Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Wed September 23 2015

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  • Worldwide Scott | September 23, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    5 Tips For Driving on the Autobahn

    5 Tips For Driving on the Autobahn

    Photo via Flickr/conticium

    The German Autobahn has always had a special place in the world's imagination, with thoughts of driving down this motorway holding a pole position on many a motorist's bucket list. What is it precisely though about this highway that has helped it gain near-mythical status to the drivers of the world? Is it the lack of speed limit? Thoughts of beautiful the German countryside? The well-maintained gas station bathrooms? Oh, who am I kidding, we all know it's the lack of speed limit.

    I just took my inaugural tour of the German Autobahn, and while I didn't bury the needle too often in my rented and curiously named Fiat Panda, I have accumulated a few tips which I hope can help you when you get to scratch the Autobahn off your bucket list. 

    1. Bring a Map

    Photo by Worldwide Scott

    While you would think this would be a no-brainer, you would be surprised how many people just take off without having a map. In fact, I know a person who tried to drive from Amsterdam to Italy without a map! American guy — looked a lot like me. I suppose these people assume you can just look for the big cities that the Autobahn is pointing you to and guide yourself that way. What they don't get is, at times, things will get very confusing, especially if you don't speak or read German.

    Don't be like these people, just buy a map, or I suppose you could use a smart phone thingy. 

    2. Don't Leave Your Map on Top of Your Car

    Another well-established road tripping rule, but it can't be said enough, always check the roof of your car before heading off. I actually saw a person — American guy, looked a lot like me — hastily speed away from a rest area while his newly purchased atlas was still on the roof of his car. The atlas flew into the road and was rolled over by a procession of vehicles. The funny thing is though, this guy pulled over, put his flashers on, and then hustled back up the shoulder and into the road to get his atlas. Don't be like that guy.

    3. Do Not Get in a BMW's Way

    Photo via Flickr/John M

    If your vision of the Autobahn is filled with “Beamers” blowing by you on every side, well you are pretty much spot on. Almost as soon as you cross the border into Germany, you will notice these bad boys just flying all over the road, and if you happen to be lingering in that far left lane in your rental car only doing around 90 mph, they will make sure you know they aren't too thrilled about the situation.

    Luckily for me, our rental car had plates from The Netherlands, so I was only giving Dutch drivers a bad name while driving on the Autobahn, not American ones —USA! USA! USA!

    4. Delay Exiting the Autobahn at Your Own Peril

    Unlike the States, the exits off the Autobahn are few and far between. There were times where we went thirty to forty minutes without seeing one. If you think there is any chance you may need a pit stop or snack in the next hour, you are better off just taking the exit in front of you. Also, you will have to pay for the toilets most of the time, but on the plus side, you'll often receive a coupon for use in the attached quick shop.

    I humbly suggest a bottle of Mezzo Mix — a cola with a subtle taste of orange — as Autobahn refreshment.

    5. Watch Out for Speed Limits

    No, this isn't a trick tip, there are speed limits on the Autobahn, mostly around major metro areas. As soon as this zone ends, you are free to rev your car back up to maximum speed.

    Well, unless a Dutch rental car is in front of you.

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Worldwide Scott The Adventures of Worldwide Scott

Worldwide Scott Born in the U.S.A like Springsteen but trying to see the world like Pitbull, Worldwide Scott is the voice behind the hard-hitting travel site of the same name. Employing a groundbreaking strategy of visiting destinations, coming home, and then writing things about them on the internet, Worldwide Scott only tackles the tough questions that other writers wouldn't dare touch: Is travelling fun? Are there pretty places in the world? Do people in other countries wear clothes? Does Europe really exist? And if so, what's the beer like there? Stick around, he's going places.
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