Road Tripping: Top Tips for Driving Abroad

Published on 10 June 2024

One of the best things about travelling abroad is the joy of taking to the road, exploring new places and enjoying new experiences. Whether you prefer to bring your own car or arrange a rental when you arrive, having your own means of transportation offers added flexibility, greater freedom — and no worries about limited luggage. 

Most overseas journeys are fun, hassle-free experiences, but there are a few things to remember if you’re thinking of driving abroad this year: 

  1. Check your car insurance: If you’re taking your own car out of Ireland you should contact your car insurance company in advance. You’ll want to make sure you’re still protected in your destination country and that you have the same amount of cover. Get in touch with your insurer early so you have time to talk through all the details and add extra benefits if needed.
  2. Research road rules: Many European countries have rules and regulations about what you should carry in your car, including a first aid kit, reflective jacket or warning triangle. You might also need to display certain documentation, such as French clean air stickers — Crit’Air vignettes — which list your vehicle’s emissions. Researching your destination’s requirements before you leave can help you avoid a hefty fine on the road.
  3. Drive carefully on the correct side: If you’re not used to driving on the right, you’ll need to take extra care on the road, particularly at junctions and roundabouts, as most mistakes are made here. It’s best to drive slowly, take your time on approach, and think about every manoeuvre ahead of time. You could also pick up a simple windscreen sticker before you head off to help remind you of the correct lanes.
  4. Opt for a reputable car hire company: If you’re thinking of renting a car abroad this year, make sure you use a company that’s recognised for good quality, well-maintained vehicles. Always check the car for damage and make sure the agent notes down any scratches or dents before you sign the agreement. Photographing or video recording the vehicle before driving away might also help protect you from being charged for damage you didn’t cause.
  5. Assemble an emergency pack: Car accidents can happen anywhere, but they might be particularly stressful overseas. It’s a good idea to print your motor insurance policy documents and phone numbers, along with a copy of your licence and keep it in an envelope within easy reach. You should also add a portable phone charger, water and snacks in case you have to wait a while for help.
  6. Plan your route in advance: Satellite navigation has made road tripping a lot easier in recent years, but it’s still very possible to become overwhelmed and confused on new roads. Take a moment before you leave to check your route so you can remember key stops, changes in road quality and what tolls to expect. It might just help save you from a wrong turn…and a family argument!
  7. Consider extra storage: Even the biggest of boots can suddenly seem very small when you consider luggage, pets, kayaks and more. This is where a roof box or bicycle rack can prove very useful, adding many litres of extra storage space. It’s a good idea to speak to an expert before buying, though, as you need to make sure it works with your car’s dimensions and your ferry’s height limitations.
  8. Choose the right ferry: If you’re taking your car abroad, you’ll probably sail from Ireland to Britain, France or Spain. Check travel blogger accounts to see what to expect in advance, including cabin size and embarking / disembarking experiences. Remember, you probably won’t be able to access your car once you’re sailing, so make sure to bring an overnight bag, especially if you’re travelling with children.

Whether you’re off to Bournemouth, Brittany or the Costa Brava, having four wheels at your disposal will open up a new world of possibilities, from tiny roadside restaurants to sleepy fishing villages and breathtaking scenic views. Our final advice for driving abroad? Get prepared early, drive carefully…and have fun!