A EUROPEAN ROAD TRIP

Useful tips for those travelling by car. Sharing my lifehacks, learned in the course of a month travelling around Europe in a Land Cruiser Prado 120.

August 1, 2017

My road trip to Europe. Useful tips to those travelling by car.

For the trip I had gotten an Italian multi-visa. It was ready within a week simple and easy. This visa allows travelling the eurozone with no limitations.

They say it's better to enter the country granting a visa, but I ignored it. Perhaps in the future I will have trouble getting a visa in Italy, but it's uncertain.

We entered through the Belorusian-Polish border. The customs clearance was quick, although the Polish were annoyingly slow.

Pay attention to the day of the visa. We tried to enter 2 days too early and they didn't let us in. Then we came back 2 days later and got in.

Car insurance – a green card, issued by several insurance companies, which you can find on the Russian Association of Motor Insurers website (autoins.ru).

I got mine through Alfa Strakhovanie. Came to an office, since it's not available on-line. I paid 3,000 RUB (about $ 50) for a month's insurance. Prices are the same everywhere, so no need to pick and choose, just go wherever is convenient.

The insurance is for the car, the drivers are not listed. So anyone with a license can drive.

Russian license will do, but the information must be replicated in English too. Based on the convention between the 68 countries, license with Latin symbols in legal in other signee countries. Go ahead.

A foreign passport is also required. A plastic ID and a green card (no Vehicle Certificate of Title needed). Driver's license. I recommend getting a medical insurance as well, since medical treatment abroad is quite expensive. I also took the copies of all documents, which wasn't necessary.

When it comes to the car, it's simple. Check for all lights, including direction lights and license plate lights. If at least one of them doesn't work, you won't get in. The car must be compliant with at least Euro 3 environmental class. It must be clean and not worn out :)

You are not allowed to tint the windshield and side windows, only the back ones.
If there's a bumper guard, power sills, expedition or other tuning, it's ok, they don't really care of this stuff.

However radar detectors are not allowed. You better hide those if you have them. Dashboard cameras are fine.

The roads are awesome. Not one bump for a thousand miles. Now I understand why their cars stay nice so long.

Good roads are fee-based, but there are some free destinations. Navigators have all the information for you to choose from.

Tailpieces are needed in every country. They are called differently in different countries. I wasn't able to find them anywhere, so I managed without them. I got lucky, that I didn't get pulled over and fined. The fines in Europe are big, so it's better to buy some tailpieces.

You are only allowed to drive with dipped lights (no fog lights). While on the highway, you can only get out of the car wearing a light reflecting vest. You cannot tailgate. The right lane is not available everywhere, and vice versa, sometimes you are only allowed to be in the right lane.

There's no evident police, but you shouldn't violate traffic rules. They appear out of nowhere and fine you hard.

We used several apps for navigation: Maps.me (pre-downloaded for off-line use), Google Maps and Yandex All on-line. I would also recommend Navitel, also off-line.
We stayed at camping sites, they are all over Europe. There's hot shower, WC, internet and electricity. 15 Euros a day on average. Bear in mind though, that most campings are only open till 10 p.m., so you can't get in at night.

Sometimes we stayed in hostels. Here you never know. Sometimes they were nice, sometimes not so much.

Cellular service is everywhere, but the Internet is more expensive. In Russia you can buy sim-cards of some European providers. I ordered mine on euroroaming.ru, a Spanich Orange card and activated a GoEurope package. It was quite affordable. However, this package is not available now.

You can also get an international sim like DrimSim, I use it quite often. But it's more expensive than the Orange one.

Euros are accepted all over the Eurozone. Local money is also available in some countries. I used the Tinkoff All Airlines, so I only paid cash in the auto-shop and couple other stores, when I didn't have a card on me.

Helpful:
I recommend a Rome2rio.com application, helps get optimal directions via all kinds of transport available (trains, planes, taxis, buses, hitchhiking).

I would also recommend to get registered on couchsurfing.com, a worldwide travelling community. Helps you find a person speaking your language in every country, so they can help you or let you crash.

P.S. Anticipating the most popular question, I don't know how much money you're gonna need. Take however much you can afford. I've met people travelling with no money and they seemed happy. I've also met those who lived large and were also pretty content.
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