Stories > My nine most important advice for an excellent road trip in Europe
My nine most important advice for an excellent road trip in Europe

My nine most important advice for an excellent road trip in Europe

Published 2021-02-18 by Peter Ternström

Every summer, I am amazed at how fun it is to make a real road trip in Europe. Discovering new cities and countries with your own car. Amazed by all the beauty and dramatic nature of the continent. To be impulsive and delighted by all the exciting things that happen. To make new friends. Some become friends for life. Others are forgotten.

Europe is incredibly rich in history, extremely great roads, fantastic hotels, restaurants and places to visit. A real road trip at some point in life is a must. If you haven't done so yet, you have an amazing experience to look forward to. Here are my nine most important advice for a fantastic vacation with a supercar.

1. Your supercar should be used every day

There are far too many examples of Ferrari and Lamborghini owners who leave their car in the garage most of the time. I was the same. I was afraid to use my first Ferrari. The year was 2001. Two decades ago.

What if it got a stone chip on the perfect red paint? What if I would get a mechanical problem? What if I put too many kilometres on the clock?

I devoted myself to such total lunacy for six months until I met Rolf. On an early morning drive outside the town of Ljungby in the south of Sweden. Rolf was an older gentleman with grey hair. He had far more money than I did. He was refuelling his brand new Ferrari 360 Modena. Next to it, I refuelled my Ferrari F355 GTB. We struck up a conversation at the petrol station.

He told me: “When I was 24 years old, that is, as old as you are, I inherited a lot of money from my grandparents. A fortune. What I really wanted to do was to buy a nice car. Drive it all the time. I've always loved driving. But I was persuaded not to spend it. By jealous friends. By lawyers without imagination. By an overprotective mother. Today I am over 60 years old. And I just realised a dream I had for almost 40 years, buying this Ferrari 360 Modena. I wish I did like you. Trusted my instinct, and immediately bought a great car and had fun while I was young."

Rolf was a nice old man. His words made an everlasting impression on me. Because I was about to make the same mistake as he was. To not live life to the fullest all the time. To have the opportunity to live the dream but to regret it at the finish line. I was about to miss my chance to live fully with my Ferrari while I was young.

After the meeting with Rolf I was completely changed. Miles on the meter were no longer an indicator of depreciation. Instead, they became an indication of how much fun I had. I used the red Ferrari every day. Even on Christmas Eve. In the snow, in Stockholm, Sweden. In a big city almost empty of people or traffic, I drifted the Ferrari around the roundabouts in the middle of the town. Then, I arrived at my parents' house for Christmas dinner.

The whole city block was in shock as I came sliding in my howling supercar in the snow on the street and parked at my parents' door with winter tires. I've never had so much fun in my life.

Problems with stone chips were solved with a respray of the front and wheel arches in the spring. For almost nothing, the cost was much lower than anticipated. Was I really going to give up so much fun for nothing? I had been a millisecond from committing a gigantic mistake in my life. And, like Rolf in Ljungby, I would have regretted it bitterly many years later.

Don't make the same mistake as Rolf. The same mistake I was really close to making. Your exotic car should be used as much as possible, even if it's raining or snowing. Most importantly, a road trip in your supercar is exactly what you need.

Remove the cover from the car. Pack your bag. Turn on the ignition and listen to the beautiful engine noise. Then head south, towards the fun roads and the warm breeze in the south of Europe. Enjoy every second. Soon you are old. Soon it's too late.

2. Don't plan too much

Planning is something you do when you work. When you are on vacation, you should plan as little as possible. You have a lot of wonderful tips for hotels, roads and restaurants on this website and in my book, Gran Turismo - The Supercar Owner's Guide to Italy. Use these as a general direction of travel or as waypoints on your road trip. Nothing more.

Never enter more than today's route in your navigation system. Accept deviations from the plan. Being impulsive is a luxury you can afford on holiday.

