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Driving from Calais to Mayrhofen - looking for stopover suggestions

Driving from Calais to Mayrhofen - looking for stopover suggestions

Old Jul 9th, 2020, 09:41 AM
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Driving from Calais to Mayrhofen - looking for stopover suggestions

We are in Mayrhofen for 2 weeks this summer and although we have a flight booked I'm considering driving instead for safety, probably dover to calais is cheapest option . I'm looking for suggestions regarding routes and stopover(s) to break up the 11 hr drive to make it more of an adventure. We have a 3 and 7 yr old and will likely need to stop around every 2 hrs just to stretch legs. I'm aware of the testing rules already but please let me know if passing through certain borders changes things. Thanks in advance.
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Old Jul 11th, 2020, 02:04 AM
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I cannot answer about the Covid testing rules and they are likely to change before you intend to travel anyway. Also I am not sure how much safer such a journey would be compared with flying. That aside, we have travelled by car from the UK to Austria a few times and may be able to suggest a couple of stop over places and give other hints.

Have you taken your kids on long car journeys on the continent before? It does make a difference if you are trying to concentrate on driving on the right and navigate in a different language and your kids start getting niggly (been there too often). A stop every couple of hours is great but will the play areas be open? We no longer travel with children but when we used to go down to South West France with them we needed those play areas desperately!
How far do you have to travel in the UK to reach the port? We have a three hour trip and found that this means we need at least three overnight stops when travelling to Austria if it is to be a holiday and not an endurance trek!

So to give you an idea of how we break it down on our last trip (actually to Czech Republic then Austria) we stopped in Arras, Mayschoß(a small village south of Bonn) and Nuremberg. On our way home we stopped in Oberstdorf for three nights, then in a village north of Strasbourg and finally in Libin in Belgium.

Because it is a holiday we look for hotels with decent parking and, when in cities, easy road access. If in a village or remote Area then a local restaurant which is open on the night you are there is vital because more driving to eat is not going to be popular with tired children.

Finally, have you checked on the various environmental areas you will cross and whether you will be able to enter them? Buy your Austrian Autobahn vignette before you enter the country. You can do this digitally now but if not make sure to get it before you reach the border.

Sorry if I am stating the obvious but perhaps it will be helpful.
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Old Jul 12th, 2020, 01:06 AM
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Thank you for your reply. We haven't done more than 3 hours in a car with them but generally they are quite chilled kids who tolerate things well. They've managed well on 9 hr flights etc. France and Germany have no restrictions at present and yes I'm hoping things have time to change. If we fly that is 2 flights, 3 airports so felt driving a better option as less people. You are right i don't want it to be an endurance but part of the holiday. It'll take 5 hours to get to Dover. We are north Manchester. I think a stop over not long after calais and then a mid point from there. They don't need a play park though many do seem open already, just a stretch of grass to run around. I will look into your suggestions. I don't mind getting the test done but finding it hard to get one in the timescale for entry that will also test a 3 year old.
I appreciate your advice.
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Old Jul 12th, 2020, 01:23 AM
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You will need a Critair sticker for your car driving through France. Environmental areas in France can be large and variable, and without a suitable sticker you can be prevented from travelling if they impose one. In Germany unless you are going to stay in a city you should be fine wthout the Umwelt sticker there.
Don't forget you the tolls in Austria.
Take the tunnel rather than the ferry if you feel happier with that, as you will probably have to wear face masks on board a ferry, though the children, certainly the youngest, are probably exempt from that. You will need to take face masks with you as they are required in many places. More than one, and wash them regularly. Check online to see where facemasks are mandatory.
I would look to stay overnight near your channel crossing in the UK and get an early crossing the following day then press on down through France and over into Germany for your next overnight.
Takes lots to drink, and snacks, try not to travel on a Saturday when the rest of Europe is on the road, or aim for that to be your final day of the drive.
Takes paper maps as well as any GPS navigation you might be planning on using.
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Old Jul 12th, 2020, 06:21 AM
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As Hetismij says you need the Critair sticker for France and, whilst I agree you probably don't need the Umwelt sticker for Germany, we are happier having one so we know that if we get lost in a city area we are still legal. There have been occasion when we have found ourselves on the wrong exit road when navigating our way around some of the zones. DO NOT buy through the commercial sites such as Green-zones.EU which google throws up at you. They are usually charging a large extra commission. Use the official TÜV SÜD and certificat-air.gouv.fr . They have English versions and I found it very simple to apply a couple of years ago.
You could change around Hets' first suggestion and travel to Dover and cross over on the first day and then stay in Calais overnight. This would mean you could get an early start the next morning.
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Old Jul 12th, 2020, 11:05 AM
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Thanks for the advice about each of the countries stickers, I'll look at tha . I've made quite a few masks for us, especially the kids as the 3 year old will undoubtedly eat his. We will aim to stay away from any large towns or cities but agree will need to ensure food places are open for evening. Thanks for the tip re Saturday, i can probably avoid that by crossing early Friday.
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Old Jul 13th, 2020, 02:32 AM
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I do this route once a year and travel via the Brussels ring road. Belgium roads are some of the most dangerous in Western Europe so stay on the motorway but the ring is a nightmare. You need both adults focused on lane changes around you and try to avoid the 8-10 and 3-6 rush hours. On the other hand Luxembourg fuel is dead cheap so buy at the first motorway services as you enter from the north. You can try and do the same at the south but always seems to be a scrum.

