I’ve been eager to go and visit my family in Italy and we’re all desperate to go on holiday. When travel restrictions were eased we started planning. My husband and I didn’t fancy boarding a plane with the kids in the current circumstances. Instead we’ve opted for a driving holiday and booked a crossing on Eurotunnel.
When I was a kid, we drove to Italy many times so I’m feeling nostalgic.
Driving holiday accommodation
Over a bottle, maybe two, of wine Matt and I plotted our route on the map. As opposed to just burning it down to Italy in the fastest time possible, the drive is going to be a feature of the holiday.
We’ve booked several self-contained properties through HomeAway, Airbnb and a private rental for on the way there and back in areas we’re particularly interested in visiting. We’re staying for two or three days at each.
Our trip will take us down the eastern side of France, into Switzerland, onto the Italian alps and then onto our final destination: Bordighera in Liguria. Then we’ll travel back up the western side of France.
General holiday preparations
We’ve got our travel insurance in place, renewed our EHIC cards (European Health Insurance Cards), checked passports and are only taking a small amount of Euros we already had.
We’ve topped up our Monzo accounts as this online-only bank doesn’t charge any transaction fees when you use the card abroad.
Because of the current situation we are taking our face masks. We don’t need to fill out any forms relating to Covid-19 for entering France but will have to ahead of our return to the UK.
Driving holiday preparations
We’ve double checked our car insurance cover for Europe and have a European Sat Nav. I have a really comprehensive first aid kit, which is coming with us.
We’ll also be packing a few pillows so everyone is comfortable in the back and can have a little snooze if they want.
For driving through France specifically:
Having a breathalyser in your car is mandatory in France; you can get a twin pack for £5.49. It is illegal to have a device that alerts to speed cameras (if caught with one it’s a hefty fine). We will have to disable the alerts on our sat nav.
For driving in France, Italy and Switzerland you must have:
• Reflective warning triangle
• High visibility vests
• Headlamp beam deflectors
• GB sticker
For driving on motorways in Switzerland you need a vignette (sticker).
We’ve got an Emovis Tag for travelling on the French motorways. This a great idea as it enables automatic payment at motorway tolls. You beat the queues by being able to use any lane with this symbol and there’s often a tag-only lane:
It means no scrabbling about for change or a credit card; the barrier automatically lifts on scanning your tag and you just drive right through. You’re invoiced and pay by direct debit later. We also received a free GB sticker with our tag! Rhinocarhire.com offers a special discount for the Emovis Tag (you don’t have to hire a car with them to take advantage). Here are the details.
Boredom busters for a driving holiday
We’ve got quite a few games for the car (other than i-spy) up our sleeves. I’ve written about them here: Car Games for Long Journeys. The French car plate game is a must; I’ve downloaded the sheets ready for them to fill. I’ve also got sheets for a ‘motorway treasure hunt’ and ‘minor roads treasure hunt’ courtesy of France for Families.
The girls love traditional Cluedo, so I’ve bought the Cluedo card game, which I’ll wrap up as a little surprise for them to open on the way.
We’ve all created our own Spotify playlists. There’s a nifty little gadget
that lets you play your digital music via the car’s stereo. It’s been trialled already and it’s very good!
My eldest tends to feel sick if she reads in the car so audio books are the way forward. The kids are recently registered (via school) with MyON. It’s a personalised digital library that gives access to over 5,000 digital books, which can be downloaded to read offline.
We’re taking an arsenal of snackage both healthy and not: grissini, fruit, nuts, sweets, crisps plus plenty of water and Capri Sun Fruity Water (a new favourite).
The iPods and iPad are coming with us so they can play games. We’ll also download a film or two. I don’t mind them spending some time on them as long as it’s mixed up with other activities.
A few little pressies
The aforementioned Cluedo card game is one small gift, but I’ve got a few others that I’ll wrap up for them to open along the journey. I’ve bought them some lovely personalised stationery, a new pack of pencils each in a tin, some hair accessories and some cheapo bath bombs.
Wish us luck!