ROAD TRIP - REVIEW, FACT`S & MY BEST TIPS!
I don´t think I ever have gotten this many questions about a trip before! I mean I always get a lot of questions afterwards but this trip really takes the price! In a good way of course! That´s what I always hope for with a trip, to inspire you and awaken your curiosity about a new place and possible a new trip :)
With this post I hope to answer most of your questions about a road trip like the one I just made, bur if you still might have any questions after reading this, please leave me a comment on this post and I will try to answer the best I can :)
So the most common questions I get is about finding hotel/places to stay, do we book in advance or when we get there and it´s a lot of questions about our security, if we ever where afraid, if we got into any trouble´s. You´re asking both in general but also about more specific times, like boarder control´s and different small roads and "off map" places. And then of course, it´s the money question! How much does it cost to make a trip like this???
I will try to answer everything but I´m gonna start with the money question since it´s the most common question from you guys.
So about the total price... Of course in the end it all comes down to how you choose to live/stay overnight. I mean you can sleep in your car for free or in a fancy hotel or anything in between, your total price can be pretty different depending on how you choose to live during your road trip. Since we choosed to spoil overself with nice hotels at all our destinations I´m not gonna take that in consideration while writing this. I´m gonna focus on the things that everyone need to pay, the thing you can´t avoid if you travel by car. Then it´s up to you how much you want to spend on hotels or other over night stays :)
So first we had some things we needed to fix at home in Sweden before we could go on our road trip through Europe. Because of the laws in different countries we had to get some things for the car and also get ourself a special international drivers license. For the car we had to buy a special environment deacl to be alloved to drive everywhere through Germany, it was about 20 Euros. We also had to buy different emergency things to have in the car (due to the law in different countries) like, fire-extinguisher, an extra warning triangle, 2 vests, first aid kit, jumper cables and so on... I guess the price will depend on what store you go to but we spent around 60 Euro´s for everything.
Then about the international drivers license, we actually never needed to show ours, BUT you do need to have them if you ever get stopped by a police along the way and that seemed to happen a lot, but we where lucky enough to not being pulled over at any time. We did pay about 80 Euros/person for our international drivers licenses, so total 160 Euros. So this means that before we even left for our Europe road trip we had spent around 240 Euros on things we never had to show to anyone :P But I promise you if we had not bought those things that you NEED to have I´m sure we would have been pulled over, I mean better dafe than sorry, right :) Beside´s this I also made an extra service on my car before we left, changed the oil and things like that, I also bought new tires, but that´s not things you need to do, it´s up to you, for me it felt good to know my car was in the best shape possible for a long trip like this.
So let´s move on to the cost´s that we had during the actual road trip... First, the most obvious, the gas cost. We drive a total of 6940 km and I most say I was pretty suprised that the gas price was about the same during all the countries we drove through. I thought it would get cheaper down around Albania and Macedonia but it was actually pretty much the same in all 16 countries and our gas consumption ended up in about 1050 Euro.
We also had to pay to drive over the bridge between Sweden and Denmark twice, it was about 60 euro for 1 way. Andf then also the ferry between Denmark and Germany, we payed about 90 euro for 1 way. So total 300 Euro for bridge and ferry, back and forth...
Besides that you have to by vignettes to be allowed to drive on the highway in a lot of countries and other countries have tolls along the road. Overall we payed about 200 Euros for the vignette´s and tolls.
Then we have an other "fun" thing, parking! Most of the times we had free parking at the hotels we stayed at, but not always. Some hotels where actually pretty expensive to park at as well. But our most expensive parking was when we stopped for 1 hour in Dubrovnik/Croatia to eat and the parking ended up costing us 30 Euro! For 1 hour! Haha crazy! But anyway, the total price for the parking did not get that bad in the end, when we got back home after 24 days we had spent about 150 Euros for parking.
So the price to get around with the car ended up at a total of 1400 Euro.
So if we only look at the things we needed to get by law before we started our roadtrip and the things we had to pay during the trip like gas, tolls and parking we have ended up with a total of 1940 Euro. Then you have to ad a budget for food and over night stays. Even if you choose to sleep in your car you might have to pay for parking or camping spots.
Let´s move on to the next subject :)
Okey, so I´m gonna make a few different list´s for you below with good information about what to bring on the trip or fix before you go and so on.
First up is a list with things to buy and have in the car for safety (This is necessary by law in different countries, make sure to check the law´s for every country you will be passing through. The law can be very different from one country to another.) But this is what you need in the countries we passed through:
- Jumper cables
- Safety vests (one for each person in the car.)
- First aid kit (it must have a special neck pillow as well.)
- 2 warning triangles
My next list will be about what papers you need to bring in the car to be alloved to pass through the boarders between every country plus be allowed to drive in every country:
- Your regular drivers license
- An extra international drivers license (there is 2 different types, make sure you have the right one for the countries you are going to.)
- Everyone in the car need to bring their passport (Remember to check the validity date, some countries requires that it´s valid for up to 6 months after you are supposed to leave.)
- The registration proof of the car (If it´s not your car you need to have an approval from the real owner that he or she approves that you take the car to every single country you are going to. This also applies if you have a rental car, you need a special approval.)
- A green card for the car (DON`T FORGET THIS ONE!!! This is a paper that proofs that your car have the right insurance and if you don´t have it you will not be allowed to pass trough the boarders. You get it by calling your insurance company and it´s free of charge.)
