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    Driving overseas for the first time, part 1

    Driving not only provides a way to get from A to B, but also the freedom of the open road - the luxury of going where you want, when you want, without having to stick to anyone else's schedule. It's a freedom that people often miss when they go on holiday overseas, but by hiring a car, it's possible to enjoy that same flexibility, no matter what country you're in.

    Of course, if you've never driven overseas before, you might feel a little anxious about doing so. Concerns about driving on the right side of the road, being confronted by signs in a foreign language and facing different driving styles can all persuade you to stick to public transport, but our guide for newcomers to driving overseas will help you take your first road trip abroad with confidence.

    Do your research
    While you're bound to be itching to get going with your holiday planning, you need to start with a little bit of research into the driving laws of the country you're visiting. Begin with the basics:- How long do I need to have held a driving licence to drive there?- Am I eligible to hire a car there (your age and how long you have had your licence for can affect this)?- Will I need an International Driving Permit?

    Next, it's worth doing some light research into the overall driving culture of the country you're visiting. This will not only give you a few good starting points for finding out about the local rules of the road, which we will talk more about later, but also help you decide whether this country is a good candidate for your first overseas driving experience. Italy, for example, is known for its aggressive driving. That's not to say that driving here is dangerous, but it can be more intimidating for newcomers than, say, France. However, your own confidence levels are of course a big factor here.

    Find a car hire company
    The next step is to look into your car hire options. Typically, the simplest thing to do is to pick up your hire car at the airport. This way, as soon as your plane touches down, you will have your own set of wheels - something that's a definite advantage when it comes to getting all your luggage to your accommodation!

    It's worth arranging the actual hire in advance, though, to make sure everything goes quickly and smoothly when you arrive at the airport. To pick up your car, you will need a full and valid driver's licence (both the paper and card counterparts), a credit card in the name of the primary driver and your reservation voucher.

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