6 Easy Tips to Confidently Drive Abroad When Renting a Car
By: Tamir Davies
Last updated: 22 March 2018
Spring is here, and summer will soon follow, with millions of Brits jetting off for some sunshine, warmer seas and sipping on countless Piña coladas. It’s all worth it once you arrive at your destination, but how do you get there?
Renting a car abroad isn’t everyone’s first choice, due to the uncertainty of how to drive in a country that you're unfamilar with. But renting a car abroad is proving even more popular for easiness of travelling around, and knowing your cost of travel, whilst being able to make your own timetable.
Driving abroad can be a daunting experience, especially if it’s your first time. Some things you must consider are: driving on the opposite side of the road, familiarising yourself with local laws and regulations, and understanding the etiquette of locals, it's a challenging one.
But let’s face it, you must start somewhere – and perhaps you leave it to your partner or to a family member to sit behind the wheel when you go abroad, but maybe this year is different. It’s about time you rose up to your fear and followed these 6 easy tips to confidently driving abroad when renting a car.
Choose a small car
Even if you drive a 4x4 back home, opt for a smaller car when abroad. When you’re driving for the first time abroad and renting a car, you have a lot to face head on. You may be used to a big car at home, but when renting a car abroad, the roads are often very different and learning the width of your car is not an easy task when you're away just for a week. If you know you are coming with a lot of luggage, assess beforehand whether the car you choose is suitable.
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Similarly, to choosing a small car, going automatic is a great way to calm your nerves when driving abroad for the first time. Automatic cars are practically impossible to stall, so there’s no hesitation should a situation arise and you feel pressure mounting from drivers behind you. When you rent a car abroad, opting for one that is automatic is quite common, and it just means you have a much easier ride, where you can feel relaxed and focused. And the beauty of an automatic, you just need to learn how to start it, and everything after that is self-explanatory. No pre-lessons required!
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Don’t let locals push you around
When renting a car abroad, your first impulse reaction is to mould in and be like the locals, so you’re not percieved as a tourist, who has lost his way and driving slower than their speed limit allows. On the one hand, you wish to learn from the locals, so you pick up driving abroad more easily, but at the same time, you don’t know how ‘legal’ their driving habits are. Not to mention, the last thing you need is an intimidating driver who pushes you around, causing you to feel flustered and panicked and to do something wrong. Just stick to the slow lane if in doubt, and go above and beyond doing what you think is right. Do this, and hopefully no one will notice you’re not another tourist.
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Take a Sat Nav
No matter if you’re at home or abroad, one of the biggest anxieties for drivers is a fear of getting lost, or not having the means to find your way easily. On top of this, it is daunting to rely on the knowledge of locals who perhaps don’t speak your language. So, whenever you rent a car abroad, take a GPS with you that can be configured in the country you’re in.
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Get to know local driving laws
Every country has driving rules and regulations that are important to recognise and understand when renting a car and driving abroad. Truly each to their own, some laws are more obscure than others – but nonetheless important, as if you are caught in the act, thinking you have done no harm, you could pay the price. Before you go away, get reading – buy some books, or simply browse the web, but make sure you read up on some of the basic driving laws, so you feel more prepared.
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Don’t be too over ambitious
When driving abroad, don’t over-estimate how confident you feel on the road. Whether it is day 1 or day 8 into your holiday, you should still refrain from driving too much and for long periods of time without a break, as you can become easily tired when tackling local traffic, which could be a danger to yourself, your passengers and those on the road. If you’re planning on driving into heavily populated cities, or areas – don’t. it may be worth your time, money and confidence to avoid it like the plague, to risk feeling nervous.
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