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How to prepare for a perfect driving holiday abroad

There’s nothing quite like hitting the open road, and that sense of adventure you get when you’re heading somewhere far and unfamiliar. 

Driving holidays are as popular as ever, and with Europe so easy to reach by road, you could make your way across the continent city to city, landscape to landscape. Or, you might be going even further afield, jetting out somewhere exotic and hiring a car from there.

No matter where you’re going, though, it’s very important you are prepared. You’ll need to understand the unique requirements of the country or countries you’re driving through, and ensure you’re safe and ready for those long hours on the road. 

If you’re not sure how to get started, we’re here to help. 

Step 1: Choose and map a route

The kind of preparations you need to make for your trip will depend on where you’re going, so it makes sense to pick your destination and go from there. 

Have a conversation with whoever it is you’ll be travelling with, and discuss some spots you’d absolutely love to visit. From there, you can then reflect on your budget and get a sense of how much you can stretch your road trip either side of those dream destinations. 

Once you’ve got some points on a map, you need to start planning your journey between them. Firstly, is your route feasible? If two points on a map are more than 10 hours away, you’re going to need a couple of stopovers in between. 

If the route is particularly rural, have you checked that there are sufficient supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and petrol stations, to keep you fed, watered, rested and on the move? As the drive is a big part of the experience, it’s always worth checking if there’s a scenic option, too. 

A great way to answer all these questions and plan thoroughly is to print off a large map. From there, you can mark your entire route, using labels to highlight your amenities and stopover points as you book and arrange them. 

Step 2: Check the laws

It’s incredibly important that you understand the laws of all the countries you’ll be driving through. Every nation has its own specifications around things like: 

  • Speed limits
  • Alcohol limits
  • Things that must be carried in the vehicle (e.g. a warning triangle)
  • Adaptations that must or must not be made to the vehicle
  • Road signs 

For most parts of the world, this information should be readily available online, usually from government websites. To help get your head around the laws, check a few reputable sources of important information that cover driving laws in each of the countries you’ll visit and take some time in the run up to your trip to give these a read through each day. 

If you’re travelling across European countries, it’s also worth checking what may be required in the event of a no deal Brexit. Check our dedicated page for more information on this. 

Step 3: Check that you’re covered

It’s a legal requirement that you have valid car insurance for the duration of your road trip, that’s effective in every country you’ll be driving through. 

Depending on where in the world you’re going, your standard car cover may or may not apply, so always refer to your policy documents. 

If your policy doesn’t cover you for the full length of your route, you’ll need to look into a temporary or specialist alternative. 

Remember, it’s not just your car that needs to be covered. It’s strongly recommended that you take out travel insurance to protect yourself and possessions during your holiday, too. 

Step 4: Get all your documents together

Exactly what documentation you’ll need to have with you will depend on your destination, and some locations – even down to individual cities – have very specific requirements. This means you always need to do your research. However, the staple items you will definitely need include: 

  • Driving licence (ID card or paper)
  • Car insurance policy documents
  • Travel insurance policy documents
  • Proof of ID (passport)
  • Any documents for breakdown cover 

To cross some international borders, you’ll need to pay a tax or deposit beforehand. If this is the case, remember to pack  the documents that prove you’ve done this. 

Step 5: Get the right gear together  

You’re going to be on the road for a while, and as much as it’s not nice to think about, there’s always a chance that something could go wrong. Bear in mind you’ll be somewhere that’s very unfamiliar to you – potentially with a language barrier, too – and you can see why it’s important to prepare for all eventualities. 

The individual nature of where you’re going may dictate the things that you need, but staple items you should strongly consider include: 

  • A torch
  • Blankets
  • First aid kit
  • Thick/heavy jackets
  • Satnav
  • Road maps
  • Engine oil and water
  • Sun cream
  • Drinking water
  • Refreshments
  • Replacement bulbs 

Once you’ve got the laws revised, your documents together and the car suitably stocked, you’re ready to hit the road on the adventure of a lifetime! 

At home or abroad, you need car cover you can count on. See what Rias can do for your car insurance needs, when you get a quote today.