Chance has gotten an unnecessarily bad reputation. Because it is chance and coincidence that will offer the best and most fun experiences on your trip. The sooner you accept that you have no control over your life, the sooner you will be happy. Dare to be impulsive. Does the road to the right look exciting? Then immediately turn right and see what happens.

I have to thank coincidence for my best plate of food ever. I happened to drive past Belgrade in Serbia and stopped at the most modest tavern you can imagine. I was going to ask for directions. At the same time, I noticed that I was quite hungry. I took a seat at a plastic table. After ordering food (a pljeskavica), I got a glass of mineral water and a plate of salad.

I could never have imagined the significance of this salad. That it would be the best salad, I've ever tasted in my entire life. It didn't look special at all. Sliced tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and some lettuce leaves. Nothing more. When I put the first piece of tomato in my mouth, I opened my eyes with surprise. It tasted divine. I had never had a tomato like this before. I asked the staff for another plate. And if Jesus himself worked in the kitchen. The waitress laughed and pointed to a hill.

"Do you see the hill there? That's where we get the tomatoes. Over the mountain, on the other side of the valley, we collect the cucumber. We grow the salad ourselves in the garden."

While we live in so-called developed countries, supermarkets and globalisation have deprived us of the taste of vegetables. I thank chance and coincidence for this insight. If you plan as little as you can on your road trip, you may also encounter a similar epiphany along the way.

3. Don't book too much in advance

Booking things in advance inhibits impulses along the way. Just as you should avoid planning your holiday to the smallest detail, you should also avoid booking too much in advance. Start with a couple of things at the beginning of your road trip you actually book. After the start, you leave plenty of room to be impulsive and decide on the fly.

Who knows what you want to do when you're on your road trip? Who really knows what you want to do tomorrow? In half an hour? In five minutes? No. Treat yourself to the freedom of being able to say "oh wow, how nice" and stay for the night. Don't make a too perfect plan. Only plan the first two steps on your tour.

With the same logic, I would also like to urge you to choose smaller hotels with far fewer stars than you are used to. And above all – stay overnight in the countryside, not in the middle of big cities.

Once, I needed to pee so bad that I had to stop immediately. I stopped at a small boarding house in Slovenia. I went straight into the bathroom. After answering the call of nature, it turned out that Slovenia's finest terrace was on the other side of the house.

The view completely took my breath away. And this evening they would have a barbecue. I stayed for the night and had a fantastic evening with the locals. The guesthouse was the village centre, and I ended up in the middle of the batter.

Few spoke English, but If I spoke slowly in Polish, they would actually understand what I said. Knowing a Slavic language is great. If you know one, then you can understand pretty much all the other. Polish is similar to Slovenian, although Polish has many more vowels. After a few beers, all Slavs understand each other perfectly.

Would this have happened if I had stayed overnight at the Four Seasons in Zagreb? Probably not. I would have spent the evening in a hotel bar with a bunch of tourists. Forget the terrace. Forget the grilled lamb. Forget Svetlana. Svetlana – I want to meet her again sometime. I have tried several times to find her boarding house again. Without result. Even with the help of the dice. The dice? You bet. Because here comes the best advice ever.

4. The dice method for hardcore fans of random action

After learning to love chance and coincidence, you can move on to a real hardcore method. The dice method. It is so brutal that you might want to wait with it for a few road trips. It is for professionals. But, it can offer so many wonderful surprises that you should probably test it at least once this year.

You grab a dice. Open the map. Draw a small circle around the place you are at and mark roads around the place with 1, 2, 3 etc. Then you roll the dice. At the next crossroads, you do the same thing. After a few dice rolls, you have today's route finished.

This is Incredibly fun. And when you get tired of just letting the dice decide the route, you start letting it decide what to eat. Or if you should stay at that castle hotel, you found along the road. Spend a day with the dice, and you will be amazed at the number of surprises it offers.

