European Travel Skills: Driving in Europe


Germany’s Romantic Road, the next leg of our journey, can’t be done by train. It’s best explored by rental car. We’ll have this car for two days and drop it in Munich. You can arrange your car rental before leaving home. Prices vary dramatically from month to month, country to country, and from company to company, so shop around. Even if you don’t plan on driving, bring your license. Your American license generally works just fine. It’s fun, and it’s easy, to rent a car on a whim. There’s nothing exotic about driving in Europe. While the British drive on the left, everyone on the continent drives on the same side as we do in the USA. Filling the tank here, whether diesel or gas, is like filling the tank back home. Except it’s Euros and liters rather than dollars and gallons. Figure four liters per gallon. Don’t overreact to Europe’s high cost of gas. Over here, cars get great mileage, and distances are short. Rental cars come with a basic insurance policy, but the deductible can be really high. You can pay extra for zero deductible, for your peace of mind, but first, check with your insurance company at home to see how well you’re already covered in Europe. When driving, to cover long distances in a hurry, use the freeway. This is Germany’s autobahn. Like most of Europe, Germany’s laced with these super freeways. And around here, fast driving is considered a civil liberty. On the autobahn, you’ll learn quickly —
the fast lane is used only for passing. Cruise in the left lane, and you’ll have a Mercedes up your tailpipe. Here and throughout Northern Europe, the autobahn is toll free. In France and countries south of Germany, these super freeways usually come with tolls. Learn some navigation basics. In Germany, “zentrum” means “center” A giant letter “P” means parking. And this icon means autobahn. Color coding and arrows point you in the right direction. And while many travelers go through their entire trips thinking all roads lead to the town of Ausfahrt, “ausfahrt” is German for “exit.” This sign means traffic circle or roundabout. Merge safely into the circle and take the exit for the direction you’re heading. If you’re not sure, relax, take an extra loop, and explore your
options. Entering a new town — this is Dinkelsbuhl — it’s safe to
assume that the church spire marks the center. and the tourist office is nearby. Old town centers are increasingly
difficult to drive in — one-way streets or closed to cars entirely. Drive as close as you can and find a place to park. Confirm you’re parked legally. Your time’s valuable. Just pay to park. Know the key road symbols. They’re the same
throughout Europe. No parking anytime. No traffic allowed. Wrong way — don’t enter. This means no cars or bikes from 8:00 till midnight. No passing. And you know this one. Make educated guesses. With this one, be ready for anything. I navigate by town names because road
numbers on maps often don’t match the signs. Distances and speeds are in kilometers. On this road, 80 kilometers an hour. A kilometer is 6/10 of a mile. To change to miles, cut the kilometers in half, add back 10% of the original. So, 80 kilometers per hour would be 40 plus 8 — 48 miles per hour. Beware — photo speed traps
can be really expensive. And those with rental cars are billed by mail. Save time and avoid wasted car rental days by picking up and dropping off your car in different cities like Rothenburg and Munich. When using a bigger company with many branches, you can generally do this
anywhere in the same country for no extra charge. While dropping a car in a different country usually comes with a high fee, it can also be a great convenience.

64 comments

  1. Make one about the public transport in europe. Maybe in Cracow. Cracow has the best public transportation in Europe. A lot of awards etc.

  2. The Autobahn is for fast drivers. However, driving thru country roads I have experienced – Germans are one of the slowest drivers! Especially if their tag starts with KUS (Kusel) :DDD

  3. Interestingly parts of the autobahn do have speed limits. & dont make fun of hte cops, while driving past them . lol

  4. In europe most of cars, even in rental agencies, are equipped with manual gearbox, if someone is not familiar to it, he should ask for an automatic model, but they are usually a bit more expensive. It does not want to be offensive, but for many people here, automatic gearbox is considered synonim of "handicap"

  5. Driving in Europe is a breeze? Roads in excellent condition? Haha! Ever drove in the UK? Extremely thin roads, road layouts don't make sense and the roads don't exactly get the maintenance they need any more, due to governmental cuts. No idea how the UK has one of the best driving safety records…

  6. What about right hand traffic rule? Stop signs don't work the same way as in the USA. I was expecting some clarification on that. Also what about the white and yellow right of way sign which does not exist in North America? What does entering the roundabout safely mean? Should one wait for all cars left and right to clear before entering the roundabout? Not all people would find the answers to these questions straight forward. This is why the video is too vague to be useful.

  7. Does Germany have tolls now for us UK drivers ?
    I hope to travel to Sth Germany Sept 15

    Also do we still have to have Headlight converters ?

  8. Renting a car and driving in Europe is a breeze. Cars get great mileage, distances are usually short, and roads are in excellent condition. Driving is ideal for countryside-focused trips that require maximum mobility. In this 4½-minute clip from his Travel Skills Special, Rick covers the basics of how to decide if driving makes sense for your trip, what it’s like to drive in Europe, and a quick introduction to European road signs. 
    https://youtu.be/nr6Ex_cqjnk

  9. This video is a really good introduction to differences in rules for driving. But be careful: In Germany and some other european countries it is forbidden to overtake other cars on the right side and it is also forbidden to use the left line if there is enough space on the right one. Don't be confused by some morons breaking these rules though 😉

  10. This is only Germany. The UK drives on the left, distances are in miles, and speeds are in mph.

    "All roads lead to the town of Ausfahrt". True when you haven't taken the trouble to learn some German, but it reminds me that the police can make mistakes too.

