One of the most wonderful feelings in the world is the freedom that a motorcar gives us. We are not talking about the daily commute here mind, far from it. Think instead of driving down open roads, seeing sights that we have never seen before, taking in sounds and views that we previously had only ever dreamed about. This exhilaration is multiplied when we drive along a stretch of road, previously not driven, and even more so when we hit the open road abroad.
Here we look at some basic tips as to how to get the most out of the experience and how to avoid the pitfalls. Think, you might understand the UK drink driving laws, but what about those in where you are going? Think if I ever got in trouble at home I could call on the services of a drink driving Solicitor, but what would I do here? Finally always remember that ignorance is no excuse, and just like anyone driving in the UK would be subject to speed limits and UK drink driving laws, what laws are you subject to as you drive along? But enough of all of these negatives, what else should you consider to really enjoy your trip?
At home, you have your car just the way you like it, seat in the right place, arm rest adjusted, and radio tuned in. So before you set off, get the car just right for you to drive it, so that you are not adjusting things on the open road. A few minutes whilst stationary can mean less distractions during your hours behind the wheel.
You love changing gears right? But what if the gear stick is on your right, will that throw you off? Perhaps therefore, think about maybe driving an automatic, so that you can just focus on pointing the car in the right direction and keeping your full attention on the road.
Firstly know the speed limits and the penalties. Also it might be wise, given that you are on holiday, to know the different amounts of alcohol each country permits you to drink before you are over the limit – as a little bit of guidance, Scotland is different to England so you can cross the border and suddenly be over the limit.
Side and Slow
Do you drive on the left? Yes. Does every country? Of course not. Also, driving on the right means going around roundabouts in the opposite direction which can be more than a little confusing at first, as can lane changing, so best to stay in the slow lane until you have adapted to the speed of the roads, the correct side of the roads and any roundabouts. Remember, the USA doesn’t have many roundabouts, but Europe has thousands.
Different cultures, how shall we say, express themselves differently. Their drivers will reflect these cultures and you might get shouted at, so get used to it. It may be friendly, it probably won’t be, but just try to ignore it at first. Let them shout, after all they have no idea that you are terrified!
Gone are the days of unfolding and folding maps that seem to fight the very act of folding itself. Instead, if you are to drive abroad, then it is okay to be a little lazy and rely on a GPS system to navigate for you. It reduces the tension, provided the instructions are in English, and can let everybody else in the vehicle (don’t forget they are on holiday too) enjoy the view. Plus, it causes less holiday tension when you are shouting at a machine rather than the navigator/map reader.
Do not try to cross countries by the day, take it slow. After all it is better to see all of one area, than none of many. Driving tired is also not recommended, nor driving after a drink!
Small Is Best
Some countries have little narrow streets and the smallest of small parking spaces, so by picking a smaller car you will feel more comfortable parking and navigating tight gaps. This is probably best across Europe, but in America of course, big is always beautiful.
Back to School?
It may be wise to have an advanced lesson or two before heading off, but then again, most UK drivers will think that they know best. It is just a helpful suggestion though and not a criticism of your driving…
Driving abroad is liberating, but can be frustrating. It can be fun, yet can be frightening. It should never be avoided, but should always be planned. Hopefully these few tips and the guidance offered will make your trip more enjoyable, so much so that the next time you are stuck on the morning commute, you will have happy memories of the open road to look back on, right before you blow your horn.