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Tips for First-time Drivers in Europe

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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              Last Updated on August 15, 2018

              7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

              7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

              Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

              Video Summary

              Why is it important to train up our core strength?

              There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

              This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

              Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

              In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

              One Exercise, multiple benefits

              There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

              By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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              When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

              Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

              In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

              What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

              What will happen when you start doing planks every day

                1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

                Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

                • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
                • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
                • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
                • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

                2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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                  Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

                  Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

                  3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                    Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                    4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                      Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                      A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                      A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                      On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                      5. You’ll improve overall balance

                        Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                        6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                          Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                          7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                            Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                            How to hold a plank position

                            1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                            2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                            3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                            4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                            5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                            6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                            7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                            Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                            Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                              How to improve your plank time gradually

                              1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                              2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                              3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                              Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                              Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                              You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                              • Prolapse
                              • After prolapse surgery
                              • Pelvic pain conditions
                              • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                              • Previous childbirth
                              • Overweight

                              Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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