- IDP contains an authorised translation of your domestic license.
- The document allows you to drive in more than 140 non-EU countries, including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
Many people think that driving abroad is hectic, but it is if you do not do your research properly and get your documents in advance.
It is okay, you will be nervous driving in a foreign place but rental experts at StressFreeCarRental.com have given us tips you ought to consider before getting behind the wheel in another country.
#RULE 1: Research local traffic rules
Drivers should get familiar with international driving regulations to prevent unintentionally disobeying the law of the foreign country.
“If you are going to Tanzania or Rwanda, best research the rules of the traffic of the place. In some countries like Rwanda drive on the left side, unlike in Kenya, people drive on the right side. Being familiar will save the shock and panic,” Michael Ndungu told the Star on Friday.
Ndungu has travelled to more than 12 countries and has driven himself in most of them.
“Driving comes with its good and bad side, but I car hire so that I can drive around the country more freely and save the cab money,” he said.
In some countries, people can have a few drinks before getting behind the wheel, whereas some have zero tolerance when it comes to drinking and driving.
“Motorists may have to get ready to drive on the opposite side of the road or keep their headlights on at all times. The speed limits also vary a lot from country to country.”
#RULE 2: Check if you need an international driving permit
You may need to apply for an international driving permit to drive in some countries.
IDP contains an authorised translation of your domestic license.
The document allows you to drive in more than 140 non-EU countries, including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
“In some cases, you might want to get an international driving license, I got mine from AA driving school here in Kenya.”
#RULE 3: Get insurance
Whether you are driving abroad or domestically, insurance, a driving license, a passport, Travel Visa, and a National ID card are a must carry.
“It’s important to ensure that the vehicle, whether it’s hired or your own, is covered by insurance in case you get into an accident. Having a good breakdown cover guarantees a stress-free trip and makes sure that car issues won’t ruin the trip,” StressFreeCarRental said.
Motorists can upgrade their existing cover so it is valid abroad or it is also possible to take out a short breakdown policy for just a single trip.
Note some countries require insurance valid in the country you are driving to and your country insurance as well.
#RULE 4: Bring the required documents
StressFreeCarRental said that drivers should carry vehicle registration documents, car rental paperwork, documentation of motor and travel insurance, and a visa if required.
“Make sure your car is correctly equipped. In many European countries, it’s compulsory to have a safety equipment kit in the car. The kit generally contains a reflective vest, a safety triangle, a first aid kit, and a fire extinguisher,” they said.
It is also important to check if you need specific tires in the country that you are travelling to.
For example, during colder months some countries legally require drivers to use winter tyres.
#RULE 5: Check if you need an emissions sticker
Some European countries, have to put in place an emissions sticker scheme to curb pollution by only allowing vehicles that pollute the environment at a minimum rate to enter larger cities.
The stickers identify the car’s emission levels and in their absence drivers risk getting a hefty fine.
#RULE 6: Get headlight converters
When using a personal car to travel to a country where people drive on the opposite side of the road, drivers must get headlight converters.
These are stickers that regulate the dipped beam of headlights and keep oncoming drivers from being dazzled.
#RULE 7: Use a GPS
A satellite navigation or map app might come in very handy when driving in an unfamiliar place.
It will enable you to focus on driving instead of having to find your way around in the new environment.
#RULE 8: Service your vehicle
Ensure your car is in perfect condition before you set off. This will keep you from landing in trouble with the local traffic and spending huge amounts of money lost to fix the situation in the garage.
#RULE 9: Toll service and payments
In many places and now in Kenya’s expressway, tolls are collected for the privilege of driving on certain highways or across certain bridges or tunnels.
According to WikiTravel, there are various ways in which this is accomplished.
The most common method is by a good old-fashioned booth in which money is collected either with cash, vouchers, or a device that is placed on the windshield of a vehicle.
In some places, including Italy, individual tolls can be paid by credit card at the booth while in some places, there are no booths.
Some countries collect tolls simply by filming the number plate of the vehicle, and the bill is sent to the owner.
In this case, the rental agency will pass this cost on to the renter. An example of this is Israel's Highway.
On the Intercounty Connector in Maryland, USA, motorists have the option of paying using the EZ-Pass system on the windshield or by having their plate filmed and a bill sent by mail.
If the latter option is chosen, the toll is 50% more.
#RULE 10: Fueling your car
Fueling your car in the country is close to a must should your tank run out. In some places, the fueling stations are automated, while some places have attendants.
Prices vary depending on the country you are going to, therefore it is best you do your research on the fuel prices beforehand.
Keep in mind that when you drive in a foreign land, you are sharing the road with those of a different culture and you must adapt to their way of life.
“Once you get a hang of it, it will be a smooth cruise,” Ndungu said.