Driving to Germany tomorrow...I'm terrified!

(17 Posts)
breward Fri 04-Apr-14 19:06:35

I have never driven abroad before. I am not great with left/right at the best of times.

It seemed like a good idea when I booked the holiday 4 months ago. Now I'm not so sure!!

Any tips/advice?

castlesintheair Fri 04-Apr-14 19:17:35

Don't worry. IME the Germans are fast (on motorways) but excellent drivers. I got massively lost in a German city in a car I'd never driven before a few months ago and other drivers seemed to be anticipating my every move. I live in a country full of notoriously crap drivers so it is a joy for me. Enjoy your holiday.

Onesleeptillwembley Fri 04-Apr-14 19:20:52

I used to drive to/from Germany all the time. By the time you get to wherever you're going you'll be used to driving on the right, on the easy roads. Driving through the town/city then won't seem quite as daunting.

heather1 Fri 04-Apr-14 19:22:56

When I'm driving on the other side of the road I wear a bracelet on the arm next to the window. Then I tell my self which side of the road it needs to be. That way I know without thinking which side of the road I need to be on. I hope that makes sense!
The autobahn is fine. When overtaking and in the fast lane keep an eye on the traffic behind you. If it's a part with high/unlimited speed limit cars behind you can come up awful fast. I usually stick to the inside lane and just pootle along.
Also useful is a post it or piece of paper stuck to the dashboard with the conversion of mph to kmph. That way you're less likely to get a speeding ticket. Have a gear holiday

BiscuitCrumb Fri 04-Apr-14 19:42:14

One piece of advice. When you're on the autobahn and the car behind you flashes you it means get out of my way please you're not going fast enough.

LillianGish Fri 04-Apr-14 19:47:05

You'll be fine. Much easier doing it than thinking about it! My tip is that it is not on busy/main roads where you'll have a problem as you'll be behind the car in front iykwim. The danger arise when turning onto quiet roads - at a junction or coming out of a petrol station for instance when you might temporarily forget - especially if there is not lots of traffic to remind you.

OTheHugeManatee Fri 04-Apr-14 19:55:20

Avoid Belgium if you can. They're mental. Germans are excellent drivers though. Go for it! It'll be a great challenge and you'll be dead chuffed when you get there [smile{

Once you get going driving on the 'wrong' side is ok, but setting off after you've stopped is trickier - in the past we've stuck a post-it in the middle of the steering wheel with DRIVE ON THE RIGHT!!!! on it

Going the wrong way on roundabouts is weird at first but you get used to it.

I'm sure you'll be taking it easy anyway & you'll be fine - it's fun after a while smile

AphraBane Fri 04-Apr-14 20:16:19

Very important driving rules in Germany for non-motorway driving:

If you see a yellow diamond sign to the right of the road at a junction, it means you have right of way. That sign is valid until you see another sign (in other words, you might not get a sign at each junction).

When you enter a town or village (and see the yellow town name sign that shows you're entering the municipal area), the default speed limit is 50 kmph, in front of schools etc it might fall to 30 kmph.

German drivers speed appallingly, for all the fact that they're 'good' drivers. DH mentioned to a friend the other day that we'd copped a 20 euros fine because the speed limit had dropped suddenly on the motorway and a speed camera was directly after the sign (yes, the authorities will do this on purpose) and the friend said 'oh yeah, I get 12 to 15 of those a year!' I swear he was proud of the fact - he normally does about 160 kmph on the motorway.

This is the biggie: if there is no sign giving priority or for giving way, you automatically give way to the car on the right. Learners are taught rechts vor links - right before left. Often there will be no give-way markings on the road itself.

It's actually carefully defined by law how long you get to overtake on motorways before you have to pull in to your lane again - my memory is 30 seconds on the motorway for cars and 45 seconds for lorries. Yes, you will get flashed by the headlights of the driver behind if you spend ages overtaking in the middle lane. I just avoid the left-hand lane altogether (the fast lane) because it's full of lunatics in Audis.

There is actually a law stating that BMW drivers will have their cars taken away from them if they drive carefully, and all BMW owners are very careful to adhere to this regulation. *

* This is not true. It just feels like it.

Best of luck!

Gowaygoway Fri 04-Apr-14 20:26:21

You'll love it! I drove in Germany for the first time when 20 weeks pregnant. My DH was doing the Ironman in Roth near Nuremberg. We shared the driving and I was absolutely dreading it but it was great. We had a pretty quick auto car though and that made it easier. You do have to be quick with overtaking. Make the decision to pull out and do it then get back in the slower lane asap.

Good luck!

breward Fri 04-Apr-14 20:52:28

Thanks for all the advice.

Love the bracelet idea. Will get some post it notes too!

We are going just over the German border to stay at Landal ( a center parcs type place). So most of the driving will be in Belgium... Especially if I don't venture too far once there. I would like to visit cologne but it depends on how the drive to Germany has gone. I will let you know!

mousmous Fri 04-Apr-14 20:58:53

just keep to the right, middle lane hogging is ilegal btw.
indicate, adhere to speed limits (even if locals don't, but they don't have to pay the fine in cash on the spot!)

have you sorted out car/travel insurance?

it will be fine smile

castlesintheair Fri 04-Apr-14 21:14:26

Cologne is fab. Spend as little time driving in Belgium as possible is my advice!

MissWimpyDimple Fri 04-Apr-14 21:25:16

Actually driving in Belgium is fine. Just v boring! The only thing to be aware of are some rather horrible ring roads around Brussels and Liege.

You need to aware too that signs can be in all sorts of languages. So for example, Liege can appear as Liege (French) Luik (Flemish) or Lüttich (German) shock

German autobahn have short slip roads and often the traffic going on shares the slip lane with the traffic going off!

themummyonthebus Fri 04-Apr-14 21:39:51

Belgians are awful drivers. I once wondered why the car in front was weaving all over the road while driving on a Belgian motorway. When I overtook I realised it was because the driver was trying to map read at the same time as driving. He was peeking over the top of the map every 30 seconds or so shock

German drivers are good but like everyone else says they all speed (and speeding fines seem to be quite low in comparison to the UK). Last time I drove over there I was driving my new, powerful car and was looking forward to not being flashed by bloody Audi drivers. "Ah, that's better," I thought while driving at almost 200kph on an empty motorway around Oldenburg. Only to look in my rear view mirror to seeing a bloody Audi driver roaring up behind me flashing his headlights. Grrr.

specialsubject Sat 05-Apr-14 17:42:46

the big thing when driving on the other side is to pay close attention when starting off, especially on a quiet road. It is all too easy to start off on the wrong side.

also be doubly cautious. In a crisis your reflexes will make you turn the wrong way.

radio off, frequent breaks, drive as if a policeman was your passenger. As you always should.

breward Sun 06-Apr-14 08:55:37

Arrived safely. Phew!
The journey was very straight forward until we hit the smaller roads. The bracelet was a brilliant idea. Had DS in the back shouting "bracelet side mummy." The sat nav was a god send too. We had instructions on paper that took us via Ostend, sat nav took us via Lille... I was not going to argue and just followed the nice lady's instructions all the way to Germany.

Belgium roads were awful... Not the drivers but the potholes on the duel carriage ways. If you think British roads are bad try hitting a crater at 70mph...ouch!

Thanks for all your advice.

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