Traveling abroad for business? Exploring a new country? International car rentals are an excellent option for travel but before you get on your flight, there are important things you need to know. Let’s prepare you for your trip!
What You Need Before You Leave
We encourage all international car rentals to be booked and prepaid online while you’re home and to do so way before your trip begins. First of all, you can comparison shop on third party sites in advance to get the best competitive prices. You’ll also save money with a prepaid discount and a locked in price. When you do this, keep records of your receipt and confirmation number. Having your booking paid and finalized will also saves stress! With new countries comes language barriers and exchange rates. Taking care of the car rental while you’re at home helps you avoid potential booking issues at the counter.
Another detail to take care of at home is your International Driving Permit (IDP). This is essentially a form that translates your license info into 10 different languages and is valid form of identification in 150 countries. If you’re traveling to a country with an unfamiliar language, your IDP will be able to identify you to foreign law enforcement or other identification officials. Apply for your IDP online through the American Automobile Association, better known as AAA, website. Once you fill it out, you can drop it off to your local AAA branch. An IDP costs around $20 U.S. dollars, treat it like your passport.
What to Know Before You Go
Alright so you decided you’re going to book your car rental online and you are going to get an IDP. Great! When you’re booked and ready for travel make sure you read the local branch policy of the car rental agency you’re using. We still have to go over some international driving facts before you make your plans official.
Research the driving culture of the country you’re visiting. What side of the road do they drive on? Driving on the opposite side of the road may be challenging! What are the road conditions? In many foreign countries, the roads are not maintained as well and paved as smoothly like most roads in the states. There can be sharp turns and severe winding roads. If you are not confident in your driving skills then this can be dangerous. Are you considering adding insurance to your reservation? Before you do that, check with your credit card company to find out if they cover you for international car rentals. You’re covered? Bring proof of insurance to show your rental agent at the counter.
What size car does this country drive? A lot of overseas countries drive smaller, compact vehicles. When booking make sure you are getting a car that can fit you and whoever you are traveling with and don’t forget to consider your luggage! An economy class vehicle in Italy may not be what you’re used to at home. Be careful with the car class you choose and be sure it can accommodate your party and luggage. Last, but not least, can you drive stick? Driving manual cars is the norm internationally. If you are a pro at driving stick then you’re good to go. If not, you might have to pay premium for an automatic.
Like all other aspects of a trip abroad, there needs to be research. Have any other questions? Reach out to your vendor, via email or call their U.S. branch, and ask questions! The more you know before you go, the better your trip will be.