Things you should know when driving overseas

Posted by: Cal on 12/05/2014

Category: General

Have you ever arrived in another country, hired a car - but had no idea of the road rules? It's not an ideal position to be in. 

From driving on the 'other side of the road' to countries with truly chaotic streets, it's important to learn a little bit about driving overseas before you arrive at your destination.

Here are some tips, tricks and a few reminders of basic common sense to make sure you are being safe and responsible driving abroad. 

Be prepared

Learn as much about your destination's roads as you can before you get there. Are you going to a less developed nation that might have poorer quality roads and fewer safety standards? Are you heading somewhere that drives on 'the opposite side'? Will there be animals on the road at night? Familiarise yourself with these factors - it can make a world of difference.

Weigh up the pros and cons of a self-drive, too. In some cases, you might feel safer opting for a charter bus, coach or taxi.

If you do decide to drive, make sure your vehicle is in good condition, including the tyres. Check the body of the vehicle for any damage, as well as the tyres for any nicks or punctures, and ensure all the car's functions, such as lights and indicators, are working before you leave the rental company. Inform them of any pre-existing issues before you go, such as a scratch in the paint work, so you aren't liable for it upon your return.

Other foreign driving essentials include a map, or even better, a GPS system in case you get lost or cannot decipher a local map. Bring your mobile phone and always tell somebody trustworthy of your travel plans, such as destinations and scheduled arrival times. Always carry a bit of extra food and water in your vehicle as well. 

Make sure you can legally drive in your destination

Every country has different stipulations when it comes to foreign drivers, so you'll need to check up on the rules before you leave.

For instance, while in many countries showing your full drivers' license will be enough, some may require an International Driving Permit or a translated document. Another nation might have required you to carry your full license for over a year before you can legally drive there, or you might have to be a certain age. 

Car rental companies will all have their own policies too, which you'll need to comply with. Some may allow P-plate drivers, but you might have to pay a higher premium, for example.

Get insurance

Most car rental companies will require you to have some form of standard insurance when you hire the vehicle - but if not, make sure you do opt in for it. Consider taking out a policy with fuller coverage, too, rather than just the basics. 

Just like health insurance or travel insurance, this is important. While accidents can happen any time, they're even more likely to occur when you're driving somewhere unfamiliar, with new conditions and hazards. 

Make sure you follow good common sense and don't take any risks. Always have the basics covered - for instance, wearing your seatbelt, driving when well-rested and alert only, driving to the speed limit and using child restraints if applicable. 

All in all, keep common sense and basic responsible behaviours in mind if you're about to hit the road in a foreign country. Make sure you're driving a well-maintained vehicle, are aware of the conditions and are following the rules. Then all that's left to do is enjoy your holiday!