The journey is part of the adventure.
For me, driving to Slovenia it’s absolutely the most enjoyable way to travel and if you have the time, you’ll find it easier than you ever imagined. I’m almost certainly going to write too much here because I’ve made this trip by car perhaps 40 times. But here’s how I do it these days.
If you’re travelling alone, opt for the cross channel ferry and make certain to click the executive lounge option. You’ll make the cost back in free lunch and coffee and can rest before you continue your drive. P&O have the nicest accommodation but DFDS can be a little cheaper. If you’re sharing the driving with another person, the Eurotunnel is insanely fast and convenient.
For years, when driving to Slovenia I would go east through Belgium then turn south at Bruges to travel via Brussels, Köln, Frankfurt and Munich. It saves £35 on French tolls and meant you got onto German autobahns sooner. But as traffic patterns have changed, I now favour heading south from Calais to Reims, Metz, Baden Baden, Stuttgart, Munich and Salzburg. French motorways have extremely light traffic and avoiding larger cities makes for less time stationary on ring roads.
I made my first trip in my father’s 1980 Ford Cortina and it felt a huge undertaking. Today, with a modern air-condition car and a few audio books, it’s now relaxing and comfortable. Leave the UK early, plan a stop somewhere around Strasbourg/Baden Baden (both filled with great hotels and restaurants) and you’ll be in Ljubljana in time for a late lunch at Čajna Hiša the next day.
Here’s few other quick pieces of cross-continent driving advice to help you on the way to Ljubljana.
- If you live in the Midlands or North of England, time journeys to avoid rush hour on the M25 as it’s potentially the most miserable part of the entire 1000 mile trip
- You can easily book hotels on the road using an app if you prefer to keep things flexible, but adding a “hotels with restaurants” filter to the search will usually turn up much nice places, even if you don’t want to eat there
- Avoid queues and buy your Austrian AND Slovenian road toll vignettes in Germany before you get to the border
- Select your European breakdown cover on price and features; it will be outsourced to local tow trucks whomever you choose
- Watch your speed in France or you and the Gendarme will be having a “stand up meeting with no biscuits” at the toll gate
- Drink as much water as you can; most of us aren’t used to being in small, air-conditioned cabins for ten hours
- If you feel tired (and especially if you’re alone) pull over, grab an espresso and try to sleep for a second – you’ll drop off immediately and the caffeine will wake you up after 15 minutes when you’ll be good to go
- Think about each leg of the journey in terms of the hours you will be driving rather than the miles you need to cover – travel is far safer and more relaxing if you forget about average speed
- In stop/start traffic, leave a full car of space between you and the vehicle in front in case you’ve selected the wrong lane or need to avoid something – aim to have sight of the point where their tyres meet the tarmac (this is good advice for everywhere)
- Make up a small bag with to carry your phone, wallet, registration documents and passports, and when you stop for fuel, take the bag out of the car with you
- When you get back into the car at an empty rest stop or filling station, click the door locks before you start messing with sat navs and seats
- On fast autobahns, focus on the closing gaps between people in other lanes and the cars in front of them – lane discipline is generally excellent but if somebody is going to pull out unexpectantly, this is the way to anticipate it