Driving abroad can be an exciting adventure. But it can be daunting too. If you’re new to driving abroad or need a little refresher, this article will help.
There are many things to enjoy about driving abroad. It’s easier to get to remote locations where public transport is limited, you’re more in control of journey times and refreshment stops and you don’t need to rely on public transport to get to where you want to go. But what do you need to know first?
Is your UK licence valid in other countries?
Make sure you check that your UK driving licence is valid in the country or countries you’re visiting. If it isn’t valid, you’ll need an international driving permit (ISP). You can find more information about where your licence is valid and how to apply for an ISP on the GOV.uk website.
Are you planning to drive your own car or hire one?
There are advantages and disadvantages for each option.
If you’re driving your own car, it will be familiar to you and you’ll know where everything is. However, if you’re visiting a country where people drive on the right, you’ll need to adapt your driving to accommodate being in a different position on the road.
If you choose to drive a hire car, it will be more suited to the countries you’re visiting. However, it will be unfamiliar to you. When you get your hire car, it’s a good idea to spend a little time in a car park or on small roads getting used to it before heading onto any major roads or motorways.
Will you be driving on the left or right?
Most countries drive on the right-hand side but we’re not the only ones who drive on the left. If you’re not sure which side of the road you’ll be driving on, you can check.
Tips for driving on the right
As most countries drive on the right, it’s likely you’ll be driving on the right while you’re abroad so we’ve gathered some tips.
- Give yourself plenty of time and space, particularly to begin with, as it’ll help you remain calm and allow plenty of time to react.
- Check the signs closest to you are facing you to make sure you’re on the correct side of the road.
- Be careful at junctions and roundabouts, take more time to look around before moving and make sure you know who should have the right of way. Of course, on roundabouts you’ll need to drive anti-clockwise.
- Take care when overtaking if you’re driving a left-hand drive car. Your positioning on the road will make it difficult to see other vehicles around you.
Do you understand the laws and signs?
Being from a different country won’t be a good enough excuse if you break the driving laws and regulations in the countries you’re visiting. Before you travel, make sure you learn about the laws and familiarise yourself with the road signs. The AA has a series of guides to driving in different European countries here.
Does your breakdown cover extend abroad?
Many breakdown providers offer options to extend your cover outside of the UK. However, this is often an optional extra rather than a standard package so it’s worth checking to see if you’re covered.
Lifesure offers a range of breakdown cover to suit different vehicles, including cars, vans and motorhomes. It includes European travel for up to 90 days per trip. It’s available with our motor insurance policies as standard or you can buy our breakdown on its own.