For many travellers, the freedom of the open road is addictive. A road trip lets you see so many out of the way places and gives you a chance to really explore a new country. There are some fantastic road trips around the world that can’t be missed. That being said, the rules of the road are definitely not universal and even expert drivers can struggle when thrown behind the wheel of a car in a new country. If you are planning an overseas road trip, here are our top tips to help you have a more relaxed drive.
First, make sure you are allowed to drive
The laws about who can and can’t drive vary around the world. Countries have different minimum age requirements but many also have maximum age requirements for drivers, which seniors should keep in mind. Beyond age, you also need to check if your home country license will work where you are traveling. A few countries will allow drivers to use their normal license, even when renting a car abroad, but in many cases you will need to look into getting an IDP or International Driving Permit. This license is valid in over 150 countries and is required by many international car rental companies.
Research the Rules of the Road
You might think you know how to drive but I’m sorry to say your knowledge is not universal. Driving rules can vary greatly around the world, from which side of the road you drive on to who has the right-of-way. You can usually pick up a copy of the local driving rules from your car rental company or from your local embassy. Ignorance of the rules will not help you if you end up pulled over by a traffic cop. More importantly, making sure you understand the local traffic rules might also help you avoid a vacation-ruining accident.
Be prepared for different driving environments
Not only do the rules of the road vary around the world, so to do the way roads are made. If you are used to driving in the United States, you might be literally thrown through a loop when you try and tackle your first European major city roundabout. Other things that catch people off guard when driving in new countries around the world are – frequent toll roads, poor road conditions with many potholes, hard to spot traffic lights, confusing traffic signs, unusual merging traffic rules, city centers that consist of nothing but one-way streets, and impossibly small parking spots. Do a little research beforehand, consider getting a GPS, and make sure you are prepared with at least the knowledge of what to expect.
Test the Waters Before You Try City Driving
Many cities have seemingly impossible to navigate roads with drivers that seem to break every rule in the book. You do not want your first driving experience and possibly the first day of your vacation to be ruined with the stress and headache of driving in not only a new country but a major city in a new country. Consider taking public transportation, which in many cities is great, to the edge of the city and then picking up your rental car. You will have a chance to get the feel of the road before jumping into the heart of city driving.
For many people, trying to drive in a new country is just not worth the stress but for road warriors and lovers of the open road, a road trip in a new country can be the highlight of any vacation. If you are prepared to do a bit of preparation and research beforehand, you can no doubt set yourself up for a great driving experience.