European Driving Kits
Driving in Europe throws up all sorts of regulations about what you need to carry in your car, but buying an all-in-one kit should take some of the stress out of planning your journey James Scoltock
AA European driving kit
A well-known name at a competitive price, so you would think this European driving kit would include everything that you needed for driving abroad. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
While its quality is unmatched, from the smart-looking canvas bag to store everything in to the European driver’s handbook, it’s missing one key item that an awful lot of people are going to need – a breathalyser.
French law dictates that you need a working breathalyser in the car, and as France is one of the first countries you come to when you leave the UK, it seems odd not to include one.
Other than that the contents, as mentioned, are good quality, and the bag includes everything you could reasonably expect: headlamp beam converters, a hazard warning triangle, GB stickers, a reflective emergency jacket, a first aid kit, a 10-piece universal bulb kit, an AA European driver’s handbook, and AA M20 Kent road map.
The European driver’s handbook is a good addition because it provides all the vital information you’ll need for driving in European countries, such as speed limits, motorway regulations, documents needed, distance charts, mountain pass information, opening hours for banks, post offices and embassies, key road signs, and port plans.
However, it’s the M20 and Kent road map that seems the least logical, especially when so many people will already have a mapbook or satnav system in their car. So why include it when you could put a breathalyser in its place and make the kit a lot more worthwhile?
Family Motoring and Leisure European driving kit
This is possibly the least well-known brand of those on test, but it’s still a similar price to the better known names. Nevertheless, it’s what’s inside that counts and the Family Motoring and Leisure European driving kit certainly ticks all the right boxes.
Included in the, admittedly fairly cheap-feeling, black storage bag is a hazard warning triangle, a reflective emergency jacket, GB plate stickers, a first aid kit, a compact, universal bulb kit, two headlamp beam converters and a twin pack of Alcoproof breathalysers, (you’ll need to keep an eye on these and your travel times because they do have an expiry date).
The bulb kit contains 10 replacements, one each of H7, H4, H1, 501, 207, 382, 380, 10AMP blade fuse, 15AMP blade fuse and a 20AMP blade fuse, so you should never be caught out.
Basically, it has everything you need for a trip around Europe, even if the storage doesn’t feel very premium.
In fact, if you aren’t fazed about aesthetics then there is little to criticise in this kit. It may not be as polished as others on the market but more importantly it includes everything you need while traveling outside the UK.
You can simply throw it in the back of your car and forget about it (bar those breathalyser dates), knowing that it all came at a reasonable price.
RAC Driving in France kit
The bright orange carry bag is a huge giveaway to what company has put together this kit. Unlike the others on test it’s advertised as a kit designed specifically for France, but with everything that’s included you’ll be able to drive around most of Europe, whether it’s in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain or Switzerland without any worries.
Inside the durable bag is a warning triangle, GB numberplate stickers, headlamp beam converters, an adult high-visibility vest, a first aid kit, a foil blanket, an NF-approved breathalyser twin pack, a universal spare bulb set and a European driving guidance leaflet.
And it’s the guidance leaflet and blanket that sets this kit apart from the competition because they could both prove invaluable; the blanket in particular isn’t offered by anyone else.
There is a small catch with this kit though, because although it costs a seemingly comparable £24.99, that doesn’t include delivery, which adds a further £3.30, taking the total up to £28.29. This pushes it closer in price to kits that also include fire extinguishers. At which point it doesn’t seem as good a deal as it initially did.
There is a more basic RAC European Driving kit that costs £20.99 if price is an issue, but this doesn’t include any breathalysers or a spare bulb set, so is useless for France, which means anyone taking a ferry or the train to Calais is going to be out of luck.
Sometimes it’s difficult to look passed the big-name brands when you’re shopping; they can appear to offer better quality, if only psychologically, than more cost-effective alternatives. But in this test it’s the lesser-known name that comes out on top.
The Family Motoring and Leisure European driving kit may not come in the shiniest bag nor offer quite the number of items as those kits from the AA and RAC, but for value for money you shouldn’t ignore it, which is why it’s our recommended kit.
Yes, the AA European Driving kit has a sturdy bag, a useful book and most of the items you need for a trip to the Continent, but it’s missing a truly vital item – a breathalyser.
France is often used as the gateway to other parts of Europe and to drive on its roads you need a driving kit that contains everything, and that includes an approved breathalyser. Yes you can buy them separately, but you shouldn’t have to.
The RAC has put together a very useful selection of items that meet all the needs a driver could have when hitting the road abroad, but it isn’t as good a deal as it first appears once delivery costs are factored in. Which leaves the Family Motoring and Leisure offering.
Everything you need is in the bag, so you can simply throw it in the boot of your car, get behind the wheel and drive to wherever you need to go without worrying about if you have everything. And that’s what most people should be concerned about when buying one of these kits.