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Tips for Expats Driving in Bristol

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Bristol.
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1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Bristol, like many UK cities, can be challenging due to narrow roads, heavy traffic, and complex road systems. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the UK’s driving rules and regulations, which may be different from your home country. For example, in the UK, you drive on the left side of the road.

2. Choosing the Right Car

Compact cars are recommended for driving in Bristol due to the narrow roads and limited parking spaces. Smaller cars are easier to maneuver and park. Also, consider choosing a car with good fuel efficiency as petrol can be quite expensive in the UK.

3. Parking in Bristol

Finding parking in Bristol can be difficult, especially in the city center. There are several paid parking lots and garages available, but they can be quite expensive. Some residential areas require a permit for parking. It’s advisable to research parking options in your area before you move.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in the UK with an international driving permit (IDP) for up to 12 months from the date they last entered the UK. After this period, you will need to apply for a UK driving license.

5. Getting a UK Driving License

To get a UK driving license, you will need to pass a theory test and a practical driving test. The theory test is a computer-based test that assesses your knowledge of UK driving rules, while the practical test assesses your driving skills. You can book these tests through the official DVLA website. Note that the process can be lengthy, so it’s advisable to start as soon as possible.

6. Be Prepared for Traffic

Bristol is known for its heavy traffic, especially during peak hours. It’s advisable to plan your journeys in advance and allow extra time for travel. Using a GPS or a navigation app can help you find the quickest routes and avoid traffic jams.

7. Consider Alternatives to Driving

Given the challenges of driving in Bristol, you might want to consider alternatives such as cycling, walking, or using public transport. Bristol has an extensive bus network and is known for being a bike-friendly city.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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