Driving is always a fun and liberating experience for many people. The experience is even more fun, although challenging, if one drives in a foreign country. Apart from being able to explore places at your own pace and time and saving on travel costs, you get to test drive new vehicles including your favorite car.
Most countries allow tourists to drive in their lands. They have rental cars available at airports and other locations. However, it is a must to first check the laws and other related factors of a foreign country in which you wish to drive. Keep in mind that traffic laws, volume, driving habits and road conditions are not always the same in what you’re used to.
Before planning your trip, here are some important considerations to remember.
International Driving Permit
The first thing you need to do is to check your driver’s license. Do understand that not all license can be used in a foreign land. An international driving permit (IDP) only translates a driver’s license to different languages but you still need to bring along your domestic license when traveing abroad. The IDP may not be required by car rental companies but you will have to present this to police authorities in case you get involved in road accidents. It is also required when filing for an insurance claim.
Having the right auto insurance is also very important. Basically, there are three types. One covers liability to the car rental company in case their vehicle gets damaged while you’re using it. The second covers injury to yourself and other people riding in your vehicle and the third covers liability towards other drivers in case you’re found to be at fault in a road accident.
Make sure you check with your local insurance provider if your auto policy will cover your abroad. You can further verify from the website of the embassy of the country you are planning to visit.
Countries vary when it comes to their traffic laws hence, tourists must be responsible enough to know them even before they travel to their destinations. Familiarize yourself with the basic traffic regulations including legal age, speed limits, use of emergency equipment, headlights, parking spaces among many others.
Also, do learn about right-side and left-side driving. You may be used to left-hand driving but in the country you are traveling to, the vehicles there have the steering wheel on the right side. As such, you will have to make some adjustments as not every one is capable of being flexible when it comes to this aspect. Countries that drive on the left include Australia, Japan, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines while countries that drive on the right include the U.S., Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark and the southern countries of Africa among others.
Another thing to be mindful of is the toll fee. Tolls are collected at some areas in order to drive on certain highways or across tunnels or bridges. You know that there is such a fee you need to pay when you see a booth in the middle or side of the road. Most often, tolls fees are paid in cash or vouchers although some countries like Italy allow credit card payment.
There are also areas where no booths exist but the toll fees are collected by filming the plate number of the vehicle. The bill is then sent to the owner coursed through the rental company.
Still in other countries such as Austria and Switzerland, only a valid sticker is used to allow for unlimited driving within a specific period of time. If the driver fails to display the sticker on the windshield, his vehicle will be photographed and a citation will be sent to the owner or the rental company.