Guide To Driving On Holiday

Driving to a UK or European holiday destination is a popular option for many . However the journey to and from a dream holiday can quickly turn into a nightmare without the correct preparation. has produced a guide to holiday driving so that motorists can avoid the pitfalls of driving in unfamiliar territory and give themselves a better chance of enjoying a well earned break.

Check Motoring Laws in Foreign Countries

When preparing for a long drive it is important to take into account two main factors.

The first is to ensure that the vehicle is in good working order. When driving on holiday it may be the case that hundreds or even thousands of miles will be covered to get to and from the destination. Using a car for these longer journeys requires a bit of extra care and attention in order to try and make the drive as safe and comfortable as possible – and to try to minimise the chances of a breakdown spoiling the holiday.

The second factor is undertaking adequate research into the motoring legislation of the country or countries that are being driven visited. Being prepared to drive on the opposite side of the road is not the only difference when driving in Europe; the rules of the road differ significantly from country to country too.

Vehicle Checklist

A good place to start is with a vehicle checklist.


It is recommended that tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, using the guide in the car manual. Be mindful that the vehicle weight maybe greater than usual as it is likely to be heavily laden and this will require the tyres to be inflated further to compensate for the extra weight. Again, check the car manual for details. Remember to check the tyre tread too - the minimum allowed in the UK is 1.6mm, however 3mm is a better guide for a long journey. If unsure take professional advice.

Fluid Levels

With the car parked on level ground and with a cool engine, check all fluid levels including:

  • Engine oil and coolant
  • Brake, clutch and power steering reservoirs
  • Windscreen washer fluid
  • Automatic transmission fluid (if appropriate)

Replenish fluids where necessary in accordance to the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.


Perform checks to ensure all of the car's lights are working, including fog and brake lights. Check that all lights are clean and, if driving in Europe, install headlight adjusters when you are on the ferry or in the Channel Tunnel. UK vehicle’s headlights are designed for driving on the left-hand side of the road. This means that when using a vehicle in right-hand drive countries oncoming drivers will be dazzled at night. Headlight adjusters blank out the part of the beam which could dazzle oncoming drivers.

Air Conditioning

Check that the air conditioning is working properly. If in doubt, get the air conditioning serviced and gas topped up.


Remember to take the car insurance certificate, car registration document and driving licences. Some European countries require the vehicle owner to carry these and some countries outside of the EU may require an International Driving Permit.

Check the car (or bike) insurance policy to make sure adequate cover is included. Some policies may not cover European travel at all; others may only provide insurance for the legal minimum level of cover in the country visited. If in doubt, phone the insurer to check.

It is recommended to have adequate European breakdown cover. Make sure that all the documents regarding breakdown cover are to hand, just in case.

First Aid Kit

Having a first aid kit on board is recommended and is mandatory in some countries - sunburn cream and some antihistamine tablets could be useful also. Finally, do not forget that travel sickness can easily spoil a trip so pack remedies for this.

Motoring Legislation

With the vehicle prepared it is now time to research any specific country’s motoring laws. We are unable to list every country or every requirement but have included some popular driving destinations and some of the key requirements for motorists.

For more information on the things you may need to take when travelling abroad please visit


The French recently introduced new driving legislation and is one of the most stringent when it comes to motoring. Drivers must have a new, unused breathalyser and it is recommended that a spare breathalyser is also carried. France has also recently banned speed camera warning devices, including those integrated into a sat-nav system. If the sat-nav has this feature it needs to be disabled. In addition, signs warning motorists of speed camera areas have been taken down and more fixed cameras installed.

The motorway speed limit in France is 130kph and kit required in the car includes a red warning triangle, reflective jackets and breathalysers.


The Spanish are very strict on overtaking, indicating both before and after an overtaking manoeuvre is compulsory. Failure to do so can result in on the spot fines. If the driver needs to wear glasses then a spare pair of glasses is required by law and, unlike some other countries, two warning triangles are required instead of just one.

The motorway speed limit in Spain is 120kph and kit required includes two red warning triangles , replacement light bulbs, reflective jackets and a spare pair of glasses if the driver is a spectacle-wearer.


Many town centres in Italy feature zones called “Zona Traffico Limitato” (ZTL). Traffic in these areas are either fully prohibited or they can only be used by residents, so be careful not to stray into these areas. Also, sounding a horn is also prohibited in certain built up areas.

The motorway speed limit is 130kph and the kit required includes a red warning triangle, replacement light bulbs and reflective jackets.


Many motorists think that Germany’s autobahns have no speed limit and this is correct in some instances. Only 20% of Germany’s autobahn network does not have a speed limit; the rest has speed limits enforced by the police.

There is no motorway speed limit unless one is shown in which case it is 130 kph. A red warning triangle must be carried.

We hope that this guide to driving abroad is useful. Happy motoring and enjoy the holiday!

14/05/2013 08:21:16 Eren

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