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1week uk to Europe road trip suggestion

Highcliffe
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1week uk to Europe road trip suggestion

Hi,

My son is planning to do a road trip from Dover the first week of July for one week to anywhere in Europe possibly coming back from Spain or Morocco on a ferry. He has never done anything like this before and would be grateful of any advice on great things to see do and an itinerary. He is 19 years old and loves anything adventurous.

Thanks so much for your suggestions.

Lewes, United...
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1. Re: 1week uk to Europe road trip suggestion

Hi Setons

Welcome to the Road Trips forum.

I take it your son will be using his own car. He needs to check his car insurance to be sure which other European countries he's insured to drive in. I know some policies for young drivers are severely restricted on this aspect. If it doesn't cover him for the countries he wants to travel in, extending the policy might be very expensive. If I were you, I'd also make sure he has enough health and breakdown insurance and remembers to take his E111 (but might not help in Spain, if the papers are correct!).

For a good primer in driving abroad, he should read this link, and check the subsequent pages for the list of mandatory safety kit he needs to buy and carry in the car as on the spot fines can be very high for not complying:

theaa.com/motoring_advice/overseas/general_a…

The best website for route planning, and it shows the running costs of the trip including any toll fees and fuel costs is:

www.viamichelin.co.uk/

1 week is not long enough to drive to any of the places in Spain and have a decent trip rather than just a dash through, I would have thought (Algeciras and Tarifa) from where you can get a ferry to Morocco, for him to be in Morocco to get another ferry back. What would be the point in dashing to Morocco in a week and then immediately take a ferry back? Morocco is a fascinating place, by the way, and a 19 year old would have a whale of a time, it's much cheaper than most of Europe. Also, those ferries aren't cheap. The ferries from Spain's north coast, from either Bilbao or Santander back to the UK are also far from cheap. This is because they all need at least one overnight stay on the ferry, or more, and so they are now run rather like cruise ships. Another issue to consider, and I don't know anything about this, is what insurance and other documentation might your son need to have his UK car in Morocco?

There are a ton of other points I could make that your son would need to consider, just for driving in Europe. However, rather than harp on about that now, would I feel would be more sensible to say is that, if your son only has one week, and want a solo adventure in Europe with his own car, then he'd be better off doing a loop trip from and back to Calais with a cheap, off peak return Dover-Calais ferry booking. Otherwise, find a cheap easyJet flight to anywhere in Morocco and have a ball there.

Here's a link to a recent topic on this forum from somebody wanting a short trip in Europe. It may have some more sensible ideas for your son:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k6530572…

If you or he has other questions, please feel free to ask them.

SWT

Edited: 09 June 2013, 15:23
Highcliffe
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2. Re: 1week uk to Europe road trip suggestion

Wow thank you so much for so much useful information. That sounds just the perfect trip. He is planning as I type!!!

Thank you again for taking the time to reply to me.

Julie.

Lewes, United...
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3. Re: 1week uk to Europe road trip suggestion

Hi Julie

I'm glad it was helpful. As I said, if you've more questions, then we're happy to help. Let us know where he's thinking of heading and we can make some suggestions of things to look out for. I did my first solo drive in Europe at around that age, but never got any further than the fishing ports of Normandy (having started from the Hague, where my parents were living at the time)!

SWT

Highcliffe
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4. Re: 1week uk to Europe road trip suggestion

Hello again,

Thank you for all your help!

He has now come up with an idea of where he would like to go - limited to only a week and doesn't want to spend the whole time driving so has decided to go north rather than south, what do you think? I think he would really have liked to go to the alps and drive the route napoleon but it will just be to much driving for a week and wont get enough time to enjoy it.

He has put together this plan below -

Calais - Brugge

Brugge - Antwerpen

Antwerpen - Rotterdam

Rotterdam - Amsterdam

Amsterdam - Brussels

Brussels - Lille

Lille - Calais

Please could you kindly let me know your thoughts on this and maybe any activities or sights he should see along the way or any suggestions to alternative routes?

Thank you again,

Julie

Uden, The...
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5. Re: 1week uk to Europe road trip suggestion

He still will be doing a lot of driving and won't have the time to explore those destinations. You can't visit Amsterdam with just one overnight stay. If this were my trip I'd skip Rotterdam and Brussels. Traffic can be horrendous in the Antwerpen and Brussels area not to mention driving into Amsterdam.

