Travel by road – Northern Europe Service Station Do’s and Don’ts

German service station buffetThe car is often the best way to travel for a multi city itinerary and for convenience it’s hard to avoid the service stations. Carol Sadler, Registered Nutritionist travelled in June through Britain, across to France and on to Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany providing an insight into what to watch out for on a trip by road.

Fuel is expensive on the motor way. British fuel is the most expensive in Europe, but like Europe, we pay substantially more if we chose the convenience of re-fuelling on the motorway.

Quality is advertised. If the service station sells a good brand of coffee, it will be part of the road signage, similarly if the sign is for a fast food franchise, you know what to expect.

German service station pasta barFood My usual travelling mantra is to bring my own food, homemade sandwiches, raw nuts, fruit and water, but the longer the trip the more likely we are to need locally sourced sustenance. My first choice is for fresh healthy food, but when hunger and stress kick in, a sausage roll on the ferry will have to do.

Experience from this trip was that highway services in the Netherlands, tended to be fast food outlets or a stand up style snackery with savoury pastries as part of the fuel payment shop. Germany tended to have a much better choice of healthy food with salad bars, hot and cold meals and fruit salads. The one I visited in Belgium was basic but made a nice cup of tea and was very friendly.

Toilets In the UK we don’t pay to use the toilets at Motorway Services, except indirectly through the higher prices charged by the retail outlets. ODutch toiletn the Autobahns and Highways of Northern Europe the 50c fee is pretty standard, sometimes with a heavily guarded saucer or more often with a turnstile. Having the right coins available is crucial, outside regular working hours. Watch out for the local charging systems. The Netherlands tends to have the straight forward compulsory payment, as in the photo, but Germany can be more complicated with a voucher system where, after paying 70c to use the toilet, you get a voucher for money off purchases made in the café. Don’t make the mistake of having coffee first!

Dehydration A few hours in the car, whatever the weather, can make us dehydrated. A sports bottle for easy drinking access is essential. Never avoid drinking to cut down the need for toilet stops. Dehydration causes fatigue. Traffic can be heavy and the lack of speed limits in Germany and high speed limits elsewhere, make it essential to stay alert.

Take a Break Highways in Northern Europe have plenty of regular places to stop for a break. In Germany rest areas are particularly well sign posted, so we can plan ahead for our next break. In Holland and Belgium there is little advance notice so you have to watch out. Most stops have few facilities apart from toilets and picnic areas, bringing our own cleaning wipes, drinks and snacks gives us a much greater choice of when and where we can take a break and avoid getting tired.

 ©  Extravitality 2015

Author: Carol Sadler PhD
Carol is a Nutrition Consultant. She counsels in diet and lifestyle change at Surrey Cardiovascular Clinic where clients have been referred by the clinic cardiologists. Prior to this Carol worked in private practice in Dubai for nine years, where she had various media engagements including Emirates Radio 2 Lifestyle Show monthly ‘phone-in’ on nutrition topics; Gulf News Friday Magazine (weekend supplement) monthly nutrition letter answered; City7 TV appearances on Breakfast Television and Lifestyle Show commenting on nutrition topics. Contributions to local magazines, and organizations, eg Rheumatoid Arthritis Group, Grazia Magazine, Living in the Gulf magazine. She continues to write nutrition articles and blogs, recently writing for Reader’s Digest, and HASTE Academy heart health charity and provides talks on diet issues. Carol is a member of The Nutrition Society, a Registered Nutritionist at the Association for Nutrition, Registration No. 912 and a member of SENSE (self employed consultant Nutritionists group for professional development).

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