Driving abroad

Driving abroad: all you need to know plus cover for insurance, breakdown

Driving abroad arranging insurance and breakdown cover checking local laws and loading the car safe

When it comes to setting off for a holiday on the continent, drivers and families have a packing list as long as beach towel. But it’s easy to forget one or more vital elements. European insurance, breakdown cover, extra kit to comply with foreign laws and your driving licence are all indispensable. And unlike a missing tube of sun cream, these aren’t easy to organise abroad and missing them can take the joy out of a much-needed break.

That’s why it’s important that drivers write out a list of everything they and their car need for the trip. That way, there should be no danger of conking out on the hard shoulder only to find that your car insurance doesn’t include breakdown cover abroad. Or that the tool to release wheel nuts is at home in the garage.

Millions of Brits prefer to drive rather than fly, given the affordability, practicality and flexibility it gives them. Here are the things you’ll need for a road trip abroad.

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Drivers travelling to France require an emissions sticker to enter Paris, Lyon or Grenoble

Drivers travelling to France require an emissions sticker to enter Paris, Lyon or Grenoble

Air pollution means cars with high emissions could be prevented from entering Paris or Lyon

As millions of Britons make plans for their Easter or summer holidays, travellers driving to France must ensure that their car has an emissions sticker when visiting Paris or Lyon – the two largest cities in France.

The sticker system has been introduced to help tackle air pollution in city environments, and is active in Grenoble, as well. Other French cities are likely to join the scheme.

Called Crit’Air, it effectively bans old cars from city centres during weekdays and will allow authorities to restrict which cars are permitted to enter cities.

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Things to remember for safe winter driving this year

Safe winter driving

The abolition of the tax disc saw a rise in the number of cars without VED

Car ownership can be a taxing business – in more ways than one. There’s so much to remember that it’s easy for simple bits of admin to slip through the net. Forget one of those and it could end in a costly fine or ‑ even worse ‑ an accident. For worry-free and safe winter driving, here are six points that it’s worth checking.

Safe winter driving: car tax and MOT

After the abolition of the tax disc, the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) witnessed an increase in the number of drivers who hadn’t paid Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) or tax. Part of the problem is the tax disc was a very visible reminder for drivers that they needed to keep their car legal. If you’ve lost track – it’s easy to do ‑ check whether your car is taxed by going to the DVLA website here. Continue reading

Quiz: Do you know what all of these common French road signs mean?

Quiz: Do you know all of these common French road signs?

British holiday makers and France go together like a slice of camembert on a freshly baked baguette with a glass of Bordeaux wine. A staggering 17 million Britons visit France every year, and whether they’re living it up in the City of Light or unwinding in Provence, one thing is certain: millions use their car to explore la belle France.

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French fuel crisis: Fill up your tank before your trip

French fuel crisis

Drivers are being urged to fill up on fuel before taking a trip to France

Strikes in France have led to massive fuel shortages. Breakdown service Green Flag is advising drivers to fill up in the UK before crossing the Channel.

It’s expected that 15 million of us will be hitting the roads at some point over the next three days; possibly making it the busiest our roads have been in the last three years.

And if your plan is to escape the British motorways by crossing the Channel, be sure you’re up to date with yet another problem that could bring your journey to a standstill; French fuel shortages.

Due to the ongoing industrial action in France, more than 40% of French fuel stations are currently being affected by fuel shortages, with motorists limited to around 20-litres.

As a result, Green Flag is expecting fuel-related breakdowns to be even higher than the average Bank Holiday weekend and is urging drivers to fill up in the UK before setting off.

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How to prepare your car for the February half-term skiing holiday

February half-term skiing

There’s plenty to think about before you even get to the slopes

February half-term skiing is a popular pursuit for many British families seeking more than a sun lounger and swimming pool from their holiday. France, Italy and Austria are popular winter sports destinations for Brits, and their relative proximity combined with the hassle of navigating airports while heavily laden with all the luggage a skiing holiday requires means driving to the slopes is becoming an increasingly popular option.

However, it’s not all plain sailing. In the run up to Christmas 2014, 15,000 cars were stranded in the Alps when a sudden heavy fall of snow caught local authorities and police napping. Those thinking about driving to their skiing or snowboarding holiday need to prepare in advance. That way they’ll have a greater chance of enjoying a trouble-free journey, in addition to time on the slopes. Continue reading

Summer getaway 2015: Handy hints to help drivers

Summer getaway

There are plenty of things to get wrong if you’re driving abroad this summer (Picture © TomTom)

As drivers gear up for the 2015 summer getaway, 20 million Brits are planning on driving abroad. But new research has revealed that 12 million of them could drive on the wrong side of the road. The Europe-wide survey of more than 10,000 drivers found that 71 per cent don’t know the driving regulations of popular holiday destinations.  Continue reading

“Wish we’d had European breakdown cover for our holiday in France”

Green Flag European breakdown cover case stud

The Roberts family – dad Alex, Kit, Holly and mum Vicky – found out the expensive way how valuable European breakdown cover can be

When the Roberts family set off last summer from their home in Lamberhurst, near Tunbridge Wells in Kent, they couldn’t wait to reach the ferry terminal at Dover, board the boat and begin their summer holiday in France. But the excitement of grabbing dinner in the ship’s restaurant ahead of a drive to Montignac, in Dordogne, soon faded: Mum, Vicky and Dad, Alex realised that each had thought the other had arranged European breakdown cover.  Continue reading

Motoring fines abroad: what to do if you get a ticket on holiday

Motoring fines abroad

Great car, beautiful scenery, precious memories: driving abroad can be idyllic – unless you break the law (Picture © Skoda)

Motoring fines abroad are one way of ensuring the holiday hangover continues long after the sun tan has faded. Whether you get nabbed by a speed camera or handed a ticket for (possibly inadvertently) parking somewhere you shouldn’t, it can be an expensive business. So what are the rules? And where do you stand if a fine from abroad drops on the door mat? Our simple guide explains all.  Continue reading

Don’t be shortchanged: how to avoid a hire car disaster

 

Green Flag hire car tips

Make sure your hire car is big enough for your holiday luggage (Picture © Europcar)

Every year millions of Britons hire cars abroad to give them the freedom of the open road. Yet for many the hire car experience ends up causing stress and expense long after their tans have faded. The Post Office Car Rental Report discovered that 56 per cent of people who hire cars don’t cover themselves for tyre or glass damage and 76 per cent don’t take out cover against high excess charges. Failing to take both these simple measures can leave holiday makers out of pocket. Follow our car hire tips to ensure that your holiday isn’t memorable for all the wrong reasons.  Continue reading