Traveling to a foreign country can be a pleasant experience. You have the opportunity to explore new cultures, meet new people, and try new foods! But the whole experience may not be completely positive, especially if you have to rent a car in the foreign country you’re visiting. Many factors can affect your car rental experience, anything from language barriers, potentially driving on the opposite side of the road and getting insurance coverage. I recently rented a car while visiting Ireland, and I learned numerous lessons about car rentals in foreign countries. I’ve included four of the most important lessons below so you won’t make the same mistakes I did!
Always buy the insurance
Yes, the daily insurance rates of approximately $10 to $20 can add up, but if you get into a wreck, it will be much easier than paying to fix your and/or the other party’s car! I was involved in a minor fender bender, which wasn’t my fault, but I was so glad to have the insurance and avoid having to pay for the damage to my rental car.
Don’t forget to get an International Driver’s License
I thought that my U.S. Driver’s License would be accepted in Ireland (as classic mistake for new foreign travelers!). Anyway, it took time and spending money away from my vacation for me to apply for an International Driver’s License! I recommend applying for the International Driver’s License before you ever leave for your trip. Only two U.S. organizations in the U.S. are authorized to issue International Driver’s Licenses: AAA (American Automobile Association) and American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). An International Driver’s License costs approximately $15 and if it isn’t obtained through one of the aforementioned agencies, then it is considered invalid. All you need to obtain an International Driver’s License is two passport-sized photos, a current state-issued driver’s license, and you need to be at least 18 years old.
Don’t make yourself a target
Don’t do anything that will bring attention to you as a tourist. You want to try to blend in as much as possible. As a tourist you are at risk for being robbed. In order to avoid this, be sure to keep your luggage in the car, and keep the GPS or maps in the glove department in the car. Don’t forget to lock the car doors and keep any valuables out of plain sight.
Save time, rent your car in advance
The most convenient way to rent a car is to rent it through a travel agency. If you don’t have a travel agency, or you would like handle the rental yourself, you can rent it through Hertz or Avis. Both of those companies work internationally.