The dice is addictive. After a few days, the dice will become completely central to your existence. I have had it explained to me by a psychiatrist. (Thursdays 15:00-16:00) It's about responsibility. Namely, it is the dice that bears all the responsibility for your actions. Because it's the dice that decides. You just carry out the dices' orders. Soon, you will let the dice decide more and more on your holiday.

Like "if we roll a three or higher, we stop at the next beach" and "if we roll a one, then we drive our convertible car naked for the rest of the day".

In a few days, the stakes will increase. Soon you will be using the dice for more important decisions. "If the next church is on the right and we roll a three, then we get married", or why not "If the next bank is on the left and we roll a six, then we try to rob it with a super soaker"?

The more you relax and let the dice decide, the more eventful the holiday. Your colleagues will be envious back in the office at home when you explain how great your vacation was. Your grandchildren will think you are lying when you tell them about your adventures.

5. You do not need fourteen pairs of shoes

How many pairs of shoes do you need? The answer is two. Yes, you only need two pairs of shoes on your entire vacation. Period. No matter how long you should be away – all luggage can fit in a weekend bag—all your clothes and necessities. Sometimes I am away for months at a time but do not pack more than if I should be away for a few days.

Here's what you need:

4 x polo shirts/t-shirts
1 x shorts
2 x pants
2 x shirts
4 x underwear and pairs of socks
1 x jacket/blazer
1 x swim trunks
2 x pairs of shoes
1 x towel
1 x bottle of water

This is actually all you need. Many hotels have laundry service. Rather wash often than to bring half your wardrobe. Even if you drive a Lamborghini, you can wash your dirty underwear in a sink. And hang on the dryer on the balcony. Furthermore, you can buy clothes abroad as well. If you are missing something, then it is easy to buy it along the way.

The most important thing is that you travel light. Don't spend too much time searching through your luggage for a pair of clean socks. Don't worry because you forgot something at the hotel. Don't worry about a lot of crap. Things you will never use. My rule is rather to bring too little rather than bring too much. Supplement if necessary.

Don't forget the water. One summer, I got stuck in traffic outside Budapest. It was a scorching hot day in the middle of July. Thousands of cars stood completely still on the highway. I suspect an accident had happened. No one was going anywhere. After a few hours in the sun, I became thirsty. Incredibly thirsty. So thirsty that I got a headache. It was difficult to concentrate. I started to panic. I had to humiliate myself by getting out of the car and knocking on car windows asking for water.

A nice Hungarian family gave me half a bottle of water. The water was lukewarm. But it didn't matter. Nothing has ever tasted so good. Since that day, I always have a bottle of water with me in the car. Since that day, I have understood the true value of water. That there is no more valuable resource on earth. Therefore always have one or two bottles of water in the boot of the car—emergency water. Can be a true lifesaver, but you might not know of this yet.

6. Don't take too many pictures

Do you think anyone cares about your holiday pictures? Let me break it to you – no one really does. And don't think that pictures will ever help you relive your holiday. It's actually the opposite. The more pictures you take, the less you participate in the experience itself. Because you are very busy with photography, you are never really present in the now. You are mentally disconnected behind a camera lens, trying to take that perfect picture for your next Instagram post.

Forget the camera and shift your focus to the experience itself. Do not have such anxiety over the fleeting nature of the moment you do everything to catch it. It's doomed to fail. Relax and enjoy the moment instead. Join in the Now. Shoot pictures with moderation. Should you attend an important event – hire a professional photographer.

7. Trust the road signs – not your navigation system

The navigation system in your car is absolutely amazing. But it cannot be trusted blindly. Do not disconnect your brain. There are a lot of road works, and there might be accidents along the way. Never stop paying attention to what it says on the roadsigns. If you get conflicting suggestions, follow the signs. Not your GPS instructions.

8. Talk to all the strangers you meet

The best thing about living in the United States was taking the subway to work. Entering a subway car bursting with small talk. And you were expected to participate actively. Everyone said hello, and everyone was talking to each other. About the weather. About how worthless the president was. About the latest episode of Seinfeld. About everything. I always looked forward to the morning commute.

