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Planning your Trip When Driving Abroad

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 1 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Planning Your Trip When Driving Abroad

A sure fire way to turn an exciting fun trip into a nightmare for yourself and your passengers is to fail to plan your route. Many people head off on long journeys with the idea of simply taking it as it comes and seeing where they end up. Although this can be adventurous, it can also mean you end up getting lost, being stuck in traffic, failing to find the right locations to stop and even running out of fuel if you’re very unlucky. Taking some time out to prepare can save you a lot of stress and heartache later on, so make it an essential part of your trip planning.

Relying on Modern Technology

One of the easiest ways of planning your trip abroad is to make use of some of the excellent sat nav systems currently available. Most sat nav systems can be picked up relatively cheaply now and will generally cover the UK and Europe if you buy the right one. You can also buy specialist maps for some other countries if you need them, so you really have little excuse for getting lost. If you want to be extremely well organised, you can even map points on your sat nav even before you leave the UK, making sure your entire trip is planned out for you. There are a number of benefits to this:
  • Always know which roads to take
  • Exact distances and times will be calculated
  • You can ensure you know refuelling stops in advance
  • Local eateries and other points of interest will be shown

If you already have sat nav in your car, make sure that it is up to date and has recent maps on it. If you’re buying a portable sat nav, check with the salesperson whether it has all the features you need and always make sure that you learn how to use it before you set off!

Traditional Methods of Planning

Many people will rely on more traditional methods of route planning for their trip abroad. Using a reliable map or specialist street map book can be easy, so long as you have someone along to help give you directions. If you’re concerned about being organised on the route, why not map out all the major routes you need to take first and go point to point, ensuring you have plenty of places to stop and refuel. If you do decide to use a map for your road trip abroad, always ensure that:
  • You have a good idea of the general roads before you go
  • Someone will help with directions when you need them, or stop at the side of the road
  • Make sure the books or map are up to date
  • Always check for local service stations so you’re not caught out between fuel stops

Items to Take and Tips for Planning

If you’re going abroad there are a number of essential items that you should always include in your planning before you leave. Before you leave, check what items you’re required by law to have in your car in each country and ensure you have these. You should also:
  • Take your Green Card if you have one, as well as your UK licence and International Drivers Permit
  • Make sure you have insurance and take it with you
  • Take your car registration papers
  • Always know the local emergency services number for the area you’re in as well as local recovery services
  • Let someone know where you’re expecting to be at each stop of your journey

As well as this, always remember to take breaks when needed, ensure you always have enough fuel and if you can, book in to accommodation beforehand so you’re not stuck with nowhere to stay. If you’re planning to do any city driving, ensure you avoid the areas around the city at peak traffic hours and always be aware of any traffic exclusion zones.

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