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.
- 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.
- Driving in Denmark
- Driving in France
- Driving in Germany
- Driving in Iceland
- Driving in Italy
- Driving in Norway
- Driving in Russia
- Driving in Sweden
- Driving in Switzerland
- Driving in the UK
- Main article: Driving in Australia
Much of Australia's population lives a relatively small area on the southeast coast, and travel between the southeastern coastal cities of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne is possible if you have a lot of time. It takes. 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. As Canada is rather sparsely populated, cars are necessary to get around the countryside and small to medium-sized cities.
- 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 the United States 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. With very few exceptions, even major cities like Los Angeles, Detroit, Miami and Houston tend to be poorly served by public transport, and having a car is generally the best way to get around. The contiguous United States has good and well-maintained network of Interstate Highways, making it a breeze to drive between nearby major cities.
- 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.