A road trip planner
If you plan on going on holiday for an extended period, a car provides you with the freedom to go wherever you want. Especially now, when the Coronavirus is spreading, it is useful to be independent of third parties for your transport options.
Make sure to plan your trip with the checklist below.
Checklist road trip
1. Important documents
Make an electronic copy of your documents. Keep it in the ‘cloud’ so that these are always accessible, for example, after theft or an accident.
Passport, driver’s license and/or ID card.
- Check well before departure whether passport, ID card and driver’s license are still valid (for a more extended period). If in doubt, request a new one.
- In some countries, a passport must be valid for at least 6months during your stay.
- Not all EU-member states accept a European ID card as a valid travel document. Therefore, check-in advance whether you need a passport, on the website of the relevant national government.
- An EU driving license is sufficient within the EU. In some countries outside the EU, an international driving license is required.
- Naturally, you carry your car registration papers with you at all times.
2. Insurances that are important for your road trip
- If you are eligible, do apply for a European health insurance card (EHIC). With this card, EU-members are entitled to necessary urgent medical care during a temporary stay abroad in any other EU member state.
- The EHIC is only valid in countries that fall within the EEC (these are the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland. Within the United Kingdom, this is valid until December 2020. With a hard Brexit, the validity of the card will expire.
- The EHIC does not cover repatriation costs, you must take out travel insurance for this.
- Insurance is in any case necessary if you are travelling outside the EU so that your medical costs are covered.
- You must also take out travel insurance for repatriation costs, compensation for theft and/or loss, etc.
Car insurance & green card
- Check that your car insurance is also valid abroad. Preferably with free assistance after damage and car replacement.
- Ask your car insurance for a ‘green card’ if you are going to a country where only a paper card is accepted. This is your international insurance certificate. It states in which countries and until when the car is insured.
3. Do share your contact and travel information.
Don’t turn those who stay behind into trackers. Share your contact and travel information with family or friends so that they can reach you in case of an emergency.
Credit card & bank cards
- Check the validity of your cards well before departure. You do not want to be abroad without being able to get to your money because the bank card has expired.
- In the event of theft or loss of your wallet, it is crucial to quickly contact the bank and credit card company. They can block your cards and send new ones. Therefore, make sure that this data is somewhere in the ‘cloud’ to be able to retrieve it at all times.
- In any case, it is useful to have different types of passes. As different places accept other cards. A credit card is often required as a deposit when renting cars, rooms or sports equipment.
Plan your trip within your budget. Allow for unexpected emergencies for any problems with the car, theft or health. In other words, ensure that you have some spare money in your account.
Just like having your car inspected, it is useful to also submit yourself to an ‘MOT’ before departure. Consider this:
- Check that your vaccinations are up-to-date and which extras are necessary for your destination.
- Visit the dentist for a check-up before you leave.
- Have a supply of your essential medication and possibly a letter from the doctor in English explaining the content and usage.
- Bring a first aid kit with at least plasters, disinfectant and paracetamol.
6. Avoid a breakdown during your car holiday
Before you leave, you naturally want to make sure that your car is in tip-top condition.
- Check that your MOT is still valid for some time.
- You are not allowed to drive around without a valid MOT certificate. Not even abroad.
Before departure, check the car
- Tire pressure and profile
- Lights: i.e. traffic lights, main beam, brake light and turn signals.
- Add engine oil, coolant, washer and brake fluid as needed.
- If you go in the winter months, you probably need winter tires.
- Condition of your spare wheel. If you don’t have a spare tire, check that the tire repair kit is complete.
It is best to have the car checked by a professional before you leave.
7. Compulsory in the car
Each country has different rules.
To avoid problems with the local police, make sure you have at least the following items with you:
- First-aid box
- Warning triangle
- Safety vests
- Spare lights
It is tempting when you go by car to load everything that fits into the boot. Still, it is wiser to think about it. Travel light, also during a road trip. Because:
- You don’t want to lug a cumbersome suitcase with every overnight stay.
- Moreover, it is more convenient not to ‘advertise’ that your car is fully loaded. Make sure your luggage fits comfortably in the back, this way you can get out with peace of mind.
- Don’t tempt thieves. Don’t leave gadgets, laptops, telephones, money, cables, cameras or papers lying around in your car.
9. Internet on the road
Long live the internet. Travelling has become a lot easier thanks to the internet and especially mobile phones.
Buy a portable battery or a lighter adapter so you can charge your phone on the go.
- You can use your data free of charge within the EU if you have an EU phone subscription. Depending on the provider, you can probably buy additional Gigabytes. Calls are also free of charge to the country where you have your subscription.
- Outside the EU, it is often more convenient to buy a pre-paid sim locally. With a pre-paid card, it is possible to browse with peace of mind, as you never will inadvertently overrun your budget. Moreover, many new phones nowadays have dual sim. Thus leaving your regular SIM card in place. You can still be contacted on your regular number.
- For spatially challenged people like me, Google Maps is a fantastic help. But using it does consume a lot of battery and data. This can be prevented by turning on your location, subsequently opening Google Maps and then turning off your data. Google Maps will continue to work, but then uses no data and much less battery. However, it does not update on the road.
If you use social media, think about what you post and who you share it with.
- If your house is empty, it might not be useful to let the world know that you are gone.
- If you travel alone or with two women, then for your safety only share your location when you are already away from that place,
Whatsapp has all kinds of useful functions, of which the ‘live location’ sharing can sometimes be beneficial.
- For example, if you go out independently of each other and have to find each other again later.
- Or if you think it is important for your safety that others know your location.
To quickly find suitable accommodation near your destination, check on booking.com to compare prices and check for availability.