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Essential Items to Pack When Driving Abroad

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 28 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Essential Items To Pack When Driving Abroad

Being organised before travelling abroad can be one of the best moves you make. Leaving everything to the last minute is all too common, so it’s no surprise that people tend to forget essential items, usually when it’s too late. If you’re planning on driving abroad however, it’s extremely important that you’re organised and pack all the essentials you’ll need for your journey. Doing so can save a lot of stress at a later date and will ensure you reach your final destination safely.

Papers, Insurance and Licences

Some of the most important things to take with you when driving abroad are all of your car papers so that you have them in case of an emergency. You should always pack your registration document, your passport, your driving licence (including the green paper part if you have a photo licence), your insurance certificate and of course any breakdown scheme information you may be part of. It’s worthwhile checking if you need an International Driving Permit before you leave and if you do, take that along with your regular UK licence. If you have been issued with a Green Card, take that also, it’s all handy to have, even if you don’t need to use most of them. If you do have a breakdown policy with a recovery service, ensure that you have their contact numbers with you. Make sure you have the local branch numbers, or numbers to reach them on if you’re calling from outside the UK. Often large recovery schemes will have branches in other countries or will have agreements with local recovery services to help you if you need it. Keep all of your papers safe and with you at all times along with your regular travel insurance papers. If you can get a list before you travel of emergency helpline numbers for each country you’re visiting, this could save you a lot of fuss should you require them in the event of an accident.

Essential Items for Your Car

Driving abroad isn’t only about ensuring that you have all the right paperwork, it’s also about ensuring that you have everything you could possibly need in the event of a breakdown or an accident. Pack a spare set of car keys – it’s extremely common to lose car keys and if you’re abroad it could be difficult to get hold of another set quickly. Keep them on you and never leave them in the car. Also make sure you pack a warning triangle and are familiar with local laws on when to use it. Having a handy small fire extinguisher and tool kit in the car can be useful also, as can spare bulbs and a first aid kit. Even if your're not involved in any accidents, it’s worthwhile keeping these in your car. It’s all too easy to be involved in something when you’re on unfamiliar roads and of course seeking help in a new country isn’t always easy, especially if you’re not coherent in the local language. Having a few blankets and some bottled water is also a great idea for your car as it will mean you’ll be able to keep yourself hydrated and warm in the event of a breakdown during the night. Always ensure that your car has a clearly visible GB sticker on the back if your number plate doesn’t have that information on it. In some cases, failing to show a GB sticker when driving abroad can lead to a serious fine, so sort it out before you leave. If you’re going to be driving on the right hand side of the road, you’ll also need to pack headlamp converters to take with you. Check the local laws in the country you’ll be driving in to see if there’s anything they consider essential that you wouldn’t necessarily think about. In France for example, it’s now mandatory to carry a reflective jacket in your car along with the warning triangle and you can be given on the spot fines if you don’t have these.

Items to Pack for Specific Circumstances

If you’re planning to go to a wintry climate, make sure that you pack your own set of wheel chains. Many countries require these if you don’t have a 4WD vehicle and you should be able to pick them up fairly easily from most large car stores. You should also pack a spare tyre if you can as it’ll often be easier for you to just change the tyre yourself than wait for a recovery service. You should be aware that the use of police radar detection units is illegal in many European countries, so don’t pack that if you want to be free of fines – better to just stick to the speed limit! Some organisations such as the AA have ready-made kits for driving in Europe that contain headlight converters, first aid kit and other essential items such as a drivers handbook containing information on each country. Purchasing one of these and packing it in the car can be a real help on your journey, so consider spending a little extra to get one before you head off. If you do use all of these tips, your drive abroad should be relatively carefree and a joy for everyone in the car.

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