The excitement of traveling to another country can easily overshadow important check-list items that make your trip safe and enjoyable. Many variables can work against you when doing something as simple as renting a car. This is especially true, for instance, if your name isn’t identical on all official documents.
Be prepared to present proof of identity
Our first experience renting a car on foreign soil was in Germany, during my husband’s military service. Though our military affiliation helped, it wasn’t enough. We still had to produce additional documents when trying to rent a car. Depending on the car-rental company, you may need to prove your identity to their satisfaction by producing one or more of the following:
- driver’s license
- insurance documents
- visa and entry requirements
- marriage license (if applicable)
- birth certificate, social security card (if needed)
Learn language basics or have a trusted translator
Looking back, I wonder how we would’ve fared had we simply been tourists who couldn’t speak or understand German, who were trying to rent a car and go God knows where. We had the luxury of military peers who lived in Germany long enough to master language basics. They also knew the vicinity, and they helped us find our way around. It’s wise to take the time to learn the language basics of the country you’re planning to visit. Or at least have a trusted translator.
Never wander through another country
If you don’t know anyone there, use a GPS system. It’s wise to have a detailed route planned, with exact designations. It’s also best to use the city’s tourists bureau or have someone show you where to go. I made the mistake, once, of driving about two miles alone to renew a military I.D. Though the facility was on the base, it was a huge military installation, and I got lost. Being on a military base is probably what saved me from a lot of serious problems. Never drive haphazardly through the streets of another county alone. You become conspicuous and draw suspicion.
Choose worldwide car-rental companies with good reputations
Cheaper rates may tempt you to use an unknown rental car company. But renting a car in another country can pose serious problems when dealing with off-brand rental companies. Using rental companies that are universal–such as the ones readily available at airports– are safer to deal with, and easier to hold accountable in the event of unforeseen issues. With off-brand companies, you usually sacrifice the security of insurance coverage and automobile safety standards–and sometimes you get scammed altogether. So, be prepared to pay for the conveniences you need when traveling and renting a car in a foreign country.