5 Tips For Driving Abroad

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When you’re driving around in the UK, your experience depends on a number of factors. From the car you drive to the people around you, your safety and enjoyment on the road can vary a lot from day to day.

If you’re jetting off abroad, however, that experience can be even more unusual and unpredictable. Depending on your destination, you might have to deal with driving on the other side of the road, new terrain, different conditions, different driving styles and unique driving laws.

Fortunately, we’ve broken down some of the main things to be aware of to build a list of tips for people thinking about driving abroad.

What do I need to drive in Europe?

A question lots of people ask themselves, but all you’ll actually need to drive abroad in Europe is a valid full UK driver’s license, DVLA driver’s record, International Driving Permit (where necessary), passport and travel insurance documents. A hire car provider should offer everything you need, including insurance documentation.

If you’re taking your own car though, things get a bit more complicated as you’ll need to ensure you carry certain pieces of equipment which varies depending on the country. You’ll also need your insurance certificate. The AA has a PDF of compulsory equipment for popular EU destinations.

Don’t feel intimidated by the other side of the road

Driving on the other side of the road is not as scary as it seems. While you’ll feel very strange getting behind the wheel at the other side of the car at first, you’ll quickly get used to it. Drive on the right, give way to the left on any roundabouts and take things slow as you work it all out. After a while, it may even seem stranger to come back to the UK and drive on the left again.

Be aware of other drivers

One of the most daunting experiences of foreign roads is the tendency of native drivers to get frustrated with tourists and drive dangerously. Defensive driving is a must in other countries, where you’ll need to constantly anticipate their movements and ignore their anger.

Purchase breakdown cover if taking a car

If you’re taking your own car into Europe, buying European breakdown cover can be more than worth it. If you break down without it, you’ll be faced with finding a garage that can repair a right-hand-drive car – as well as being stranded without a reliable contact number. With breakdown cover, you’ve got peace of mind wherever you go.

Be aware of the challenge of certain countries

Depending on where you’re heading, you might face driving challenges unique to that area. Here are some of the places you might need to take extra precautions in:

  • Germany – The Autobahn system in Germany is a road that has stretches of no speed limit driving. You’ll need to be extra vigilant when travelling fast.
  • Spain – It’s illegal to drive in flip-flops, shoes open at the front, high heels or barefoot. Wear full shoes or incur a fine.
  • USA – Those in the US drive on the right side of the road, but they make very little use of roundabouts. Instead, large intersections and lots of lanes of traffic can pose challenges for British drivers. US drivers use imperial measurements too.  
  • Australia – Australian drivers are similar to UK motorists. We both drive on the same side of the road and use the same system of measurement. However, the road network is much less developed and there are large sections of land without petrol stations, water or food.
  • France – French drivers often flash their lights not to let you through, but to remind you that they themselves have right of way. An old driving practice called Priorite a droite is tricky to explain, so read a full guide to the rule here if you’re heading to France. 



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