What to take on a road trip

With Eurotunnel, there are no limits to the amount of luggage you can take, and no extra fees. As long as it fits in – or on – your car, you can pack as much as you like! Read our top tips for the perfect road trip packing list, whether you’re going away for one week or two months…

You’ve planned an epic adventure to drive across Europe by car, but have you decided what fun road trip essentials you need for your trip? Driving from the UK to France via Eurotunnel Le Shuttle means no strict luggage restrictions, so from sandwiches to surf boards, anything goes. We’ve come up with a definitive list of things to bring on a long car ride, including some classic must-haves, as well as ideas that might inspire you to get off the beaten track.

A couple looks at a paper road map whilst sitting in the front seats of a car.
Pack a paper map in case your satnav fails – they’re great for seeing how far you’ve travelled too.

First thing’s first

When planning a driving holiday in a different country, road safety and preparation are just as important as planning your comedy selfie at the Eiffel Tower or your outfit for a leisurely cruise along the canals of Bruges. Plan a basic route in advance and familiarise yourself with the rules and requirements of every country you may pass through. For example, in France, you’re required to travel with a breathalyser as well as a high-visibility vest and warning triangle in case of breakdowns. Check out our full post on driving in France for more advice.

In Italy, headlamp beam deflectors are among the requirements and drivers must be 18 years old or over, a rule that also applies in Belgium. Rules can be different everywhere you go, so a bit of research in advance could save you a lot of hassle or a financial penalty.

No to baggage fees and yes to fun!

Eurotunnel Le Shuttle has no luggage fees or size restrictions, so you can put what you want on your road trip packing list. Seventeen pairs of heels or one giant kayak? The choice is yours.

If you don’t have a specific destination in mind for your road trip, you are free to explore the best of what Europe has to offer, driving any way the wind takes you. The possibilities are endless.

Pack your hiking boots for a chance to stretch your legs and stand amid the awesome beauty of the Gorges du Verdon in the South of France. If your car has a cycle rack, bring your bikes so you can swap four wheels for two.

The Loire Valley is one of the most beautiful places to cycle in France and La Loire à Vélo bike trail is a wonderful way to see the region’s treasures. If you’d rather take in some fresh air on the slopes, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle lets you pack sports equipment such as skis and snowboards with no extra fee, so heading up to snow-capped resorts such as Val Thorens by car will save you even more money. Book a ticket with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle early to secure the best fare.

Aerial view of the Verdon Gorge river canyon in the south of France
The mighty Gorges du Verdon in Provence is dubbed the ‘Grand Canyon of Europe’

How about a spot of camping?

Even if you have cosy B&Bs or resort-style lodgings in mind, it might be worth putting your tent on your road trip packing list, just in case. France has some of the most delightful campsites in the world. Choose from thatched cabins in the Côte d'Azur and glamping in Brittany, to the equipped Yelloh Village sites, which are popular with families. If your trip takes you off the beaten track, grab the opportunity to pitch up under the stars.

What food to bring on a road trip

When planning what things to bring on a long car ride, don’t forget about feeding yourself and your passengers and pets. Travelling through Eurotunnel Le Shuttle means no restrictions on what food and drink items you can pack, so load up a cooler with plenty of water and fruit.

Dry snacks like nuts and cereal bars will keep you going between rest stops and there’s no harm in stockpiling delicious French pastries. A picnic blanket and hamper are a nice touch – romantic France was made for indulgent feasting in lavender fields. On the way home, you can use the cooler to transport your bargain wine purchases.

Young mother and little boy sit on a mountain slope in Provence, France.
Pop on your walking boots, pack some snacks and set out on a hike in picture-perfect Provence.

Get the local knowledge

The Internet is an invaluable resource when researching how to plan a road trip in Europe but the real wisdom comes from local knowledge. Don’t be afraid to talk to the locals and ask for tips or directions. The lady who just served you in a café might know the perfect beach, just minutes away. The doorman in your hotel could live in the village, and be the key to finding its best coffee, cheese or gelato. Sharing your travels with other holidaymakers can also point you in the direction of memorable restaurants, picnic spots, swimming holes and lesser-known attractions.

Satnav or old-school maps?

We suggest putting both a digital GPS and a paper map on your road trip essentials list. A digital GPS can be both a time- and lifesaver on a long road trip. As well as predicting route and journey times, nearby fuel and food stops and speed restrictions, a clear GPS location will help emergency services or roadside assistance locate you in the event of an emergency. It’s still wise to keep a paper map in the glove box in case your GPS malfunctions or loses signal.

A cycle trail alongside the river and a castle in the Loire Valley in France.
Freewheel your way ‘en vélo’ through the scenic Loire Valley

Practical road trip packing tips

Holidays are a happy time but with so much potential for adventure, always carry a basic first aid kit and enough water for everyone in the car. Another practical item topping the list of things to bring on a long car ride is hand sanitiser. It’s not glamorous, but you’ll be thankful if you get caught short between rest stops, where soap may not be provided either.

Finally, bring spare car keys and keep them away from the main set. You may never have misplaced your keys before, but in the middle of the European countryside is not the place you want to start.

Book a ticket with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle early to secure the best fare.