10 Tips for Driving Safely and Cheaply Abroad

Right-hand drive car with stick shift


When planning a holiday, one of the main things to consider is transportation once you arrive at your destination. Peoples’ first thoughts usually drift to scheduling train or bus trip or even a taxi transport to their accommodations.

The truth is, driving can be an affordable option as well – and at times, can be even save you money. To some, the thought of driving in another country can be overwhelming but as long as you’re prepared, everything should go smoothly. Below, we’ve put together some of the top tips you should know before hiring a car on your next holiday:

Make sure you have proper documentation. 

Check the rental car regulations in the country you’re travelling to. Some require special permits like an International Driving Permit in addition to your driver’s license and passport. These permits can usually be obtained by the city’s motoring organization. Without these, you won’t be able to pick up your rental.

Check your travel insurance and Credit Card Company. First, check with each of these parties to see if they cover rental insurance in another country. Sometimes, they also cover the costs associated with mechanical problems and any medical expenses from an accident.

Know the rental company’s policy. If your insurance or Credit Card Company doesn’t cover rental, talk to the rental company and see what they offer. Most automatically cover liability, but you’ll still need to purchase a Collision Damage Waiver that usually costs between 10 and 25 Euro per day. If you’re travelling to Italy, insurance is a requirement.

Know which side of the road to drive on. Drivers in most countries drive on the right side of the road, but in some countries, you’ll need to drive on the left. Be absolutely sure you know the rules of the road before driving in another country. If you need to remind yourself, consider putting stickers on the dash and be especially careful when making turns or merging into traffic.

Learn the rules of the road….before you drive. Although most road signs are universal, it’s not always the case depending on where you travel. Study the road signs before driving and make sure you’re comfortable with them.

Be aware of how gasoline is priced. If you’re driving in the United States, gasoline is usually measured by gallon. In many European countries, it’s measured in litres. There’s usually not a significant difference in price between gasoline stations, but knowing first will help ensure you’re not surprised when you see the receipt.

Don’t drink and drive. 

Yes, this is the case everywhere but pay special attention to the laws in other countries. Some have a zero-tolerance policy that, if caught, could leave you with a hefty fine.

Familiarize yourself with the speed limits. In most European cities, speed limits are noted in kilometres (not miles). City limits are usually 50 km/h or less, while motorway speed limits may allow you to drive up to 100 km/h. Do know that officials won’t hesitate to fine you immediately. In France, driving above the speed limit is an easy way to get your license taken away.

Use common sense. Even if other drivers are rushing past you, make sure you continue to drive under the speed limit and try not to become angry. Any gestures you make can be interpreted much differently in other countries.

If an accident occurs, contact your insurer immediately. In the unfortunate event of an accident, take photos of the car and all damage. Then, call the insurance company immediately.

Consider these tips before booking a rental car in another country. Knowing them before you go can help save you a lot of money and unneeded stress.