Travelling can provide some of the most memorable experiences in a person’s life, and the journey can often be just as enjoyable as the destination. These trips can create lifelong memories that you can cherish with amazing travel photography. Every traveler knows that transportation is an essential part of travel in a new country. Getting around by train, bus or taxi is usually sufficient. However, these will usually leave you dependent and limit your exploration options. Travelers might prefer the independence and freedom of driving a car while abroad, but it can be a headache if the trip is not planned properly.
Nowadays, most countries in the world offer rental car services. Though booking a car to drive in another country is a huge commitment that requires advanced preparation. There are numerous additional requirements for driving abroad, and every country can have different regulations for international drivers. Road trips around the world can be incredibly fulfilling and exhilarating. Remember that there is also more chance for things to go wrong. Our guide to driving around the world can help you steer clear of these potential road blocks.
Define Your Itinerary
Before you begin your travels, it is essential that you define your itinerary as thoroughly as possible. Try to map out exactly which countries you will be travelling through. Planning out what countries you will be visiting will help you to adequately prepare for the trip and meet all the specific travel requirements. Define which countries you plan on driving through and research them to help you better anticipate what you might come across on your journey.
Some roads in developing countries can be poorly maintained, or there might not even be any paved roads at all. Make sure you have a general idea of the types of roads you will be travelling and the weather conditions you might be facing. Keeping an accurate itinerary and researching your trip can help you plan everything from the type of car you will be renting to the routes you will drive.
Get the Required Visas, Passports and Vaccinations
International travelers are required to have numerous travel documents in order to visit different countries. Make an extra copy of all your travel documents in case of an emergency and leave a copy with a trusted friend or relative at home. Documents required for international travel should be acquired a few months in advance to ensure that all documents are valid and approved in time. Check expiration dates carefully and renew any expired documents early.
- Passport: Ensure that it will be valid for at least six months after you return home and that you have at least two blank pages for visas.
- Visas: You may be required to get a visa before you travel to a foreign nation. Contact the embassy of the countries you will be visiting for specific visa requirements.
- Medications: Some medications, including prescription drugs and narcotics, are illegal in other nations. Contact the embassy of the countries you will be visiting to ask about regulations and required documentation for medications before you travel.
- Vaccines: Get the recommended vaccinations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization before travelling.
Check the Driving Requirements for Each Country
Many nations have specific driving requirements such as age restrictions and insurance mandates. Call your current insurance agent to check where your policy is valid. Most U.S. insurance policies do not apply internationally, so you may need to purchase additional coverage to legally drive on your travels. U.S. travelers can rent a car while abroad, and most rental agencies provide insurance for their vehicles. Travelers are recommended to purchase more than the minimum insurance requirements in order to ensure that they are adequately insured in case of an emergency.
U.S. driver’s licenses are not recognized in many countries. Instead, travelers should apply for an international driving permit (IDP) which provides an official translation of your U.S.-issued driver’s license in various foreign languages. An IDP makes it legal for voyagers to drive abroad and it can also be used as a valid form of identification. Always carry your U.S. driver’s license in addition to your IDP. Currently, you can get an international driving permit from the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). Both agencies also allow for you to apply for a permit while you are already overseas.
Brush Up on Traffic Knowledge for Each Country
Read about road safety for the countries you will be visiting. Familiarize yourself with some important country-specific driving information such as:
- Potential hazards and dangerous road conditions
- Unsafe areas to avoid
- Local laws and driving culture
- A country’s embassy in the United States can provide more information
- Although texting and driving may not be illegal in some countries, it is equally dangerous around the world.
- Local emergency numbers
- Differences in roads and vehicles
- For example: which side of the road cars drive on.
- Local law enforcement and how to handle any driving citations or tickets you may receive on your journey.
Plan and Prepare Appropriately
The last thing you want on your international road trip is to be unprepared. There are a lot of things to consider that can make the difference between a memorable and exhilarating trip and a disastrous situation.
Preparing Your Vehicle
Rent a car in advance to give you time to find the best rates and insurance policies for your specific needs. Choose a vehicle that can handle the type of roads and terrains you will be driving through. Consider your need for spare parts (especially tires), fuel and a navigation system. It is much better to be over prepared than underprepared, especially when you are so far away from home.
Additionally, automatic transmission is something that many in North America take for granted. In many countries around the world, renting a vehicle with automatic transmission can be difficult or even impossible. It is essential that you know how to drive a manual transmission in order to be ready for any driving situation.
Setting up Accommodations
During your international travels, you will need to find accommodations for both yourself and your vehicle. When considering places to rest at night, you want to make sure that your vehicle is safe. Vehicle theft can be a risk, but there are steps you can take to try to protect your vehicle. Always park in well-lit areas and lock your car when you step out. Hide your valuables out of sight or take them with you. You should also consider staying places that are slightly further away from your destinations if they are better suited for your car-parking needs.
Driving Around the World and Back!
Use all of these tips and your now very well experienced driving skills to take unforgettable road trips. Find your way out on the open road no matter where you are in the world!