, it’s our favourite method of transportation and sightseeing.

 

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24 replies
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      It was VERY hard to fall asleep with the views we had! In Germany we had a built-in GPS in the car (we LOVED having it) but in Spain we were on our own… which led to a few more “heated discussions” then when we were guided by the never failing wise voice of the GPS. 😉

      Reply
  1. Heidi Wagoner
    Heidi Wagoner says:

    We absolutely love traveling Europe by car, as we love to explore off the beaten path. Looks like you had a wonderful time and nice photos. Glad you had the freedom to drive and listen to your own tunes!

    Reply
  2. Romeo
    Romeo says:

    All nine true, each and every one. I love roadtripping a country and thanks for pointing out the joys of it. Total freedom.

    Reply
  3. Christopher
    Christopher says:

    Love this article. I definitely agree that memories linked to music is very powerful. All the music I use in my Rudderless videos is usually music I heard or Shazamed while travelling. It’s a feeling that connects me to that city or town or country and when I hear the song again I’m instantly transported back to that city or town or country. I’ve always thought about taking a road trip over seas and many of my travel friends have. I think I will have to give it a go!!!

    Reply
  4. mark
    mark says:

    You guys make it sounds so easy. I have been hesitant to drive in Europe because i don’t know whether the road rules are the same as Australia. Not being able to read the signs is a big problem aswell for me. Next trip we are thinking about hiring a car in portugal a small country with a small population

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      Every time we rent a car in a new country, we ask the car rental agent if there are any rules that we should know about. The agents are pretty good at knowing what forefingers get caught for and usually inform you on the rules that you should be aware about if there are any.

      Reply
  5. Alouise
    Alouise says:

    So I love road trips, but I’ve only ever done them in Canada and the US. I never really considered doing a road trip in Europe, but this post has made me reconsider. I love getting to see different towns and sites along the way. I think the only thing I wouldn’t like would be driving in the big cities (the streets are so narrow and the traffic…ah).
    Alouise recently posted…Travel Photo Roulette 121 – ParadiseMy Profile

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      The big cities can b very intimidating, but the traffic flow in the big German and Spanish cities was excellent, and the highways are amazing and we never experienced traffic logger than 5 minutes… anywhere.

      Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      The gas prices when we were there were pretty steep, but because the Canadian dollar wasn’t doing too well either it was tough to swallow… but on the bright side, it was totally worth it, and a great way to see the country.

      Reply
  6. Holly
    Holly says:

    Great reasons. Although I would be a little nervous to drive on the other side of the road, but I guess you get used to it. I would love to see the beauty

    Reply
  7. noel
    noel says:

    I’ve only taken a road trip through Croatia where bus service is good but always limited in times from certain locations. But I can’t imagine doing this and staying in larger cities which is always trickier with parking issues compared to more scenic landscape areas with smaller towns.

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      It was definitely cheaper & easier to find parking in the smaller towns or outside the centre of the city but we were surprised at how many parking garages/options were available in the countries we travelled through!

      Reply
  8. Rob
    Rob says:

    Great timing, I was just discussing with my wife that I thought we should rent a car more often when we head back to Europe this year. Last year we spent 9 months traveling through Europe and not once did we rent a vehicle. I feel like we missed a lot of what we could have seen and experienced because we did public transportation for the entire time.

    Reply
  9. Mags
    Mags says:

    I love the freedom you get from having a car when traveling. It’s definitely worth doing if you have some time to really get out and explore. The only downside is the narrow roads and finding parking. Both of those things can be a little scary in parts of Europe.

    Reply
  10. Anna @ shenANNAgans
    Anna @ shenANNAgans says:

    Love a good road trip, although I dont know that I would be brave enough to road trip in a foreign country, sleeping in the car is not my idea of fun, but having access to some of the off the beaten track restaurants and attractions is. Fun post! 🙂

    Reply
    • onemoderncouple
      onemoderncouple says:

      foreign car road trips are great! and we didn’t plan to sleep in the car, it just happened, and we had a great time, sometimes while travelling you need to open your mind to different opportunities… we usually take turns sleeping during road trips while the other drives.

      Reply
  11. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    Yes to all of your 9 reasons! We love to travel Europe by car, as it’s often cheaper for a family of four than train tickets. Plus the freedom to go when and where you want can’t be beat.

    Reply

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