Have you traveled abroad and needed to rent a car but couldn’t? Sure you have. We’ve all been there. For whatever reason, you got stuck. Everybody gets stuck, and when it stops being an awful story, it becomes a humorous one.
“But how can I avoid creating new humorous stories?” you might ask. Let me share four lessons I learned in my years traveling abroad.
1. Find out if you need an International Driver’s Permit
Just like a squirrel can’t climb a tree without claws, you cannot legally drive without official permission (except in countries where you can). In some places you can’t use an IDP and in some places you can drive with no official permission needed at all. Find out before you go or inquire about renting. Countries that require an IDP often don’t require one for short-term visitors. Find out.
2. Book your car in advance
By doing this, you (almost) guarantee that you will have the car you need and in all likelihood, you’ll pay less to boot. Be sure to ask what kind of paperwork they will need when picking up the car, all of the fees involved, if someone of your age range is legally able to rent a car (important for people under 25 or over 70), and what days and hours they are open for picking up and dropping off (the days and times listed on their website might not be accurate, so ask).
3. Make sure you’re insured
Find out in which countries your current auto insurance is valid. If you aren’t covered, inquire with your agency or ask the rental place. When traveling in unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar laws, rules, and unwritten customs, it can be easy to have a slip-up. Make sure you are covered. Some places imprison reckless drivers and, last I checked, prisons for poor people and foreigners isn’t so fun.
4. Know the rules of the road
Brush up on the different laws and rules so that you can reduce the chance of having to make use of your insurance. Getting killed while driving around is bad; killing other people because you were too lazy to read a few pages about driving is much worse. And if you plan to cross borders, find out the rules about doing so. The rental place should be able to tell you, but since you’re planning ahead, it can’t hurt to search for it on your favorite search engine and find out in advance.