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When travelling, it's always important to take every necessary precaution in order to ensure your safety and that of family. Driving is no exception. Whether your touring the Costal del Sol, or visiting the colourful city of Cape Town, here are some tips to stay safe.
1. Never leave valuables in the car. If for some reason you must leave valuables in the car, don't leave them where they can be seen from the outside. Put them in the trunk, or lock them in the glove compartment. Never leave your documents in the car, in plain sight or otherwise, but carry them with you or keep them safely in your hotel.
2. Lock the doors when you're driving. We should never mistrust our fellow human beings, but neither should we hand them the key to our homes. Particularly in cities, where you'll often be forced to stop by traffic lights, it's best not to tempt fate by driving with unlocked doors.
3. When possible, choose a vehicle with air conditioning. Not only will this be a great help in warm and cold climates alike, it will also allow you to drive with your windows rolled up. Again, it's not that your suspecting anyone of trying to do anything untoward, but why tempt fate?
4. Before leaving the depot with your car hire, ask someone on the staff to show you how the car's vehicle equipment works, such as hazard lights, locks, where the spare tyre is, etc. The last thing you want is to need one of this things and have no idea how to operate it.
5. Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of the country you're travelling to. There's more than one way to skin a cat, and just because things are done a certain way where you live, it doesn't follow that they are done the same way elsewhere. For instance, in some countries you only need to drive with your headlights on at night and in tunnels, while in others - Italy comes to mind - you need to have your headlights on at all times.
6. Plan your route ahead of time. Nothing will give you away as a tourist faster than slow driving and the constant checking of a map. And the best way to stay safe on holidays is - where and when possible - to blend in with the locals.
7. Don't give lifts to strangers. Remember Molly's Harmless Boyfriend.
8. Park your car in busy, or at least well-lit, areas. If for some reason you need to pull over when driving, don't just stop on the side of the road, drive to a well-lit location, where there are people around.
9. Make sure you have enough fuel to get where you're going. In some places (German Autobahns, for instance), you'll actually be fined for stopping if you run out of gas.
10. Not talking on the phone while driving is common sense, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't carry a phone with you, on the contrary. In an emergency, a mobile phone will allow you to quickly contact emergency services or roadside assistance. Be sure to learn the emergency number of the country you're in. In the European Union, dialing 112 in any country will put you in contact with the national emergency services.