What You Need to Know Before You Drive Abroad

When you are traveling internationally for work, it’s important to plan how you will get around once you arrive at your destination. In some cities, public transportation will be sufficient, but in many places, it will make more sense for you to rent a car to get to and from your meetings. This can be very exciting—it’s a great way to explore outside of the major cities and take in more of the culture as you travel. That being said, it can also be an incredibly stressful. There are different laws in place, maybe a different language than you usually speak, and you could even be driving on the other side of the road than you’re used to—no wonder many international travelers feel overwhelmed at the idea of driving! That being said, if you are properly prepared, there is no reason you can’t take advantage of this convenient transportation option. Here are some tips for driving internationally.

Book Your Rental Car in Advance

There is no advantage to putting off renting a car until you get there. In fact, you could end up sabotaging yourself if you do. Many countries are only going to have a limited number of cars or specific cars you can use. The last thing you want to do is show up in a foreign country and find out that you are going to have to figure out another way to get around. Once you book your flight, book your rental car as well.

Get an International Driving Permit

In many countries, you will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to drive. Even if it isn’t required by law, many rental car companies will require you to get one. This is a good idea in case you get pulled over or in an accident. It’s easy to get an IDP through your local driving association, and it only costs 20 dollars, so it is worth it for peace of mind alone.

Familiarize Yourself With Insurance

Before you start driving abroad, you want to make sure you are fully covered by insurance in case anything happens. In most countries, you will be required to have insurance. It’s possible your company already has a global insurance plan that covers you during business trips, so make sure to inquire about that. Your credit card also often extends coverage to meet the country’s minimum, so give them a call to get the details of your coverage before your flight.

Learn the Laws

Before you start driving, it is essential that you research the driving laws of the country you’re visiting. While international traffic signs are often universal, the first time you drive abroad, you are not necessarily going to be familiar with them, so make sure you have done your homework beforehand. Chances are, your rental car company will provide you with a map and a guide to local road signs.

Use GPS and Maps

If you travel extensively, chances are, your GPS is your best friend. That being said, it is always wise to keep a physical map in your car should your smartphone die or lose reception. Fortunately, if you have a wireless internet hotspot like Sapphire, you don’t have to worry about having an internet connection while you’re on the road, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t Drink and Drive

You shouldn’t drink and drive regardless of where you are, but you should be particularly mindful when driving in an international country. Many countries have stricter rules about driving under the influence than in the U.S., and even one drink may be enough to charge you with a DUI. Don’t risk it—if you’re driving, don’t drink at all.

Allow Extra Time

Driving abroad is different than driving in the U.S., so it’s best to not put too much pressure on yourself to get places quickly. Leave yourself more time to get to your destination than you would normally so you don’t have to rush. It’s possible that the speed limit will be slower than you realize, or you will get lost. Give yourself a time cushion for these moments, and driving internationally will be a lot less stressful.

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