Last week, we returned from an 8 day road trip through Germany, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Austria. I promise that I will write specifically about some of the cities we travelled to (and show pics) in upcoming weeks, once I sift through the countless photos we took, but in the meantime, I need to give “road tripping” a huge shout out!!
Prior to this trip, I only considered road tripping to be an American pastime. Sure, as a Top Gear (and now Grand Tour) aficionado, I knew certain places like Romania and Italy have gorgeous roads to drive on, but I never considered taking such a trip myself! Since we don’t have countless PTO (or cash), we decided a road trip would be the most cost and time effective manner to see this region, and we were spot on!
Here are my top 5 reasons why you should consider taking a road trip through Europe:
1)You can rent what would be deemed a “premium car” in the states for a relatively decent price in Europe, especially when booking with Sixt. Sixt is a German-based car rental company, that is steadily expanding in the U.S. While in Europe, you can rent a BMW 4-series for as low as $26/Euros a day! When driving on those fun European country roads (winding and high speed limits) – renting a BMW or Audi is exactly what you’ll want to drive to make your trip unforgettable.
2)Speaking of roads – driving on the famed Autobahn was everything i hoped it would be. The Autobahn is comprised of a series of highways in Germany with varying speed limits – including many stretches with no speed limit at all (though they recommend you don’t go beyond 81 miles per hour). How often do you get the chance in America to legally drive on a highway without observing ANY speed limit? Pretty sure, its nil, as all of our highways have a speed limit attached to it. While driving, I reached 136 mph, while hubby maxed out at 145 mph. Driving through the autobahn-less other countries were magical for other reasons – they were simply gorgeous. Experiences like this can’t occur while you’re flying or cruising!
3)You will visit and better experience towns and villages that don’t appear in Travel & Leisure or Conde Nast. For those of you who want to experience truly authentic aspects of one’s culture, driving through the smaller cities may be exactly up your alley! Some of the best bars and restaurants are not found in the largest cities, but rather in the smaller towns and villages, where local people stick to recipes and traditions passed down among many generations. You also get a better feel for the true local culture as you visit the shops and maybe even small town museums which truly reflects the history and soul of your destination. We visited towns in Germany where the locals only spoke German, and the menu only offered truly German specialties like spaetzel. This is, after all, why you visited the country to begin with right? If you want a more American experience, stay in the larger cities, or, well, in America J.
4)You dictate your own time and can customize your own schedule – As much as I love cruises, sometimes it is truly frustrating when you can’t explore a city’s nightlife or take the time to get off the beaten path because it’s too far away from the cruise terminal, and you don’t have enough time. The same can be said if you fly into a city, and don’t rent a car – you may feel locked into the main city (where uber exists, lol), and you may be nervous to explore. When you’re on a road trip, you can decide exactly how long you wish to stay in a given city, and you’ll find yourself much more willing to explore!! For the most part, we stayed along our itinerary’s routes, but we found ourselves falling in love with some cities more than others – and because we had a car, we could do EXACTLY what we wanted. We stayed longer in Strasbourg, and had amazing wine, food, and croissants, and spent less time in Zurich (kind of meh), because we were afforded the flexibility that comes with road tripping. We also added the famed Nurburgring racetrack onto our itinerary, because hubby is obsessed with Gran Turismo, and we happened to drive by the city, so we stopped off! You may only get a small amount of PTO, like we do, so don’t waste time in towns/cities that may not be your cup of tea – dictate your own schedule!
5)Off roading! Ok, this may not be something you see in the brochures, but every country has some cool off-road opportunities, that are not easily accessible to those of us that may not be expert hikers. I like to do what I call mini-hikes (max 2 hours, unless it’s like Machu Picchu of course), but I’m not generally the type of person who is itching to hike for 6 or 7 hours while I’m on vacation. When you’re on a road trip, that 6 or 7 hour hike can turn into 10 or 20 min ;-). We went off road near the Eibsee Lake in Germany – the hike is supposed to be about 3-4 hours long – but we didn’t have that kind of time (or stamina, lol), so we drove through the forest for about 20 min, and then hiked only about 15 min down to one of the most amazing vistas I’ve ever seen in my life. Again, this is all about time management. If you have the time, and love to hike – awesome!! But I only receive just over 3 weeks of PTO a year, so it’s critical that I plan each day perfectly! So when you are road tripping – get off the main road, and explore a bit!
So you guessed it…now I need to plan my next road trips through Italy, France, Romania, and Spain/Portugal…if you have any other suggestions, please comment below!!