Holiday Guides

Tips for Renting a Car on Holiday Abroad

Car rental

Rental car in Portugal.

Renting a car while travelling abroad gives you the freedom to visit parts of a foreign country not reachable by other forms of transportation. You also are not slavishly tied to a bus or train schedule; you can go where you want, when you want to, at your leisure. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when driving a car in a foreign country.

Get an International Driving Permit

Most countries won’t recognize your home country’s license, whereas an International Driving Permit (IDP) is recognized in 150 countries. Don’t rely on the IDP to replace your normal driver’s license; it’s intended only as a supplement to your already existing ID. You must be at least 18 years old to receive an IDP, and it won’t be valid in your home country. Two organizations that can provide you with an IDP are the American Automobile Association and the American Auto-mobile Touring Alliance.

Make Sure you are Insurance

U.S. auto insurance does not normally transfer to foreign countries unless it’s a neighbouring country like Canada or Mexico. Contact your insurance company to verify what countries your policy operates in. Car hire companies do provide insurance, but the coverage is usually minimal. There are also two other things to consider before buying insurance over the counter from a rental company.

For example, let’s say you’re in an accident, and your rental car will be out of commission for three days while it’s being repaired. Even though you won’t be able to use the car, the car hire company will still charge you for those rental days. You’ll want to have what’s called “loss of use” coverage, so you won’t be stuck paying for a car you can’t drive. This type of coverage is not always included in the car hire company’s rental policy.

Also, care hire companies tend to charge higher rates than standard third-party providers. Whereas some travel insurance coverage will run you $7-$9 a day (roughly GBP£5/EUR6), a rental agency usually charges you up to $15-$18 a day. For this reason, a better option would be to purchase a travel insurance package that provides at least the amount of coverage you receive from your at-home auto insurance company and includes “lost of use” coverage

Also Consider when Driving on Holiday Abroad

  • Carry your driving ID at all times.
  • Know the country’s rules of the road. This information can usually be found at the country’s embassy, travel agency office, or at the rental agency in the country itself.
  • If you’re travelling to a country where they drive on the opposite side of the road, practice driving in sparsely populated areas first before entering areas with heavy traffic.
  • Know the route you’re travelling beforehand. Bring a good road map and a GPS navigator.
  • Last, but not least, buckle up!

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