For many driving abroad can be a daunting prospect, especially when the country uses the opposite side of the road.
It’s a common apprehension for expats in particular, as they naturally want to retain their freedom whilst living abroad. Yet, when you’re already a less than confident driver, you will understandably have anxieties and concerns about driving in unfamiliar surroundings.
However, being cautious isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to driving overseas and it’s wise to use this to fully prepare yourself and take measures to increase your safety and confidence.
To lessen the stress for particularly anxious drivers it is perhaps a good idea to take this into consideration when choosing your country of residence and location, where of course this is an option. For example – opt for a country which uses the same side of the road, a location that isn’t a congested city or a nation which has similar driving laws to your own country.
Before you set off on your first journey overseas, consider making some of the following preparations.
Each country comes with their own set of driving laws, many of which can differ significantly from your own country. Therefore, be sure to do as much research as possible to fully absorb the laws of the country you will be travelling to.
Driving laws can range from driving with headlights on 24 hours a day to being unable to park facing traffic, so it’s well worth taking the time to comprehend them.
At the very least having an understanding of the signs and symbols, will likely alleviate some potential stress and concern.
Choice of Vehicle
When hiring or purchasing a vehicle in your new destination, opt for something small and easy to manoeuvre. In doing so, you will find it easier to park and get around.
Furthermore, choosing an automatic car can be a great idea as there is less to think about during the car journey, giving you more capacity to take in your surroundings and focus on the road ahead. Automatic cards are also impossible to stall so this is an added bonus.
If you’re relocated for a considerable period you may wish to buy a car straight away, but instead you might wish to rent a car to begin with.
Whilst you may want to hire a car from the airport, you may wish to use public transport until you’re settled. By selecting quieter roads for your first foreign car journey, you can ensure your first trip will be a less likely stressful experience.
Plan ahead and research car hire firms near smaller towns and view the route from there to your destination. Ideally look for route which doesn’t include major or busy roads.
If this isn’t an option and you have to drive via a motorway or highway, stick to the slow lane until your confidence builds.
Whilst this isn’t always an option, if you have the option to have someone accompany you on some of your first car journeys, they will be able to provide much needed moral support, not to mention help you navigate the foreign landscape.
Where this isn’t possible, be sure to use GPS which will provide directional assistance.
For especially nervous drivers, you may benefit from taking a few lessons in your new country of residence to get fully acclimatised to the experience. This can be wise when you’re required to drive the reverse side of the road.
In doing so, you’ll be receiving expert support and knowledge and have a chance to practice in a safe environment.
Also remember, that some countries will require an international driving permit (IDP).
To further prepare yourself ahead of your relocation, you could also take an advanced driving course which may improve your overall confidence with driving.