Many people feel nervous before driving in another country. In many cases, they are driving on the other side of the road. In addition, they are faced with following rules that they may not fully understand.
However, there is no reason to be anxious before getting behind the wheel. Simply follow these tips and you’ll feel better (and drive safer!) when the time comes to venture out on your own.
1. Get A Feel For The Car
Driving on the “wrong” side of the road is daunting enough, so it is important to get a feel for the car before you take it out. Sit in the driver’s seat. Go through the motions of putting the car in gear. Once you feel comfortable, go for a short drive down some back roads. If there is an empty parking lot nearby, that is a great choice as well. You can get a handle on the different controls and build your confidence before you are out in traffic.
2. Go Automatic
If you are really concerned about taking a car out, think about getting an automatic vehicle. You don’t have to worry about it stalling, because you won’t need to change gears. All you have to do is keep your eyes on the road and the car between the lines. Driving an automatic makes for a much more relaxing trip.
If you are not used to automatic vehicles, think about renting one near your home to test it out. You’ll feel much more comfortable practicing with it on familiar roads, and you’ll be that much more confident when you try it out in another country.
3. Do Your Research
Look up the driving rules and regulations for the country you are traveling to. They could be significantly different from your own country, so it is important to familiarize yourself with them ahead of time.
It essential that you know which side of the road to drive on. In addition, find out what documents must be in the car with you. For example, do you need your license? Do you need some type of document showing your travel plans? If you have a child, look up the car seat laws.
5. Focus On Your Own Driving
Drivers in the country you are in may be a bit aggressive, so focus on what you are doing and don’t let them distract you. Most importantly, don’t allow them to get you riled up to the point that your focus moves from the road to their actions.
If you find yourself getting frustrated with what is going on around you, move over into the slow lane and calm down. If you feel distracted, find a safe place to pull over.
6. Get A GPS
It is not easy to navigate foreign roads, and as such, getting lost is a real possibility. Ask the rental company to provide you with a GPS. You can also bring one from home. You’ll have no trouble getting to your destination and it will help to take some of the stress off you.
7. Take It Easy
Don’t pack your schedule full of different stops. Since you are just getting used to driving in another country, take it easy until you start to feel comfortable behind the wheel. Don’t travel very far and limit your journey to one or two stops. In addition, try to stick to back roads so that there is less traffic.
If you have to go to the city, navigate to the suburbs and hop on public transportation. That way, you won’t have to worry about being in the thick of it until you are comfortable enough to handle it.
8. Stay Home If You Are Tired
You must be alert when driving, particularly when you are in a foreign country. Don’t get on the road if you haven’t had any rest recently. If you find that you can’t focus on the road, pull over and take a break. You can even take a nap in the car if you need to, but make sure you are in a safe, well lit area.
9. Go Small
Unless you have several people traveling with you, choose a smaller car. They are easier to handle and you won’t have any trouble parking them. In general, always pick the smallest car that works for your needs. Driving a big, bulky vehicle on unfamiliar roads is a recipe for disaster.
10. Take A Class
Advanced driving classes focus on helping you drive well wherever you are. They teach you how to be a defensive driver, so that the actions of others don’t cause you to lose focus while on the road. If you have plenty of notice before traveling to another country, think about taking one of these classes. They will help you get ready to drive in an unfamiliar environment, which will be great for your confidence.