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Tips for First-time Drivers in Europe

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Tips for First-time Drivers in Europe

The holiday season is here again! Months (or years) of planning have finally come down to this. You are finally going to take that backpacking trip and see the best of what Europe has to offer.

Europe is an awesome tourist destination offering a rich and diverse experience for millions of visitors annually. However, like many other international destinations, the different environment can be a bit challenging for would-be tourists. Driving is one of the areas that many first-time visitors often experience difficulties.

tips-for-first-time-drivers-in-europe

    So if you are planning to head out to Europe over the holidays, these helpful driving tips will come in handy when traversing through the vast continent.

    1. Driver’s License and the International Driving Permit

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    drivers-license-and-the-international-driving-permit

      If you are coming into Europe from countries such as the U.S and Canada, you can use your driver’s license in most European countries. However, some require you to have an International Driving Permit (IDP), a small booklet that translates your native driver’s license into 10 languages. The IDP is also accepted in over 150 countries globally.

      It basically resembles passport and contains your photo and additional information lifted from your driver’s license.

      You will need the IDP in Germany, Italy, Spain, and a number of other European countries in addition to your driver’s license. Be sure to check with your consular on whether you will need one for the countries you plan on visiting.

      2. Plan your Driving Itinerary 

      plan-your-driving-itinerary-smartly

        Most tourists often plan their itineraries around large European cities and towns. They then have to drive through nerve-wracking traffic, unfamiliar – and sometimes ruthless – city regulations, and scarce and expensive parking. If you must drive in European cities, try sightseeing on Saturdays and Sundays when most European cities are fairly sparse.

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        3. Insurance

        insurance

          Most countries in Europe will also require you to be insured and have proof of insurance before allowing you to drive. You can buy short-term car insurance for the duration you will be in a specific European country. You can also check with your local insurance provider if overseas trips are covered since a number of them give about 14 days of international vehicle insurance.

          If you can, have additional drivers insured during the trip. The extra insured driver will come in handy when you are tired or unable to drive during the trip.

          4. Rules of the Road

          rules-of-the-road

            The last thing you want to be doing on your trip is spending time in a foreign jail. Always carry your driver’s license, IDP (where applicable), passport, and other relevant documents and produce them when asked by a law enforcement officer.

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            Familiarize yourself with the local road rules for each European country you plan on visiting. Take note of local speed limits which vary in each country you visit. For instance, when driving in the UK, the law requires you to keep you drive under 70mph on motorways. However, countries such as Germany have no speed limits on long stretches of local roads, so beware of speeding motorists in such countries.

            You might also have to keep away from alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Even a single glass of wine or pint of beer is enough, depending on where you are visiting. In Prague, for instance, a blood alcohol level above zero will put you behind bars very quickly.

            Also, don’t forget to carry a car seat for kids under age 12 or under 135cm in height.

            5. Servicing and Breakdown Services

            servicing-and-breakdown-services

              Car servicing providers are often busiest during the holidays, so book your car early to ensure it gets serviced on time. There are plenty of online car rental services that will enable you to book your car and have it serviced before you get there.

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              You should also look into pan-European car insurance policies that cover breakdowns across most European countries.

              The best policy cover isn’t a replacement for being careful and prepared on the road. Carry an emergency kit and ensure the spare wheel is in good condition when receiving the rental. A fire extinguisher can also come in handy so get one even if it isn’t a legal requirement.

              Conclusion

              Driving is undoubtedly one of the best ways to enjoy the sights when touring Europe. Plan ahead before getting behind the wheel in a foreign country and even take a refresher driving course if you need to polish up your driving skills. You don’t want your holiday experience ruined because of traffic infractions that could have easily been avoided with due diligence.

              Featured photo credit: photoduet via freepik.com

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              Vikas Agrawal

              Vikas is the co-founder of Infobrandz, an Infographic design agency that offers creative visual content solutions to medium to large companies.

