Perhaps you are traveling abroad this summer or simply taking a vacation to a foreign country. Although you’ll be flying to your destination, you’ll also be planning on driving around to all of the exciting spots rather than taking an Uber.
Driving in another country can be enjoyable but somewhat stressful as well. Read below to discover 5 driving tips that will keep you safe while driving overseas.
Tip #1: Obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP)
An IDP is required by most countries in order for you to legally drive a vehicle on their roads. IDPs can only be issued by the United States so you must take care of this before you leave for your trip.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) are the only two locations that are able to issue an IDP. The application takes approximately 10 minutes to fill out and you’ll receive your IDP within 2 weeks. You can apply in-person or through the mail. More information can be found on the AAA website.
Tip #2: Study the Laws Before You Leave
When you learned to drive for the first time, you had to take time to study the driving manual. Knowing the “laws of the road” was required in order for you to receive your license. Your approach should be no different when understanding how to drive in another country.
Try to locate your particular countries driving manual. Look for noticeable differences in the way natives drive or how their laws fluctuate depending on certain circumstances. For example, the speed limit in France will change depending on the weather. France also requires drivers to carry a few breathalyzers at all times. Make sure you are aware of these odd differences.
Tip #3: Map Out Your Route
One of the most overlooked steps in planning a trip is mapping out your route. You can avoid a lot of unnecessary backtracking and time spent driving around aimlessly when you properly plan your trip. Depending on your GPS in a foreign country should be more of a backup plan if anything, especially if you don’t speak or read the language.
Have a print out of your starting and ending points so you have a frame of reference if you get lost or turned around. It’s also a good idea to keep a map of the city you are visiting in the glove box in case you need to inquire about a certain location and how to get there. Pointing to something on a map can supplement the language barrier if you need to ask for directions.
Tip #4: Be Mindful of Where to Park
Arriving at your destination is just half the battle. Knowing where to park your vehicle is just as important. Trying to find a parking spot downtown in a large US city is not very enjoyable. It can sometimes ruin your entire evening or even get you lost. Imagine trying to accomplish this in a foreign country.
Before you begin your days’ journey, make sure you locate the appropriate parking spots for your final destination. You can do this as you plan your route for the day. Research the specific times, prices, and locations of where you plan to park. Make sure you bring extra cash in case you have to pay for parking in a garage that doesn’t accept your credit card.
Tip #5: Memorize the Emergency Services Information
This tip is simple and to the point: know the number for any and all emergency services. Whether you get stranded on the side of the road due to vehicle troubles, see someone else in danger, or get into an accident yourself, knowing who to call is vitally important. Try your very best to memorize this information but also write it down and keep it with you at all times.