If you’re a fan of the open road, then you’ve probably always dreamed about taking a trip around the world by car. International driving can be a fun and exciting adventure – but it can also present some challenges, especially if you’ve never driven in a foreign country before. To help you get started on your ultimate road trip, you’ll need to make some important preparations that will affect not only your enjoyment, but also your safety as you travel.
Make Sure You’re Licensed to Drive
Once you leave the United States, your driver’s license will no longer be valid for anything except personal identification. In other words, a U.S. driver’s license does not give you the right to drive elsewhere in the world.
Before you do anything else, it’s crucial to get the proper documentation that will allow you to drive in your destination countries. The best way to begin is to go online and visit the official tourism website of the countries you’re planning to visit. These sites are usually filled with a wealth of travel information, including specific information about the documents you’ll need in order to drive a vehicle. You can also contact the American Embassy that’s located in the country you’re visiting.
In many countries you’ll be required to have an International Driving Permit before you’ll be allowed to rent a car. This permit will not only confirm that you have a valid license in your native country; it will also give you permission to drive in other countries as well.
If you’re a citizen or resident of the U.S., you’ll be able to get an International Driving Permit from one of two authorized issuers: the National Automobile Club or the Automobile Association of America. The permit costs around $15, and you’ll need to send in an application along with two passport photos. You’ll also need to include a copy of your current driver’s license as well.
Once you’re on the road, you’ll still need to carry your U.S. driver’s license with you wherever you go on you trip. Without it, authorities will not recognize your International Driving Permit as being valid.
Plan Your Route Ahead of Time
There’s nothing worse than reaching the starting point of your road trip and finding out that the roads you planned on using are impassable. If you don’t carefully map out your trip ahead of time, however, this can easily happen.
After you’ve mapped out a feasible route for your different road trips, do a bit of research and make sure that the roads are still passable and open to tourists. Likewise, check on weather conditions; in some areas, roads may be closed due to seasonal conditions such as excessive snow or rain.
Learn the Rules of the Road
In addition to the many international rules of the road that tend to be standard all over the world, every country has its own set of rules as well. By doing some research online and contacting official tourism sites, you can obtain copies of important road rules from your destination countries. This is crucial, because ignorance of the law is no excuse if you’re pulled over by the police for a traffic violation.
If you plan everything ahead of time, then taking an international road trip will be the adventure of a lifetime for you and your family. In the end, your once-in-a-lifetime trek by car will be well worth all the time you spent in getting prepared for the trip and learning the rules of the road.
Dennis Gilroy is an avid driving enthusiast. He also enjoys traveling and his articles mainly appear on auto and travel blogs. Learn about good auto insurance deals before you plan your next big trip.