Securing a Rental Car in a Foreign Country

Authored by Jennifer Burss in Transportation 
Published on 10-10-2009

Renting a car for vacation in the US is easy for citizens and residents of North America. Renting a car overseas however is a bit more complicated. No matter how complicated renting a car might be, there are a few things that can be done to prevent difficulties when traveling outside the United States.

The best thing that a potential renter can do to make things easier on themselves before they leave the US is to reserve their automobile. Reserving automobiles as far in advance as possible is best. Prices for advanced reservations are nearly always less expensive than rentals made at the counter. Car rental websites are best to use to comparison shop. If possible it is best to make all arrangements and pay for a rental before leaving the United States.

Keep in mind exchange rates, as they change on a daily basis. Make sure you understand exactly how much you are spending. A language barrier may exist even if the country you are visiting is an English speaking country. There may be some confusion because in places like England and Ireland a different dialect of English is spoken. In this case you may want to do a bit of research on the place you are visiting before renting a car.

Always ask about extra costs that may not be presented in your original rental package but in the fine print. Ask what, if any kind of overage fees exist. At the same time, be sure to ask about auto club discounts and frequent flier mile discounts. If you see an ad with a promotional discount, be sure to clip the ad or write down the promotional code. Be sure to mention any promotional deal to the rental car or travel agent as such deals may not be readily offered.

In terms of the actual car rented, it will be best to rent the exact size of car needed in the event that you an don’t receive an upgrade. Most European vehicles are smaller than their American counterparts. If you need an automobile that will accommodate lots of luggage, a group of people, or someone of extraordinary height, ask for a slightly larger vehicle. If you don’t specify you may be given a very small subcompact vehicle. Most European roads are also much more narrow than American roads. Larger cars from rental companies in Europe are more difficult to find and are also more expensive. Cars with automatic transmissions are also less common. The ability to drive a stick shift may also save money because a special order will not have to be made.

International Driving Permits are documents with a person’s driver’s license information in dozens of different languages. If you are traveling in a country where English is not the primary language you will be asked to present your international driving permit when picking up your rental car. An IDP can be purchased through your local auto club. Two signed passport photos, a copy of each side of a driver’s license and a fee are required to obtain an IDP. You must be at least 18 years old to get an IDP. Advanced preparation and research can help make a trip abroad much easier.



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