Monday, 12 October 2015

International Car Rental Tips

Need wheels for your next trip abroad? There's more to consider than driving on the "other" side of the road. From international driving permits to liability insurance, renting a car in a foreign country can be a bit more complicated than renting one at home. Here are some tips for getting a great deal, making sure you have the right documentation and driving safely while abroad.

Booking Your Car

Book in advance. Rental rates are almost always higher at the counter than they will be over the phone or online, even just 24 hours before pickup. If you have time, comparison shop. Visit our website www.thriftyuae.com and search for various cars on your travel dates.

Whenever possible, make all car rental arrangements, from booking to payment, before you leave your home country. Doing it this way generally makes the process cheaper, easier, safer and less likely to include hidden clauses. Once you are overseas, shifting exchange rates, unfamiliar rental specs, language barriers and other cultural differences can cause unexpected problems.

Ask about weekend specials, late penalties and gas charges. Many unadvertised discounts and hidden costs will not be explained at the time of rental, and it may be too late by the time you've discovered them.

Ask what time a car is expected for drop-off. Many rental agencies begin charging for each 24-hour-period from the time of rental, and will bill a full day for cars returned after another 24-hour period begins.

Be aware that many countries have a minimum and maximum age for renters. Drivers under the age of 25 or over the age of 70 may face surcharges or not be permitted to rent at all.

When making reservations for car rental pickups at an airport, choose a smaller car than you would typically desire. Airport fleets are often stocked with larger cars, as they are primarily used by business travelers, and you will often receive a free upgrade from a subcompact booking. Be aware, however, that European cars tend to be smaller than their American counterparts; while this might be useful if you're planning on driving on narrow country roads, it's not so great for those who are extra tall, carrying a lot of luggage, or traveling with a family or large group. In these cases, don't take a risk -- be sure to order the size you need just in case you don't get an upgrade.
In many countries, manual transmissions are the norm and you'll have to pay a premium for an automatic. If you can drive a stick shift, it could save you money and hassles. Driving overseas can often be more strenuous than what you're used to at home; roads may be poorly paved, winding, or precariously placed on a mountainside or ocean cliff. For this reason, it's often a good idea to divide up the driving -- so if not everyone can drive a manual transmission, consider looking for an automatic. Also, if you're going to a country like England or Australia, be sure everyone's comfortable with driving on the left side of the road -- it can be challenging!

International Driving Permits

If you're traveling to an English-speaking country, chances are you'll be able to get by with an American driver's license. However, many other countries will ask that you also obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP), which is basically just a piece of paper that translates your information into 10 different languages and is recognized by over 150 countries. If you are planning to rent a car abroad, you may be asked to present one along with your regular state license. You must be at least 18 years old to get an IDP.

Know Before You Go

Familiarize yourself with the local rules of the road well before you actually get into the car. Study up on such details as which side of the road to drive on, who has the right of way in a traffic circle and whether you're permitted to turn right on a red light. The best sources for this type of information are the country's consulate or embassy, or an up-to-date guidebook.

Most car rental companies offer GPS rentals; check the GPS rental rates for your rental car before you purchase an international map from your GPS provider.