Drive Abroad For The First Time

driving abroad
Whether you're looking to hire a car abroad or take your own vehicle with you, driving abroad for the first time can be a daunting thought. But with some simple precautions and the right mindset, there’s no reason why you can’t take on the challenge and thoroughly enjoy it. In this article, we'll guide you through what you need to know about driving abroad for the first time and the tips that will help you enjoy the experience.

Familiarise yourself with your rental car

If you’re renting a car at the airport or other location always take the time to properly familiarise yourself with the car. Sit in the car and adjust the seat so that you are comfortable before adjusting the mirrors. Check the operation of lights, indicators and windscreen wipers and set up your sat nav. Now is the time to ask any questions prior to leaving the rental firm, so if you are unsure of anything just ask.

Know the laws and speed limits

Different countries have different rules and speed limits so make sure you understand these. In some countries in Europe cars joining a roundabout have priority while in others that cars on the roundabout have the priority. Take note of speed limits in cities and towns as these are often lower than the UK. Finally, if you will be driving long distances or on the motorway networks then check to see if tolls are in operation, if so, you may need to buy an electronic pass or card to use these.

Take an advanced driving course

If you are lacking in confidence, then an advanced driving course can help give you a boost and the confidence you need to tackle driving abroad. Your driving instructor will also be able to help you with controlling your speed and position and teach you how to read the road based on traffic conditions. They will also be able to provide you with handy tips and advice for driving on the continent.

Think of hiring an automatic car

For those who are very new to driving an automatic has the benefit of helping you to stay more focused on the road ahead instead of fretting about changing gears. Automatics are incredibly easy to drive and are a great choice for those who are nervous about driving in a foreign country for the first time.

Stick to the slow lane until comfortable
With most airports located on the outskirts of cities the most common road that you will encounter first is some sort of motorway. Stay calm when joining the motorway and stick to the slow lane (right hand lane for continental Europe) until you become used to driving conditions. When you start to build confidence wait for a big gap in traffic before switching lanes and moving into one of the overtaking lanes.

Opt for a smaller car
Unless you need a lot of space for carrying luggage and people, choosing a smaller car is normally the best choice as they are easy to manoeuvre and park and will be cheaper to rent. Small cars are also more economical, so you won’t spend as much time filling them up.

Request a GPS or use your phone
Getting lost is no fun at all. A GPS will help you to concentrate on the road and stop you from worrying about taking the wrong turning. You can also use it to navigate to attractions, work out how close things are to your location and just generally make your journey a lot more manageable. For those with free European roaming, Google maps is hard to beat, just remember to bring an in-car charger and mounting device.