Tips for Driving in a Foreign Country

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Many travelers prefer to take public transportation or to hire a taxi when they travel. However, in many countries, it is more convenient to have a car. Driving in a foreign country can be exhilarating, and rental companies are open to lending a car to someone with the desire to take control of their own transportation. However, it’s not as simple as getting in a car and driving away. Every country has its own unique laws that range from different regulations regarding alcohol to traffic flowing in the opposite direction. Taking a car trip abroad requires serious research and consideration.

First, obtain an international driving permit (IDP), which you can use in addition to your current domestic driver’s license, if the country that you will be visiting requires one. IDPs are necessary in many countries, but as you plan your itinerary, familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations. Some countries will be happy to allow you on the road with only your domestic license and IDP. Others have cultural barriers, such as restricted driving for women in some Middle Eastern countries, while still others restrict foreign drivers more generally. It is also important to contact your insurance company in order to understand what coverage applies abroad. If you will not be covered, then you will need to seek out a new policy for your rental. Furthermore, consider gaining experience with manual transmission, which is very much the norm in many countries.

The most well-known struggle for drivers in foreign countries is the reverse traffic flow. While most countries follow the example of the United States, where everyone drives on the right, others such as the United Kingdom drive on the left. More niggling problems can also present themselves, such as individual traffic laws. Foreign countries can be very strict about paying citations should you get a ticket, to the point where you will be unable to leave the country until you pay the fine. In developing countries, driving can be far more dangerous for those who are unfamiliar with the cultural differences. If you feel at all unsafe on the road, abandon your car and stick to public transportation. Safety should be every traveler’s first concern.

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