Driving Abroad Checklist - Top Tips for Driving Abroad
While public transport in Europe can be a useful and wallet-friendly way of getting around, nothing quite beats the feeling of freedom that comes with hiring your own set of wheels. However, driving abroad can be a daunting experience with a range of challenges, such as getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road to understanding the road rules of a destination. Additionally, if you are a Blue Badge card holder, you may have concerns about how it can be put to good use on your trip. Here are a few top tips for driving abroad and using the Blue Badge parking scheme in Europe to help boost your confidence and get you ready to hit the road, Jack!
1. Give yourself a chance to get used to the car
There’s no question driving on the other side of the road is going to take some time to get used to. Don’t throw yourself in at the deep end and launch full pelt into the traffic. Instead, build up your confidence changing gears with a different hand and sitting on the other side of the car by driving around a car park or other quiet area. It might even be an idea to hire an automatic car as they are virtually impossible to stall. Without the worries of clutch control or changing gears, you can simply relax and enjoy the ride.
2. Check up on the speed limits and driving laws
Every country has slightly different rules and regulations so do your research to find out the key changes you need to be aware of. You may need to ensure you carry specific documents with you in the car, or special equipment to comply with the law. It’s also a good idea to check the rules on alcohol (although it’s best to avoid drinking altogether when driving).
3. Don’t forget your Blue Badge
The Blue Badge is recognised across Europe so, if you’re planning to drive, don’t forget to pack it as it will allow you to make use of the same parking concessions that the country you are in allows its own disabled citizens. However, parking concession stipulations, such as how long you can park, may vary from country to country – again, it’s always best to check the most up-to-date regulations for your destination of choice. The Government have put together a useful guide, explaining how, when and where to use the Blue Badge in 29 European countries, so clue yourself up before you go.
4. Don’t overfill your schedule
What’s the best way to get stressed out on the road when driving abroad? Rushing to get from A to B. Whilst it might be tempting to cram your itinerary full of fun things to do and maximise every blissful minute of your trip, be realistic about what is possible to achieve in a day and how much driving will actually be enjoyable. If it is your first time driving abroad, plan shorter journeys before you start out on the epic road trip of a lifetime. You’re blood pressure will thank you for it!
5. Request a GPS
With your attention firmly fixed on driving safely, it’s all too easy to get lost when navigating unfamiliar roads. To avoid this happening to you and potentially adding extra time to your journey, bring along your own trusty GPS from back home or request one from the car rental company in advance. You may even be able to use a navigation app on your phone like Google Maps. Not only will you feel like your navigation is in safe hands, you can avoid any of those family arguments over directions.
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