Move your holiday up a gear this year with our guide to driving abroad

A European road trip is one of the ultimate travel adventures according to Skyscanner* so with driving destinations looking to be put on the map for 2020, we have put together a guide to help road-trippers navigate 10 popular international driving destinations.

driving in France

The research provides drivers with important tips to be mindful of when driving abroad. The research includes a guide to driving in locations such as Austria, Canada and Norway, knowing when to use winter tyres and insurance and breakdown cover, as well as providing holidaymakers with information about car hire, fuel prices and speed regulations abroad.

In seven of the 10 popular winter driving destinations researched, including Switzerland, Italy and France, the minimum driving age is 18. However, when hiring a car in Norway and Austria, drivers must be over the age of 19 and have held a full driver’s licence for one year, whereas Germany and USA only rent out cars to adults over the age of 25.

For travellers with a need for speed, maximum speed limits vary from country to country across Europe and similarly across each province or state in Canada and the USA. However, some of the fastest roads in the world can be found in Germany where there are no speed limits on the autobahns! Similarly, on French and Italian motorways and Austrian autobahns, drivers can legally reach speeds of up to 81 mph and this can even increase to 87 mph on sections of the West Motorway A1 in Austria.

Whilst driving during the winter season, weather and road conditions can change abruptly and holiday-makers travelling in Austria, Canada, Germany, Iceland, Italy and Switzerland are required to use winter tyres when driving between November and April. Likewise, in France snow tyres are required when instructed by road signs, as are snow chains or snow socks and in Norway snow tyres must always be used whenever there is snow or ice covering the roads. Due to harsh winter weather conditions a minimum of Third Party insurance is required when driving abroad and in Europe Green Cards are required from UK insurance companies as proof of cover. However, drivers in Iceland need to remember that rental cars are not insured on mountain roads marked F-roads and insurance does not cover flat tyres. Whilst emergence breakdown services are available across Europe, in America drivers are advised to purchase breakdown cover from rental companies as they arrange roadside assistance, recovery or replacement cars.

Finally, some useful road rules to be mindful of; in all 10 of the driving destinations researched, travellers must drive on the right-hand side of the road, including in Iceland where, incidentally, off-road driving is illegal. Similarly, seat belts are mandatory in all of the countries researched including in France, Italy and Norway (when they are fitted in the car) and in the USA except in New Hampshire where only under 18s are required by law to wear a seat belt. And, a word of caution to travellers, the highest permissible blood alcohol level for drivers is 0.08% in Italy, Canada and the USA whilst the lowest is 0.005% in Germany. Severe fines and penalties can be incurred for going over these limits, and in Norway, Spain, and Switzerland drivers who receive a traffic fine may be asked to pay on the spot.

Drivers should also note that in Canada and across Europe, petrol is sold in litres whereas in the United States fuel is sold in (US) gallons, with the average cost of unleaded petrol being $2.95 (£1.77) per gallon ($0.78 or 60p per litre). For savvy travellers looking to save money on fuel, petrol is the cheapest when filling up in Canada at C$1.35 or 79p per litre!


AUSTRIA

MINIMUM DRIVING AGE
• 18

CAR HIRE
• To hire a car, travellers must be at least 19 years old and have held a driver’s licence for one year

FUEL
• Petrol is sold in litres
• Average cost of unleaded petrol is €1.17 (99p) per litre

SPEED LIMIT
• The maximum speed limit is 31 mph in towns, 62 mph on country roads and 81 mph on motorways (called autobahns)
• On sections of the West Motorway A1 it is 87 mph

BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL
• The highest permissible blood alcohol level for drivers is 0.05%

SEAT BELT REGULATIONS
• Seat belts are mandatory

ROAD RULES TO BE MINDFUL OF
• Drive on the right-hand side of the road
• Drivers are required by law to carry headlamp beam deflectors, reflective jackets, a warning triangle and first aid kit

