When you take your car on a holiday, you are going to have a liberating and enjoyable experience- no worrying about crowded airports, waiting for local buses, or taxi queues. But it is important to remember that there are challenges you are going to deal with as a British motorist. If you were to ask someone who has experienced Rome’s rush hour or tackled the Arc de Triomphe in Paris or grid-locked in Greece, then you will know there are many challenges that can come up.
There are unexpected problems that will always come when driving in an unfamiliar place. The best you can do is to prepare and avoid biting more than you can chew. Below are 11 tips that will go a long way in helping you.
1. Getting on the right track
Most of the European countries usually drive on the right-hand side of the road (the exceptions being Cyprus, the UK, Malta, and the Irish Republic). What this means is that you have to negotiate roundabouts in an anti-clockwise direction instead of clockwise direction. You should employ extra caution when overtaking because it is harder to do it using a left-hand drive car. Consider doing it in a stretch of dual carriageway.
2. Do not get caught out in the headlights
You shouldn’t dazzle oncoming drivers because it is a legal requirement. Ensure your headlamps have been adjusted for driving on the right. You can get headlamp converters.
3. Mapping out your travel plans
Make sure you double-check your route by having a close look at the map of the area. The sat-nav requirements differ from one country to another – in France, you are not allowed to use sat-nav equipment that comes with radar detection that indicates where speed cameras are.
4. Keeping the loose change
You should have loose change in your car because most European countries have toll roads. Make sure the coins are in the right currency. You need to have some spare money with you because you don’t know what unexpected costs might come up along the way.
5. Expecting the unexpected
You should be careful and cautious when driving by being really observant. The local driving style is going to be different from what you are used to. When abroad, always drive defensively. You should also be ready for the unexpected at all times.
6. Sticking to the rules
Make sure you always follow the road rules and regulations. You should always be within the speed limits and observe rules you consider obscure – e.g., rules in Switzerland and Spain, you are required to have a spare set of glasses if you wear prescription glasses and never wearing flip flops when driving in Spain, and in Italy, you should park in the direction of the flow of traffic. Make sure you observe the local rules because it is going to make the holiday way smoother for you – it is never easy to try and discuss a driving offense with a police officer who doesn’t speak the same language as you or having to communicate in broken English and sign language.
7. Taking a break
Driving can sometimes be very tiring, and it can be even more tiring when you are overseas in an unfamiliar area. It can be exhausting to try to concentrate on right-hand driving and reading road signs. If you feel tired, take stops in a safe place. Regular breaks are important because it makes things easier for you when driving.
8. Using your common sense
You should not throw your common sense out of the window because you are on holiday. Make sure you always have your seatbelt on when driving and make sure passengers are doing the same too. You should not use your phone when driving. Your sat nav should not distract you.
9. Wear and tear
After using your car for long periods, the wear and tear on your vehicle is going to be there. You should regularly check your windscreen, tires, lights, and mirrors throughout your holiday. When you do this, you are going to be on the safe side.
10. Watching out because thieves could be around
You should be vigilant so you can protect your car from being broken into. Avoid leaving valuables in your car. Park your car in a safe park that is well-lit, make sure you lock your vehicle.
11. Accidents happen
This is not something anyone wants to think about, but the reality is accidents happen. If you are involved in one, make sure you call the police and contact your insurer as soon as possible. Before travelling ensure that you have car hire excess insurance. Make sure you get the full details of the other driver, including the names and contact details of witnesses. It is also a good idea to take photos of the accident scene including the car to document the damage.
Driving in Europe can be very enjoyable and rewarding, provide you prepare and take extra care and caution. This way, you have the chance of getting off the beaten track and experiencing the real and authentic country yourself.