Visiting a foreign country in your own car gives you a sense of freedom that you couldn’t get otherwise. It allows you to set your itinerary and get a better sense of local culture and customs.
In order to do it safely and comfortably, you should take the time to carefully plan the trip out. There are some important preparations to handle before the trip, such as making sure that you have the proper paperwork and that your car is in the right condition for a long drive.
Renting a Car
Renting a car is the best way to go since it allows you to finish your trip at any destination you choose and leave the car there. It’s important that you investigate the renting regulations and the agency you plan to use beforehand so that you don’t get scammed.
In most countries, you’ll need to have an international driving permit, issued by the International Drivers Association in order to rent. Make sure you are covered in terms of insurance as well and keep in mind that in most cases, it’s mandatory to insure your car and to have proof that you did with you, at all times.
Have a Loose Schedule
A fun thing about driving yourself is that you don’t need to stick to a schedule. Take advantage of that fact when you’re planning out your trip and focus on a couple of stops that you need to make and leave yourself plenty of time to explore everything in between.
That way you can hit all the marks that are expected of a tourist, but you can also get lost in the country you’re visiting, and for a brief time at least – experience it like a local.
Make Plans for Your Phone
Your phone will be an indispensable device during your trip. Make sure that you have a local SIM card available if yours wouldn’t work abroad. You should also purchase enough data so that you can use the phone while far away from Wi-Fi and in case you need GPS support.
In some cases, this won’t be enough and especially if you’re planning to travel far from major cities if that’s the case you should rent a GPS device for your car. It comes with its own insurance policy you’ll need to cover.
Plan for Breaks
Taking enough breaks isn’t just about making you comfortable during a long trip, it’s also a way to make sure you’re alert on the road and therefore safe. The rule of thumb is that you should take a break every two hours and never drive more than 8 hours in a day combined.
Breaks can also be used to replenish your snack supplies, grab a meal and explore the area you’re currently in. This often provides a more authentic experience than focusing on tourist hubs alone.
Study Local Traffic Laws
Some local traffic laws will differ from those you’re used to and it helps a lot of you if you take the time to inquire about these before the trip. Being aware of traffic laws makes you safer on the road and allows you to drive without having to divert your attention from the road.
As a general rule, try to be extra careful when driving on the roads you’re not familiar with and to go a bit below the speed limit. If you’re stopped by the traffic authorities, make sure you’re respectful and to be honest about any infractions you might have made.
Have Some Cash with You
It may be a good idea to have some cash in local currency with you at all times. For the most part, your cards will do just fine (but you need to factor in the fees for using them abroad), however, cash can still be useful.
It will allow you to tip quickly, and that’s the custom in many parts of the world and it means that you can shop at small stores and cafes that don’t allow for cards. There are still those, especially in small towns you may need to stop in, while you’re on the road.
International road trips can be a lot of fun, but they require some planning and preparations. Try to anticipate your needs while you’re on the road and prepare for them before you leave and you’ll be safer and more comfortable while in a foreign country and far away from major cities.