|Globetrotting Planning Articles|
Globetrotting Traveling Articles
Globetrotting Lodging Articles
Globetrotting Touring Articles
Globetrotting Dining Articles
Globetrotting Making Magic Articles
Globetrotting General Travel Articles
12 Tips to Hotel Bliss
Assateague Island National Seashore
Back To Barcelona
Bellagio of Las Vegas
Chateau de Chenonceau
Disney on Broadway
Disney's Magical Express
Exploring Chicago's Museums
Flying Premium Economy
Grotte de Pech-Merle, France
Hong Kong Disneyland Celebrates
Kennedy Space Center
Lake Constance, Switzerland
Lake Thunersee, Switzerland
Learning the Language
Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania
Making Your Way by Ferry to the Magic in Disneyland Paris
Montezuma Castle National Monument
More of Hilton Head Island
Mount Fuji & Hakone, Japan
My Quest for the West
New Orleans Revisited
One Place is Never Enough!
Palm Beach, Florida
Serendipity 3 in New York City
St. Paul's Cathedral, London
Star Wars in Concert
Taking to the Road
The 'Other' Jersey
The Billie Swamp Safari Park
The Egyptian Museum
The Gardens of Versailles
The Green Heart of the Big Apple
The Manatee Tour
The Palace of Versailles
The Pyramids of Giza
The Walt Disney Family Museum
Tired, Tried And True
Traveling the Northern Oregon Coast
Valley of Fire
Viewing Cities From Above
Visiting the French Alps
Wimbledon Tennis Museum
You Don't Have to Cruise to See Alaska
View all PassPorter articles
Taking to the Road: Driving in a Foreign Country
|by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist|
Last modified 10-14-2010
Cool Tip: Click here to get a FREE PDF version of this article, fully formatted to print and put into your PassPorter Deluxe Binder!
Filed in Articles > International Travel > General Travel
Having recently been on three separate road trips, covering seven different foreign countries, it's certainly been a learning curve for us. Up until this year, we'd very much been the type of people to head somewhere on a plane. We might, or might not, hire a rental car, so we certainly had experience of driving in another country, but nowhere near as much as we’ve had this year!
Taking your own car with you means that you do need to do a lot more checks than if you're picking up a rental car. Having said that, it's still a good idea to know what should be in a car for you to drive legally in the country you're visiting, so that you can check that your rental vehicle does have everything it should.
Early on in our research for our various visits to continental Europe, we discovered that a variety of things were required in our car, which we didn’t generally need to carry at home. These included high visibility jackets that actually have to be within reach of the people in the car, so it’s no good putting them in the trunk of your car. Ours were prominent in our seatbacks, so they could easily be seen. A first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and spare set of bulbs were amongst the other items we had to purchase for our excursions abroad.
There were also some other interesting rules that we learned about, including the requirement to carry a second pair of glasses, if you wear prescription glasses, while driving in both France and Spain. As I’m short sighted, that was something useful for me to know, although I do tend to drive in my contact lenses, with a spare pair of glasses for back-up.
France - welcome signs
Signs welcome you to France, highlighting that you're definitely now driving in a foreign country! - photo by chezp
We also had to put light diverters on our headlights, as we would be driving on the different side of the road in continental Europe. Sadly, very few other countries, apart from the UK, seem to realize that the correct side of the road to drive on is of course the left-hand side, with many others, including America, opting for the right side. If you will be driving on a different side of the road to the one you're used to, that's something else that takes some getting used to!
Something else you need to think about if taking your own car abroad is whether you need to carry your documents with you. In the UK, it’s not obligatory to carry registration or insurance documents with you, as you have a few days grace to present them at a police station if the worst happens and you are involved in an accident. In many other countries however, you are expected to carry them with you. It’s also a good idea to contact your insurance company to tell them that you're planning to go to another country, as you may need additional insurance to do this. We had to pay a little extra for foreign coverage, but it was well worth it for the peace of mind it gave us.
