Monday 27 May 2019

Here's what to do to avoid ruining your holiday if you'll be driving abroad this year

For starters, avoid last-minute panic by making sure your driving licence is in date: RSA expert

Driving abroad
Driving abroad

Queries have been flowing in asking for advice on travelling abroad.

While the RSA's remit doesn't extend to driving or using the road in other countries, it's such a topical issue right now that I'm going to provide some practical advice.

The first thing to say if you are planning to head abroad and going to hire a car is to make sure your driving licence is in date.

Every year we get some last-minute panic calls to the office from people whose licence is out of date or about to go out of date.

If you don't check in time you could be facing the prospect of not being able to hire a car while abroad.

Our advice, as always, is to double check that your licence hasn't expired or about to expire well in advance of your travel plans.

Remember, it takes a minimum of five days to turn around a licence renewal, so get your application in if you need to renew in plenty of time.

You can apply through any National Driver Licence Service centre in the country.

Remember, if you are to hire a car or motorbike abroad, only a full driving licence will do.

A learner permit is not recognised abroad, because it's not a full driving licence.

So don't get caught out by thinking you can hire a vehicle with a permit.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is a good first port of call if planning to go abroad.

Not only can they give you advice on everything from local laws and customs, they can also provide advice on health and safety too.

They have created a new handy App for mobile devices called 'TravelWise' which is well worth downloading.

It provides information on your destination and pushes out alerts to you if there are any issues.

One piece of advice they give, which is really important, is to get a European Health Insurance Card, available by contacting the Health Service Executive.

That and taking out comprehensive travel insurance.

God forbid, if you are involved in a road crash, having both of these will help cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, and legal costs.

You should also check that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake and mode of transport you are proposing to hire while abroad.

The road conditions on a foreign holiday are often very different to home and can change rapidly. This is especially important if you are renting a vehicle.

It's important to familiarise yourself with the local rules of the road before you leave. Know the penalties for road traffic offences too because what might be a minor offence here in Ireland may be something that is treated with zero tolerance in another country.

The European Commission is another good source of information if you are travelling abroad. Their website,, has a really useful section which details some of the main rules of the road for each country in the EU.

Like the Department of Foreign Affairs, they too have a handy travel App. It's called 'Going Abroad' and it's definitely worth downloading.

If you have a long flight, chances are you will be tired from the travel and may also be in a different time zone.

As a result you may find yourself having to drive at a time when you body's natural rhythm says you should be sleeping. Driver tiredness could be a really big problem in such situations, so leave the driving until you are sure you have rested.

If you are planning on taking your own vehicle to the continent, remember that you may need to pack some extra safety equipment in the boot. The AA Ireland website has a list of EU countries that clearly shows any legal obligations to have such equipment with you in the car.

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