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As primary schools close for the summer, Mondial Assistance is offering a useful checklist to Irish families, planning to drive while abroad.

Driving on the “wrong” of the road, reading confusing road signs combined with cries from the back seat of “are we there yet?” are just some of the causes that stress-out Irish motorists when driving abroad.

Since the ash cloud crisis, more Irish holiday-makers have chosen the car ferry over flying this summer.  However, according to one of Ireland’s biggest motor and travel assistance provider, Mondial Assistance, much of the stress of driving abroad can be eliminated before they even leave home.

Martin Lyons, Director General with Mondial Assistance in Ireland advises: “Drivers need to be aware that the rules of the road are not always going to be obvious or even similar to our own, with some regulations being much more unusual with stricter penalties than in Ireland. That’s why we advise drivers to check-up on things such as speed limits and driver documentation for the other country, before they set-off with their families.”


  • Plan your journey using detailed roadmaps, marking key stopping and refuelling points along your planned route. If you have a sat nav device, check that it has current maps for the country you’re driving to.
  • Many countries may not have 24 hour fuel stations, outside of the Motorway network, so factor this into your journey.
  • Don’t forget official documentation, including full driving licence, registration documents, motor insurance certificate, passport (leaving a copy at home, in case you lose any documents abroad).
  • Before you leave, check the rules of the road including speed limits for the countries you will be driving in. Most have information online and in English.
  • Check if a visa is needed and that your driver’s licence is legally valid to drive in the countries you intend to drive in.
  • Make sure you have adequate travel insurance and break down cover (check your motor insurance policy to see if you already have this cover in place for driving abroad).
  • Don’t forget to convert the vehicle’s headlights for driving on the right.
  • Ensure you carry any necessary spares such as light bulb replacements.
  • Keep a warning triangle in your boot in case of an accident or break down.
  • Make sure you display an ‘IRL’ sticker, especially outside the EU.
  • If you are taking your own car, have it checked by a qualified mechanic before you leave.
  • Don’t forget to bring your European Health Insurance Card from the HSE with you (for accessing public system healthcare in EU or EEA countries).
  • Before you go, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs website (www.dfa.ie) for any additional advice.
  • When you arrive, it might sound obvious, but make a point to remember to drive on the correct side of road for the country you are in! This is especially important when you’re pulling out of garages or forecourts.
  • Don’t tempt thieves by leaving belongings in the car where they can be seen (and don’t forget to store your sat nav away safely).
  • Don’t lend your vehicle to anyone else (as this may invalidate your insurance) and don’t give lifts to strangers, especially when crossing borders.