Advantages of Touring Europe by Car
European travel is glorious in any form. The food, sights, arts, culture, languages, vistas, and new friends just make it such an enjoyable experience.
Why Travel Europe by Car?
Traveling by car, however, has its own advantages to rail or air travel. Let's look at some of the advantages of touring Europe by car...
Flexibility - you can travel any time, anywhere. You are on your own schedule, and can make unexpected stops. See a little cafe by the side of the road? Stop and while away the afternoon, talking with the owner.
Distance - you are able to go places that trains don't go, and you're not restricted to seeing things within walking distance of the train station. You can visit the most remote areas (John O'Groats, anyone?) and explore to your heart's content. As well, many wonderful places aren't on the major rail lines. Want to visit Balmoral Castle? You'll need a car or tourist bus to get there. As well, many national parks have quite extensive grounds, much more than you can cover on foot from a rain station.
Food - although train fare can be good, and jumping off at a stop to grab something from a train station cafe ok for some, I much prefer packing picnics to enjoy later near the ocean, or discovering small local restaurants that aren't in any guidebooks. Pick up some fresh food at a Marketplatz, a bottle of wine from a local vineyard, some cheeses from an artisanal farm, and you've got a recipe for a memorable meal.
Children - traveling with kids can be both exhausting and exhilarating. When you've got your own space in a car, you can deal with crises privately, and also entertain easily. Not everyone in your train compartment, or on the plane, will be willing to listen to twinkle twinkle little star over and over, or laugh at new animals for Old McDonald while your family is being silly.
Traveling Home - a car is, in a sense, your home while you're traveling. You won't have to haul all your luggage into the hotel - just what you'll need for the night. This might enhance your personal spending plans, since you won't exactly have to limit yourself to buying what you can carry - more like what your trunk can carry!
Disabilities - I have several disabilities that make traveling via public transportation very difficult and painful. Having your own car can help with accessibility issues, to say the least.
Discover the real nature of the place - talk with the locals. On one visit to Scotland, we were talking with a farmer and found that the church in the Highlands that we wanted to see was locked. Never fear, he noted - the key was hanging on the inside of the gatepost. FInd treasures - whether they be natural, culinary, artistic, or musical...a local ceilidh, a summer festival, a special art show in Provence, off-the-beaten-path museums (Thimble museum?), the restaurant or beach that only the locals know about...THESE will be a highlight of your trip, not necessarily standing in line for hours at the Louvre.
Travel Tip: If you're planning to be in Europe for more than 21 days, you may want to consider a short-term car lease. Twenty-one days is generally the break-even point, where a short-term car lease is less expensive than a long-term car rental. If your trip to Europe is going to be 21 days or less, then renting a car is the way to go.