Published on July 24th, 2018 | by Guest Post
Motoring On The Continent
Despite driving on a different side of the road to every other European country, Brits love a driving holiday on the continent. If you’re going somewhere remote on mainland Europe, then driving might be the only way you can get around, and renting a car after flying can open up new areas of the country you’re visiting.
But a recent report by Post Office Money highlighted that you might pay more than you’re used to for petrol this year in some EU countries.
There are a number of popular tourist destinations where petrol is cheaper, so planning ahead could also save you money.
Petrol has risen in price steadily since 2016, when prices were at a low in the UK. But if you can be flexible about where you’re driving to, you could save yourself money.
Driving abroad from the UK
If you’re driving from the UK to mainland Europe, chances are you’ll have to do a stint in France. Depending on your route, you might want to try and fill up in France as infrequently as possible, as petrol is on average 11p per litre more expensive than the UK.
Should your journey take you into Belgium, you’d make a small saving compared to France but still pay on average 9p per litre more than the UK. Germany does slightly better, at only 5p per litre more than the UK, while Austria offers quite a saving – roughly 17p per litre cheaper than the UK (explaining why many Germans on the Austrian border pop over to fill up their tanks).
The cheapest petrol is in Andorra at £1.08 per litre. Andorra is a small principality in the Pyrenees between Spain and France, which are two of the most popular tourist destinations for Brits who drive abroad.
If you happen to be driving between France and Spain, then you might want to cut through the beautiful mountainous terrain of Andorra – especially if your journey goes from Toulouse to Barcelona – to fill up.
Renting a car
If your holiday is a little further afield then you might fly somewhere and rent a car to get around. The cheapest parts of Europe for petrol are generally in Eastern Europe, and include popular tourist hotspots like Cyprus (£1.11 per litre) and Slovenia (£1.13 per litre).
However, heading up north to Scandinavia can cost you more than you might be used to.
Norway is the most expensive country surveyed, with a litre costing a muscular £1.60. Sweden, however, has seen the biggest drop in prices since 2017 at -14p, and is now slightly cheaper than the UK, with a price per litre of £1.20.
Denmark and the Netherlands are also up on last year, +11p and +9p respectively, making them two of Europe’s most expensive countries to drive in. A litre of petrol in Denmark will cost £1.57, and £1.58 in the Netherlands.
Some of the more far-flung destinations also witnessed increased prices. Italy – a popular driving destination with many EU citizens – has seen prices increase 10p in the last 12 months, making the cost of a litre £1.51. Similarly, Portugal’s up 11p to £1.47/litre and Greece is up 2p to £1.52/litre.
Saving money on petrol abroad
With the news that petrol prices have broadly increased on the continent and that, out of 20 countries surveyed, the UK ranks 10th, you might be able to plan your trip to be more cost-effective.
If you’re renting a car then it’s both cheaper and more environmentally-friendly to aim for a car with better fuel efficiency. You might not feel as cool as James Bond tearing round the corners of mountain roads if you’re in a Prius, but you’ll be better-equipped to afford the vodka Martini at the end of a long drive.
Other EU driving considerations
On the topic of alcohol, it’s important to remember that each EU country sets its own legislation for drink drive limits. The UK is among the most tolerant, so do not assume that laws in other countries will be as permissive.
There are some EU countries where the legal limit is 0 and some where it is extremely low.
It is always very difficult to know how much you’ve had in relation to drink driving laws, so it’s usually best not to drink at all if you know you have driving to do.
Always make sure you know what you’re filling your car up with. While the Americans use the word ‘gas’ as a contraction of ‘gasoline’, in many EU countries it is short of ‘biogas’ and is a completely different thing.
However, this is not universally the case, so if you’re in any doubt try and find a member of petrol station staff to ask.
Different EU countries have different requirements for what you have to take in your car with you. Many may need you to remove headlamp glare, carry breathalysers, have traffic cones, spare tyres and all sorts. However there isn’t always consistency between countries, so make sure you have everything you are legally required to carry for the country/countries you are visiting. Some, for instance, legally require you to take a medical kit.
Insurance for driving abroad
Alongside the insurance you’ll need for your rental car or the extension to your car insurance you’ll have to buy if you’re taking your own car, make sure you have good travel insurance in place.
Travel insurance is vital to cover you for a broad range of possible situations, including loss or damage to luggage and possessions, provider cancellations, injury and medical emergencies and more.
And once you’ve got your insurance sorted, you can relax and enjoy the open road.