After reading my previous articles about driving in Europe, hopefully you're willing to give it a go and plan your very own European self-drive holiday. Having discussed ways to make your driving experience as hassle free as possible and how to get the best hire car deal, the next step is to plot your actual itinerary.
Once you’ve decided that a self-drive holiday in Europe is for you and have worked out where to pick up and return the car, you’ll need to decide where to travel in between. Distances in Europe can be deceiving, especially when you throw mountain passes into the mix, so planning a comfortable self-drive itinerary can take some research.
I always start with a map where I mark my start and finish point and the places I'd like to visit in between with sticky notes. I can then make adjustments if driving distances are too great or if the itinerary has me back-tracking unnecessarily.
I’ve previously posted some examples of self-drive itineraries in the UK and Europe (see links below) that I have either used myself or have designed for clients when I worked as a travel consultant. These are just a starting point to give you an idea of the distances travelled and journey times involved in various routes.
The main factors I take into consideration when planning my self-drive itinerary are:
- Keep driving time to under four hours per day wherever possible
- Are there any sights, attractions or towns I can visit on the way? If so, this could serve as a great lunch stop with the added bonus of visiting a place I wouldn’t otherwise have had time to visit
- What will the route be like, ie. mountainous, country roads, autobahn? If travelling along rural roads and through small villages between 12pm and 3pm, lunch options may be few and far between (particularly in France and Italy where many businesses close for a long lunch break) so it may pay to pack a picnic and bring it with you
There are some great online tools available to help plan your driving itinerary and I list the ones I use in my new eBook “The Stress-Free Guide to Driving in Europe”. The eBook also contains more suggested self-drive itineraries, driving tips, printable itinerary planners and much more. You can order the eBook here or by clicking the image below.
The Self-drive holidays in Europe: the complete guide section covers lots of tips and tricks for planning your own road trip.