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Tips for driving abroad this summer

Whilst some of the laws of the road and driving considerations will vary, depending on the country or region you’re driving in, or whether you’re driving your own car or a rental, read on to see our tips for getting yourself prepared ahead of time.

Tips when you’re driving a hire car whilst abroad

It’s tempting to jump in your hire car and drive away instantly, as soon as you get the keys, but we’d recommend taking a few minutes to familiarise yourself with the interior, controls and features first. Make sure the sat nav is set to English Language, get the hang of the climate control or air con settings and what side the indicators and lights are on, as this may all be different to what you drive back home, before you set off from the car hire office. Once you’ve clocked the above, along with which side you need to fill up with fuel on and got yourself into a comfortable driving condition, the only things you need to worry about are remembering which side of the road to drive on and where you’re heading; much less stressful!

If you usually drive an automatic at home, it’s probably best to hire an automatic car for your holiday too – it’s one less thing to think about!

If your hire car has a built-in sat nav, make sure it’s set to show the speed limit at all times. This way, you’ll be able to see what you should be doing at a glance and can hopefully avoid falling foul of fines.

Tips if you’re driving your own vehicle abroad this summer

If you’re driving your own car whilst you travel abroad then at least you don’t have to familiarise yourself with a new vehicle, but there are other things that you need to consider, depending on which country you’re driving in.

Firstly, make sure your motor insurance covers you for trips abroad. Many do, but you will need to check your policy details or call your insurer when planning your trip to make sure.

You may need deflector stickers for your headlights, or beams may need to be adjusted manually and if your car doesn’t have a GB Euro number plate then you will need a GB car sticker if travelling in Europe.

Whilst sat navs are great – they aren’t infallible, and neither are smartphones. Having a paper map as a back-up is a great idea, especially if your local language skills possibly aren’t up to understanding spoken directions.

As before any long journey, but especially so if travelling abroad, it’s important to make general safety checks on your car before you leave, including type pressure, water, oil and fluid levels. Many people choose to ensure their car is recently serviced before setting off in it to travel abroad.

Paperwork and essential equipment

It does depend on which country you’re in, but some nations have very strict rules about drivers carrying certain compulsory paperwork or equipment in their vehicles, which we don’t have in the UK. Currently, these may include:

  • Your full driving licence and national insurance no.
  • Proof of ID (i.e. your passport)
  • Proof of car insurance (that covers you in the country you are in)
  • Vehicle registration document (V5C)
  • Breakdown recovery policy details
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Reflective jackets kept in the car’s cabin (enough for everyone in the car to wear one)
  • A warning triangle
  • A disposable breathalyser kit (and remember that many countries have much lower limits than the UK for blood alcohol content – see here for further details)
  • A first aid kit

It’s essential that you research the specific country or countries you will be travelling in before you start your trip to make sure that you are legally compliant in all aspects before you cross the border.

In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, until other measures are put in place, drivers from the UK abroad are also likely to need an international driving permit or IDP (for some countries) which needs to be applied for in advance, in person, at a participating post office.

Find out more about driving in the EU after Brexit here.

Driving abroad can be a great way to see other countries at your own pace. Allow lots of time for journeys, make sure you have a strong supply of games and digital devices if you have a family to keep entertained and have a fantastic time enjoying the new surroundings and change of pace.