ARE WINTER TYRES & CHAINS REQUIRED?
• Winter tyres are required between 1 November – 15 April
• Snow chains are allowed on vehicles between 1 November – 15 April

INSURANCE AND BREAKDOWN COVER
• A minimum of Third Party Insurance is required
• Green Cards are required from UK insurance companies as proof of cover
• Insurance covers the vehicle owner and additional authorised drivers
• The ÖAMTC and ARBÖ Automobile Clubs operate a 24-hour emergency breakdown service


CANADA

MINIMUM DRIVING AGE
• 16

CAR HIRE
• To hire a car, travellers must be at least 21 years old
• Often, drivers under 25 are not eligible to rent luxury cars, SUVs, or minivans

FUEL
• Petrol is sold in litres
• Average cost of unleaded petrol is 1.35 Canadian Dollars (79p) per litre

SPEED LIMIT
• The maximum speed limit is 31 mph in urban areas, 50 mph in rural areas and 62 mph on highways

BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL
• The highest permissible blood alcohol level for drivers is 0.08%

SEAT BELT REGULATIONS
• Seat belts are mandatory

ROAD RULES TO BE MINDFUL OF
• Drive on the right-hand side of the road
• Right turns on red lights are allowed except on the island of Montréal

ARE WINTER TYRES & CHAINS REQUIRED?
• Snow tires and chains are mandatory in parts of British Columbia during winter months
• Snow tires and chains are permitted in Ontario when conditions warrant

INSURANCE AND BREAKDOWN COVER
• Liability insurance is required by law
• Emergency Road Service insurance is recommended and includes light mechanical labour, towing, fuel delivery, battery service, tire changes and lockout services
• If extreme weather events are expected, travellers are advised to take out comprehensive insurance


FRANCE

MINIMUM DRIVING AGE
• 18

CAR HIRE
• To hire a car, travellers must be at least 21 or 25 years old depending on the hire company

FUEL
• Petrol is sold in litres
• Average cost of unleaded petrol is €1.54 (£1.31) per litre

SPEED LIMIT
• The maximum speed on autoroutes is 81 mph in good weather and 68 mph in poor weather

BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL
• The highest permissible blood alcohol level for drivers is 0.05%

SEAT BELT REGULATIONS
• Seat belts are mandatory when fitted in the car

ROAD RULES TO BE MINDFUL OF
• Drive on the right-hand side of the road
• It is illegal to drive with a satnav that shows the location of speed cameras
• It’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle and reflective jacket

ARE WINTER TYRES & CHAINS REQUIRED?
• Winter tyres and chains must be used when instructed by road signs

INSURANCE AND BREAKDOWN COVER
• A minimum of Third Party Insurance is required
• Green Cards are required from UK insurance companies as proof of cover
• Insurance in France covers the vehicle rather than an individual driver
• Emergency breakdown services are available at a cost


GERMANY

MINIMUM DRIVING AGE
• 18

CAR HIRE
• To hire a car, travellers must be at least 25 years old
• Some companies will lease to drivers aged between 21–24 for an additional charge

FUEL
• Petrol is sold in litres
• Average cost of unleaded petrol is €1.43 (£1.21) per litre

SPEED LIMIT
• Maximum speed limits are 19 mph in residential areas, 30 mph on main city streets and 62 mph outside built up areas
• There are no speed limits on motorways (called autobahns)

BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL
• The highest permissible blood alcohol level for drivers is 0.005%

SEAT BELT REGULATIONS
• Seat belts are mandatory

ROAD RULES TO BE MINDFUL OF
• Drive on the right-hand side of the road
• There is an environmental zone (Umweltzone) in some inner-city centres. Only vehicles meeting specific exhaust emission standards are allowed to enter the zone

ARE WINTER TYRES & CHAINS REQUIRED?
• Winter tyres are required from November – April
• Winter tyres are required by law when conditions are icy

