Off on holiday abroad this summer? Whether you’re backpacking to Bali, or going on a package holiday to Majorca, you’ll probably want to do some sightseeing while you’re away.
Public transport is always an option for getting from place to place, but it can be difficult to decipher timetable information in a second language. Car hire’s another choice, but in some places it can be expensive. Mopeds are often economic to rent and use a fraction of the fuel that cars do. So if you want to get around cheaply and easily, then a scooter could be the ideal solution. Here are a few reasons why you should (and shouldn’t) consider renting a moped abroad this summer.
Get off the beaten track
Mopeds are a great way to discover a place, as they’re perfect for discovering out of the way spots that can’t be reached by bus or car. They’re also fantastically easy to park, so if you’re going to a popular beach or tourist site, you won’t have to walk miles from the car park like everyone else.
On a recent holiday to Kefalonia my husband and I rented a scooter (car hire prices were extortionate). We travelled the length and breadth of the island on a few euros worth of petrol. We discovered deserted beaches and drove along mountain roads that you’d normally only tackle in a 4×4. One of the best discoveries was a small church at the end of a rough countryside track. From the outside it looked like a nissen hut, but inside it was like a scene from Indiana Jones. The place glowed with golden candlesticks, chalices and other artifacts. Spectacular.
You’re part of the scenery
Bikers have an expression ‘driving a car is like watching a movie; riding a motorcycle like being in one’ and the great thing about renting a moped is that feeling of being part of your surroundings. It just can’t be beaten.
Of course there’s a downside to all of this, as well as being part of the surroundings, you’re also exposed to the elements. Scootering in a hot place? Make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen to avoid getting sunburnt. And if the weather’s changeable, you could end up soaked to the skin in a downpour. Pack waterproof gear and some warmer clothing in case it doesn’t stay sunny all day.
Accidents can be nasty
The downside of moped rental is the increased chance of injury if you have an accident. A smallish incident which could result in a minor dent to your car, could mean broken limbs and hospital stays if you’re riding a moped. And it doesn’t have to be another driver’s fault either. Years back on Ko Samui, Thailand, I saw a tourist wipeout when he hit a patch of gravel on the coast road. He wasn’t driving fast, but as he was properly dressed either, he has some nasty looking wounds.
Take care when riding mopeds, especially if you don’t normally ride one at home. Dress appropriately, jeans and a jacket are the minimum requirement, and don’t forget your helmet. Just because the locals don’t wear them, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. However careful you are, accidents can happen, so make sure you have moped insurance to cover the costs if you are unlucky.
Understand traffic rules and customs
Even if you’re a regular scooter user in the UK, it doesn’t mean that driving abroad will be a breeze. Every country drives in a slightly different way, and what’s good practice in one place may be completely ignored in another. In India, for example, priority on roads is all about size. So as a moped rider you only have priority over pedestrians and cyclists. Bear this is mind when a truck or car is overtaking.
In the UK flashing your lights at someone signals that you’re giving them priority, in Italy the opposite applies. When someone flashes their lights it means ‘watch out – I’m coming through’. Make sure you understand the rules of the road and customs like these before you set out. It’ll make a world of difference to your safety.
Don’t drink and drive
Just because you’re on holiday, it doesn’t mean that you should take unnecessary risks – and that includes drinking and driving. If you’re planning a night out and want to have a few, leave the moped at home and find another way to travel back.
Even if you’re not planning to drink and drive, others might. If you’re staying in a place where drink-driving rules are commonly ignored, try not to travel by moped at night. The last thing you want is to be involved in an accident that isn’t your fault because the other driver has had a skinful.