Three years later I was at home in Sweden. And got on the subway. Out of pure instinct, I began to chat with the commuter next to me. It became a monologue. And the rest of the packed metro car stared at me in horror. Then I understood my mistake. In Stockholm public transport, you keep your mouth shut. Avoid eye contact. Read a magazine, or stare at your phone.

You must change this behaviour as soon as you leave your home country. Because you must do small talk with strangers. I hereby challenge you. I want you to start by saying "good morning" to everyone you see before 12 o'clock. When you have passed this simple test, you move on to the next step. Now you should comment on things. Tell everyone you think it's hot today. Or cold.

Pretty soon, you will notice that this was not at all difficult. And you have a significant advantage over everyone else who dares not say a thing to someone they do not know. Make it a habit to start discussions with everyone you see around you. Do not give up if you fail in the beginning. Let go of your pride and try again with the next person you see. Don't worry if you have the whole subway car staring at you in Stuttgart. After a while, you will be able to talk about anything with strangers. And you will be able to do it completely relaxed. As if it was the most natural thing in the world.

This behaviour can be pushed really far. Believe me. And the more confident you behave, the greater opportunities open up. The more you speak, the more chance of success.

Let me give you an example. Once, in a clothing store in Warsaw, I walked out of a changing room with a pair of new pants on. The price tag dangling on my butt. I walked straight up to a beautiful young lady and asked: "Do you think my ass looks big in these?"

The reaction was amazing. First, surprise. Awkward silence. Then we both burst into laughter. After a little small talk, I collected her phone number. We met later that evening.

The success was not because my bum looked amazing in jeans. I have a completely normal bum. Nothing special. The success was because I gave in to an impulse and accepted a gigantic social risk.

I pretended to be much more confident than any other person she had met in her entire life. Self-confidence, especially at this absurd level, is enormously more attractive than being good-looking.

The power of being able to talk to strangers is great. Yoda must have told Luke Skywalker about this. At one point when George Lucas didn't have the camera on. Or this scene was cut out from Star Wars. Maybe it was so powerful that Mr Lucas wanted to keep the secret to himself. It is a Jedi power that you must learn immediately.

Talk to strangers as often as you can. Talk to everyone you meet on your road trip. Talk about the weather. Talk about cars. Talk about anything that pops into your mind. With everyone you see. After a little practice, you will be as confident as Bruce Springsteen on stage in a concert. The more strangers you talk to, the more fun you will have. Strangers are equally curious about you as you are about them. Everyone will wonder who you are and what rock band you play in. Because only rock stars have the confidence you now possess.

You don't have to go as far as stepping out of changing rooms and asking unknown girls how your new jeans fit. But the more people you talk to, the more chance you get to experience unique things on your holiday. Experiences that others can only dream of.

The world may consist of seven billion strangers. But in reality, you are never alone. As soon as you dare to talk to everyone you meet, the world will consist of seven billion friends. This is an important change of mindset that you need to cultivate.

9. The holy grail of road trips - travelling alone

The ultimate step in travelling is going alone. Without co-driver. Travelling alone is the holy grail of road trips that is equally scary as rewarding.

After learning to talk to strangers and understand the power that you have, you will learn to appreciate to travel by yourself. How wonderful it really is to not have a companion in your mission to explore the world. It might seem sad, but it is really the opposite. While being alone, you will greatly increase your skills and motivation to interact with the world around you. You will make friends like crazy.

It is like night and day. As soon as you dare to go alone, an entire world of new friends and experiences open. This might be the most important advice I have on this blog post. Travelling alone is an amazing experience. It takes some courage to do it the first time, but you will gain an astonishing level of self-confidence after just a few days. You will be surprised how fascinating your new self is.

Good luck! Enjoy your tour. Need help with something? You have my e-mail address below.

Peter Ternström
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