Left hand drive vs Right hand drive – which is better for Europe road trips?

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So, you want to travel Europe on a road trip. You’re planning to buy a motorhome, camper or car… but should you buy left-hand drive (LHD) or right-hand drive (RHD)?

Which is better?

Also, do you know why some countries drive on the left and others drive on the right? It's kinda neat and goes back to the days of knights and swords…


Left hand drive vs Right hand drive – which is better for Europe road trips?

Obviously, in the UK, we drive on the left and have our steering wheels on the right, but if you’re planning to spend most of your time in Europe, which is better?

If you’re planning on spending ALL your time touring Europe in a motorhome, it might make more sense to get a vehicle with the steering wheel on the left hand side. This is because:

  • It’s easier to see around vehicles you want to overtake,
  • It’s easier to see if the road is clear at junctions
  • It’s easier to pay at tolls or carparks where the booth is on the left-hand side.

HOWEVER, left-hand drive vehicles can be:

  • More expensive
  • Harder to sell in the UK
  • There can be differences between right hand drive and left hand drive motorhomes- especially if they were made for Europe (don't have ovens or have European pin sockets)
  • You won't have as much choice if you're looking in the UK

So, if you’re shopping for a left hand drive motorhome or campervan, make sure you take your time and check out everything.

BUYING A MOTORHOME or CAMPER? Here are 11 things to check before you buy! 

 


Why do some countries drive on the left?

Left-hand driving evolved in medieval times. It was the ‘first' side of the road everyone travelled on. Most knights were right-handed, they preferred travelling at the left side of the road so they can easily draw their sword and fight their opponent using their dominant hand on the right. (It's unclear what left-handed Knights used to do…!)

It was also easier to mount a horse on the left side (where the sword scabbard was), so they put the horse out of the traffic on the left-hand side of the road so they could mount out of traffic.

However, in France and the US they started using huge wagons to haul goods- and the driver sat at the back on the left, keeping his right arm free to whip his team. These drivers wanted to pass left to left, in order to see if they were missing each other, so they kept to the right… and thus the split was born.

As Napoleon set out to conquer Europe, they imposed travelling on the right in all the countries they conquered- and the states which resisted him stayed on the left!

There are now more countries in the world which drive on the right-hand side of the road, rather than the left (161 vs 75 apparently) Most of the countries which drive on the left are old British colonies.


Countries with right-hand drive cars in Europe (Those who drive on the left)

Most countries in Europe drive on the RIGHT. In fact ALL of them apart from:

  • United Kingdon
  • Channel Islands (Jersey & Guernsey)
  • Isle of Man
  • Ireland
  • Cyprus
  • Malta

 


Which is better- LHD or RHD if you're in UK AND Europe?

If you’re planning to do a bit of time in Europe, but you’re mainly going to be based in the UK, I’d recommend a right hand drive vehicle, but either will work.

Don’t forget, you need to think about things like which way the headlights point- especially if it’s an import.

While we’re talking about imports, I’ve heard rumours that once we leave the EU, importing a vehicle is going to start costing a LOT more money than it currently does, so you might want to think about getting it imported before the transition period ends.

Anyway, we’ve always had RHD motorhomes in Europe and never had any problems. It helps when there are two of you in the vehicle, so you have help at tolls or trying to overtake.


Left hand door or right hand door- which is better in Europe?

You also need to think about the layout of the motorhome- which side is the main door on? Will it be on the pavement or into the road?

We’ve had both, and it’s definitely easier with a door on the pavement side, for obvious reasons.

HOWEVER, in our opinion, there are more important things to think about than whether it’s LHD or RHD- focus more on getting a sound vehicle and engine, with the chassis and layout you want.

If that happens to be a LHD, great, but if it’s a RHD, no problem. You can make it work for you.


Can you change a right hand drive vehicle to left hand drive?

You CAN convert a vehicle from RHD to LHD, but you need to make sure it is done properly and then you need to resubmit it to the DVLA. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing it may affect insurance prices as it’s a modified vehicle.


So, left hand drive or right hand drive- which is better?

There isn't a clear cut answer. All 3 of our motorhome have been right hand drive- purely because that's what we found that had a layout we liked. 

We've looked at several left hand drive motorhomes or campers, but haven't bought them due to the layout & condition, not because it was left-hand drive.

I really don't think it matters too much- so get whichever one fits the rest of your requirements the best.

 

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