The Challenges Of Driving Abroad

Driving at home is generally pretty straight forward. You will be accustomed to the rules of the road, you’ll have a car, your own motor insurance and a great degree of comfort. Yet when you go abroad everything will change. Here are four challenges to watch out for if you drive abroad.

The Wrong Side of the Road

For some reason countries tend to drive on the wrong side of the road – this is incredibly annoying as there doesn’t seem to be any real reason, yet it’s a challenge when driving abroad in some countries. If this is the case in your destination of choice, you will have to adjust your driving and make sure you remember to switch over yourself. Luckily, this is less counter-intuitive than you might think.

Foreign Signs

If you are driving abroad you are likely to be exploring new ground – this makes signage very important. Yet if the signs are in a foreign language, you are in a bit of trouble. To combat this you will need to come well prepared with a map and a good idea of where you’re going. A navigator is another great way to avoid getting lost, as they can concentrate on the map while you focus on the road.

Traffic Rules

Traffic rules are largely the same the world over, yet there are rare, yet significant, differences. In some countries you can turn on a red light, while in Melbourne you can do giant swooping ‘hook turns’. Be sure to acquaint yourself with the rules of the road so you can be prepared for whatever comes around the corner.

The Unofficial Rules of the Road

The way people drive in different lands varies incredibly: in Italy for instance, driving lanes are a recommendation while in Germany you can go at devilishly high speeds. Do some online research to find out how people drive, and be ready for some slightly different habits in the people you share the road with. Driving abroad is certainly a challenge, yet if you prepare you will be just fine. Also ensure you take your time and don’t rush, even if everyone around you is speeding away.

This guest post was brought to you by HSBC, “The World’s Local Bank”.

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17 Responses

  1. Jackie says:

    I recently did quite a bit of driving in New Zealand. I’d been a little worried about the transition to driving on the “wrong” side of the road, but it really wasn’t that hard, except in parking lots, where there were no lines painted to remind me. My biggest challenge was that I kept switching on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signals. (The controls on the steering column are reversed too.) Luckily it wasn’t raining much of the time there anyway 😉

  2. MoneyCone says:

    I always follow others! Will be lost if I’m the only one in the road and in the ‘wrong’ country!

  3. krantcents says:

    Luckily, every time I drive in Europe, I have a person in the passenger seat to check the navigator or read signs. There is a lot to contend with beside driving on the other side such as kilometers vs. miles, poorly marked roads and highways, and parking. Cars in Europe are generally smaller and there are less of them, parking can be a problem. Last time I drove, I was lost half the time. Normally, we did pretty well driving around the UK and France.

  4. Transitioning to the US roads (keep right) after growing up in Australia (keep left) to not all easy. I once left a gas station at night and drove the wrong-way towards oncoming traffic. It freaked-out everyone involved, including me.

    In Spain I used to drive while surrounded by mopeds. I once saw a guy with wife, and son, and a lawn mower on a single moped. Dangerous, yes, but It’s whatever you are used to I suppose, and at $9 per gallon for gas I will be riding a moped too.

  5. 101 Centavos says:

    After years of living in the Middle East, where driving conditions are sheer lunacy, I had to adjust to the relatively genteel in the U.S. after we moved back. Took me a while to deprogram myself from thinking that left and right shoulders are alternate passing lanes. 😉

  6. The WRONG side of the road?! I’d have you know us Brits think that you’re driving on the wrong side of the road!

    Driving conditions not only differ country to country but they also differ city to city too. Driving in London, for example, is a completely different ball game to driving elsewhere in the UK. You can guarantee nobody will let you out of a junction and a momentary pause on the road will definitely be met with a LOT of honking of horns.

    • Buck Inspire says:

      Haha, good point. I’m sure there are tons of Aussies who think our toilet bowls go down the wrong way, too. Never made it out to London, just laid over in Heathrow. Thanks for painting the driving picture for us here over the pond. Cheers!

  7. Kellen says:

    That and supposedly in Germany when a cop pulls you over, they will always get in *front* of your car and then do it. That one would probably be easy to figure out, except if they are *behind* you with their lights on, it could mean that you’re going too slowly. In all, that seems more problematic for a Germany driver coming to the U.S. who is unaware of the differences.

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