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Top tips for driving abroad - hiring a car or driving your own

When you get off the plane and you hop in your hire car, you are a much more vulnerable driver than you are at home. For one, you're tired from your journey, and you might be suffering from jet lag. The last thing you really want to be doing is driving, but for many holidaymakers, the car hire company is their first port of call.

Some holidaymakers choose to take their own car abroad and they may have already been driving for hours before hitting foreign soil.

Below you'll find some top tips on hiring a car, taking your own car abroad and road safety.

Hiring a car abroad

  • Shop around for the best deal. Comparison sites are great but remember an independent car hire company might have even cheaper prices
  • Pay for your car hire by credit card, it can offer more protection if there is a dispute over price later on
  • Take your driving licence. The car hire company will need to see it.  You may also need an international drivers permit, these can be obtained from the Post Office.
  • Visit gov.uk to get a 'check code' to share your driving record with the car hire company.
  • Book your hire car in advance - don't bank on there being the right car available on arrival
  • Car hire is more expensive at the airport so consider booking with a car hire company in the nearest town
  • Check the hire car thoroughly before setting off and make sure the wheels are in a good condition
  • Remember that you are most vulnerable in the first 60 minutes of getting behind the wheel so take extra care
  • It's regular practice to return your hire car with a full tank of petrol

Taking your own car abroad

  • Make sure your car your car is fully insured for you to drive in the country you are travelling to
  • Make sure your car is in good nick and has recently undergone a service
  • Consider buying breakdown insurance that covers your car in the countries you will be driving through
  • Display a GB sticker on your car
  • Take a warning triangle with you in case you have an accident - it's a requirement in certain countries
  • Carry a reflective jacket for every person in the car to wear in the event of an accident it's a requirement in certain countries
  • Be aware that sat navs warning of upcoming speed cameras are now illegal in cars in France, whether they are in use or not.
  • Apply headlamp converters if you will be driving on the other side of the road so you don't blind other drivers

Road safety abroad

  • Research the rules of the road in the country you are travelling to. For information about driving in specific countries contact the AA or RAC:
    http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/overseas/countrybycountry.html
    http://www.rac.co.uk/travel/driving-abroad/
  • Share the driving with a travel companion so that you can take regular breaks
  • Try to avoid long journeys that will tire you out
  • Be extra cautious abroad - foreign drivers may drive differently
  • Take a detailed map and plan your journey in advance. Familiarise yourself with the scale of large countries
  • Wear a seatbelt at all times
  • Don't drink and drive - in some countries the legal drink drive limit is much lower than the UK
  • Carry your driving licence and passport with you at all times - traffic police may wish to see them. You may also need an international drivers permit, these can be obtained from the Post Office.

Driving abroad can be the perfect way to see a country. A car can take you to places that public transport can't, and having a car gives you the freedom to travel at any time. Be safe on the road and enjoy the ride!

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