INSURANCE AND BREAKDOWN COVER
• A minimum of Third Party Insurance is required
• Green Cards are required from UK insurance companies as proof of cover


ICELAND

MINIMUM DRIVING AGE
• 17

CAR HIRE
• To hire a car, travellers must be at least 20 years old and have held a driver’s licence for one year

FUEL
• Petrol is sold in litres
• Average cost of unleaded petrol is ISK 233.10 (£1.45) per litre

SPEED LIMIT
• The maximum speed limit is 31 mph in urban areas, 50 mph on rural gravel roads and 56 mph on paved roads

BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL
• The highest permissible blood alcohol level for drivers is 0.02%

SEAT BELT REGULATIONS
• Seat belts are mandatory

ROAD RULES TO BE MINDFUL OF
• Drive on the right-hand side of the road
• Off-road driving is illegal
• Dipped headlights must be on at all times

ARE WINTER TYRES & CHAINS REQUIRED?
• Winter tyres are required from 1 November to 14 April
• Tyre chains should be carried for emergency use only

INSURANCE AND BREAKDOWN COVER
• Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance is usually included in car rental price
• All insurance packages are based on self-liability
• Rental cars are not insured on mountain roads marked F-roads
• Insurance does not cover flat tyres
• Travellers are advised to add gravel insurance to their cover


ITALY

MINIMUM DRIVING AGE
• 18

CAR HIRE
• To hire a car, travellers must be at least 21 years old
• Drivers under 25 should expect to pay a young driver’s surcharge
• Rental cars are not allowed in historic centres of Italian cities without an official pass

FUEL
• Petrol is sold in litres
• Average cost of unleaded petrol is €1.63 (£1.38) per litre

SPEED LIMIT
• The maximum speed limit is 81 mph on highways, 68 mph on non-major highways outside of urban areas and 56 mph on local roads

BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL
• The highest permissible blood alcohol level for drivers is between 0.05% – 0.08%

SEAT BELT REGULATIONS
• Seat belts are mandatory when fitted in the car

ROAD RULES TO BE MINDFUL OF
• Drive on the right-hand side of the road
• Driving fines triple in price if the offence is committed between 10pm and 7am

ARE WINTER TYRES & CHAINS REQUIRED?
• Winter tyres are required from 15 November to 15 April and in winter conditions
• Chains allowed

INSURANCE AND BREAKDOWN COVER
• The law requires drivers to have Third Party Insurance, Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Theft Protection
• Green Cards are required from UK insurance companies as proof of cover


NORWAY

MINIMUM DRIVING AGE
• 18

CAR HIRE
• To hire a car, travellers must be at least 19 years old

FUEL
• Petrol is sold in litres
• Average cost of unleaded petrol is 17.00 Norwegian Krone (£1.46) per litre

SPEED LIMIT
• The maximum speed limit is 68 mph on motorways around Oslo, 50 mph on dual-lane roads, 31 mph in built up areas and 19 mph in residential areas

BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL
• The highest permissible blood alcohol level for drivers is 0.02%

SEAT BELT REGULATIONS
• Seat belts are mandatory for the driver and front seat passengers of cars
• Rear passengers must wear seat belts if they are fitted in the car

ROAD RULES TO BE MINDFUL OF
• Drive on the right-hand side of the road
• It’s compulsory for all drivers to use dipped headlights in the daytime
• It’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle
• Drivers who receive a traffic fine may be asked to pay on the spot

ARE WINTER TYRES & CHAINS REQUIRED?
• Drivers must use winter tyres if there is snow or ice covering the roads
• Drivers are advised to also use studded tyres or snow chains in icy conditions when permitted

INSURANCE AND BREAKDOWN COVER
• A minimum of Third Party Insurance is required
• Green Cards are required from UK insurance companies as proof of cover


SPAIN

MINIMUM DRIVING AGE
• 18

CAR HIRE
• To hire a car, travellers must be at least 21 years old and hold a full UK driver’s licence
• Provisional driver’ licences are not valid for driving in Spain

