By Scott Conklin
With the summer travel quickly approaching, more and more people are starting to plan trips to Europe and other countries outside the US. While part of the attraction of travelling through Europe is that you can do so without the need for a car (the Eurorail is an amazing system), there are those that will want to rent a vehicle to do some exploring on their own. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re driving in a country that isn’t your own.
Obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP)
Valid in over 150 countries, this permit allows you to drive in numerous European countries, as well as having your name, photo, and driver information translated into ten languages. Available through AAA for only $15, this is a must have for anyone looking to drive outside the US. It is, however, still recommended that you carry your usual driver’s license with you when travelling as it provides extra identification for emergencies.
Learn the Rules of the Road for Where You’ll Be Travelling
Different countries have different rules for driving. Most European countries reserve the left lane for passing, with the middle and right lanes being used for travel. Some countries also require you to honk your horn as you come around a sharp corner or flash your lights before you pass so that others are aware of you. Learning which rules will apply to your travels is a good way to avoid misunderstandings and potential accidents.
Get Liability Insurance
No matter how many years you’ve been driving in the US, driving abroad is different, and having liability insurance to protect damage to a rental vehicle is a good way to protect yourself against financial responsibility and ruin. Most liability insurance overseas is very affordable, and that small investment can save you huge sums of money in the long run.
Practice Driving on the Opposite Side of the Road if You’ll Have to Abroad
If you’re travelling to countries like England or Australia, it’s a good idea to practice driving on the opposite side of the road before you go over there. Also, Europe makes great use of the traffic circle, so know beforehand who will have the right of way and how best to navigate them. Practicing ahead of time can help reduce stress and the possibility of accidents when you hit the busy streets of Europe.
Get a Good Map or GPS Programmed for Europe
Knowing where you’re travelling can help you to avoid going down the wrong road, getting lost, and ending up somewhere other than where you want. If your GPS is already programmed for Europe take it with you, otherwise, look into investing in one once over there or see if it’s something you can add to your vehicle at the time of rental. If not, spend the money on some quality maps that are easy to read and cover all of the places you’ll be travelling. Getting directions from locals may be tricky if there’s a language barrier, and nobody wants to get lost for hours on end while on vacation.
Many countries have penalties for drivers not wearing their safety belt, many of them harsher than those faced in the US. Strapping in can help save you money, time, and your life. It’s just a good idea, so don’t forget to.
When travelling abroad, remember to relax, enjoy yourself, and have a good time. Driving yourself across German country sides isn’t quite the same as going through Nebraska, so make sure you take your time and really take in the scenes.
About the Author: Scott Conklin is the owner of Conklin Cars, a leading provider of
vehicles with locations in Hutchinson and Salina, Kansas. They can be found online at: http://www.conklincars.com.