Before heading to another country, it's also worth learning a bit about road signs, as they may differ from what you’re used to at home. They may even be in a different language. We’ve encountered signs in French, German, Spanish, Dutch, and Flemish during our travels, but fortunately have been able to just about understand most of them. However, this was the main reason that we didn't even contemplate renting a car when we went to Japan, as our trusty guidebooks told us that most of the signs were in Japanese characters and so it proved to be. Not something I want to try and fathom out!
Of course, speed limits can differ from one country to another. At least both America and the UK both use miles per hour to define their speed limits. No such luck in the rest of Europe, which is measured in kilometres per hour. Thank goodness our car at least had the readings for speed in both miles and kilometres, as that made things a lot easier for us!
There are other cultural differences, with some countries allowing certain turns on red. Whatever you do, don't try this in the UK, as any turn on a red traffic signal is against the law! Equally in Europe, you’ll find roundabouts everywhere, whereas they're nowhere near as common in the States.
If you’re intending to drive in another country, it’s worth checking if you need an international driving license. For us to drive in Europe or the States, we only have to show our British driving licenses, but venture further afield and that may be a consideration.
It’s also worth doing some reading up about the roads in the country you’re visiting. It may sound like a silly thing to say, but what’s the driving actually like there? If you go to Germany, there’s no speed limit on the autobahns (freeways) and it’s not unusual to see cars streaking down the outside lane, driving well in excess of 100 miles an hour. That can be a frightening prospect if you’re not prepared.
Equally, you might not want to try tussling with Parisian drivers in the rush hour. We’ve seen how they drive on our many visits to the city and there’s no way we’d want to do that. Equally, having seen the way they park in Italy, often making it almost impossible for people to get out of spaces, that's not necessarily somewhere I'd be keen to have a car either!
Something that will be invaluable to any driving you do in another country is a satellite navigation system. We're lucky enough to have one that works throughout the world and that’s saved us a lot of money, as rental car companies do tend to charge through the roof for the privilege of a navigational device in your rental car. It's something worth bearing in mind and, if you plan on doing a lot of traveling abroad, it can be well worth investing in a system that will guide you wherever you go.
Road tripping in another country can be a huge amount of fun and one of the beauties is that you can carry whatever you like with you. No more luggage fees on flights to worry about! It does just take a little bit more preparation before you head out from home to ensure that you’re fully prepared for your adventure.
Walt Disney World - driving to Disney
My husband Mark in the driving seat of a rental car, ready to head out of the airport. - photo by chezp
About the Author: Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have made numerous visits to destinations across America and Europe. They recently completed their tour of every Disney theme park around the world, which culminated in their visit to Japan, including the Tokyo Disney Resort. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!
Related Links:Read additional articles from PassPorter.com
Serendipity 3 in New York City - A Dining Review last updated 12/29/2008
Hong Kong Disneyland Celebrates - A New Year In A New Disney Park last updated 12/18/2008
Valencia, Spain - Travel Tips last updated 11/27/2008
Bellagio of Las Vegas - Simply Bellissimo! last updated 1/08/2009
Hever Castle - Kent, England last updated 1/15/2009
View all comments in forum thread
So what do you think? Click here to share your comments, feedback, and experiences on this article and topic!
(Note: You must be a member of our PassPorter Message Board Community to leave comments. Join today for free!)
Updated 10-14-2010 - Article #531
Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter, PassPorter News, published for more than 58,000 opt-in subscribers worldwide.
As an added bonus for subscribing, you will receive a 20% discount coupon for the PassPorter Store -- no catch!|
We respect your privacy and never sell or rent our subscriber list. Subscribing will not result
in more spam! We guarantee it.
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.
| LEARN MORE|
Learn More With Our Award-Winning Guidebooks|
PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disn...
Planning a trip around the globe, or just away for the weekend? Ask questions and share experiences!
Forum Sponsored by CruisingCo.com
Should I consider it?
19 Nov 2014 at 5:20pm
My brother in law will be speaking at a conference in China this year. My sister will be going along with him and they invited me to join them. I...
(click title above to view replies)
Quick Trip to Orlando
26 Oct 2014 at 10:34am
Leaving in 15 days to meet up with my two daughters for a few days at Universal Studios Orlando. We are super excited to see the Wizarding World of...
(click title above to view replies)
Total Visits: 3668