We like a short detour along the Mosel, lots of river banks or hills to climb.

The southern German motorway system (looks like a grid on Google) is also tough, I've never yet found a way through that which does not include a traffic jam, so get German radio up functioning or use the web to look out for diversions.

Stopping, German motorways charge to use the loo so don't let the kids play in the service area as they will find all kinds of disgustiing things in the woods or on the lawns. Pay the fee, often services offer deals on a coffee with you take your receipt from the loo machine so carry out those visits in logical order.

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Old Jul 13th, 2020, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
I do this route once a year and travel via the Brussels ring road. Belgium roads are some of the most dangerous in Western Europe so stay on the motorway but the ring is a nightmare. You need both adults focused on lane changes around you and try to avoid the 8-10 and 3-6 rush hours. On the other hand Luxembourg fuel is dead cheap so buy at the first motorway services as you enter from the north. You can try and do the same at the south but always seems to be a scrum.

We like a short detour along the Mosel, lots of river banks or hills to climb.

The southern German motorway system (looks like a grid on Google) is also tough, I've never yet found a way through that which does not include a traffic jam, so get German radio up functioning or use the web to look out for diversions.

Stopping, German motorways charge to use the loo so don't let the kids play in the service area as they will find all kinds of disgustiing things in the woods or on the lawns. Pay the fee, often services offer deals on a coffee with you take your receipt from the loo machine so carry out those visits in logical order.
Excellent advice from Bilbo! We have never yet made the journey without hitting major traffic jams somewhere. Lille is just as bad as Brussels so is not much of an alternative. Google maps with traffic can be great but beware of relying on it only. Paper maps, provided they are up to date, can be a sanity saver. If you don't speak German or French it is a good idea to learn some road terms such as those for "road closed" and "diversion" as well as the way road signage is used.
Re the German (and Austrian) services - we found that at most of them we could use our debit cards to enter the loos when we didn't have the correct coins. Keep the paper token even if you don't want to use it there since they can be redeemed at other services too.
I do hope this is not coming over as negative. We love driving across the continent and are presently planing, if things allow, to drive from Birmingham to Puglia next year. That will be a three week holiday - a week driving down, a week stay and a week driving back by a different route.
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Old Jul 14th, 2020, 04:07 AM
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Thanks for the information about driving in Belgium and traffic. It gives something extra to think about especially not allowing my kids on the grass at service stations. I've driven a few times in Austria and overall found it fine with the occasional wrong exit taken. I'm always stressed in that first 10 mins from innsbruck Airport. This will be a different ball game as my partner has never driven abroad and will not be keen... I'm going to have to try give him the easy stretch if i find on .
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Old Jul 14th, 2020, 10:38 PM
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Traffic around Brussels is a bit less crazy than usual in the summer holidays and while many people still work from home. I find service stations in France generally better than those in Belgium. You pay for toilets, but then in France you will pay toll for some motorways.
Watch the speed limit signs around cities in France and stick to the limit! Very easy to get a ticket if you don't.

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Old Jul 15th, 2020, 01:31 AM
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I tend to use the Belgium motorways rather than the parallel French ones but I take a detour to eat in France (sorry guys but they have the reputation). I have tried it the other way around and it was a disaster. NB French motorway speed limits vary by the weather. Now what is rainy to a Brit might not be rainy to a French cop.

Service stations, probably best to wise up on this. There are full stations along the route you are travelling (with payments, large truck movements, coffee shops and fuel) and then there are more traditional "aire" which are just safe places to pull over, no loos, just a few picnic tables. Those are generally fine to play around on. Southern Belgium is normally empty of traffic so the trick on these is to keep awake with the odd dead village (they shot the horse) along the way to pop into and some of them can be pretty.

Last edited by bilboburgler; Jul 15th, 2020 at 01:35 AM.
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