If you're driving to Europe for your summer holidays, you'll need to be prepared. Have you got your GB sticker for your car and warning triangles ready? At Vanarama Cars we get asked a lot if you can take a leased vehicle abroad. Yes you can and we're going to run through what you need to do before hitting the tarmac of the continent.
Are you covered for breakdowns on foreign soil?
It sounds obvious but you shouldn't just assume your breakdown cover extends to when you're abroad. You may need to increase your existing insurance or take out a standalone European Breakdown policy. This will avoid any significant costs if something goes wrong.
You can check if you're covered by ringing the company you lease your vehicle with or contact your finance company who your payments are made to. You'll need to do this at least two weeks prior to travelling. This way it can be arranged for you or it'll be confirmed if you're already covered. If not you'll have to complete a form so you can drive on the continent with breakdown cover. The good news is that once you've done this, you're protected for a whole year.
Be prepared and have all your driving documents to hand
It makes sense to create a travel pack containing all the important documents you'll need to comply with the laws of the country you're driving in. As well as your passport and driving licence, you should take your vehicle registration document, motor insurance certificate, breakdown policy with the relevant contact numbers, travel insurance documents plus any emergency helpline numbers.
You might want to get your car serviced before travelling across the Channel. There's also simple checks you can do yourself, such as testing the pressure of your tyres, topping up your oil and inspecting your coolant level. These small tasks are crucial for keeping your car running smoothly and stopping your engine from overheating.
Fly the flag for GB or you could be fined
Don't forget your vehicle must display your country of origin too. Failure to do so may result in a fine of up to €90. If your number plate includes the GB symbol, you don't need a sticker within the EU.
It's useful to have items such as a first-aid kit, torch, blanket, warning triangle and a reflective jacket. A jack and wheel removal tools could come in handy too. In France you can be fined up to €135 for not having a warning triangle. That's a warning to you!
A breathalyser kit is required on French roads
In France you're required to carry a self-testing NF-approved (Norme Francaise) breathalyser. This was introduced in July 2012 and a fine of €11 was charged if you couldn't present one. The French government has since decided to stop charging for this. It's still compulsory to carry one, although you won't be fined.
Ten top tips to remember when you're driving in Europe
1. Drive on the correct side of the road - normally the right-hand side in most European countries. Only the UK, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Malta drive on the left
2. Adjust your headlamps so you don't dazzle oncoming drivers
3. Plan your route in advance each day and check it against a detailed map of the area
4. Make sure you have spare money to cover any toll roads you encounter or for any unexpected costs on your travels
5. Drive with caution as the local driving style may be very different to that of the UK
6. Never drive when you're tired and take regular breaks
7. Make sure you and your passengers always wear seatbelts
8. Never drink and drive. The alcohol limit might be lower than in the UK. In some countries such as Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, there is a zero tolerance for drink driving
9. Don't use your mobile phone whilst driving
10. Make sure you book accommodation with parking facilities
By planning ahead you'll be able to set off in a relaxed mood, helping you to enjoy your travels from the start of your journey. Have a great time!