Motherhood · Travel with kids

The joys and perils of driving in Europe

I previously wrote a post on how crazy driving in France & Italy can be when I shared our attempt to cross the French Alps by car. But not all roads in these countries make for stressful driving with narrow roads and sharp turns. Most roads are actually quite easy to drive and apart from the fact that the toll fees are ridiculous and we have to drive on the other side of the road, driving is probably our favorite way to travel. Especially with a baby or toddler – it gives you the freedom to stop when you need to. Also, since driving is how we move around in SA, Lisa is familiar with sitting in a carseat and I have lots of experience entertaining her on roadtrips. That makes 1 less thing for baby to adjust to.

For me, the best part of roadtrips is discovering hidden gems in the countryside. Some of my favorites from this trip was the hillside Italian villages, wine tasting in Burgundy, the great views and the good cappuccinos at small town cafés. While flying is usually the fastest way to travel and often even the cheapest, I feel like I am missing out on all of this (see the photos below).



The one mistake we keep making is driving into big unknown cities. This trip we drove into Paris and the only time we have probably been more stressed on the road was when we drove out of New York city without a GPS or a proper map. It is a lot less stressful to drop the car off at a location just outside the city and take public transportation into the center. But then again… sometimes these things make the best memories.

We have also done some road-tripping in Spain. We enjoyed driving around and exploring Andalucia – the South of Spain. Our base was Estepona from where we did multiple daytrips. Some of our highlights in the photos below included the historic gorge(eous) town of Ronda, the coastal towns on the Costa del Sol, and the Pueblos Blancos (white towns).  We initially drove from Madrid, and the first part of the trip down to the south was quite boring with mostly flat, dry landscapes. I think it is important to do some research to know where to drive in which season.



Things to keep in mind when renting a car; a car seat is usually more expensive than you expect, so keep this in mind when comparing travel cost options. You can consider taking your own, especially if you have a 3-in-1 pram/car seat. But on the other hand traveling as light as possible is easier for obvious reasons. We use the smallest stroller we can when traveling – that way we fit into a relatively small car, and we usually just pay extra for renting a seat.


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