7 Tips for Driving Abroad: Behind-The-Wheel in a Foreign Country

Visiting a new country is always an exhilarating experience, and driving through it could allow you to see beautiful landscapes and small towns that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. If this is your first time going behind-the-wheel in a foreign country, these 7 tips for driving abroad will help make your international experience more enjoyable.

1. Documents (International Driver’s Permit)

Before leaving, be sure to check that all your documents are up-to-date. Not only will you need to ensure your passport has not expired but also your driver’s license.

Additionally, and especially if you’re planning on driving in Europe, you will most likely need to obtain an International Driver’s Permit. The easiest way to get one is by visiting your local DMV and filling out the required information.

2. Rent an Automatic Car

In the United States, most people are used to driving automatic vehicles. This is not the case in other parts of the world, where manual cars outnumber automatic ones. However, the rental company you choose to go with should have automatic cars available.

Even at a higher rate, pick the automatic car, especially if you plan on driving in a country that drives on the opposite side of yours. Remember that you’ll be behind-the-wheel in a country you don’t know, with different rules and regulations. You wouldn't want to add the additional stress of having to learn how to change gears.

3. Become Familiar with the Driving Laws of the Country

In relation to the previous tip, be sure to read about the country’s driving laws and regulations before you get on the road. Every country has slightly different regulations, but as an American driving in Europe you should be aware of the following:

  • It is not allowed to turn right on a red light. Wait until it has changed to green.
  • Most European countries monitor traffic through cameras that check car speeds. They will take photos of your vehicle if going above the speed limit and send the ticket by mail. Always be aware of the speed limit in each area.
  • The legal blood-alcohol limit is lower in Europe and fines could be really steep if you are pulled over. Needless to say, do not drink and drive.

4. Plan Ahead

Once you become familiar with the most common laws and regulations, plan for your road trip.

As your first time behind-the-wheel in a foreign country, there are probably a myriad of questions going through your mind: Will you take the toll roads or highways?

Is there any construction along the way? What’s the weather forecast? How long will it take you to reach your destination? Are there any gas stations along the way?

Take some time to plan your trips and take all these tips for driving abroad into consideration. Answer these questions and don’t hesitate to ask a local for directions as well as advice when needed.

5. Don’t Rush!

You’re on vacation. Why the hurry? Enjoy the scenery; fall in love with the area’s small towns. As the quote states: it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.

Take these wise words by Ralph Waldo Emerson and savor in every minute you spend in your destination. Take your time to visit each place, explore the back roads, and enjoy every second of this adventure.

6. Keep a Kit of Essentials in the Car

In a previous article, we shared the essentials you should take with you while on a road trip in the US. These pieces of advice can also be applied when driving overseas.

Before you get on the road, take a survival kit with you. Be sure your rented vehicle is equipped with a spare tire, reflective vests, and hazard triangles.

7. Get Proper Insurance

The last of these 7 tips for driving abroad is to always ensure you have the right insurance with you. If you’re not sure about the type of insurance you would need to drive in another country, reach out to one of our friendly agents at 1-800-INFINTIY and they will help make sure you are properly covered. 

Click Here to skip the agent phone call and get yourself a free auto insurance quote online today!

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