I love to travel and have been very blessed to be able to see a lot of the world so far, both when I was growing up and now with the hubs and family. Still so many places I would love to visit though like Australia, Bora Bora and yes, Iceland. I will get there eventually!
Pretty much without fail when we go away, we rent a car. Things are so much easier when you can just get in a car and work on your own schedule – particularly with children. My two always sleep well in a car too, which is a bonus for visiting different places and having them to be able to nap on the way.
We have had different experiences of road tripping and hiring cars, obviously dependant on the country we are in, so I thought I’d share a few of the tips I have learnt along the way, hopefully to help you on your travels…
- A lot of our road trips have been in the US, as let’s face it, there is a lot to see and do so each time we go we try and fit in a lot and visit different places.
- If you will be visiting a few states, do your research before hand as each state has slightly different laws and rules. Some states allow you to turn right (like our turning left) on a red light as long as it is clear, but some states don’t. You don’t want to be that annoying person holding up the right turners because you could be going but aren’t.
- In the US flashing your high beams to give way to someone is not recognised as being friendly as it is over here but more to do with road rage, so just don’t do it.
- You have to park on the side of the road you are driving on and the car has to be facing forward (ie not facing the traffic). You can get fined. Seriously.
- Look out for fire hydrants that will be on the path. If you park too close to one, you will get a fine – speaking from experience on that one – ouch!
- Drive defensively. Always be aware of nearby vehicles and anticipate, wherever possible, the movements of other drivers.
- In Europe, particularly in Spain, be aware of radar speed traps as they are very common and the fines which must be paid on the spot in cash can be heavy. Again, speaking from experience!
- If you are driving your car to Europe, it is required to have headlight stickers and a red triangle, motor insurance and a GB sticker etc because you are driving on the other side of the road / in case of an emergency. Plan ahead as this is a requirement.
- Have some change in your car handy for when parking, as places like Spain have people that watch the cars and if you don’t give them a little ‘tip’, something is more likely to happen to your car. Shocking but true.
- If you are visiting Thailand, there really are hardly any road rules – drive with extreme caution.
- Using your headlights to indicate is fine here but no one uses their horn.
- There is little in the way of car seats so if you need them for your children, you’ll have to bring them with you on the flight. Seatbelts in the back seats are optional!
- A general tip for countries in Asia and Europe, is that anything could be in the road – sheep, cows, snakes… so take extra care and be on the constant lookout.
- When you are booking a car rental, check what is included in the price. I have found European countries generally let you know the whole cost up front. Each time we have rented a car in the US, it has always been way more than expected. They add on a lot of extra taxes, and state taxes and insurances…
Good luck on your travels! Where are you planning to go to next?
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*collaboration with Accident Advice Helpline.
Sensible tips. I would add that in some European countries (such as France) you’re also expected by law to have items such as a fluorescent hi-vis jacket, so it’s always good to check the detail.
I’ve always loved the freedom of driving when on holiday, both pre and post-kids. It’s the best way to cover multiple locations in big countries such as Australia, the US and New Zealand, all of which we’ve done in hire cars.
We’re heading to the French Alps in a couple of weeks’ time – flying out and hiring a car rather than driving ourselves. We decided it’s just a bit too far and the kids are just a bit too young to drive ourselves this year, but if we do it again in the future we may well just head over to the Eurotunnel with our own wheels.
have a lovely time! I don’t think we will be driving to Europe until our children are much older – it would be a nightmare. Flights aren’t so bad with them 🙂
These sound like great tips – I have only driven in Europe but definitely agree with making sure that you know the requirements in advance and tips about local customs, such as making sure you have change for tips when parking is always very helpful to know.
Thanks Louise – crazy how different places are isn’t it?