Driving abroad - a guide

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It’s never been easier to take your car to mainland Europe – as long as the French aren’t on strike of course. Which they usually are.

Still, if you strike it lucky, you can have a great adventure without having to pay a fortune. The thing that puts most people off going to Europe – apart from not being able to speak the language – is knowing the rules of the road. 

You can have a great adventure without having to pay a fortune

Driving on the right is only the start of it; you also need to brush up on a stack of other things to make sure you don’t end up handing over a fortune in fines. A good starting point is to check out driving.drive-alive.co.uk, which will tell you everything you need to know to stay safe and legal. That means: 


  • Leave any speed camera locators at home, as they’re illegal in parts of Europe. Get caught with one and it’ll be confiscated and you’ll be fined too.

  • Pack a warning triangle, fluorescent jackets, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and some spare bulbs – all of which are worth carrying anyway. You should also fit headlamp deflectors so you don’t dazzle oncoming traffic, and a GB plate for the back of your car is essential too.

  • Buy the most detailed atlas you can – or if you use a sat-nav, make sure its maps are up to date. Getting lost in the streets of Hamburg or Paris isn’t much fun, if you can’t find your way out.

  • Carry identification with you as you may be asked for it, if stopped by the police.  Never leave it in the car though; take it with you at all times.

  • Carry out basic car maintenance before you go.  For example, make sure your oil and water are topped up and your tyres have enough tread.

  • Blood alcohol levels are generally stricter than in the UK (0.5mg/ml rather than 0.8mg/ml in the UK.  If you're driving, don't drink.

  • Contact your breakdown cover provider to get your policy extended to cover you whilst abroad.