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              Last Updated on December 2, 2021

              The Importance of Making a Camping Checklist

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              The Importance of Making a Camping Checklist

              Camping can be hard work, but it’s the preparation that’s even harder. There are usually a lot of things to do in order to make sure that you and your family or friends have the perfect camping experience. But sometimes you might get to your destination and discover that you have left out one or more crucial things.

              There is no dispute that preparation and organization for a camping trip can be quite overwhelming, but if it is done right, you would see at the end of the day, that it was worth the stress. This is why it is important to ensure optimum planning and execution. For this to be possible, it is advised that in addition to a to-do-list, you should have a camping checklist to remind you of every important detail.

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              Why You Should Have a Camping Checklist

              Creating a camping checklist makes for a happy and always ready camper. It also prevents mishaps.  A proper camping checklist should include every essential thing you would need for your camping activities, organized into various categories such as shelter, clothing, kitchen, food, personal items, first aid kit, informational items, etc. These categories should be organized by importance. However, it is important that you should not list more than you can handle or more than is necessary for your outdoor adventure.

              Camping checklists vary depending on the kind of camping and outdoor activities involved. You should not go on the internet and compile a list of just any camping checklist. Of course, you can research camping checklists, but you have to put into consideration the kind of camping you are doing. It could be backpacking, camping with kids, canoe camping, social camping, etc. You have to be specific and take note of those things that are specifically important to your trip, and those things which are generally needed in all camping trips no matter the kind of camping being embarked on.

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              Here are some tips to help you prepare for your next camping trip.

              1. First off, you must have found the perfect campground that best suits your outdoor adventure. If you haven’t, then you should. Sites like Reserve America can help you find and reserve a campsite.
              2. Find or create a good camping checklist that would best suit your kind of camping adventure.
              3. Make sure the whole family is involved in making out the camping check list or downloading a proper checklist that reflects the families need and ticking off the boxes of already accomplished tasks.
              4. You should make out or download a proper checklist months ahead of your trip to make room for adjustments and to avoid too much excitement and the addition of unnecessary things.
              5. Checkout Camping Hacks that would make for a more fun camping experience and prepare you for different situations.

              Now on to the checklist!

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              Here is how your checklist should look

              1. CAMPSITE GEAR

              • Tent, poles, stakes
              • Tent footprint (ground cover for under your tent)
              • Extra tarp or canopy
              • Sleeping bag for each camper
              • Sleeping pad for each camper
              • Repair kit for pads, mattress, tent, tarp
              • Pillows
              • Extra blankets
              • Chairs
              • Headlamps or flashlights ( with extra batteries)
              • Lantern
              • Lantern fuel or batteries

              2.  KITCHEN

              • Stove
              • Fuel for stove
              • Matches or lighter
              • Pot
              • French press or portable coffee maker
              • Corkscrew
              • Roasting sticks for marshmallows, hot dogs
              • Food-storage containers
              • Trash bags
              • Cooler
              • Ice
              • Water bottles
              • Plates, bowls, forks, spoons, knives
              • Cups, mugs
              • Paring knife, spatula, cooking spoon
              • Cutting board
              • Foil
              • soap
              • Sponge, dishcloth, dishtowel
              • Paper towels
              • Extra bin for washing dishes

              3. CLOTHES

              • Clothes for daytime
              • Sleepwear
              • Swimsuits
              • Rainwear
              • Shoes: hiking/walking shoes, easy-on shoes, water shoes
              • Extra layers for warmth
              • Gloves
              • Hats

              4. PERSONAL ITEMS

              • Sunscreen
              • Insect repellent
              • First-aid kit
              • Prescription medications
              • Toothbrush, toiletries
              • Soap

              5. OTHER ITEMS

              • Camera
              • Campsite reservation confirmation, phone number
              • Maps, area information

              This list is not completely exhaustive. To make things easier, you can check specialized camping sites like RealSimpleRainyAdventures, and LoveTheOutdoors that have downloadable camping checklists that you can download on your phone or gadget and check as you go.

              Featured photo credit: Scott Goodwill via unsplash.com

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