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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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              Vikas Agrawal

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              Last Updated on December 9, 2019

              5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

              5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

              Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

              Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

              Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

              1. Get Rationally Optimistic

              Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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              This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

              In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

              The result: no more mental stress.

              2. Unplug

              Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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              How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

              It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

              Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

              3. Easy on the Caffeine

              Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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              Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

              4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

              That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

              How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

              • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
              • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
              • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

              While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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              5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

              This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

              The result: mental stress will be gone!

              So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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              Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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