Traveling to a foreign country is such an exciting experience, and finding your way around the unfamiliar territory can be half of the fun. Public transportation is the most common means of travel for many people who go to foreign countries, but some people do choose to rent cars. However, it is important to know that the procedures for renting a car abroad might not be the same as the process to rent a car in the United States. There are many important things you should know before you rent a car abroad ranging from the rules of the road to fees involved.
1. Book your car rental ahead of time. You can save a lot of time and money if you choose to book your car in advance. Often times, the rental rates are much lower if you book online or over the phone ahead of your arrival as opposed to booking your car at the counter of the airport. Shop around and look for the best deals. Some car rentals will arrange for your car to be available for you as soon as you arrive. Another benefit to booking your rental ahead of time is that the payment process will be easier. If there are any payment problems you will have a chance to contact your bank or credit card company before you leave.
2. Understand the rules of the road. You might be used to driving on the right side of the road, but you will need to make sure that you are comfortable driving on the left side of the road in some countries such as England. Also, before you decide whether or not you want to rent a car and drive yourself, do your research on the road rules and regulations in the country to which you are traveling. The rules of the road are different around the world, and you cannot assume. Brush up on speed limits and common courtesy because you might be traveling to a country where signs are not as frequently posted on the side of the road as they are in the United States.
3. Be aware of any hidden fees. Much like with any car rental, there is always the chance that the contract will contain major fees that you might gloss over or fees that the car rental company might not tell you. If the company does not bring up certain fees, ask about them beforehand. First and foremost, ask about the specific time the car needs to be returned, and ask about the penalties for returning the car late. Anything can happen when in a foreign country, so be aware of any fees that could stem from returning the car after the specified return time. Also, ask about the policy relating to gas. Some rental companies will require you to return the car with a certain amount of gas, and there could be penalties and fees if you don’t.
4. Get a driving permit. This is one of the most important tips that is commonly looked over. In the same way that we would not want someone to get behind the wheel of a car without a license in the United States, travelers to foreign countries should not get behind the wheel of a car without the proper identification. If you are traveling to an English speaking country you should be able to use your American driver’s license, but you might be required to obtain an International Driving Permit in many other countries. Before you make the decision to rent a car abroad, research the legal requirements in regards to driving identification.