    Ireland apparently experienced a spate of motoring offences committed all over the country by someone called Prawo Jazdy. Clearly a terrible driver who gets around a LOT. It eventually dawned on the Garda (Irish police) that this is Polish for "Driving Licence", so all they'd done was stop a lot of errant Poles and fail to record their names. Now this is not supposed to happen… all driving licences issued in EU countries are required to be in the same format, so regardless of language, you can still understand it because of the POSITION of each item of information. In particular, the words in block capitals right at the top always mean Driving Licence. Well, now the Garda know that too, bless 'em!

  11. Renting cars in Europe may be worthwhile, but it depends on the country. Renting a car in Ukraine or Russia may not be so worthwhile, with corrupt police officers, signs in the local Cyrillic script and high crash rates. Renting a car in Vietnam should also be done with a driver, because of its high rate of traffic crashes, too.

  12. be careful and not diappointed. your drivers licence might be fine but notice that car driving in germany starts at the age of 18!

  13. It took me 10 mins to figure out how to put the car in reverse for ford c max. You have to lift the gear lever leather bag to put car in reverse.

  14. American drivers obsessed about the left lane hogging (especially Californians and Oregonians)… Please never do that on a German Autobahn…

  15. And you should have an international drivers license. They might borrow you a car based on you US license, but they also might refuse and legally it is a requirement. Therefore, you can get in trouble not having an international license.

  16. How can they call the autobahn a "super highway"??? It looks like a bumpkin highway you would find in a fly over state like Idaho or Indiana it's only 2 lanes wide on each side that's like nothing

  17. 3:40 wrong, 80 km is 50 miles (or to be exact 49.71), never have heard about those 10%, you could get similar accuracy just multiplying by 1.5

  18. I was watching for the key mistake in the roundabout that I would say 60 per cent of North Americans make, you didn't signal to the right as you exited! That is so annoying for the person yielding and trying to get into the roundabout!

  19. Maybe someone can clear this up for me. I'm in Portugal so I am not sure if the rules apply here the same as all of Europe. I am going to refer to the lanes as Drivers Side and Passengers side since what is known as the Inside & Outside lane is different depending on where you are from. On a 2 lane roundabout as far as I can tell you take the Drivers side lane if you are exiting from a second, third or fourth exit road & only use the passenger side lane when you intend to take the first exit off the roundabout. Where I am confused is this rule doesn't seem to always apply. Can someone please clarify that I am understanding the rules correctly? Thank you.

  20. Mr. Steves points out some tips on driving in Europe as usual in a respectful and positive way. Yet, with such a mundane topic, I see tons of comments from our European brothers talking shit about U.S. highways and drivers etc. What has gotten into you people? The level of negativity and hypocrisy is breathtaking. No matter the topic, you guys find it your place to judge and talk nonsense, how unfortunate.

  21. I can safely say that if you're going to drive in European cities that you will really, really need a GPS in the car. Navigating Paris would have been a nightmare without it.

  22. My insurance agent told me no American auto insurance insures European driving. Must buy at rental there.

  23. As long as you have a credit card, with at least 500 euros available, no debit cards allowed, some don't take American Express, some run out of hire cars, some even won't accept up front cash, some deny American/Foreign driving licences, some deny under 25 years old, some disallow under 3 days rental……ooooph the list goes on

  24. Cruise in the left lane and you'll get pulled over and a ticket, btw, you can't hire a manual if you've got an standard American driver's license in most EU countries, definitely not in the Netherlands.

    If you hire a car with a manual in a country that does allow that, note that you (if you didn't pass you manual driver's license test in the USA) are not allowed to drive that car in the Netherlands, you'll get fined and aren't allowed to continue your journey in that car on Dutch roads any further.

    The other way round is allowed,…so if you've got a manual drivers licence in the USA then you are allowed to drive both a manual and an automatic on Dutch roads.

  25. Deutschland it is normal to drive 80kmp if it doesn't Saïd anything road signs it is 80kmp everywhere other speeds and remember it is possible to Change speeds if there where a slower speed before THE road crossing than it is THE normal speed in That country

  26. Doug stillborn, you don’t have a remote clue what your talking about, I live in Munich Germany and Audi, Mercedes and BMW have a larger variety of engines than in America, but most people opt for the larger engines so they can drive fast on the Autobahn. And we do drive fast.

  27. Doug, news flash, Germans have a higher standard of living than Americans, that means more spendable money. Audi, Mercedes and BMW are standard autos here taxi’s are Mercedes, trucks and buses are Mercedes. Fiat is Italian,but even in Italy, France or Switzerland Mercedes and BMW is the choice most people buy. You don’t see many Toyota’s. That’s America ‘s best selling car

  28. 3:52 No, photo speed traps aren't expensive – at least in Germany where most foreigners try to race each other.
    Want an expensive photo? Do it in France, Austria, GB or Scandinavia (google it if you don't know what this means).

  29. Nicholas, you couldn’t be more wrong. Germans average more money than Americans and have longer vacations, work less hours, affordable healthcare which is superior to American healthcare , affordable education which is superior to American education, food is 40% cheaper at supermarkets and 25% cheaper in comparable restaurants, housing is comparable. Transportation is excellent. Income tax and sales tax is higher, but they don’t have property tax. I’m an American that lives in Germany. I know how outrageously expensive America is. Compared to Germany, that’s why I live here

  30. you forgot to mention that most of the cars in europe have manual gear box. something with to mention for americans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *