Ever since the motor vehicle became a necessity rather than a luxury, driving holidays have been popular with holidaymakers of all ages – from family breaks in the countryside to teenagers on a road trip. This year, the trend looks set to continue – especially as the current recession forces many people to downsize their holiday plans and lower oil prices mean that driving could be cheaper than flying or taking the train for larger groups of holidaymakers on their way to a local destination.

However, whether you’re planning to take your car from Manchester to Aberdeen or London to Paris (via Dover and Calais, of course), it’s crucial to check that your vehicle is in working order and fit for extensive driving trips before you embark on your holiday. This could involve a range of tasks, from getting your car serviced to checking the limits of your car insurance.

Essential things to do before setting of on a driving holiday

To make sure you’re well prepared for your driving holiday, write a check list so you don’t forget anything essential. For starters, it’s important to ensure that your car is in working order – it might sound obvious but there’s nothing worse than getting stuck on a quiet country road in the middle of the night, in an area you aren’t familiar with, and no help in sight. By getting your car serviced at a garage a few weeks before you leave, you’ll be able to establish whether anything is likely to go wrong and have plenty of time to get it fixed.

Next, check that your insurance is up to date and isn’t going to expire while you’re still on holiday. If you’re travelling within the UK, your car insurance is likely to be valid wherever you go. On the other hand, if you’re planning a driving holiday in Europe, it’s important to call up your insurer before leaving to check whether you will be covered.

The popularity of ferry routes like Dover to Calais in France, Harwich to Hook of Holland near Rotterdam and Holyhead to Dublin mean that driving holidays in Europe are becoming increasingly popular with British holidaymakers. Yet, research released in May 2009 revealed that 38 percent of drivers don’t know whether their car insurance policy covers them when driving abroad, and 18 percent wrongly think that their vehicle will be covered by their travel insurance while overseas. The specifics vary between insurers but most will only offer a few days free cover for driving in Europe – so make sure you know what options you have before leaving.

Making sure European driving cover is included in your car insurance

If you go on driving holidays in Europe regularly, it might be worth getting European cover included in your motor insurance policy as standard. It’s easiest to do this when it’s time to renew your policy – ask your current insurer what scope there is to increase the amount of European cover days on your insurance, or conduct a car insurance comparison online to find a cheaper rate.

Don’t forget breakdown cover either – most insurers do not offer UK breakdown assistance as part of a car insurance policy, so they’re unlikely to include European breakdown cover. With the right insurance in place – as well as a spare canister of petrol in your boot and a fully-charged mobile phone – you’ll be able to embark on your driving holiday with the peace of mind that, should anything go wrong on the road, you’re well protected.

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