Driving on holiday is something that in my mind, is reserved for the adults – so it hit me like a ton of bricks when I realised I could actually do that now. I’m focusing the advice in this blog, on what to do when driving your own car abroad in Europe.
It’s worth remembering that as a new driver, you may not feel super confident behind the wheel yet and that’s absolutely fine! You should only plan a trip that involves driving abroad if you feel comfortable and happy to do so. It is also worth considering sharing the driving with your fellow road trippers! It will take the pressure off, and give you time to gain confidence.
Top tips before you head off
Like any road trip, there are things you need to do before heading off – and there are a couple of extra things you need to take into consideration before driving abroad. Here’s a little checklist to follow.
1. Check your licence…
Although the minimum age in the UK to drive is 17, some countries may have their own rules, with the likes of Sweden, Portugal and Greece all requiring you to be 18! It’s worth checking the rules for the country you plan on driving in before you get ahead of yourself.
2. … and the rules of the road
The rules of the roads change depending on where you’re driving. Be sure to check the following before you set off:
- Which side of the road do you need to drive on? (Chances are, it’s the right – it’s just us brits that make things complicated)
- Check the speed limits, and how they’re written. It’s likely the place you’re going will have speed limits in kilometers per hour, and not miles! Be sure you check this, and become familiar on where your KPH dial is.
- Depending on the weather, you’ll need your car to be ready for the journey! Some countries require you to have winter tyres in the winter – so it’s worth double checking if you need to make any adjustments to your car.
Check this handy guide to see the rules of the country you’re travelling to. It’s also expected that you’ll be nervous when driving abroad, because it is very different! Stick in the slow lane until you feel ready to move into a faster lane.
3. Make sure you’re covered
Your insurance will give you the minimum legal requirement cover, but it’s worth giving them a call and seeing if they offer more than this. Consider extending the minimum cover where possible, to include damage to your car and theft!
4. Check under the hood
You’ve gotta’ do those car checks before you hit the road with your pals – because you aren’t going to get very far if your ride isn’t in top shape! Check out our regular car checks guide, and get any niggling issues looked into and fixed before setting off.
5. Get a sat nav – or a map!
It’s highly likely that even though you know where you want to go, you won’t have a clue how to get there. Spend some time before you go familiarising yourself with the route, and plan out places you can stop along the way. Don’t forget your sat nav and map too, because unless you’ve got a super memory – you’ll probably need a prompt on where you’re going!
6. Pack the essentials
There are also things you need to remember to take with you on your road trip abroad, some are probably a little more obvious than others, but here are the things you need to remember to pack!
- Drinks and snacks (something that won’t go off and stink your car out should do the trick!)
- First aid kit
- Tool kit
- Reflective jacket
- Fire extinguisher
- Red warning triangle
You have arrived at your destination
When you make it to where you want to go, there are a couple more things you should keep in mind.
Stick to what you know
Depending on where you’re driving, it’s likely that the locals will have a very different driving style to you. Instead of trying to keep up, or being intimidated by the other road users – stay safe and concentrate on the road.
Quick – I need some change!
Many European countries operate road tolls. Make sure you keep some change in the correct currency (you probably won’t get very far if you hand them a £2 coin) to hand to cover these costs!
Common sense prevails
You know how to drive – just because you’re on holiday in a different country doesn’t mean you stop doing everything you know you should. Wear your seatbelt, avoid alcohol, don’t use your mobile… all the obvious stuff still applies!
It may seem scary, but driving abroad is a great idea and definitely something to help build up your overall driving confidence. As long as you make sure you’re prepared, and follow these tips, we’re sure you’ll have a wonderful holiday!