I joined the Army in 2005. After I completed Basic Training and AIT, I went to Germany for my first time ever. I was very happy to go to Germany. This was going to be the start of an exciting life of travel and service to our country. I arrived in Germany without a means to get around. I ended up walking everywhere while, waiting for my family to arrive. After two weeks, my wife and children flew in from the states. My wife and I decided to get a rental to be able to go visit castles and other monuments around Germany. Here are four things I learned about renting a car in a foreign country by experience.
1. Make sure to get all the details of the rental. The price was one thing that was told to us that would not have any hidden fees. This ended up being false. The fees built up to cost more than the daily rental itself. Always look at the fine print when it comes to signing any documents.
2. Make sure the car is in good condition. The car we rented seemed like a great car on the outside. After a week of driving the engine started to vibrate and smoke. The rental agency tried to give us an invoice for the cost it would take to fix the car. Lucky for us we had renters’ insurance that was able to cover the cost. We didn’t have to pay a deductible per our contract with the insurance company.
3. Be sure that the car you get is small. Most streets in Germany are very narrow and the parking lots are very close spaces. We went to a town in Germany and found out that we couldn’t park in an underground parking area due to the rental being too large. I almost got the car stuck in a tunnel that had a sharp turn.
4. Do not rent for long periods at a time. After a month of renting we ended up spending over $2,000 driving a car that was too large to get around most German towns and had bad gas mileage. In all we spent over $4,000 on the rental. That same amount could have been spent on buying a used car from a service member who was leaving Germany. To this day, I am still kicking myself in the butt for not going that route.
If you ever get a chance to visit a foreign country, do so. We had a lot of fun in Germany and would not give up a chance to go back. Just keep in mind when you do go to another country, use your head and be smart on spending. Rental cars do come with a heavy price.