International road trips; who remembers those? Yes, in the days before many of us were confined to our homes in the COVID-19 era, we did embark on such ambitious expeditions. And guess what? They’re coming back – or at least, we certainly hope so, as we all look for a brighter and bolder 2022.
But with great numbers of us not exactly having done something like a road trip for a while – perhaps even in the UK – it’s crucial to be vigilant to certain things if you aspire to get back into the habit.
So, allow our experts at Car Finance Genie to set out what should be five of your top priorities for your next overseas road trip.
1. Are you up to date on all the documentation you need?
The combination of the continuing pandemic situation – and the associated measures nations have put in place to control the virus’s spread – and changes in procedures after Brexit has certainly made the task of planning a road trip abroad that bit more complicated.
Still, with the right preparation, it doesn’t have to be too overwhelming. An obvious first point of reference is the GOV.UK website, which will advise you on such things as what you will require for driving in the European Union (EU), as well as when driving overseas in general.
One obvious essential will be your Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving licence, which must remain valid for your trip. If you intend to bring along your own car, you will also need to have the V5C – otherwise known as the ‘log book’ – and insurance certificate with you.
2. Will you have enough money for your trip?
When it comes to doing anything ambitious, one of the first pieces of advice you are likely to be given – including by us – will be on the financial side of things. So, yes, we are asking you to be responsible with your budget-setting for your looming overseas road trip, too.
And some aspects of budget planning for a road trip abroad can unquestionably be more complex than others. For example, as Evo points out, motorways in France, Spain and Portugal all have tolls, which could add a lot to the cost of your journey overall.
That could be all the more reason for you to carefully plan exactly where you will go, taking into account any interesting alternative routes that might allow you to avoid the tolls.
3. What will the rest of your route look like?
For our next tip, we might as well carry on neatly from the route considerations we cited above. And of course, not everything about planning a road trip outside the UK concerns dull stuff like the avoidance of toll roads. Yes, we’re talking about the rest of the route planning, which will surely form the most exciting component of your preparations.
So, once you have determined your travel dates and budget, it will be time to consider the destinations you wish to take in on your road trip.
For this, you might already have a certain country, region or multiple countries or regions in mind that inspired you to plan a road trip in the first place. But whether you are or aren’t sure about exactly where you wish to go, it’s well worth jotting down notes so that you can determine what sights and attractions you will be able to experience along the way.
After all, you won’t want to go to all the trouble of planning a road trip, only to completely forget about that must-visit heritage site, or that off-the-beaten-track village you’ve always wished to visit.
4. What will you use to help navigate your route?
The days of drivers abroad (or in the UK, for that matter) having to pull over from time to time to fiddle around with physical maps to determine where they’re going, are well and truly over. Well, that’s unless you like to be ‘old school’ in that way, of course.
Otherwise, you’ll probably be able to cope these days simply using Google Maps on your phone. But if that’s your plan, do check in advance that you have a data package enabling usage abroad – otherwise, you could be faced with an intimidating bill once you get home.
While WiFi or 3G/4G aren’t strictly necessary in order to use GPS on your phone, before embarking on your route for the day, you’ll need to load the map somewhere with a strong WiFi connection (such as, we would hope, the hotel!). And bear in mind that if you do go the wrong way, the GPS might not always be able to reroute you.
5. Do you have the set of wheels for the job?
Finally, you can’t hope to embark on a road trip without a suitable vehicle for such a formidable task. For this, many people are often tempted to simply book the cheapest hire car they can find on a price comparison site… but we would advise against that.
You see, as cheap as ‘budget’ hire car specialists can often look on a website, you could be at serious risk of turning up at the destination and finding there are a lot of prohibitive ‘additional’ costs, even including the basic insurance that more reputable firms tend to already include in the price.
So, what could be an alternative course of action? If you expect to continue using the car after the road trip is over, obtaining a vehicle on finance while you are still in the UK might be a possibility.
If your planned trip is expensive, consider car finance with no deposit options, so that you don’t have to blow a significant amount of your road-trip budget on the deposit that would allow you to get behind the wheel. And as you might expect, we’re renowned for that kind of car finance here at Car Finance Genie.
There you go – just five things you’ll be thankful for having taken into account in your planning if you do have an ambitious overseas road trip coming up. The only things left for us to say are… prepare well, stay safe, and have fun, wherever you happen to go!