Driving is always the best way to discover places in a new country. It allows you to experience the beautiful sceneries that the foreign land offers without limiting your privacy. Whether you’re traveling for business or leisure with family and friends, you get to travel at your own pace, have control over where you want to spend your time and enjoy the convenience of moving around.
However, you will need to get accustomed to the driving norms of the new country to drive comfortably. For instance, only 35% of the world’s population drives left-handed vehicles, according to Worldstandards.eu. If you use right-handed vehicles in your country and are traveling to one that uses left-handed vehicles, you have to make adjustments. Otherwise, you might end up paying some fines for breaking the law.
Here are four considerations to make your first-time driving experience in a foreign country more comfortable:
What Type of Car Will You Drive?
In some countries, finding your favorite car may be a challenge. For instance, if you drive a Dodge back in the US, finding that type of car for rental in another country may be challenging, so be ready to opt for more available car makes and models. It can also be hard to find an automatic rental car in some places, meaning you have to settle for manual transmission vehicles. If automatic cars are available, you might have to pay a premium price to rent them.
In other cases, the country you are visiting might drive opposite-sided vehicles and on the opposite side of the road. Of course, these are issues that enrolling for driving lessons and courses can help you adjust to. Do some research on the type of vehicles in the country to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Consider the Validity of Your Driving License
Having an IDP (international driving permit) is not synonymous to having the right to drive in any country. The document only translates your driving license into different languages, making it easy for interested parties like car rental companies to gauge your driving skills. Instead, you need to ensure that you can use your license to drive around the new country.
While some countries will need you to apply for a local license, others will accept your driving license as it is. In other cases, your license might only be valid for use for thirty days, requiring you to apply for a local license afterward. It’s also important that you familiarize yourself with the local driving laws and any new changes. Always carry both your driving license and IDP for any situation that will need you to present them to authorities, rental companies, or insurance agencies.
Will You Have Enough Insurance?
Your insurance cover should protect you from any financial implications in case of an accident. Ideally, it should cover your liability towards your rental company, any injuries sustained, and your liability towards other drivers in the wake of an accident. While you might already have auto insurance, it might not cover you while abroad.
Some insurance companies do offer overseas coverage, but their policies might not spread wide enough. Compare your insurance agency’s coverage with what the rental car companies need. In case the coverage has some shortcomings, look for a better insurance option.
How Does Culture Influence Driving?
Different countries will have different cultural orientations when it comes to driving. For instance, in India, cows are regarded as sacred, with most people stopping their vehicles to allow them to cross the street. Understanding such cultural inclinations early will help you know what to expect when traveling to that country. While you might learn new things once you start driving, researching beforehand can help you avoid rubbing other road users up the wrong way.
Driving in a new country can turn into a nightmare if you aren’t acquainted with the country’s traffic norms. Getting a bit of training to get used to driving in a new country is recommended and can mean a lot in the long run. Commit to researching on the traffic rules of the new country to get comfortable driving around.