5 Ways to Stay Safe on a Road Trip

Driving in Teide National Park Tenerife
Don't leave valuables in your hire car

Road trips can be a fantastic experience. They give one the opportunity to experience new places, explore new cultures, and make new memories. But it’s worth considering the steps you need to take to ensure your safety throughout the course of the trip.

1. Learn the local laws

When it comes to road laws, no two countries are the same. France, for example, has well established speed limits on its motorways, while some rural areas in Germany don’t have a speed limit at all. Some countries, like Cyprus, have made it illegal to drink anything while driving, non-alcoholic or otherwise. Right of way, toll booths, speeds during visibility; all of these are potential but easily manageable issues, provided you undertake proper research beforehand. Many insurance providers and car rental companies will offer advice on their websites on the best place to find this information – or in some cases provide it themselves.

2. Know the region

While it can be exciting to go off the beaten track, like self-driving in South Africa, you should always consider what you might find at the end of it. Although there are few truly unstable countries in the world, even a comparatively safe nation may have areas which tourists are advised to avoid. Most governments offer some form of travel advice on their websites, covering everything from local laws and customs to terrorism hotspots.

Driving in remote South Africa

3. Have a prepared route plan

You cannot always guarantee network coverage on the road. Even in developed countries there are bound to be dead zones, and in more remote areas there’s often no assurance of it. When driving abroad in an unfamiliar country, it’s of vital importance that you understand your route and have a plan for navigating it. Whether you print off directions or familiarise yourself with an English language map, there are plenty of ways of making sure you are prepared for all eventualities.

4. Travel with others

There are many positives of travelling alone; a chance to be alone with your thoughts while the world flashes by during a long, solo road trip can have a romantic appeal. But in terms of safety, numbers can work in your favour. Among other things, having a driving mate can help increase the distance you can travel by allowing for more breaks. It can also be of benefit in the event of emergencies, and it can help with navigation.

Podbrdo to Bohinj car train, Slovenia

Camaraderie on a road train in Slovenia

5. Be prepared

Road trips can take a toll on you and your vehicle, so proper care of both is essential for ensuring a safe trip and avoiding having an accident and writing off your vehicle. Before you leave, make sure your vehicle is in the best possible condition, whether this is by booking a quick maintenance appointment at your local garage or by using a reputable company if purchasing a car rental.

Make sure to keep yourself well supplied as well, from stocking up on enough food and water, to packing a basic repair and medical kit and making sure you have enough rest – relatively simple things like this could make a significant difference.

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