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Driving Internationally - What You Need to Know Before You Go

With the right preparation and knowledge, driving abroad can be an exciting and safe experience. This blog post provides readers with a comprehensive checklist of everything they need to know, from researching the driving laws of the country to how to obtain an international license.

  1. Car Insurance Car insurance coverage for rental cars definitely depends on your personal car insurance policy. Generally, if you are renting a car, it is recommended that you purchase a separate policy or rider that is specifically meant to provide coverage for a rental car. Many personal car insurance policies do not provide coverage for rental cars, so it's important to check your policy to be sure.

  2. The vehicle Knowing what kind of vehicle you will be driving is also important. If you can’t drive automatic and manual, you should check – and in my experience DOUBLE check – they have the type available you need. If you’re an American, it’s good to keep in mind that automatic cars aren’t as big all over the world as they are in the US.

  3. Know the laws and regulations Laws vary from country to country and from state to state. For instance, if you are visiting France with a vehicle from the U.K., you might need to register it before your trip. Be sure to check the local regulations in your destination before making any commitments or purchases. It is also important to be aware of the standard safety regulations and laws in the country that you are visiting. In many countries, seatbelts must be worn and using a phone while driving is strictly prohibited. Remember, each country has its own rules and regulations, so it is best to research them before hitting the road.

  4. International driving permit Different countries have different rules and regulations regarding the use of foreign driver's licenses, but most countries do not require an international driving permit for foreign visitors and tourists. Before traveling to a different country, it is a good idea to check the regulations that apply to that country. I will say, if you are driving in a location where you’re not sure how well they speak English, I’d get an International Driver’s permit just in case. They’re really cheap, easy to get and essentially just a booklet that translates your license into tons of different languages, so if you ARE pulled over, you’re prepared.

  5. Road Signage Before you drive, take time to research the signs you will likely encounter, such as local traffic signs, road safety signs, and other signs that may be unique to the area. If you can print off a cheat sheet of key signs to easily be able to reference, I highly recommend it.

  6. Be PATIENT! – and adapt your driving style If you’re in a totally new country, you’re presumably encountering at least slightly different roads, signs, and types of drivers. It’s important to be extra careful––cue being a Grandma driver–– and let your aggressive driver tendencies take a back seat if you have them normally.

  7. Getting gas This might be a Malina specific thing, but I have been VERY confused A LOT of the time when getting gas in foreign countries. The car I had in Iceland had two different types of tanks, and the gas stations in Malta had a very strange pre-pay set up that took me awhile to figure out. Make sure you don’t wait for the last minute the very first time you need gas, and I recommend going to a busier gas station the first time so if you need help, it’s there.

  8. Practice practice practice Make sure you practice driving on the same roads and routes that you will be taking during your trip. This will help you become more familiar with the roads and routes, as well as the rules of the road.

  9. Stay Connected: How to Find Help When Lost You should be prepared to not have working cell service on your journey – because, it happens! I highly recommend having a physical map as well as the location downloaded on your Google Maps so if you don’t have service OR you have a dead phone, you’re extra prepared.

  10. Do you REALLY need to drive? This might sound silly - but really ask yourself if it is necessary to drive. Driving in a foreign country can be extremely stressful and can end in dire consequences BUT in some cases it’s really the only way to see certain places. All in all, if there is transport available otherwise, it’s still my preference because of the liability, safety, and honestly expense.

Now that you’re ready to drive abroad, leave a comment telling me which of these tips you had never thought of!

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