Before you hit the road for your summer holiday on the continent, make sure you have got these essential safety and legal tips under your (seat) belt.

Driving abroad is, let’s face it, a bit like travelling into the unknown. Different traffic signals, unfamiliar signs and driving on the other side of the road are just some of the disparities you may have to tackle. These must-read top tips will help to keep you out of harm’s way while on roads and to avoid an unpleasant confrontation with the police.

Check the driving laws

Always take note of the specific driving laws in the country you are visiting. These can normally be found on the local government website. Write them down a couple of weeks before you leave and keep revising them so they are imprinted on your brain. Then take the note with you so the rules are close it hand if you are at all unsure while en route.

Make sure your insurance is up to date

Some car insurance policies only cover driving in the UK. Check the documents to ensure your policy covers you in the country/countries you are visiting. If not, upgrade your insurance and ensure you have all the documents with you, including emergency contact numbers. It’s also advised to take out good breakdown cover should your car let you down while you’re abroad.

Sort out the documents you need

Remember to bring your full driving licence, your passport and any driving permits or visas, if there are needed in the country. You can find out what you need on each country’s government website. Make sure you look weeks before you go to allow time to apply and receive the documents in time for your trip.

Get your car serviced

Getting a qualified technician to check over your car will help to prevent a breakdown. Giving your car a once-over is particularly handy before a trip abroad when you might not be able to get the parts and service you need should anything go wrong.

Check your tyres

Most tyres have two pressure ratings; one for a full car and one for when the car is unloaded. If you are travelling with passengers plus baggage, remember to top up or deflate your tyres by the manufacturer’s recommendations. The levels can be found either on the inside of the front door or in the driver’s manual.

Invest in a sat-nav

Getting lost abroad is never fun and trying to read a map and road signs in a different language are a test of willpower. Take the stress out of the drive and keep your mind focused on the road ahead by investing in a satellite navigation device that includes your destination country’s roads.

Check which side of the road you need to drive on

This goes without saying, but it is surprisingly easy to forget which side of the road you are driving on. Check before you go and keep reminding yourself while driving.

Check what you need to carry in the car

Different countries require you to carry different forms of identification and safety equipment. Check the country’s government website to find out what you need and start buying the gear weeks before you go. These are usually available at your manufacturer’s local dealership.

One final word of advice…

Keep your eyes on the road at all times. If unsure of anything while on the move, be it the route or a traffic signal, pull over safely and solve the problem before switching the engine back on.

Need to know more?

Get in touch with FG Barnes if you have any questions on driving abroad. You can fill in the online contact form or phone us during opening hours to speak with a member of the team.