FUEL
• Petrol is sold in litres
• Average cost of unleaded petrol is €1.30 (£1.10) per litre

SPEED LIMIT
• The maximum speed limit is 13 mph in residential zones, 31 mph in built-up areas and 50 mph on motorways and dual carriageways in built-up areas

BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL
• The highest permissible blood alcohol level for drivers is 0.05%
• The highest permissible blood alcohol level for those who have been driving for less than 2 years and drivers of vehicles with more than 8 passenger seats is 0.03%

SEAT BELT REGULATIONS
• Seat belts are mandatory

ROAD RULES TO BE MINDFUL OF
• Drive on the right-hand side of the road
• Drivers must carry two red warning triangles in case of breakdowns or accidents
• Drivers must have a spare tyre and the tools to change it
• If a vehicle has to be left due to an accident or breakdown or while waiting for the arrival of the emergency services the driver and passengers must wear a reflective vest
• Drivers who receive a traffic fine may be asked to pay on the spot

ARE WINTER TYRES & CHAINS REQUIRED?
• Winter tyres are not compulsory

INSURANCE AND BREAKDOWN COVER
• A minimum of Third Party Insurance is required
• Green Cards are required from UK insurance companies as proof of cover


SWITZERLAND

MINIMUM DRIVING AGE
• 18

CAR HIRE
• To hire a car, travellers must be at least 20 years old and have held a driver’s licence for one year

FUEL
• Petrol is sold in litres
• Average cost of unleaded petrol is 1.53 Swiss Franc (£1.20) per litre

SPEED LIMIT
• The maximum speed limit is 50 mph outside built-up areas, 31 mph inside built-up areas and 75 mph on Swiss motorways

BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL
• The highest permissible blood alcohol level for drivers is 0.05%

SEAT BELT REGULATIONS
• Seat belts are mandatory

ROAD RULES TO BE MINDFUL OF
• Drive on the right- hand side of the road
• Drivers who obstruct traffic or cause accidents in winter conditions when using summer tyres could be fined
• Drivers who receive a traffic fine may be asked to pay on the spot
• Carrying a reflective jacket and a warning triangle are compulsory

ARE WINTER TYRES & CHAINS REQUIRED?
• Winter tyres are mandatory from November to April
• Snow chains should be kept in the car and used when road signs say to

INSURANCE AND BREAKDOWN COVER
• Liability Insurance is required by law
• A warning triangle must be used if the car breaks down
• Insurnace often covers breakdown recovery and roadside assistance


USA

MINIMUM DRIVING AGE
• 16

CAR HIRE
• To hire a car, travellers must be at least 25 years old
• Most major car rental companies allow drivers under 25 years old to drive a rental car if they pay an underage driver fee

FUEL
• Petrol is sold in gallons
• Average cost of unleaded petrol is $2.95 (£1.77) per gallon ($0.78 or 60p per litre)

SPEED LIMIT
• The standard speed limit is 55 mph on highways and 65 mph on 4 lane divided highways
• On rural freeways there is a maximum speed limit of 70 mph and a minimum of 45 mph

BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL
• The highest permissible blood alcohol level for drivers is between 0.05% – 0.08%

SEAT BELT REGULATIONS
• Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers except in New Hampshire where only under 18s are required by law to wear a seat belt

ROAD RULES TO BE MINDFUL OF
• Drive on the right- hand side of the road
• Road laws in the United States are often set by each state

ARE WINTER TYRES & CHAINS REQUIRED?
• Tyre chains must always be carried in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming during winter months

INSURANCE AND BREAKDOWN COVER
• Basic cover on rental cars includes Third Party Insurance
• Insurance covers the driver only
• Drivers are advised to book All-Inclusive Insurance coverage
• Drivers are advised to purchase breakdown cover from rental companies
• Rental companies arrange roadside assistance, recovery or a replacement car

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