Renting a car in a different country… now, that can come across as a little intimidating. But do not fear!! I am here to tell you all the points you MUST think about before making that leap of faith and renting a car overseas! So, listen up!
DO YOU NEED AN INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS LICENSE?
This answer totally depends on what country you are visiting. Some countries require an international drivers license, some countries don’t. When in doubt, I would opt to get the international drivers license. It takes about 15 minutes to complete, and then it’s valid for a year. You can go to any AAA branch office to obtain your international drivers license. And don’t worry, you don’t even need to make an appointment!
DO YOU NEED SPECIAL INSURANCE FOR YOUR CAR RENTAL?
Again… this depends on the country you are visiting. But PLEASE. Read the fine print!! Some car rental companies include car rental insurance. Sometimes your credit card company will include special international car rental insurance. But other times, you will need to purchase separate insurance.
CAN YOU DRIVE A MANUAL SHIFT, OR DO YOU NEED AUTOMATIC?
Oh my gosh!! The most important aspect! And a seriously easy one to overlook. In many international countries, manual shift is the norm. There have been countless times where I accidentally almost rented a manual shift, and then last minute, noticed my (almost horrendous) mistake. Double and triple check that you are renting an automatic and NOT a manual. Unless you want a manual. Hahaha.
HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHERE TO PARK AND ANY ASSOCIATED COSTS?
This is something I would never actually think about because it comes so naturally in my own country. But you absolutely have to do research on where to park… especially where there is free parking!! Even though it is ideal to always find free parking, there are some places where you’ll need to pay. And it’s important to know which parking establishments accept card and which only take cash/coins. Not being able to find the appropriate parking at the right time can really add some extra stress to your day and you don’t need that!
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT DRIVING RULES?
Have you ever driven on the other side of the car AND the street? Yeah… me neither… until I was in South Africa!! I can guarantee that there will be a handful of road rules that are different from your country. And to play it safe (rather than sorry), please read up on these rules!! I think the biggest aspect to educate yourself on, in regards to these rules, is what the different road lines and road signs mean!
WILL THERE BE TOLLS TO PAY?
I am SO glad I researched this literally the week before I left for Portugal!! There was a toll road that would have ended up costing me over $100 USD! WHAT?! Like how is that even possible?! Luckily, I talked with the car rental company, and they had an option to pre-pay for toll roads. And it was only about $5 per day!! A MUCH better deal and less hassle!!
ARE THERE ANY TYPE OF CAR RENTAL DISCOUNTS YOU QUALIFY FOR?
PROBABLY. The first thing I would recommend… check what kind of benefits your work has!! My work has the strangest and most random benefits for all their employees! But one benefit I really appreciate? Discounts on multiple car insurance companies!! SCORE. Typically, your work will have a special discount code, and you just need to plug that into the car rental website, and you’re good to go!
HOW DO YOU GET GAS?
I never thought of getting gas until I was at a gas station in Portugal and I had no idea what to do. HA. My best advice for this… ask the car rental company what kind of gas the car takes. If you are unsure, PLEASE ask the gas attendant! I had to do this and they were so helpful! You really don’t want to be putting the wrong type of gas into your car. Also, there are some countries where the gas attendants will pump your gas for you!! How nice!
WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT THE CAR RENTAL STATION, WHAT’S THE PROCESS LIKE?
This depends on the country and car rental company. When I rented a car in Portugal, it was an absolute nightmare. When I was in South Africa, it was a completely smooth process. In Portugal, there was no line to get into to talk with a representative. You had to grab a numbered ticket, which was not explained well. I actually was told to do this by other people waiting for their car rentals (thank you!!!). This whole process honestly took over an hour and it was so chaotic. But in South Africa, there was a line, there was order, and it was amazing! Hehehe!
Long story short… renting a car overseas can be a bit of a hassle. But don’t let it put a damper on your trip!! Having a rental car can really open up the opportunity for you to see more of the country you are visiting! I’ve rented a car in multiple countries!! So, if you have any questions… just ask!
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