Things to Consider When You Rent a Car Abroad

Rent a Car, Abroad, Budget Travel, Travel, Travel Guide, Travel Tips, Renting a personal vehicle is one of the best decisions a traveler can make. By taking your transportation into your own hands you open up a whole new world of possibilities. On longer trips, a rental car means a degree of freedom you simply can't get with public transportation. Many popular travel destinations don't even have advanced transportation infrastructure. Without a car you have to depend on expensive taxis to get from point A to points B, C, D, and E. It can really take a chunk out of your budget.

If you've already made the decision to pick up a rental car at the airport, make sure you take the following concerns into consideration.

1) Driving laws

Driving laws vary greatly from country to country. If you're driving in an urban environment, you need to give local ordinances special consideration. Make it your business to learn the local rules of the road beforehand. In Canada, for example, road signs indicate which turns are permissible at an intersection, rather than the opposite. In the U.S., we're used to approaching an intersection and seeing a big red line through an arrow if a particular turn is impermissible. In Canada, you'll see a green circle around several arrows indicating which turns are permissible. The whole system can appear very cumbersome to an American driver.

2) Be aware of language barriers

Unless you are a very experienced driver, it's generally not a good idea to drive in a country if there is a significant language barrier. Unless you speak Chinese, driving in China will be very challenging and possibly dangerous. If
you're dead set on driving in a country with a different national language, brush up on a few key phrases before the trip. As long as the alphabet is the same, you should be able to get by.

3) Be aware of age restrictions

Most countries have a minimum and a maximum age for renting motor vehicles. In the U.S., it's impossible to rent a car unless you are 25 years or older. Many western countries use the same age, but there is some variation. If you are under 25 or over 70, make sure you do your research.

4) Learn to drive stick

Manual transmission is still the norm in much of the world. If you were taught to drive on an automatic transmission and wouldn't know a clutch from a kickstand, you might want to consider taking some lessons. In certain countries it's basically impossible to rent an automatic.

5) Get an international driving permit

That's right, you need a special permit to drive on international roads. Unless you're traveling to another English speaking country, an IDP is a must. There are several organizations in the U.S. that are certified to issue IDPs to travelers. Contact the American Automobile Association or the National
Automobile Club and see if you meet the requirements. Any other organization offering IDPs is probably a fake.

The most important exception to this rule is England. When traveling to the U.K. you probably won't need an IDP to drive, but look into London car rentals just to make sure.


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