- CASH! (It´s true what they say, cash is king ;) No but honestly, have some cash hidden but with easy access in the car. IF you get into trouble it´s good to have, and IF you get rubbed and they take your wallet you have an extra lifeline hidden. But also for every toll station you will pass it´s easiest to have cash to pay with. We have a occasion I can tell you about where I´m very happy we had cash with us. We had almost no gas left and needed to fuel up, we finally came to a gas station but they had some troubles with their machine for card payments so at the moment we arrived they could only allow cash payments. Luckily we had cash with us so we could fuel the car and keep going)
- Plastic bags for garbage (It doesn´t matter how clean you think you are, you WILL get a lot of garbage in the car will spending this much time in it. Have some plastic bags with you, you will thank me later haha)'
- Blankets (Yes, they are good if you want to sleep in the car or if youré just freezing, BUT I brought them to be able to cover stuff I have in the car, both while driving and when I´m leaving the car to eat or do any kind of sightseeing. It´s unnecessarily to show what you have in the car so cover it up. I have some dark grey colores blankets that matched the color if the seats in my car.)
- Toilet paper (Okey, this can be useful for a lot, maybe you´ll spill something while eating in the car or maybe you simply have to make a toilet stop out in the middle of nowhere.... just bring it!)
- Phone chargers for everyone in the car and powerbanks is also recommended.
- Have extra clothes, towels and swimwear near by with easy access (You never know when you might need them, maybe you want to make a stop somewhere to take a swim. You don´t want to show everyone what you have in the car by opening your bag to find what you need. So pack a few things and leave it outside you bag)
- WATER and things to drink! (NEVER EVER start driving without having something to drink in the car!)
Let´s get back to your qestions
Did you ever feel unsafe? Where you ever scared? Did you have bad experience with boarder controls? Where you robbed? How whas the security?
Yes there´s a lot of questions about the security and if we ever had any bad experience when it comes to that subject. Well honestly, we had the most smooth trip ever, without any problems at all. I don´t know if it comes down to luck or if it´s because of all the research I did before we left.
I think that if you have an awareness about your environment you can avoid a lot of bad things to happen. That´s why I believe all our research helped us get a smooth trip. But yes I guess we where a bit lucky as well when it comes to the boarder becayse we never ever found ourself in a long line having to wait to be able to pass through. Most of the times it was just one or two cars before us, I think it only was 1 time we had to wait a bit longer and that time we waited like 15 minutes maximum :)
Was I ever scared? Yes, in advance, because of all the story´s I´ve been told... But afterwards I realized I´ve been scared unnecessarily. First I got i bit, hmm scared is the srong name, I would prefer to say unsecure when we decided to stop in Bratislava/Slovakia. That was one of the places that I had heard some unpleasant storys about. I was a bit unpleased with the fact that we should park and leave the car unsupervised. I didn´t feel comfortable walking around with my camera and stuff like that... Well these where feelings I had on my way to Bratislava. As we arrived everything changed to me! It was so cosy, people where so friendly and the garage/parking service was both cheap and excellent! Bratislava became our BIG supprise during this road trip and for sure a place we want to visit again and really would recommend to others! But this is the thing, bad things can happen anywhere, even if someone tells you this is a bad place or this is a good place... so you should always keep awareness to your surroundings...
An other place we heard so much "negative" about was Serbia. This place i was honestly really scared to drive through! I tried to find different routes just to be able to skip Serbia! But in the end I´m so happy we drove through the whole country because I had no reason to be scared and it was such a beautiful country with amazing nature, especially the south os Serbia, WOW! Before I was told not to make any stops, never leave the car and never go without Gustav anywhere! How could I let myself listen to people who never been there, who just heard storys... Please people stop telling storys about things you dont know the truth about! PLEASE! I mean we have people who brake windows on cars in Sweden as well, there is no difference, I can have bad luck wherever I go, but I can also always try to be smart and think about my own way of acting, like not showing of what I have in the car, moments creates the thief.... Back to Serbia, we made several stops, left the car, both together and one by one... We even met a guy from Serbia when we was in Montenegro, he´s name was Tomislav and we hang out with him every day during our stay in Montengero. We became very good friends and he told us a lot about Serbia and the way people think and talk about Serbia today, once again people who never been there....
So to sum this up - We had a very good experience, zero problems, no reasons to be afraid and everything went beyond smooth. But I don´t wan to tell you to either be scared or not scared. Instead I wish to tell you that no matter where you are in the world ALWAYS have AWARENESS to your surroundings! Be smart! Don´t make it easy for the thief or anyone to cause you any harm in any kind of way. You can prevent a lot by your own actings! Do your research about every place you visit, talk to the locals when you get there, they can often tell you mote about if there´s any special place to avoid and so on... Don´t be afraid, be aware!
Hotels & over night stays...
I had, like I always do when we travel, made A LOT of research, like CRAZY LOT! However, we did not book anything in advance, we just had a preliminary plan for our trip... Since we wanted to be able to be flexible to change our route or stay longer at a place or leave earlier we decided to not book hotels in advance. Instead I had made lists for every country we where visiting with a few different options. So when we got there we could drive around and check out the hotels in reality and then dicede where to stay, and that was perfect I most say! Since we always had a few different choices we never felt affraid that there wasn´t gonna be an availble room somewhere, even though we travelled during the most hectic period in Europe...
But that´s a really good tip from me and something I recommend you to do if you´re going on a road trip. Don´t book everything in advance, but do the reseacrh at home when you have a lot of time and good internet, so when you are out on your vacation you don´t need to spend your free time on that :)
Another good tip about finding the right hotel or spot is to not only looking on their webpage, they only show you the pictures they want you to see... Go to a place where people show there own pictures, like Instagram. Make a search for the hashtag (#) for that hotel or that spot. Then you will get to see what others experienced when they where there, I always do that and I learned I appriciate that more than just looking at a webpage. And also, if you post pictures of your own, put a hashtag to it so others can get help from you as well! :)