A Comprehensive Guide to Driving Abroad

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Driving abroad can be a bit of a minefield, after-all there’s a never-ending list of things to consider before you jump behind the wheel. From familiarising yourself with the ways of the road to ensuring you have adequate insurance cover and subsequently, the correct documentation on hand, it’s not a decision you should take lightly.

However, if you go prepared and clued up there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have the time of your life. After all, many of the World’s best driving roads are located abroad.

In order to help you fully understand what’s involved, how to prepare and the essential take-along items, we’ve compiled one of the most comprehensive guides to driving abroad on the web, and here it is.

Deciding on a Vehicle

If you’re looking to drive abroad there are likely two key options at your disposal. Option one being to take your own car, though it’s only really feasible if you are traveling to European countries such as France, Spain and Portugal. If this is your chosen option, then the most popular and cost effective option would be to travel to France either via the Channel Tunnel or hop on a ferry.

Meanwhile, option two would be to fly to the country of your choice and collect a hire car upon your arrival. With this option it’s best to book before you travel as to ensure availability. It’s also important to check the small print as to avoid being stung by extra charges or fines for excessive mileage, but also to familiarize yourself with any insurance excess that is likely to be payable in the event of an accident.

Car Insurance

Insurance is perhaps one of the most important consideration when driving abroad, yet often overlooked or left to the last minute. The reality is that simply having a valid car insurance policy doesn’t mean you are covered to drive abroad.

Instead, in most cases you will have to contact your insurance provider directly in order to add international cover and there’s likely to be a fee for this. Alternatively, you may be able to take international cover out as a stand-alone product, but it would be wise to compare the cost of both before you go ahead.

Documents to Take

Whether driving in the UK or abroad there are certain documents that you should carry with your car at all times, but when the latter applies the list expands somewhat.

  • A valid and full driving license (to prove you are licensed to drive a car and for identification purposes)
  • A copy of your DVLA driver record or license check number (only really applies when you intend to hire a car rather than drive your own)
  • An international driving permit (not required by European Union member countries, but you should always check any individual rules that apply to your destination country before traveling)
  • Your vehicle registration document (otherwise known as the V5)
  • Certificate of car insurance (to show that your car is insured for use on the road)
  • Your passport (for additional identification)

Read up on Road signs

If you’re a full license holder in the UK then you should have passed a theory test, which beforehand would have involved studying and familiarizing yourself with the UK’ confusing array of road signs. However, when you travel abroad you can pretty much throw all of that knowledge straight out of the window as road signs can differ in from quite drastically from one country to another.

With this in mind it’s important to read up on road signs for the country you intend to drive on the roads in. A great place to start would be to buy a book that’s dedicated to the ways of the road in the country you intend to drive in, failing that you could research it online. Once you’ve done this, having a crack at the COOP’s Road Signs on Holiday quiz is a pretty quick and easy way to test your knowledge.

In Case of an Emergency

If you happen to be involved in an accident abroad, it’s important to know just what to do and who to call. For countries within the European Union things are fairly simple, you can call 112 and for America it’s 911. However, for other countries it’s important to check beforehand and ensure you have the number preprogrammed into your phone or written in a notebook that’s likely to be in your possession for the duration of your journey.

Joseph is a dedicated and passionate motoring enthusiast. Usually found behind the wheel of a white Ford Fiesta ST, but dreams of driving a Bugatti Veyron. Connect with Joseph via Twitter.