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Driving Conditions in late November/ early December

Driving Conditions in late November/ early December

Old Aug 4th, 2014, 10:02 AM
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Driving Conditions in late November/ early December

My husband and I are planning a trip from 11/27/14 to 12/8/14. We are flying from Mobile, AL to London and then want to drive from there to France, Luxembourg, thru Germany to Amsterdam and then back to London.1) We want to know what are the driving conditions.
2) Is England the only country where cars have the steering wheel on the right?
3) Would that be the case if I rent a car in London?

Thanks for your information.
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Old Aug 4th, 2014, 02:13 PM
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(1)Since you seem to plan to keep,your driving to the UK and the northern parts of the Continent and the (France, Luxembourg, Germany, Netherlands) chances are good that you will encounter rain and cold weather, but no snow. In the more touristy places, some lodgings may be closed.

(2) Of the countries you will be visiting, only the UK has right- hnad drive.

(3) If you rent a car in London, you may try your luck and request a left-hand drive, but I would say chances are slim. Besides, I have driven once one ofour Company cars there that was left-hand drive, and it drove me nuts - - - traffic (roundabouts) and curb-parking was a nightmare. Although you didn't ask: Why would you want to drive in London?
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Old Aug 4th, 2014, 02:22 PM
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It's impossible to say what the roads will be like, but count on rain. Maybe snow.
You don't want to drive a UK car in the other countries. And of course it will have the steering wheel on the right when you rent it there.
Take the eurostar from London to Paris. If you want a car, rent it there, return it there and go back to london from paris. Better would be to fly back home from Paris.

You need winter tires for Germany, but they are not mandatory in France, so check that if you are driving to Germany with a French rental car.

You have 10 days. That is not enough to see 5 countries. Which places do you really want to see? London, Paris, Amsterdam? You really don't want a car for that.
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Old Aug 4th, 2014, 05:03 PM
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I'm confused - you're trying to do 5 countries in 10 days?

Or just landing in London to pick up a car with the controls on the wrong side to take to the continent (many agencies won't let you do that)?

Also - not sure wha tplaces you want to see - but driving through those countries in 10 days will give you very limited time anywhere - and presumable you don;t want any of the larger cities - where cars are essentially useless.

And coming from Alabama I would be extremely hesitant to drive at that time of year when you can get cold rain that turns to ice at nice or sleet - even if it melts the next day. Driving in winter weather is a very specific skill - different rules from dry pavement driving - and if you have lived your lives in AL you don;t have it.

If you tell us what specific places you want to see people can make better recos - but if you are looking at any major cities don't even think about a car. (And we have done numerous rod trips through europe - but through small towns and in the countryside.)
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 07:24 AM
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It's not as if in Europe we don't look after our roads in winter....
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 09:35 AM
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I'm sure that in europe roads are kept clear of ice and snow after it falls. But if you are not used to driving in bad weather even a few miles while sleet or snow is falling can be fatal (you should see the sights I have seen - multi-car crashes due to even heavy cold rain/slippery roads in Cincinnati - never midn further south).

No matter how well the roads are cleared there is time when the precip is falling and the roads can easily be wet and slippery.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 09:39 AM
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You would at least take the train from London to Paris and from Brussels to London on the Eurostar.

International drop-off costs a fortune.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 10:25 AM
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kerouac is right on. Take a train to and from the continent and pick up/drop the car in Paris. That way you won't have to worry about which side of the car the steering wheel is on or navigating in England in winter on the "wrong" side of the road.

Also, like Tulips, I'm concerned that you are trying to cover too much ground in too little time. Ten days would be enough to see a little bit of London and southern England or a little bit of Paris and northern France/Belgium. But unless your idea of a nice vacation is to drive all over without stopping to see anything, cut down the countries to two or three.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 10:37 AM
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Unless you really want to be in London, there's no point even in getting the train to the Continent. Fly straight from whichever London airport you arrive at to the nearest airport on the continent you can easily collect the car and and return it to. (just check "destinations" on the website of your arrival airport)

All other things being equal, you should avoid:
- surface travel in Britain at all, unless you need to be there
- even if you need to be in Britain, driving unless it's essential
- leaving your car in a different country from where you collect it (cross-border dropoff charges are almost always crippling, and are levied on Paris-collected cars dropped off at Brussels)
- Connecting in London at all, if you don't need to there. Even if you do, try booking an open jaw flight, arriving in London and leaving from wherever you're going to drop the car.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 10:45 AM
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Get open-jaw (multi-city on airline websites) plane tickets, maybe into London out of Amsterdam. That will save you the time and money to backtrack.

And, in fact, if you're worried about driving, why not take the train instead. The train goes city center to city center, and, in the winter, cities are the best place to be. The days are short, countryside is not very pretty, whereas cities have lots to do in bad weather and in the short days. Taking the train, you'll still see something of the countryside.

If you buy them well ahead of time, train tickets can be quite cheap. This is particularly true for the Eurostar between London and Paris.
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Old Aug 6th, 2014, 06:58 AM
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Thank you all, I know it sounds like crazy but we have done it here in the US and are hoping we can do it over there. I am trying to convince my husband that it's not the best idea to drive. Again thanks for your advice.
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Old Aug 6th, 2014, 08:51 AM
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Merlyn--

You can drive in Europe--most of the advice above has to do with when to pick up the car. My spouse and I drive in Europe a lot and for the most part have had no problems. But driving in the UK is very difficult, even for the most experienced US drivers, so it would be best to avoid it.

A car in London or in Paris would be a handicap, not a help; we try to arrange our vacations so as to avoid having a car in larger cities. We pick the car up at the airport and drop it when arriving in the city (or vice versa), take trains into larger cities even though we have the car, etc. Aside from driving in the UK, our biggest car problems have been navigating cities with a car and parking a car in cities overnite.

Please trust me: I've driven in Manhattan, LA, Miami, Chicago, and I live in Atlanta, and every one of those US cities is much easier to navigate in a car than any larger city in Europe.
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Old Aug 6th, 2014, 11:27 AM
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I also drive all over Europe. But for visiting cities it is not practical, and expensive. Renting a car in london to take to Europe is very unwise. Parking in cities is expensive (25 pounds a day in london, add to that possible congestion charge) and petrol is expensive. And tolls in France.
For visiting the countryside, its easier to have a car. Plan your journey on viamichelin or mappy, if you really want to see 5 countries by car in 10 days. You will not have much time to actually see something besides motorways.
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Old Aug 6th, 2014, 11:45 AM
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>>3) If you rent a car in London, you may try your luck and request a left-hand drive, but I would say chances are slim.
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Old Aug 6th, 2014, 12:11 PM
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One of the biggest impediments you'll find to driving in Europe or the UK in late fall, outside of the weather, is the length of the day. Sunrise in London on 1 Dec is at 7:43 am, sunset is at 3:56 pm, giving you a little over 8 hours of daylight. In Berlin the day is slight shorter, the sun not rising until 7:54 am. In Paris, the day is a little longer, but not by much.

Driving at night, or during twilight, on unfamiliar roads, in iffy weather, isn't something to look forward to, especially if you the one behind the wheel, left or right hand drive.
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Old Aug 7th, 2014, 06:19 AM
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Remember, northern Europe from Paris up is farther north than (almost all) the continental US. Which means shorter days in the winter, much shorter than in Mobile, as well as colder, rainier and windier.

That's why cities are a better bet in the winter. There's always some cozy spot to duck into, get warm and dry. And there are sights to see.
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