There is nothing more adventurous than traveling abroad, getting behind the wheel, and hitting the road to experience a new country to its fullest. However, driving around a new country can be intimidating and come as a challenge to most people. There are numerous things to consider to ensure your own safety and security when traveling around a foreign country. These differences include the different road regulations and getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road.
Although driving somewhere new can be daunting, it shouldn’t have to hinder you from enjoying it! Driving will allow you to explore on your own time and adventure to more attractions. Driving in a foreign country doesn’t have to be a big worry, as long as you know the rules and stay safe on the road, you’ll be perfectly fine! Here are a few tips that I put together to help you drive confidently and stress-free in a foreign country in no time.
1. Get Your International Driver’s License
Getting an International Driver’s Permit from the International Drivers Association is a great option, especially if you travel often. Your IDP is recognized in over 150 countries and is translated into 12 languages, so it’s understandable to most local officials worldwide. As having an IDP is a requirement in most countries, it can serve as your identification when you need assistance from local authorities while on the road.
Not only will an IDP help ensure your security and legality on the road, but it also has numerous other benefits. You can apply and get your IDP within the same day without taking another driver’s exam. Additionally, your IDP can also help in hastening the process of renting out vehicles abroad. Although applying for an IDP is an extra step, I assure you it’s worth taking since the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Lower your risk of getting fined, simplify communication with authorities, and get the peace of mind you need for a more enjoyable trip.
2. Know the Driving Laws and Road Rules in the Country
The laws and rules of the road in each country are different, so it’s always best to do your research before your trip. From the speed limits to rules on when to switch your headlights on, the road rules can vary from how it is back home. It’s essential to educate yourself on the laws and regulations to avoid getting pulled over by the police or getting yourself in an accident.
One of the most important things to check is the requirements needed in your car while driving. Remember always to have your travel documents, passport, driver’s license, insurance policy, and the car’s registration or rental papers stored safely in your car. You’re required to register for a second license plate in some countries, while some countries even need you to have breathalyzers. Even if researching the rules and preparing all your requirements can be exhausting, it’s best to assure your safety and be confident in your driving.
3. Take Time to Get Used to the Car
If you’re like me, driving from the other side of the car and on the other side of the car can still be confusing. For a stress-free driving experience, give yourself some time to get used to driving the car. As long as it’s allowed, don’t be shy about practicing in an empty lot or a quiet parking lot. This is a helpful way to get yourself used to driving in a different kind of car, getting used to all the controls, shifting gears, and using the auxiliary controls.
One of the best tips I can share with you is to opt for renting an automatic car, even if you’re used to driving a manual car. Driving automatic cars are great for those who are still getting used to the road rules, for those still getting accustomed to driving from the opposite side, and if it’s your first time visiting the country. With an automatic car, all you’ll need to do is focus your eyes on the road and enjoy the ride.
4. Consider Taking an Advanced Driving Course
Besides applying for an IDP from the International Drivers Association, a great tip is to take up an advanced driving course. Whether you’re a seasoned driver or not, an advanced driving course will help polish up your driving skills. This will prepare you, even more, to drive on foreign roads no matter what country you plan on exploring.
These courses are designed to instill more confidence in you while learning how to handle all kinds of driving situations more knowledgeably. As a bonus, some of these courses offer completion certificates recognized by most insurance companies. This will definitely come in handy if you plan to rent a car and apply for insurance.
5. Know Where You’re Going
Although a simple tip, planning out your route ahead of time is definitely a task worth taking seriously. Getting lost when driving abroad isn’t something we want to experience, especially if you’re traveling alone. Whether you’ll be using GPS or a map, it’s good to plot out exactly where you’ll be heading. Knowing your directions can help you research thoroughly on your entire route, including where to safely stop for bathroom, food, and gas breaks.
6. Know the Numbers for Emergency Services
Although this is the last tip I have to share with all of you, this is the most important one. Knowing the numbers for emergency services in a country is vital. Having the emergency numbers of the country you’re in, gives you a sense of security to call for help whenever you need it.
Besides the country’s emergency hotline numbers, it’s also important to remember your insurance company’s number and the rental company’s number if you’re renting a car. I suggest you save the numbers on your phone and also write them down on pieces of paper. I’s better to have one in your wallet, another one in your car, and one in the pocket of your clothes. This way, you’ll always have the numbers with you just in case you haven’t memorized them.