Traveling to new and distant lands is one of those things that can truly transform a person’s life. It can give you a new insight into the world at large, a more profound sense of who you are, and an appreciation of different aspects of life you’d never previously considered. I experience a bit of culture shock on a lot of instances.
About a year ago, my friend and I traveled to Germany to attend Oktoberfest. We were going to start our journey in Munich and then make our way to Berlin. There are many ways we could have traveled to Berlin, like flying, driving or taking a train. We ultimately decided to fly, and another part of our group wanted to take the train, but not one was more comfortable than the other – and honestly, I think we both messed up. If we ‘d traveled by car our trip would have been more culturally stimulating. Here's an idea everyone should try this summer: What about a European road trip? Not a lot of people think to rent a car and travel the (mostly) cobblestone roads and see the ins and outs of the countryside and city life.
1. Driving between European countries is cheap and easy.
Moving between European countries is extremely easy. 26 of the European countries are currently part of the Schengen Area, meaning that you can cross over from one country unimpeded, and generally without the need for passport checks. However, even for the countries which aren’t part of the Schengen Area, inter-European travel is still far more accessible than you might suspect, and way cheaper too.
Tip: Renting a car in Europe is equivalent to renting a car in the U.S. You can expect the same rates, and you only have to be 21 to rent.
2. European cities are densely packed with history.
While every city in the world has its history and story, European cities are easily some of the most densely packed with history and culture and span different epochs effortlessly. Think about it like this, some of the buildings and architecture still standing is OLDER than the United States as a country. That’s freakin’ wild.
What does this have to do with driving in Europe? Driving between European cities can give you a lot more “bang for your buck” than you could imagine. One day spent in Florence can expose you to an extraordinary number of the artistic wonders of the Renaissance. One day spent in Prague can get you steeped in the history of medieval alchemy, and the local party culture.
3. You don’t have to answer to anybody and can make a schedule all your own.
Itineraries are great, but I often find myself taking longer than usual to explore some places. Not having to stick to a schedule because you have to catch a train or a flight is very freeing. Take a little time looking at the cathedral or go for a stroll in the park. Hop in the car when you’re ready to leave and whiz off to your next destination.
4. You'll get to experience many different cultures in a short period.
Contrary to what some people seem to believe, Europe isn’t just “one big country.” When you cross from one country to another, you are rarely going to feel like nothing’s changed. In just small spans of physical space, language, culture, and architecture can all be radically different. Listen to the locals, some of them even have different dialects based on location.
A few days of driving in Europe can take you from France to Italy, to Germany, to Poland. There may well be no better way of exposing yourself to as many cultures as possible in the shortest amount of time possible than by making a European road trip.
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