European road trips cost less this year
UK tourists driving in Europe will pay less at the pump this year in almost every motoring holiday destination – but not because fuel prices have fallen. 2012 pump prices have risen across Europe but Post Office Travel Money’s Motoring on the Continent report reveals that holiday motorists will pay up to 8.6% less for unleaded petrol and 10.4% less for diesel fuel because of sterling’s strength against European currencies.
The cheapest fuel will be found in Andorra, included in the annual Post Office survey for the first time. Unleaded petrol costs just £1.13 a litre – a third less than in Norway, the most expensive place to drive, according to the survey. And at £1.03 for a litre of diesel, Andorra comes closest to the £1 litre. This is 10.4% lower than in 2011 and 27% cheaper than the UK price (£1.41).
Luxembourgand Spain join Andorra in offering the lowest-priced fuel among 18 countries surveyed. At £1.21 a litre in both countries, filling up the car with unleaded petrol for a 1,000 mile journey costs over £10 less than a year ago (Luxembourg: £182.48 against £193.47/Spain: £183.82 compared with £196.68).
There is not such good news for holiday motorists planning trips to Italy. Last year it was one of the cheaper places to drive but soaring pump prices have now made the country second only to Norway for expensive motoring. Drivers can expect to pay 12p more a litre for diesel (£1.47), which means that 1,000 miles will cost £222.44 - £17.64 more than a year ago. Unleaded petrol has also risen by 9p a litre.
Of the holidaymakers surveyed for Motoring on the Continent who had driven abroad, three-in-five had done so in France and over a quarter in Belgium. While these are the two countries where most holiday motorists will cross from the UK to Europe, they remain among the most expensive places to fill up – even though unleaded petrol prices fell more (8.6%) in Belgium than in any other country surveyed.
At £1.49 for a litre of unleaded petrol in France and £1.48 in Belgium, the report concludes that it will pay motorists to fill up in the UK before leaving for the Continent as unleaded fuel is 13-14p a litre cheaper on this side of the Channel. However, the opposite is the case for motorists with diesel cars, since the cost of diesel in the UK is 6p more expensive than France and 12p more than in Belgium.
Looking at fuel costs over a longer five year period provides cold comfort for holiday motorists. Although pump prices are lower than a year ago, as a result of the pound’s current strength, the cost of motoring has mushroomed by between 47% and 84% since 2007, when Post Office Travel Money conducted its first survey.
When comparing unleaded petrol prices in local currency, the UK has seen the biggest price rise of 39.2% from 97p in 2007 to £1.35 now. By comparison, the increases in Europe ranged from 5.7% (Switzerland) to 31.6%(Italy). However, when local prices are converted to the sterling equivalent, the lower value of the UK pound than in 2007 means motorists will be paying as much as 84% more in Switzerland and 63.5% in Italy.
Despite this, UK holidaymakers are undeterred. Post Office research revealed that just 8% of people have been put off driving in Europe by high fuel prices, while only 12% said that they would not consider travelling abroad by car.
Andrew Brown, Post Office Head of Travel Money, said: “Our research shows that UK holidaymakers are not deterred by the high fuel prices they will find when driving in some countries this summer. However, it also revealed that some advance route planning with petrol prices in mind could help them cut costs.
“A good tip is to fill up before leaving the UK if travelling to France or Belgium in a petrol car, divert into Luxembourg if travelling south through eastern France or detour into Andorra en route to Spain. If you are driving a diesel car, fill up as soon as you arrive on the Continent as it is much cheaper in Europe than in the UK.”
Euros are available over the counter at over 8,500 Post Office branches while currencies for the other countries featured in the Motoring on the Continent report are among 30 available on demand at 1,600 larger branches. Over 70 currencies are available for pre-order at all 11,500 Post Office branches or online using the ‘Click & Collect’ service at postoffice.co.uk for next day branch or home delivery.