Driving is often the fastest mode of transportation at distances between 10 km (6.2 mi) and 100 km (62 mi), unless there are traffic jams, or if the roads are in bad condition. In countries with a fast modern high speed rail network, however, driving is usually slower than trains on main lines connecting big cities. Within cities urban rail and cycling often beats cars in terms of speed due to congestion and problems of finding parking, over small distances even walking can be faster. In sparsely populated areas public transport may be infrequent or non-existent, and in difficult terrain there may be no railway.
Most countries require you to have a valid license before you will be allowed to drive, though whether or not this is actually enforced varies from country to country. Nevertheless, you are still strongly advised not to drive without a valid license, as you could be subject to fines and possible imprisonment if caught, and any insurance policies you may have purchased will not cover you in the event of an accident.
Some countries allow foreign licenses, especially from neighboring countries; for example Canada and the USA accept each others' licenses. Many but by no means all other countries will accept an international driving permit (IDP), usually obtained from the automobile association in your home country. If your stay in a country exceeds a certain amount of time, you will often have to get a local license. This may involve simply exchanging your foreign license for a local translation or going through the full courses and testing as a local who has no license would have to.
Check your insurance; not all policies cover international travel and even those that do may not meet the requirements of a destination's regulations. You really do not want to find yourself having to appear in court because of an accident your insurance did not cover, especially when the court may be far from your home or may operate in a foreign language. Nor do you want bills your insurance does not cover, whether auto repair, legal or medical.
Some borders may be no problem to cross with your own car, but rental cars may be a different story. Many rental contracts forbid driving to certain neighboring countries or even regions of the same country.
Bringing a vehicle into some countries requires a Carnet de Passages; like the IDP this is usually obtained from the automobile association in your home country.
- Tips for road trips
- Animal collisions
- Automobile associations
- Carnet de passage
- Car camping
- GPS navigation
- Offroad driving
- Renting a car
- Winter driving
- Main article: Driving in South Africa
South Africa is quite a large country, and a lot of the attractions are in rural areas. Therefore, public transport isn't good everywhere, and driving is popular.
- Main article: Driving in China
You must have a Chinese license to drive in China. Driving in China is also chaotic, so it is often wise to hire a driver or take taxis to get around. If you do want to drive in China, though, a lot of information about how others drive is very useful.
- Main article: Driving in Europe
Europe generally has good road networks, although high population density means that there can be a lot of other cars on the road, making driving more difficult. Driving in cities is often problematic and there is good public transportation, so a car is usually needed only for the countryside.
- Main article: Driving in France
Similar to much of Europe, driving in France is very straightforward unless you go through the cities.
- Main article: Driving in Germany
Germany is known for its motorways, called Autobahns.
- Main article: Driving in Iceland
Iceland is a long way north (in fact, farther north than you'd probably assume) and doesn't have a large population, but it is a fairly large island. That makes driving the obvious choice for getting around Iceland.
- Main article: Driving in Italy
It shouldn't be hard to get around Italy if you have the money to pay tolls, and therefore drive on quieter roads.
- Main article: Driving in Norway
Norway goes a long way north to south, and by driving you can reach places in Norway that are difficult to reach using other forms of transport.
- Main article: Driving in Russia
The largest country in the world is so large that it is hard to get around, even if you're getting around by car. While viewing the countryside by driving is an interesting idea, it's best to know where you're going so you don't end up on the Kolyma Highway.
- Main article: Driving in Sweden
Generally, driving in Sweden works well, but be careful about driving in winter or going into wilderness areas and be careful about drinking before you drive.
- Main article: Driving in Switzerland
Switzerland is a small but mountainous country, so you will generally not need to drive long distances to get from place to place but the drive itself may be challenging.
- Main article: Driving in the United Kingdom
If you're considering a rental car in United Kingdom, you can forget it for exploring Central London, but if you're driving around the country, or going through small towns, a car is useful.
- Main article: Driving in Australia
Much of Australia's population lives a relatively small area on the southeast coast, and travel between the southeast coastal cities and the capital, Melbourne, is not too far to travel. However, to get to Perth, you have to travel great distances across Australia's desert country.
- Main article: Driving in New Zealand
Cars are very popular in New Zealand, and a car is necessary if you want to see New Zealand's beautiful countryside.
- Main article: Driving in Canada
Most of Canada's roads are in the south, due to the low population density and extremely cold weather in the north.
- Main article: Driving in Mexico
- Main article: Driving in the United States
The United States is the country where cars dominate the most, and must be used if you want to get the best idea of the American countryside, its history, and important destinations throughout. Since America is large, especially when compared to its population, there are opportunities to "hit the road" and be far from busy highways, or opportunities to get off the road altogether.
- Main article: Driving in Brazil
Road safety differs much between countries. In some, roads may be of very bad quality, with potholes or damaged sections with no warnings, in some the climate poses a challenge, in some reckless driving is common. Some of the dangers can be mitigated or minimized with proper preparations, in some countries you should consider leaving the driving to locals. It's best to avoid unpaved roads if possible.