It’s the time of year when new and used cars as well as motorcycles from the UK hit the road in Europe. Many of us choose to enjoy a driving or riding holiday abroad, with family or friends or a solo trip. Driving on the wrong side of the road needn’t be a daunting prospect though and there are a few preparations you should take before leaving to make sure you’re both safe and legal.
If you’re going outside of Europe you’ll need to take your driving licence, V5C and insurance certificate as well as an International Driving Permit. If you are driving a hire or company car, or a vehicle on trade plates you’ll also need a letter of authorisation from the owner.
Taking out breakdown cover for your journey can save you time and money, as well as ensure you are put through to an English speaking person if you are in difficulty. If you already have cover, make sure you know which number to ring when abroad as this can vary from country to country. You should also check that your insurance policy covers you abroad. Even if it does, some insurers will want you to let them know the dates of your trip.
Check the requirements for your destination country or countries before you set off. In many countries, you will need to carry a high visibility tabard for everyone in the vehicle to wear if you break down, a warning triangle is another useful piece of equipment.
UK headlights dip to the left which means that when you drive on the right-hand side of the road, oncoming drivers can be dazzled by your beams. Use a conversion kit or have your headlights adjusted by a motor trade engineer before you go, even if you’re not planning to drive at night, better to be safe than sorry.
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Checking your vehicle over before you go can prevent problems from happening on holiday, especially if you plan to cover a lot of miles. If your vehicle is due for a service by the time you get back, consider getting it done beforehand instead. Top up fluids such as oil and coolant and make sure your tyres have enough tread to last the journey.
Remember that weather conditions can be more extreme than at home and can change with little warning. You may not be able to rely on a mobile phone signal to get you out of trouble so make sure you’re prepared if you do get stranded with warm clothes, food and water.
Don’t forget a GB sticker. This isn’t strictly necessary if you have a number plate with the EU symbol but it’s still a good idea to display one.
A sat nav can be a great help when travelling abroad, before setting off you may need to download extra maps for the countries you’ll be visiting. In some countries speed camera detection is illegal so disable this function if your sat nav has it.
Driving abroad can be a fantastic experience. Stay safe, and enjoy.