Lewes, United...
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6. Re: 1week uk to Europe road trip suggestion

My, that is a change around!

Tet's made great points. We're not trying to put the lad off, but please may I make some more comments:

In terms of amount of driving over the week, the current distances are much more realistic. However, the fly in the ointment is the choice of destinations and what that means to a driver. In addition to the valid point that there are too many places on the list so not enough time to explore them, parking in most if not all of those towns and cities will not be free and hard to find, and driving within each destination will need lots of concentration, even with the aid of satnav/GPS. For example, in the Netherlands the priority for bikes when you are driving on the wrong side of the road is something you really need to concentrate on, on top of everything else.

As a general comment, driving in much of that area will need lots of concentration and all roads will always be busy, with so many towns, one after the other, even if you use the motorway equivalent network, As you head into the chosen destinations.

My comments on Amsterdam in the linked post still hold good. I'd add to that, that for a young lad, Amsterdam might be a much more fun place to visit with a mate to share the fun experiences. Driving on the open road, solo, so you can concentrate without the distraction of a passenger talking will be fine.

As a tweek on the route, and for an alternative to Tet's suggestions (which aren't to say I disagree with him, just another option) I'd suggest Calais - Brugge (as it really is such a great place to see, and not too large), Rotterdam mostly because the drive around there is great and not too challenging. Then perhaps sweep in a SE direction missing Brussels by keeping east of the city (far from my favourite city, and ghastly traffic anyway) towards Liege, and enjoy some of the pleasures of driving on minor roads in the Ardennes without traffic. Then to Lille perhaps via Mons. Mons is a direction, not a suggested place to stop as it's a rather dirty, industrial town even if it's been cleaned up a lot since my first visit. If he drives between Lille and Calais via Dunkerque/Dunkirk, on the autoroute, he won't need to pay tolls.

Just a quick word of warning regarding driving through all that area, especially around Belgium and northern France. I'd suggest you son does some homework on the various town names he will be passing through or will find on road signs as it can be really confusing around there. Many of the towns in the area have two names, a French one and a Flemish/Dutch one. For reasons I cannot explain, road signs are totally inconsistent and will give the French name on one sign, then less than 1 km away, will use the Dutch one before reverting to the French one. You can go round in circles if you're not careful! Get familiar with both names of any given place. Examples: Ghent can be Gent or Gand, Mons/Picard.

SWT

Edited: 14 June 2013, 10:00
Uden, The...
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7. Re: 1week uk to Europe road trip suggestion

Right! Very confusing place names like Courtrai for Kortrijk. Very confusing for us locals as well. And the Dutch name for Lille is Rijsel Yikes. Btw, young guys always should go to Amsterdam, not Rotterdam. Trust me ;)

Lewes, United...
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8. Re: 1week uk to Europe road trip suggestion

Now, now, Tet!!!!!!!!!! :-)

SWT

Uden, The...
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9. Re: 1week uk to Europe road trip suggestion

;) In Rotterdam they furn off the lights by 9 pm and in Amsterdam they turn them on by that time and they never go out. If the young man is into some nightlife of course.

Chula Vista...
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10. Re: 1week uk to Europe road trip suggestion

Hi,

This banter back and forth does lead to a few questions.... What are your son's interests? Does he want to spend time only in the cities? Or is he open to visiting some smaller villages and towns? Would he rather spend time in museums, hiking a trail in a park, or hanging out in pubs?

On my trip to BENELUX in 2010, I stumbled across interesting places like Dinant; the abbey ruins at Villers-la-Ville; Dwingelderveld National Park; and the very tidy little town of Diever (aside from a few windmills, not anything of note there, but one of my first exposures to a small, rural Dutch town). I also hit the "biggies" of Brussels, Bruges, and Waterloo.

On a trip to France in 2009, I hit the Normandy coast seeing the cliffs at Etretat; Arromanches; the American Cemetery and Omaha Beach (very humbling); and Mont St. Michele (very interesting).

I guess what I might be saying is that if he's only going to be city-hopping, it may be better to take trains for all the reasons already mentioned. But that, of course, defeats the purpose of a road trip. Your son may enjoy a little time away from the cities, too.

Zed