Driving can be one of the most exciting things to do in a new country. Cruising on unfamiliar roads, seeing beautiful landscapes and experiencing the country for yourself only adds to the adventure. Little wonder that road trips are so popular.
But whether you are holidaying, staying with family, or you’ve just moved to a new country, driving abroad isn’t as simple as jumping in the car. There are things you need to consider before driving, and plenty you need to know before you get behind the wheel. Here we break down everything to consider when driving abroad.
This is really important. Insurance protects you if you are in an accident or something happens to your car. And if you are somewhere unfamiliar, the chances of a dilemma happening are probably more likely than at home. You could misunderstand the rules of the road and end up in an accident, or park your car in the wrong place in town.
Make sure you know exactly what insurance does and doesn’t cover. And how much cover it is worth getting, too. If you are going to Thailand, just look up ‘car insurance Thailand’ and there should be no shortage of information, for instance. But it is vital you find out everything you need to know about car insurance where you are going.
Some countries will be content with just your domestic driver’s license, but others have additional requirements for driving legally. Sometimes there will be an expectation — informal or legal — that you carry your passport with you while you are driving. In others, they may require you to have a document written in the language of the country you are driving in.
If you are planning on staying for longer than a holiday — as a student, staying with family or because you’ve emigrated — you may be expected to acquire a driver’s license from that country. Often, there are rules in place that allow you to use your license from home for a number of months, which is designed to allow you time to take the new country’s driving test.
One good solution is to get an International Driving Permit. This enables you to drive anywhere by essentially translating your driving license into one that you can use anywhere. Not all countries need it but, as it isn’t too pricey, it is definitely a smart move.
Local Driving Knowledge
There are two points to consider here. What are the laws? And what else do you need to know?
Naturally, laws vary from country to country, so make sure you try to look up any key differences before you get on the road. Familiarize yourself with signs and speed limits. This will save you hassle, make driving easier for you and potentially avoid you getting into trouble.
Also consider researching if there are any informal rules you want to bear in mind. (The last thing you want is a road rage incident with someone.) How busy and rule-abiding drivers are varies from place to place, so make sure you know where you stand.
Driving conditions may differ greatly to your home. You may be going somewhere during the rainy heavy season, or that winters with heavy snowfall. Consider the season and climate before committing to driving. Inexperienced drivers are likely to struggle in harsh foreign conditions, which can lead to accidents.
You don’t need any extra stress when you’re in a new place. So, make sure you do your research and plan ahead, so can you enjoy the exciting adventure of driving in a new country!