Planning the first time getaway to a bucket list destination and planning to rent a car to be footloose and fancy-free? Often we all dream of the open road in a faraway and foreign land. If this is your first rodeo there are some helpful tools for making your dream vacation better by being better equipped. Research, research, and more research is a helpful tool or you can simply read our top 7 recommendations to make your journey run smoothly.
- Do you need an international driver’s license and are you old enough to drive a rental car? Most large car rental agencies often have fine print on their website as to the appropriate age to rent a car so be sure and read the fine print or google the age to rent from your preferred car rental agency. The general rule is 21 years of age is the minimum, but often 25 years of age the requirement. If you are not 25 years old car companies have devised a way to rent you a car, however, you have the pay higher rates. Be sure and check ahead of time before you arrive at your destination. As for an international driver’s license, you can go to your local AAA office to get an international license for a fee. Check with your local AAA for more information and fees.
- Insurance coverage? When renting a car overseas it is best to check with your local insurance agent if you are covered in the country you are traveling to – and as a habit print out your insurance cards (and in some instances have access to your whole policy just in case) or you can simply pay for the added coverage at the car rental counter.
- Hey, stay on your side of the road buddy! To plan ahead be sure and check the details of what side of the road people drive. If you are not familiar or not sure, be sure and check in advance. There is nothing more horrifying when you land after a long flight, often tired, and in an unfamiliar place to find out drivers drive on the left-hand side. This often takes practice, caution, and constant reminders to “stay on the left” in compared to the United States and most of Europe.
- Understand and obey local traffic laws. When planning your trip be sure to become familiar with the local traffic laws. For example, in Europe, there are often round-a-bout intersections and in Thailand, there is an abundance of scooters who zip by (all while driving on the left-hand side and going in the opposite direction).
- Plan for and focus on safety! When driving in foreign countries always be aware of your surroundings. While driving your adrenaline levels will be higher (remember, you are in a foreign land!). Depending on where you are driving sometimes drivers can be aggressive – picture the images of the fast-paced Vespa’s in the old movies filmed in Rome, Paris and the madness of large cities like Mexico City or Sao Paulo, Brazil and it is known fact that the Autobahn in Germany was built for speed. In many countries, safety equipment is mandated and required, so be sure and ask at the rental counter if that car has the necessary safety equipment.
- To map or not to map? As you plan your dream trip remember to plan for how and where you will go. As Yogi Berra once famously said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will get there!” If you are going to developed countries with good cell phone service, then chances are you can easily use GPS for directions, however, if you are adventurous and you might be off the beaten path, then you might want to get a local map or print out your directions in advance. There is nothing more stressful than arriving at your destination to find out there is no GPS or maps.
- Don’t forget to have fun. Enjoy your journey and trip. You will get lost, you will make mistakes (hopefully they are not life-threatening to you or locals), but oftentimes it is the mistakes we make traveling that become the best memories we have from our trip.