With the fall in the value of the Euro, this may be the right time for that big family holiday in Europe when you pile the kids in the car and take off on a European road trip adventure. If so, here are a few things you should know before you go renting a car in Europe, such as the number to dial in an emergency. (Hint: it’s NOT 911.) It’s a lot different from renting a car in America and there are some things you should take into consideration so you know exactly what to expect.

The roads aren't the only things that are different in Europe

Photo credit: Pixabay

1. Size

Cars and roads are usually smaller and narrower in Europe than the U.S., so it could be a tight squeeze if you’re traveling with more than two kids.  Use these vehicle categories as a guideline when renting a car in Europe:

  • Economy class vehicles: 2 Adults, 2 doors, 3 pieces of luggage.
  • Compact vehicles: 2 adults and 2 children, 4 doors, 3 pieces of luggage.
  • Midsize cars: 4 adults (or 2 adults and 3 children), 4 doors, 4 pieces of luggage.
  • Full size vehicles: Have the same space as midsize cars but have a larger engine, which is helpful if you are driving through hills.
  • Station wagons: Fit the same number of people as midsize cars but can fit 5 pieces of luggage.

2. Driver’s License

Most countries recognize a valid U.S. driver’s license, but some countries require an International Driving Permit.  This should

Road signs are different in Europe than in the U.S.

Photo credit: Pixabay

be used in addition to a U.S. license. You can obtain one before your departure at a local AAA office or at an office of the American Automobile Touring Alliance, both of which are authorized by the U.S. State Department to issue the permits. To apply you must be at least 18 years old, have a valid driver’s license, 2 passport-sized photographs, and pay a fee of less than $20.

3. Driving Lanes in Europe

Only four European countries require driving on the left-hand side of the road.  These are Britain, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus.

4. The Metric System

All speed limits in Europe are in kilometers (1 kilometer = .6 of a mile).  Gasoline is called “petrol” and is purchased by the liter (1 liter = about .26 gallons).

5. Road signs

The color red signals negative information such as a warning, while blue signals positive information like a bike lane or rest stop. The shapes of signs also include information. Diamonds signal priority, red triangles are warnings, red circles are restrictions, and blue circles are requirements.

6. Center lines

Dashed center lines mark passing zones and solid center lines indicate no-passing zones. White lines are used to distinguish opposing traffic and traffic moving in the same direction.

the roads in Europe are very different than America

Photo credit: Pixabay

7.  Emergency

112 is the emergency call number used in Europe – so make sure you don’t dial 911 if you run into trouble while in Europe.

If you are staying stateside and are renting a car check out ways to save on a rental! However if you are making the trio to Europe, use these tips when renting an automobile – and leave any other tips in the comments!