Traveling by car? Things to keep in mind

You’ve meticulously planned your road trip: tickets purchased, hotel rooms booked, insurance secured, and a car rental arranged online. Your suitcases are packed and you’re ready to hit the road! But before you set off, let’s review the essential items you need to have with you for a smooth and enjoyable car journey.

Driver’s License Considerations

We won’t bother you with reminders about passports and insurance, but it’s important to have a separate discussion about your driver’s license when planning a road trip. As a travel-savvy journalist, I want to ensure you’re well-prepared for your journey behind the wheel.

First and foremost, ensure your driver’s license is valid for at least a year before embarking on your road trip. Car rental agencies can be quite strict, and they will undoubtedly refuse to provide a vehicle if your license is expired or temporary.

As you prepare for your road trip, it’s crucial to research whether your driver’s license is valid in the destination country. Keep in mind that only countries that have signed the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic in 1968 will accept licenses from other participating nations. Make sure to check online for the latest information on driving regulations and requirements before embarking on your journey.

For those planning a road trip abroad, obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP) is essential. This light blue booklet contains your driver information translated into eight languages, serving as a certified translation of your driver’s license complete with a signature and stamp. Don’t hit the road without it!

Heading out on a road trip? When obtaining your Motor Vehicle Inspection (MVI) certificate, simply visit your local traffic police department. The process typically takes between 20 minutes to an hour, and you’ll receive your documentation on the same day. Keep in mind that the MVI is valid for three years, so plan accordingly.

Essential Tech: Smartphone, GPS, and Chargers for Road Trips

When you arrive at the rental office, you’ll likely be given the option to rent a GPS device or pay for the use of the one pre-installed in the car. Save some money by bringing your own navigation system from home or downloading a GPS app on your phone. Just remember to download maps of your destination ahead of time, so you can navigate without relying on an internet connection.

Hitting the road? Don’t forget to pack your car chargers that plug into the lighter or come with USB connectors. Staying connected on your journey is essential, and these gadgets will ensure your devices stay powered up.

If you’re planning a road trip, you might consider bringing a dashboard camera (DVR) along, particularly if you’re comfortable using one. However, be aware that in some European countries, such as Germany, Austria, and Sweden, the use of DVRs is generally discouraged. While not strictly illegal, they are not exactly welcomed either.

Sufficient Cash and Credit Card Limit for Your Road Trip

When renting a car, it is essential to be aware that a credit card with a substantial limit will be required. Most rental agencies place a hold on a security deposit, typically at least 1000 euros, which can be several times more than the cost of renting the car itself. This amount is only released after the vehicle is returned, and the process may take a few days. To avoid any potential issues, it is recommended to have a credit card with a limit of at least 2000-3000 euros when embarking on a road trip adventure.

When traveling by car, it’s wise to carry cash in small denominations, particularly if you plan on using toll roads or stopping at gas stations. This precaution will help you avoid any unnecessary difficulties in case the card machine is out of order or the terminal is temporarily unable to communicate with the bank. With cash on hand, you’ll be prepared for any unexpected hiccups during your journey.

Curated Music Selections or Smartphone Connectivity Cables

When embarking on a lengthy road trip, it’s common to experience boredom along the way. While most rental cars come equipped with radios, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find a station to suit your preferences, especially when traveling to remote locations where options may be limited. To keep the journey enjoyable, it’s a good idea to bring your own music. Since it’s hard to predict if the rental car will have a CD player, it’s wise to pack both physical discs and a smartphone with downloaded music. If you happen to have a portable speaker, bring it along to instantly enhance your in-car entertainment experience.

Packing a Compact Cooler with Snacks and Drinks

When hitting the road, always keep a supply of bottled water in your bag – it’s essential for quenching thirst and washing hands. Pack an assortment of sandwiches, veggies, fruits, and snacks to keep hunger at bay. If possible, use a small insulated bag to maintain freshness. There’s no need for a full-fledged car cooler; a bag with foil-lined walls often suffices, ensuring your food stays fresh for a few hours of travel.

Firstaid Box

You’ll likely already have these items on hand, but a gentle reminder never hurts. When traveling by car, it’s essential to pack pain relievers, fever reducers, absorbents, antihistamines, motion sickness remedies, wet wipes, disinfectants, bandages, and adhesive strips. Additionally, if you or any of your passengers require specific medications, don’t forget to bring them along, as it may be challenging or even impossible to purchase them at your destination.

Essential Add-ons for a More Comfortable Road Trip

Hitting the road for a car trip? Enhance your comfort by wearing cozy clothes and shoes, such as a soft tracksuit and sneakers. Don’t forget to pack small pillows and blankets for passengers, particularly when traveling with kids – they’ll make all the difference in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey.

Before embarking on a road trip to a sun-soaked destination, be sure to invest in a specialized windshield cover designed for parked cars. Crafted from a reflective material, this essential accessory helps to keep your vehicle cool and comfortable even under the most sweltering conditions.

What else should be in the car

When you hire a car, check if there are these items in the trunk:

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Cable
  • Emergency stop sign
  • Spare wheel

Check-list on the road

When embarking on a road trip, it’s essential to be well-prepared to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. Here are some must-have items and tips to keep in mind as you hit the road:

  1. Don’t forget your driver’s license and, if needed, an international driving permit.
  2. Carry a credit card with a generous limit to cover any unexpected expenses.
  3. Bring cash in small bills and coins for tolls and other minor purchases.
  4. Use a GPS navigation system or have maps pre-loaded on your phone to avoid getting lost.
  5. Keep chargers and adapters handy for all your gadgets, including a car lighter adapter.
  6. Create a playlist or bring music to connect your smartphone to the car’s audio system for entertainment.
  7. Stay hydrated by packing plenty of bottled water.
  8. Bring some snacks to keep hunger at bay during long stretches on the road.
  9. Wear comfortable clothing and consider bringing a blanket and pillow for added comfort during rest stops.
  10. Pack motion sickness tablets and a small first aid kit, including painkillers, fever reducers, and an upset stomach remedy.
  11. Keep wet wipes and disposable tissues on hand for quick clean-ups and to maintain good hygiene throughout your journey.