One of the best ways to travel is to use your own vehicle and therefore set up your own schedule and itinerary. That’s both more comfortable and safe than using public transportation and relying on others to drive you around.
Renting a vehicle is the most convenient way to get around in a foreign country because it allows you to choose a drop-off point and let someone else pick up the car, while you’re free to continue your trip. There are a few important features to look for in a rental car so that you’re comfortable and you don’t need to worry about any car trouble while abroad.
Don’t Rent at the Airport
Most drivers rent a car as soon as they arrive at their destination. That’s a convenient thing to do too and that’s why so many renting agencies are based close to the airport. Those are also almost always more expensive and provide fewer services and features.
A responsible thing to do is to prepare for the trip on time and to shop around for different renting services. That way you can get a better deal and make sure that you get a vehicle that will suit your needs.
Rental insurance may seem like just one additional expense but it’s one that’s worth spending. The insurance will keep you covered in case there’s an accident or if the car breaks due to no fault of your own. It’s best to have that issue covered while you’re abroad.
In order to get car insurance and to be able to rent at all, you’ll need an international driving permit issued by the IDA (International Drivers Association). You’re also obligated to show proof of insurance when stopped by the authorities.
Inspect the Outside of the Car
The first thing to do once you choose your car is to inspect it at a glance. If you notice any marks or dents on the car you should notify the car rental agency before you start using the car. That way you can’t be held responsible for the damage.
Make sure that you inspect the car with care and that you pay attention to the smallest of details. It may seem like a pedantic thing to do, but it can save you quite a lot if you end up responsible for the damage and have to pay to fix it.
Separate The Car Keys
You should ask for two sets of keys if it isn’t the standard practice to get them (most rental companies provide them in two sets). As soon as you get the sets you should separate them and keep one on your person instead of in the car.
Vacations can be pretty hectic and getting yourself locked out of the car isn’t that uncommon especially if you’re traveling with kids. Having an extra set of keys on your person at all times is a minor inconvenience but it does help when something like this happens.
What Kind of Gas To Use
In most cases, the car will come filled with gas and you’re free to start driving right away. Refilling it, however, is your responsibility and you need to be prepared for it. The first thing to do is to figure out what kind of gas is best used for the vehicle. That’s something you can ask at the rental agency or find online yourself.
Make sure to have a clear plan as to how often you plan to refill the vehicles and there are plenty of apps that help you with setting up such a route.
GPS services are sold separately and there’s an additional insurance payment you’ll need to make to cover the device itself. Not all drivers need a GPS in their car and that mostly depends on where you plan to go. If you’re driving within or to and from large cities you can rally on the GPS on your phone.
However, if your car trip is going to take to some remote parts of the country and if you plan to spend hours on small and less known roads it’s best to invest in a GPS or vehicle routing software and deal with the extra cost. It’s a much preferable option to getting lost in the middle of nowhere.
Basic rules of driving within the rules and laws and being respectful to other drivers and driving culture apply when you rent a car as they would with your own. It will keep you safe and comfortable even when driving on roads you’re not familiar with.