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How To Plan a Foreign Road Trip

AAA offers tips for taking a road trip abroad.

sign that says Drive on Left in Australia, image
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Photo: Volodymyr Vyshnivetskyy/
Photo caption
If driving on the left side of the road is intimidating, plan on taking tours or public transportation.

Overseas road trips can be grand adventures, allowing you to meander at will and explore well off the beaten path. But you need to prepare before sliding behind the wheel. First stop: AAA for bookings and advice from a travel agent, passport photos, and even international driver’s permits, which are required in nearly 80 nations. Here are some key tips to get you ready for the road.

  • Remember your AAA card If you haven’t already, upgrade to Premier membership for travel benefits such as travel accident insurance.
  • Get coverage Most U.S. auto insurance policies don’t apply to overseas rentals, so check what the car rental agreement or your credit card will cover. Get at least the same coverage that you carry stateside. “In a foreign country, it’s reassuring to know you won’t be left to handle the problem alone,” says AAA travel agent Terry Benson, who suggests you always get a collision damage waiver.
  • Know the law Driving regulations vary considerably by country; find them at or on the embassy, government or tourism websites of many nations. 
  • Map it Download foreign maps to your GPS device or smartphone for locations of sights, gas stations, restaurants, and hotels. Check your route in advance and give yourself extra time to get lost—or to simply enjoy the scenery along the way.

This article was first published in May 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.