Driving Abroad Tips

Driving Abroad Tips

When planning a trip abroad which involves driving it is easy to forget the basics. Check the rules of the road in the countries in which you will be driving so you know what documents or extra equipment you need to take with you. Remember to ensure your car is in good mechanical order. If it needs a service, don’t leave this until the day before you are due to depart as this may not give the garage enough time to carry out unexpected repairs. If a service is not due, remember to carry out a POWER check on your vehicle:


O= Oil

W= Water

E = Electrical (you will need to carry a full set of replacement bulbs in some European countries)

R= Rubber (Tyre condition, tread depth and pressure)

Give yourself plenty of time to reach the ferry port. As from April 2015, there will be extra border checks and you will be asked to present passports or national identity cards which will result in longer check in procedures. Check the traffic situation prior to departure to avoid potential delays on the motorway network.

Remember to pack with you:

  • Full driving licence
  • International driving permit (if required)
  • Vehicle registration document (V5)
  • Motor insurance certificate
  • Travel insurance documents


When driving abroad, you can maximise your safety and stay legal by taking a few simple precautions. If hiring a car, familiarise yourself with all the controls, and make sure that all the lights are working prior to driving off.

Alcohol - As in the UK the best advice is don’t drink any alcohol when you’re going to drive. However, if you do have a small glass of wine with a meal for example, check the alcohol limit as it varies by country, and is lower than England and Wales in many countries.

Mobile phone - It’s illegal to use a hand held phone while driving in many countries, and of course, it’s always dangerous to do so.

Driving on the right - If driving on the right, remember to be extra careful. It’s really easy to forget for a moment, especially when starting off from a petrol station when you might be momentarily distracted.

Lights - If using your own car abroad, you will require beam deflectors.

Reflective jackets - It is compulsory in many countries that the driver must have a reflective jacket/waistcoat in the car (in Norway and Portugal they are compulsory for the passengers). Our advice is to carry 2 jackets and if you are hiring a car, check that they are supplied prior to departing the UK.

Warning Triangle - They are required in France and many other European countries.

Speed - Speed limits are not uniformly set and vary according to the country and road type as in the UK.

Emergency - 112 is the emergency number to key in to your phone.

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