It’s almost time for the summer holidays which means packing a suitcase and getting on the first plane out of an ever-rainy UK.
But, how are you going to get around when you get there? It is very common for people to hire a car when they are abroad. This is probably one of the easiest ways to get from A to B when you are abroad, particularly if you are in a Villa or staying out of town where the public transport is scarce and taxis are expensive.
However, driving a car abroad comes with its challenges and it’s important that you are prepared before you leave.
So in this article, we are going to give you our top 10 tips to driving abroad.
Brush up on the laws for the country you are visiting
Driving laws differ across the world and you don’t want to get in trouble without understanding why you are getting into trouble. Before you leave, brush up on the driving laws for the country you are visiting.
Make sure you find out the average speed limit, what documentation you need to carry in your car and also the child seat laws before you leave. We would avoid drinking even one drink and driving, but it’s also worth looking at their drink-drive laws. While some of the laws might seem silly to us, it’s not worth having to argue why you are wearing flip flops while driving in broken Spanish (you can get fined for driving in flip flops in Spain, and for not wearing a shirt).
Take time to get used to the car you will be driving
Driving abroad can be confusing, especially when pretty much the rest of the world drive on the right, or the wrong, side of the road. This means that the car will be set out differently and you will have to sit on the wrong side, change gears with the wrong hand, and it can all get a bit confusing.
Once you get the car, try driving it around the car park to get used to driving on the wrong side. You can also familiarise yourself with where everything is in the car like the wipers and lights etc. It does get easier, trust us, and by the end of your holiday you’ll forget what it was like to drive on the left!
Request a Sat-Nav
You might have to pay a little bit extra to get a vehicle with a sat-nav but it will be worth it. Getting lost abroad is one of the main concerns for those who are going to be hiring a car. If you get a Sat-Nav then you eliminate this problem. It also eliminates arguments about directions.
Don’t be put off by other motorists
Driving in another country can be an…experience. Locals driving style might be a bit different, possibly more aggressive, than what you are used to back home. Don’t let them get the better of you and stay calm. And don’t respond to any gestures, as tempted as you may be. You can read our top tips for staying calm on the road here.
Keep some loose change
Many roads in other countries are toll roads so it’s always worth having plenty of change should you need to pay the toll. If you don’t have any change straight away, then you can always grab some extra bits from the duty free at the airport. It’s worth mapping your journeys before you leave to see if there are any toll roads and how much those will cost.
Look after your car
Treat your rental car as if it was your car, and then some. You can get fined for damage if you return your rental car in a poorer condition than you received it. Before you hand it back, check the tyres, mirrors and lights to make sure everything is still in working order.
Be on the defensive
I know we said keep your cool when on the road, but that doesn’t mean that you should be completely relaxed when behind the wheel, even if you are on holiday. Be aware of what’s going on at all times and be on the defensive. In some countries it is much easier to get a driving licence than it is in others and you may encounter obstacles abroad that you would never encounter in the UK.
Check that you are insured – and what your insurance covers
You should automatically be covered when you are abroad. However, this is usually only basic third-party insurance. We do recommend that you check with your insurer before you travel. If you don’t have third-party when you are at home, do you want it when you are driving in a foreign country? Third party will cost you more but it will be worth it.
You should also check that your car hire has adequate insurance.
Make sure you have the right documentation
If you are driving abroad then you will need the following;
- A valid full driving licence
- And the paper counterpart if you have a photocard licence
- Your motor insurance certificate
- Details of your travel insurance and emergency contact numbers
- Your passport
- Though if you are travelling without that you won’t get very far
And double check to see if the car hire company need any more documentation. Do this well in advance of you going on holiday, you don’t want to be rushing around at the last minute.
While driving abroad can be challenging at times and needs your full attention, it shouldn’t be a chore. If you have a car when you are on holiday then you are at a distinct advantage. You can see as many sights as you want and don’t have to be dictated by public transport or taxi fares.
So our last tip is to enjoy yourself. Enjoy driving on a road that isn’t the M25 and marvel at the wonderful sights you will see on the way. The best thing about driving abroad is you get to see scenery that you might not see normally, and you might even see some tourist attractions you wouldn’t have done had you not opted for a car.
So those are our top 10 tips for driving abroad. Make sure you know the local laws and customs, make sure you have all the documentation on you that you need to and above all else, enjoy it.