How you can save 2500 Euros in your first road trip in Europe if you are well informed about the basic rules

Hello readers. This blog is aimed to share my genuine experience of working and living in Germany. In this blog post I will share my experience of my first ever road trip that I went in Germany by renting BMW 5 series.

If you are new to this blog my name is Chandrasen, I’m an Indian immigrant living in Germany, I am also the co-founder of Destination Germany.

When we hear the word Europe the first thing that comes to our mind is the opportunity to travel among 26 Schengen countries without needing to have visa.

So far I have got the opportunity to travel 12 countries and I am super grateful for that. This is the list of countries that I have visited so far

  1. Austria
  2. Belgium
  3. The Czech Republic
  4. Denmark
  5. Greece
  6. Hungary
  7. Luxembourg
  8. Portugal
  9. Spain
  10. Switzerland
  11. Croatia (non Schengen)
  12. Bosnia (non Schengen)

The first country that I visited after living in Germany for 5 months is Netherlands. I along with my friends from the university went on a road trip to Amsterdam by renting out a car. In this blog post I would like to share my experience on this road trip. I will share the fun part ****and not so fun part which basically was lessons learnt for me.

I am a huge fan of fast and luxury cars. Being born and brought up in India, for me German cars are a symbol of excellence. Among the friends group of 5 who decided to go for a road trip to Amsterdam I was the only one who was having international drivers permit. This means that I was the only one who was allowed to drive the car when we rent it. As we were renting out for the very first time we decided to rent the best car possible at the time which is in our affordability range. We decided that we rent out BMW 5 series.

It was about 500kms drive from Heidelberg to Amsterdam. We took the route such that we go via. Essen. This is the city where one of our friends were living before he moved to Heidelberg. The plan was to do a short stop in Essen so that my friend can to visit his old apartment to collect some of his left over belongings.

We started our journey from Heidelberg and I was all excited about me driving a BMW for the very first time in my life. Of course, driving left hand drive car was also first time experience in my entire life. I successfully managed to drive through the city and we entered German Autobhan [link] which is basically Germany’s highway. All over the world Germany is the only country which do not have speed limits in their highways [link]. As this was the case I was driving at the speed of around 170 to 2000km per hour for couple of kms. After sometime of driving in the highway I encountered a bit of traffic due to the construction work. It was still a two way lane in each direction but the lanes got narrowed due to the construction work. I was more or less stuck behind a big truck and all the vehicles were maintaining the speed of around 50kms per hour.

After couple of kms the traffic on the left lane got reduced and I started to pull my car from the right lane where I was tailing the huge truck to the left lane so that I can overtake the truck. During this process I somehow lost the estimation of length and width of the car I was driving and managed to touch the right front bumper of the car to the left rear bumper of the truck. At the moment I thought the bumper would have majorly damaged but later on I realised that this touch left a big deep scratch on BMW’s bumper. All of us in car was able to realise that I touched the truck but all of us were also not sure if that was a major damage. Since there was no place to park the car and investigate the damage we just continued to drive and reached Essen city which was about 50-60kms away from the spot where I made this accident.

At the point when I did this accident none of us knew what exactly had to be done when things like this happen. Later after a bit of google research we realised that as soon as something like this happens in Germany we need to call the police on the spot and inform what has happened such that they would give us a report which we can use to claim for the insurance. As we only got to know about this after we reached Essen we called police right away and informed what has happened. We gave them our address and within like 10-15mins they arrived to the spot.

As soon as they arrived they started to take the pictures of the scratched bumper with their DSLR cameras from all the angles like how a model photoshoot is usually made 😅. They also informed that what we did was a mistake because as a rule the police visit needs to happen on the spot of accident and not after 40mins of accident and in a different city. As we were not knowing this information plus this was a very minor accident they were quite ok with it, gave us a warning and finally gave us the documents which needs to be submitted to the car rental company (who then submits to the insurance).

When we returned the car we realised that we took a standard insurance which was basically capped at Eur 2,000. What this means is that if something happens to the car and the repair cost Eur 10,000 then at the max we need to pay only Eur 2000 and the rest will be covered by the insurance. After like two weeks of the car return we received a bill of around Eur 2,000 which had to be paid (and all the 5 of us shared the cost, which I think was super nice of my friends) because the repair cost for such a small scratch on the bumper of BMW 5 series was around Eur 4,000.

