Driving abroad has always had a stigma attached to it; it’s deemed too stressful with traffic signs written in another language, too confusing with different road rules (not many but there are a few), no one has a clue what to do if they’re in an accident and don't even get started on the battle of driving on the other side of the road. When I was living in London, I found that it certainly paid to do your road rules research before you left for a weekender. I’ve heard so many different stories from friends that when I came across an article on driving aboard in The Sunday Times Travel magazine, I knew right away I had to share it with you. Put simply – don’t believe everything you hear on the road.

Myth #1: Foreign fines don’t matter Unlike the UK and Australia, the police often issue on-the-spot fines in European countries such as Spain and France – aka you have to pay the fine on the spot, not 14 days later. These hefty fees are handed out for minor and accidental infringements, such as speeding by 10kph or driving the wrong way down a one way street. Before you go on your weekender, check out different global regulations at THEAA and FCO.

Myth #2: You can drink and drive
Remember that rules for drinking driving can be stricter than at home. Even if you are under the limit, there are some countries which do not allow you to drink at all when you drive. Both Russia and Slovakia drivers are not allowed to touch alcohol.
Myth #3: Insurance is included in the price of your hire car
Sometimes hire cars only come with third party insurance, in which case you should invest in Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) separately to cover damage to the car itself. But be warned, the exact coverage can vary significantly so make sure you insist on an explanation. CDW often doesn’t cover the excess so purchase this via an annual policy. Insurance 4 Car Hire has annual excess insurance from $75, which works out much cheaper than buying it through a hire company. And remember, booking a hire car online is cheaper than haggling at the airport!
Myth #4: German autobhans have no speed limit – woo hoo!
Not true. Only 40% of Germany’s motorway network allows you to throw caution to the wind. You should also be aware that many European countries have banned devices, such as sat-navs, that alert drivers to the location of speed cameras.
Myth #6: Fuel prices are a nightmare wherever you go

Petrol prices, especially in Europe, vary wildly. The best value for petrol in Europe is Spain, France is reasonable and Italy is costly with Norway being the most expensive. These differences can add up to three figure’s on a weekender so remember that supermarket petrol stations are cheapest. For up to date European fuel prices visit Drive Alive.

Have you got some other tips for driving abroad?

TipsJaharn GilesComment