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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 October 16, 2018

              The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

              The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

              It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

              If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

              One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

              Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

              In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

              Why you can’t sleep through the night

              The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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              Stress

              If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

              Exposure to blue light before sleep time

              We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

              While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

              Eating close to bedtime

              Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

              Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

              Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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              Medical conditions

              In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

              The vicious sleep cycle

              The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

              Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

              You get a bad night’s sleep
              –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
              –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
              –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

                You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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                How to sleep better (throughout the night)

                To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

                1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

                What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

                Here are a few suggestions:

                • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
                • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
                • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
                • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
                • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

                2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

                What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

                • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
                • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
                • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
                • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

                3. Adjust your sleep temperature

                Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

                Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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                Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

                Sleep better form now on

                Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

                I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

                As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

                Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

                Reference

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