To Europe on Wheels: How to Travel Abroad by Car
Traveling by car allows you to visit places where it is impossible to reach on foot or get on a guided tour. How much will you have to pay for such freedom of movement and how to prepare for a trip to Europe?
Traveling by car makes it possible to have your time, flexibly build a movement schedule. According to a Tutu.ru travel service survey, cars as a means of transportation for traveling long distances (more than 500 kilometers) are among the three preferences of Russians along with trains and planes.
If you are going on a road trip abroad and have the necessary visas, you can get ready for the trip in just one day. But traveling by car is an option that has much more nuances than traveling by air or by rail. In connection with the approaching New Year holidays, during which many want to relax abroad, RBC decided to figure out what is necessary for traveling by car to Europe.
According to Roman Bobylev, a member of the Public Council of Rostourism, there are two of the most popular ways that motorists use to get to Europe: through Belarus or through Finland. The first option is the most popular and suitable for those travelers who travel to Western Europe (Italy, France, Germany). Those planning to visit Scandinavia travel through Finland.
“The border guards of Belarus and Finland are very loyal to motorists from Russia, as hundreds of travelers travel this way every day, both for tourism and for working visits,” says Andrei Barsukov, Deputy General Director of Russian AutoMotoClub (RAMK).
The motorist must be prepared for the fact that he can spend from half an hour to several hours crossing the border, depending on the load on the checkpoint and the availability of things that need to be declared. It must be borne in mind that if a traveler travels with a small child (up to three years) through Belarus, he can reduce the time it takes to cross the border. “In the legislation of the country there is a direct indication that when crossing the border with children under three years of age, you have the right to cross the border without a line,” says Tatyana Maximova, head of the judicial department of the legal department of the AVILON Management Company.
When traveling through Finland, the border crossing time can be optimized by using a train with a car platform that runs along the Moscow-Helsinki route. Roman Bobylev considers a trip with a car by train more comfortable, since customs inspection and document verification can be done right during the trip. The cost of transportation is from € 210 depending on weight. From August 2013, you can get a discount on this amount, which depends on the number of passengers, the type of car in which the ticket was taken, and the presence of children from six to 17 years old. The more expensive a passenger ticket, the more you can save (up to 50%).
What documents to draw up
Going abroad, a traveler must collect a package of documents necessary for any tourist. These include: visa, passport, medical insurance. “As a rule, road travelers are people who are not traveling to Europe for the first time and many of them have an open Schengen visa,” says Roman Bobylev.
If there is no valid visa, in order to apply for it, the tourist must provide the visa center in addition to the standard hotel reservation, a certificate and income, medical insurance several additional papers. We are talking about documents for a car, an international motor third-party liability insurance policy (Green Card), as well as a route sheet for future travel. “You need to apply for a visa either to the country where the person plans to spend more time (this requires a travel route), or to the country of entry,” explains Dmitry Davydenko, chairman of the All-Russian Tourist Association.
At many forums dedicated to car travel, it is advised to apply for an international driver’s license (the state duty for registration is 1600 rubles). “In countries that have joined the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, they recognize Russian rights. In countries that have only signed the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, you can only drive a car with an international license, ”says Kaminsky Driving Academy director Alexander Kaminsky. The latter, according to him, include Albania, Andorra, Ireland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey.
However, Roman Bobylev says that to visit most of the countries of Europe, no matter what convention they have joined, it will be enough to have a national certificate on hand. The main thing is that the driver data is duplicated in Latin.
To cross the border, a traveler must have a Green Card. “An international liability insurance policy is a prerequisite for entry into the territory of European countries and others, including the CIS countries. This is an international compulsory motor liability insurance, ”says Denis Makarov, head of AlfaStrakhovanie obligatory types of methodology department..
The minimum term of the Green Card insurance contract is 15 days. You can also purchase a contract for one month and then monthly up to one year. Insurance rates for Russian Green Cards are set by the Russian Union of Auto Insurers (RSA) and depend on the insurance period, type of vehicle and coverage area (“All countries of the system” or “Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Azerbaijan”). The experience and age of the driver do not affect the price of the policy. As of November 15, 2017, the cost of insurance for 15 days for a passenger car is 2.32 thousand rubles, for the year – 21.07 thousand rubles..
