A Driving Holiday in Europe

by Michael Satterfield

Southern France in the Peugeot
Most Americans dream  of traveling to Europe, the history, the food, the people, the excitement of experiencing something new in a old place. But many fall into the trap of the organized tour or cruise, sure you might see the sights, but you will not have an adventure or experience the culture. This is why a driving  holiday is the only way to go, and it is cheaper than you might think.

If you are going to Europe on a driving vacation be sure to give yourself at least 3 weeks if not longer. Europe is a lot smaller than the US where we have counties larger than some European countries. Determine what your goal is to see, but don't make too much of a plan. There are lots of hotels, motels, and hostels, and with todays smart phones you can find somewhere to stay no matter where you are. My first major foreign road trip was before the smartphone era and we had to discover our hotels along the way.

Car companies in Europe have amazing short term lease programs that allow you to have a car for at least 21 days and as long as 6 months. These are brand new cars with 0 miles, our last trip we went with Peugeot's Open Europe program, I chose a 206sw with a manual transmission. Renault also has a program  called Euro Drive, currently you can get a small car including all insurance, road side assistance, and unlimited mileage for a month for about $1,200 all inclusive. We loved the unlimited mileage since we racked up over 12,000 miles on our car in 23 days. Believe me we did stop a lot, and saw more.

Cassis Southern France
From Barcelona to Pompeii to the beaches of Normandy we got our moneys worth. Another option is always buying a car, but I don't recommend it since you are not a resident, some countries have no problem with you buying a car and insurance, but others don't allow non-residents to purchase cars unless they are for immediate export.   

I have had friends that have done European delivery, a great option if you are going to be buying a new car anyways and can live without your new car for a few weeks after your trip. Volvo, BMW, Mercedes, and many other companies offer European delivery program.

Overall I would suggest that you plan your trip, find a good friend who can read a map, and go exploring. Having driven in Central America, Europe, Asia, and across the US, there is nothing like a road trip.