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Things to consider before driving abroad

Updated 9 Apr 2015

One of the best ways to experience a new country is to travel by car. Whether it’s the Autobahn or Route 66, having a vehicle allows for the freedom and flexibility to see those sights and visit destinations that are off the beaten path, all while enjoying the journey. The advantages of having a car for travel are numerous, but there are a few things that you may want to check before hitting the open road.

Is it legal?

This should be the first question that you ask yourself before setting out on your journey. While some countries may accept your home nation’s driver’s licence, most will not. However, one way to overcome this obstacle is to get an International Driving Permit, which must be issued in your home nation by an authorised distributor and allows for travel in over 150 different countries when accompanied by your domestic driver’s licence. For countries that don’t recognise the IDP, you should inquire at local embassies regarding the legal status of your current licence and any additional documentation that you may need.

Is it safe?

There are as many different traffic laws as there are countries to travel through, so it’s important to check local regulations before deciding to hit the road. This information is most readily available through embassies and car hire agencies. Also, different cultures have different driving etiquette. This isn’t something so easily ascertained, but awareness and courtesy will help you avoid incident.

Another thing to consider is insurance. No one wants to have their road trip derailed by an accident and the costly fees that come along with it. Most rental agencies will make available some sort of insurance plan, and it’s important that you are covered and that you understand the terms of the coverage. You don’t want to face any surprise fees in the event that you are involved in a collision.

Finally, it’s important to be prepared for emergency situations. Make sure that your car has all of the necessary emergency gear – some countries even require you to have it. Don’t forget your map. You will probably need it. While not an emergency per se, if you do find yourself in a situation where you are stopped by the local authorities it’s important to have all of your documentation for yourself and the vehicle you’re driving to present to them.

Have fun!

The ability to move through a foreign country at your own pace and see all the things that you want to see can be one of the most rewarding travel experiences to be had. The trick is making sure that you’re completely comfortable getting behind the wheel. If you’re one of those people who gets anxious just thinking about the afternoon commute, then this mode of travel is probably not for you. Proper preparation, such as finding a car hire service before arriving, knowing the rules of the road, and being prepared for the unexpected can all help make the experience more enjoyable and less stressful. Remember, this is supposed to be fun!

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