If you are planning on travelling abroad using your own car (or hire a car) I’ve got some tips for you to consider below:
- Check your insurance first before thinking about purchasing a different policy as your UK one should actually cover driving abroad. Please don’t assume that yours will cover you outside the UK, read your policy documents thoroughly and double-check how long the cover will insure you for as it is normal for 30 days to be included, sometimes. If you are looking to go for a longer time abroad then consider upgrading your insurance for a small fee just to give you that peace of mind.
psst: If you are thinking of hiring a car instead of taking your own car, double-check that your car hire includes suitable insurance, especially if you are driving outside of the EU in places like America.
- Buy breakdown insurance, one of the bigger bits of information that you will most definitely need. Never chance this as you really don’t want to be stuck up a mountain, or in the middle of a forest with no-one to help you! Your own policy may offer additional European breakdown cover, but my tip is that you should definitely do some shopping around before you commit.
Useful sites like Gocompare, comparethemarket and comparebreakdowncover are all brilliant websites that will whittle down all the different policy’s out there and give you the option to choose which one you need.
psst: When getting breakdown insurance, choose a UK one that will give you roadside assistance and multilingual help.
- Give your car some TLC, make sure it is fully prepared and safe to drive by getting an MOT or service, dont chance it because it will cost 10x more abroad. It’s easy to do some simple checks yourself, like checking the tread on your tyres and the oil is topped up – these important checks are things you should do at home aswell as abroad, so its just about being more in tune with your vehicle.
psst: If you are unsure how to carry out the checks i.e tyres, oil pressures and how to change tyres there is YouTube, plenty of videos are on how-tos so give them a watch if you are unsure.
Keeping all your licenses and policy documents handy and on you’re at all times, bear in mind that documents need to be ready as you may be asked at any point of your journey. You must carry:
- Your full valid driving license (this cannot be a provisional)
- An IDP when relevant (International Drivers Permit) please read here for more information on IDPS.
- Your vehicle registration document (V5C) and this has to be the original not a copy
- Your passport(s)
- Your travel insurance documents
- Certain visas dependant on what countries you are visiting.
- If you are hiring a car you’ll need a letter of authorisation from the registered company or person as well as the V5C aswell.
- Carry the right equipment when travelling abroad, mostly compulsory in certain countries so please read here for more information from the AA giving you a list of the different equipment you will need to acquire before going away. Things like GB stickers, fluorescent safety vests, Breathalyzers, first aid kits are just some of the equipment you will need and you can buy these locally from pound shops and supermarkets in the motor sections.
psst: If you are on a budget and have a bit of time left until you are travelling, try using the internet to source the equipment, especially for things like the first aid kits and Breathalyzers you can find them cheap and in big quantity’s on eBay and Amazon.
- Watch your speed limits! Every country is different but it’s still the same as if you are driving in the UK; you don’t need to speed to get anywhere so just keep to the limits and enjoy the drive. Bare in mind if you are caught speeding most country’s will in fact give you on the spot fines, these are avoidable by doing some research, read highwaymaps.eu for all the speed limits and the toll roads.
- Same with the speed limits, watch your drinking. We all love a tipple or two but if you are planning on driving abroad ALOT and for long periods of time, the advice is to not do it, in fact if you have 1 nearly full drink you are over the limit. Plan your drinking and partying around your driving, simply drink on dates that you have longer stopovers. Of course the obvious is that you will be putting your life at risk behind the wheel but you will also incur hefty fines and points or removal of your license.
- Try and plan your route before you set off, apart from the fact you will be organised you will probably put yourself at ease as driving on the other side of the road can be intimidating for first time travellers. Maps are extremely handy aswell as Sat-Navs. Be very aware that in some countries (like France and Germany) it is illegal to use Sat-Navs that alert you where the speed cameras are, be very sure to deactivate it or you’ll incur huge fines.
psst: In some European countries when driving, you may be required to bring a spare pair of eye glasses if you have to use them for prescription.
I know this was quite a bit to read, but hopefully with a little time taken to read through this and a lot of preparation it’ll be well worth it when you drive without hassle and hesitation in Europe.
All you need to do now, is fill up your boot and hit the road! Enjoy!