After the police visit incident at Essen we continued our journey to Amsterdam. We had booked a hostel in Amsterdam (in this post you can check out my hostel living experience) and we reached the hostel at around 7pm. We took rest for a while and got ready to explore the night life of Amsterdam. I am sure you have heard the saying „what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas“ likewise for Europe it is the same „what happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam“. What I can say is that we had a great time in Amsterdam that night exploring lot of stuffs 😉. On the next day we visited to all the must visit places in Amsterdam [link]. On the day after we had to leave the city and start to travel back to Heidelberg.

We decided to travel via. Belgium so that we could experience one more country in the same trip. We thought of going to Brussels in Belgium spend couple of hours chilling in the city and then continue our journey to Heidelberg.

In the highways of Netherland the top allowed speed is 130 kms/hr and the sign of the board are clear and understandable. In Belgium highways as well the top allowed speed is 130 kms/hr but at the time I was not knowing this information. We left Netherlands and entered Belgium. The thing about travelling between countries is the EU is that it is very hard to notice that you left one country and are entering other country. Only after seeing the traffic board sign we get to know that we have entered another country.

In Belgium the traffic sign to represent the allowed maximum speed on the highway is exactly same traffic sign as Germany. The problem is that in Belgium it means that a you are only allowed to travel at a speed of 130 kms/hr but in Germany the same traffic sign means that there is no speed limit. As I was not aware of this fact at the time, as soon as I saw this traffic sign I started to drive like crazy. I again started to drive somewhere around 180 to 200kms/hr. At one point on the highway there were speed detectors which went on and flashed light on our car like crazy. This is when I realised that the speed I was going in was not the right one and suddenly I slowed the speed of the car down to 100-120kms/hr range.

As soon as this happened my friends started to google and know the speed rules of Belgium highways and realised that the max allowed speed in Belgium highways is as well 130kms/hr. As a result of this mistake after 1 month or so I received a speeding ticket of around Eur 200. All in all the trip was an amazing one with lot of fun and lot of learnings which are unforgettable.

Just to summarise some of the learning from the trip so that when you get the chance to work and live in Germany you do not do the same mistakes that I did

  • Accidents happen accidentally. When you are on a road trip in Europe and end up having an accident (which I really do not hope for) call the police on the spot and explain them what has happened
  • Different countries in Europe has different speed limits in their highways make sure you know them prior to entering the highways. If you are in other country other than Germany and you are not sure just do not drive more than 130kms/hr
  • All the cities in Europe are unique and fantastic. Make sure that whatever happens in those cities stays in those cities [wink]

If you are someone like me who always dreamt of working and living in Germany so that you get the chance to travel in Europe then this is the right time for you to take next big step. To just give you a bit of background, Germany lacks a lot of technically skilled people. To be exact, in the coming years Germany has demand for around 700,000 people with technical skills. In order to fill this gap, in March 2020 it has also liberalised lot of rules and passed an act called Skilled Workers Immigration Act (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz) which makes it easier to get visa easily for broad range of people living in non-EU countries.

We all have one life to live and when we get the opportunity we should definitely take it and put in a little bit extra effort (which can be learning a bit of German language, knowing more about German culture etc.) to explore life changing experiences which can be lived by working and living in a foreign country with completely different culture.

I really do not say that everything in the western countries will be as shiny and amazing as we think while we live in our home countries. Some things will be really difficult (especially in the very beginning) for example getting accustomed to new culture, new language etc. and some things will be very easy and less bothering for example health care, financial support, work culture etc. All in all, life lived in a different country is a very transforming experience. After living for many years if we look backwards, I promise you that the amount of life lessons and experiences that you would gain will be tremendous and unimaginable.

If you are someone who also believes in the same, then we are here to help you to make your dreams come true by providing you the opportunity to explore different job openings at many top German employers. We also support you in visa topics and integration topics.

Go to our website to know more about us. Once you know who we are what we do check out our current job openings here. If you find the job that fits your profile then go ahead and apply for that position.

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