Article By Thame Cars Marketing

Driving Abroad

Driving abroad: what you need to know

With the cost of flights into Europe on the increase, more drivers are being tempted to drive into France and beyond.

If you’re travelling with your family this is not only more cost effective, but it can often make the trip more enjoyable and comfortable as you are in an familiar environment.

There are, however, a number of things you need to consider if you want to make your driving abroad adventure as painless and stress-free as possible.

One of our customers who decided to drive to France for a family holiday recently, broke down half way there and fortunately had many of these things in place. We asked him about his top tips for other motorists and here is what he shared.

1) Check your car before you leave
Make sure that all your fluid levels are topped up, tyres are in good condition and other functions such as wiper blades and lights are in full working order.

Minimising the chances of a breakdown is the priority, and keeping your car well maintained is essential for this.

If you’re unsure, it’s also wise to book your car in for an interim service or at the very least the Thame Cars Vehicle Health Check.

It’s best to do these checks at least a couple of weeks before you intend to travel, so if any issues come up you still have time to address them.Text here ...

2) Get your car ready for Europe
Since Brexit all cars driving into Europe have to display a ‘UK’ sticker on the rear. The ‘GB’ stickers or number plate insignia are no longer valid so make sure you have the correct one.

It’s also law in France to carry certain pieces of safety equipment in your car, including a hazard triangle, high-vis jackets for all occupants, a spare bulb and fuse kit and first aid kit. It’s also recommended though not compulsory that you have a breathalyser.

You can pick up a handy European driving kit from Amazon or the Autoparts shop in Thame.

Your car headlights point slightly off to the left to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers. In Europe with driving on the right, this would make matters worse and so you should also either adjust your headlights manually or fix the black stickers (‘beam deflectors’) to the outer casing to achieve the same effect.

Just don’t forget to readjust your lights when you return to the UK!Text here ...

3) What documents do you need?
You need to take with you a copy of your insurance and your vehicle logbook (V5C), as well as your driving licence.

It’s a good idea to print out your car insurance documents and keep them together somewhere safe and easily accessible along with your logbook, so you don’t have to worry about finding a 4G signal if you need to unexpectedly download it.

4) What about insurance?

Check your policy details, but most include cover for driving in Europe. If yours doesn’t, for an additional premium you should be able to upgrade to cover you for the duration of your trip.Text here ...

5) Do I need additional breakdown cover?

Although it’s not compulsory, a European breakdown cover is a very good idea! When our customer broke down he called the breakdown company he had booked with and was able to immediately get advice on what to do next.Text here ...

Having broken down on a French toll road, only the toll operators are allowed to rescue you, for which there is a charge depending on your location and proximity to their local breakdown services. In the case of our customer it was close to 300 Euros, which was covered in the most part by the breakdown assistance policy.

What your policy covers will vary, but our customer’s car was unable to be fixed there and then, and so he was entitled to a hire car to continue on his journey for the family holiday.

On the way back the car still hadn’t been fixed and although this was inconvenient his travel back to Thame was covered for up to £300 per passenger.

The car still hadn’t been fixed 14 days after breaking down and so he opted instead to have it repatriated in its current state back here to Thame Cars, again at no charge to himself.

All this assistance for under £25, making this a part of your pre-travel planning you don’t want to miss!

As for the insurance documents, print out all your paperwork for ease of reference in the event that you do need it

6) Speed limits in Europe
As for the UK, the speed limit varies depending on the type road you are on. These are mostly clearly marked and if you are using a satnav system such as Waze the current speed limit is clearly displayed.

Also keep in mind that European countries use kilometres per hour instead of miles per hour, and it can take a bit of getting used to the equivalent speed.

Driving in Europe can be surprisingly stress-free, but the better prepared you are the more likely your journey will go smoothly.

Don’t forget to get in touch if you’re considering driving abroad and book your car in for a complimentary Vehicle Health Check