Holidaying abroad with your car can be the ideal option for many people. Combining the pull of a different culture and warmer weather with the freedom, flexibility and familiarity of your own vehicle can be the key to a perfect holiday.
However, some people set off on their driving holiday without much preparation – often assuming there’ll be little difference between driving abroad and driving at home.
Don’t always assume that the same driving rules and regulations will apply as in your home country. Take the time to swot up on any road rules that are applicable in your destination country. There may be additional legal requirements that must be adhered to in that country that are not in force in your own.
• In France and Austria, you must carry/use the following in your car at all times:
- Warning triangle
- Snow chains. These must be fitted to any vehicle using snow-covered roads in compliance with the relevant road sign.
- Reflective jackets (EN471). You must put on your reflective jacket if you breakdown or are assisting with a break down.
• In Austria between the 1st November and the 15th April, vehicles must be fitted with winter tyres.
• In Spain, as of March 7th 2011, a temporary reduction in the speed limit on highways to 110 kph (68 mph) – this is a reduction from the previous 120kph (75 mph).
Also during 2011, the speed limit in built up areas on roads with one lane in each direction (two way streets) and single-lane streets will be reduced to 30 km/h.
• You should always carry both parts of your driving licence, the original registration and any insurance documentation for your vehicle when driving in EU countries.
For a comprehensive list of European driving tips, try the AA’s country specific guides.
Many people wrongly believe that when travelling within the EU, their car insurance will offer then the same level of protection as it does in their home country. In fact, this is not usually the case.
Normally, your insurance company will still cover you within the EU, but they may downgrade your policy when driving away from the country you’ve taken out your insurance in.
When abroad, you may find that your comprehensive car insurance is reduced to third-party only cover. It’s very important to check that your comprehensive car insurance cover will stretch to fully cover you on foreign roads.
It’s always a good idea to inform your insurer of your travel plans before you set off, to be absolutely sure you have the expected level of protection in place.
Also, it could be wise to have adequate breakdown cover in place before heading off. European roadside assistance could be invaluable if you found yourself high and dry at a foreign roadside.
Make sure you talk to your insurer directly and ask them what would happen if you had an accident while driving abroad. For example, would your insurance include recovery of your vehicle and repatriation back to the UK if necessary?
Bon voyage and happy travels!