If, during the trip, the car owner becomes a participant in the accident and is recognized as his culprit, then the insurance company will be indemnified, says Denis Makarov. and in order to receive compensation if the traveler is an injured party, he must independently contact the insurance company responsible for the accident. The average amount of damages depends on the country where the accident occurred. “So, on property, the average payout is € 1.5 thousand for Belarus, € 5 thousand for the rest of the system; and for life and health – € 10 thousand for Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, € 38 thousand. for other countries, ”the press service of the Russian Union of Auto Insurers (RSA) explained..
If there is no insurance for the person responsible for the accident or his identity is not established, you should contact your local Green Card bureau for information on the possibility of receiving payment from the guarantee fund of the country of an accident. Contact numbers are indicated on the back of the policy..
Some insurance companies may expand the coverage of the current CASCO policy to other countries. But the CASCO policy cannot replace the Green Card, since it does not insure driver liability.
What expenses to prepare for
According to Roman Bobylev, traveling by car can not be called an economical option, because on the road a tourist has to make a lot of expenses, primarily for car maintenance. The most expensive expense item, many travelers consider fuel. According to the website autotraveler.ru, as of November 2017, AI-95 gasoline among foreign countries is the cheapest in Belarus (€ 0.54 per liter). Of the EU countries, the five countries with the cheapest gasoline include Macedonia, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Andorra: here a liter of 95th gasoline costs from € 1.06 to € 1.12. The most expensive are Portugal, the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, and Norway (€ 1.54-1.71 per liter). In Russia, now the average price of AI-95 gasoline at gas stations is € 0.59. The cost of a diesel engine, which in Russia is € 56 per liter, in Europe varies from € 0.88 (Macedonia) to € 1.61 (Norway).
Toll roads are another fear of inexperienced travelers. The fare requirements vary. “For example, in France it will be necessary to pay for travel at checkpoints, in the Czech Republic and some other countries – to buy a special sticker (vignette) on the windshield, with which it will be possible to travel for a certain period of time,” says the general director of KIA AutoSpecTsentr Kashirka »Sergey Vornovsky.
Vignette is used in nine countries of Europe: Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Switzerland. You can buy it at most gas stations, shops or special booths along the tracks. The period for which you can purchase a vignette, and its price varies depending on the country. But on average, a weekly “pass” costs € 10, for a month – about € 20. For the lack of a vignette, a fine of up to € 250 is provided in some countries. But toll roads can often be driven around more picturesque free roads..
In some places, for example, in Austria, Germany, Italy and Norway, they also charge for the passage of certain bridges and tunnels. For one of the most expensive options – traveling through the Mont Blanc tunnel between Italy and France – you will have to pay a fee of € 42.4 one way (when entering from the French side) and € 43.1 (when entering from the Italian side).
“There are special programs, including on the Internet and in gadgets, which allow you to calculate the approximate cost of gasoline based on distance. By indicating the mileage, gas consumption per 100 km, as well as the cost of fuel, you will receive an approximate amount that must be laid down in the upcoming trip, ”advises Alexander Kaminsky.
Sergey Vornovsky recalls that there are far from toll roads in all Schengen countries. For example, you can travel around Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Belgium for free.
Another cost item may be a parking fee (can range from € 0.5 to € 2.5 per hour), if not free. You can save by studying the parking scheme of cities where stops are planned. Many cities have intercepting parking at the entrance with low tariffs and free use of public transport from the parking lot to the city center and back.
Fire extinguisher, cable, spare set of headlight bulbs, vest with reflective strips, cigarette lighter wires, recoil stop, spare wheel, tool kit – this set, according to experienced travelers, is better to carry with you in the trunk of a car.
“I also advise you to carry at least one spare canister of glass washer fluid and liquid for washing glass with a spray bottle – this is especially useful in the summer, when after every drive, you have to wipe hundreds of insects broken on the windshield,” says Alexander Kaminsky.
According to him, many carry a canister of fuel with them, as in some countries gas stations are at a great distance from each other. “For example, in Scandinavia sometimes you can just drive a few hundred kilometers and not meet a single gas station,” he says.
Also, experienced car travelers are advised to clarify in which countries you can ride studded tires if it comes to a winter trip. In most countries, spikes are permitted between November and March. Chains should be used if the appropriate traffic sign indicates this. In this case, studded tires should also be equipped with chains. In Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Serbia, Romania, Portugal, Poland, Macedonia and Germany, spikes are prohibited, however, in the winter, snow chains and a shovel must be in the trunk of the vehicle.
Also in Europe, radar detectors are prohibited. For the presence of such a device in the car, you can get a fine (about € 100) right at the border.
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