Destination Europe

Stress Free Travel: Driving Abroad

Posted on
July 10, 2016

Back in February we took our car to France and found that driving abroad isn’t as difficult as we thought it would be, although driving on the wrong side of the road did take some getting used to.
Before venturing across the channel we made sure that we familiarised ourselves with the rules of the road in France as they’re not the same as at home and we didn’t want to get caught out.
It is also important that you take your car documentation, insurance certificates, breakdown cover and passports with you and you must also ensure that you have a Euro Travel Kit which contains European driving must-haves including headlight converters, a warning triangle and Breathalyzers.
We chose to take our own car instead of hiring at the time, as all our car seats were fitted and they can be expensive to hire, plus we knew and felt comfortable driving our own car, but in hindsight I would now choose to hire a car for travelling abroad after my car engine seized whilst en-route to a short break in Cornwall. To cut a long story short, our breakdown cover was not adequate and it cost a small fortune getting home, so imagine what would have happened if it had seized whilst abroad.
My top tips on hiring a car abroad are:
Plan Ahead!
Hiring a car anywhere abroad should be a relatively easy and transparent process and my top tip is to plan ahead and book before you travel as it is easy to be bamboozled with added extra’s if booking ad-hoc when you get there.
Planning ahead also gives you the opportunity to compare car hire companies for the best deals, including any fixed or optional extra charges, prices and terms & conditions between different hirers. There’s a good chance that the cost of hire will be lower too if booked in advance and you will have more choice on the type of car you want to hire.
Always read the small print!
When hiring a car it is advisable to go through the small print with a fine tooth comb. Are there unexpectedly big deposits required or excess fuel charges? Check the refuelling requirements in advance and keep fuel bills as proof of a full tank when the vehicle is returned (consider taking a photograph of the fuel gauge, particularly if dropping the car off without a hire company employee present).
Double-check everything!
You may be shattered from the flight, but check the car bodywork and interior with an employee before you are handed the keys as you don’t want any extra charges for damage that was not caused by you. Make sure any damage is recorded clearly and take some pictures too for added insurance.
Work out the total cost of car hire. It may be cheaper to bring your own car seats and sat nav as these can really increase the cost of car hire. For older children, we have a Trunki Boostapak and a Bubblebum inflatable car seat for these situations but lugging a stage 0-1 car seat about could be heavy work!
Finally, keep an eye on that credit card statement when you get back for any unexpected charges.
Written in collaboration with Holiday Autos
Disclaimer: This post contains affliate linksany purchases you make aren’t affected but I may get a few pennies to fund my travel habit

  1. Reply

    Dean of Little Steps

    July 11, 2016

    We also took our car to France/Belgium a couple of years ago. Good thing my husband was prepared and knew what to do and expect. Otherwise, it’s good to do some research first before embarking on a trip 🙂

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    July 11, 2016

    An interesting read. We don’t drive but its good to know ways to be prepared especially as my husband wants to learn to drive.

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    Francesca - From Pennies to Pounds

    July 11, 2016

    These are great tips. I’ve only rented a car once and that was sooo long ago. I would if I went abroad with my daughter, we haven’t been yet!

  4. Reply

    Nikki Thomas

    July 11, 2016

    Some good tips there, especially about checking the rules about driving and getting the appropriate kit. We had to spend quite a lot on our European kit as we bought it on the ferry and it would have been much cheaper here. It is definitely worth taking your own car if you can though, it does save you a lot but also make sure you have good breakdown cover just in case.

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    July 11, 2016

    I am sure it cost a fortunate but I agree better here at home than abroad. Nice tips

  6. Reply

    Ana De- Jesus

    July 11, 2016

    Driving abroad can be a pain but its a good idea to do research beforehand. Especially regarding driving rules.

  7. Reply

    Fashion and Style Police

    July 12, 2016

    Love your tips. We hire a car when we visit the states but not done that anywhere else.

  8. Reply

    Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours

    July 12, 2016

    We have a yearly excess insurance policy. Getting your own third party insurance costs a fraction of what the rental companies charge and means that we do not have to think about it every time we hire a car.

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    July 12, 2016

    These are very good tips for drivers who want to rent a car while traveling. I don’t have a driving license unfortunately, but I do think that no matter what you are renting (even a bike), you should pay attention to the extra costs).

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    July 12, 2016

    Great tips Kara! I really want to start going abroad again. Not been in years but now the older 2 boys have left home it will be much cheaper for us 🙂

  11. Reply


    July 12, 2016

    Very good points and ideas. I’ve travelled to France by car before but I’m too young to remember the details to be honest. Loved every minute of course x

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    July 13, 2016

    I am so glad we have never done this, I get stressed enough going anywhere by car in the UK with all the rules, never mind abroad x

  13. Reply

    Kerry Norris

    July 13, 2016

    These are great tips. The last time we drobe abroad was in Australia and thankfully that all went smoothly x

  14. Reply


    December 11, 2017

    The best time to go out for a different destination is summer. This time you can make tour of any place. Destinations are also look more beautiful on the summer season. The main reason of tour in the summer is care. You do not need to care yourself more in summer.

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Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog