It’s said that one of the best ways to explore a new country is to get out and live like one of the locals. This often means driving in another country. Not only is this a great way to see the countryside, the freedom of having your own mode of transportation will allow you to travel according to your own whims – not those of some preset tour schedule. With a little careful preparation, driving in another country can be fun and safe. Check out the following information for tips on how to prepare for your overseas driving adventure.
Start with the U.S. Department of State website. They have special articles about road safety and articles specific to each country you may be considering visiting. Also look at the site for the embassy of the country or countries you’re planning to visit – they’ll usually include information about driving, traffic laws, as well as general safety information. You can find a list of embassy websites at embassy.org.
Your next information gathering stop should be the national tourism office of the country or countries you plan to visit. After all, it’s their job to encourage tourists to visit and to prepare them for a wonderful visit. They’re happy to give you the information you need on driving laws in the country you’ll be visiting. In many cases, you can find the links to these groups websites on the embassy’s home page.
Once you’ve checked out these various official sites, try some unofficial sites. There are a number of travel forums where you can talk to people who can give you first hand information on their driving experiences in each country. Some forums you might want to consult include AARP, Lonely Planet, or Graffiti Wall.
Travel guidebooks also include information about traffic safety, car rentals and driving laws. Remember that other countries’ laws can be very different from ours – for example, using a cell phone while driving in another country can subject you to a serious penalty. And when it comes to drinking and driving, it’s best to just avoid that altogether.
One other important consideration you’ll need to make is whether or not the country in question requires you to obtain an International Driving Permit. This is the kind of thing best planned for in advance. In fact, when you’re making sure your passport is up to date; it’s a good idea to take care of this as well. It’s far better to have an International Driving Permit and not need it than to find you need one when it’s too late to get one.
Finally, talk to your automobile insurance agent. You may or may not be covered when driving in another country. If you aren’t, you may need to purchase special travel insurance, either here or through your car rental company in the country you’re visiting. Just be sure to find out what kind of coverage you have first to avoid any unnecessary expense.