What you need to know about renting a car internationally
Renting a car internationally is not always the best option for transportation. Many places are easily accessible by train or bus and you can commonly navigate the cities by foot or the metro system. However, there are perks to having a car and times when renting a car is your best option for transportation. Learn the pros and cons, ins and outs and best times to rent a car!
When is it the best time to rent a car?
Know when renting a car internationally is the best option. Elizabeth and I first utilized a car rental when we went to Banff National Park in Canada. With some research, we discovered that once we landed in Calgary, Alberta we would have to bus into Banff. Once in Banff, we would have to bus to each main site on a schedule. Furthermore, those bus schedules didn’t run exactly when we wanted them to. Therefore, to save time and have a more free schedule, we decided to rent a car. It was the best decision we could have made!
The most common reasons to rent a car:
- Limited bus or train schedules or times
- Places on your list to see that are not easily accessible by bus or train
- You want to travel on your own time schedule
Pros of renting a car
We have had great experiences with renting cars internationally! After our trip to Banff, we have chosen car rental for multiple other international trips. When going to Ireland we set up an itinerary to circumnavigate the island. There weren’t bus schedules that fit our itinerary or that went to all of the places we wanted to go. In Iceland, everything is very spread out and less populated. No trains are available in Iceland either and only limited bus routes and destinations. Therefore, we rented a car and were able to visit everywhere we wanted to go at convenient times. Perks of renting a car:
- Your own time schedule
- See places that are not on a bus route
- Unlike bus tours, you can stop when you want to stop
- Storage for your bags at all times
Cons of renting a car
Renting a car can be a great option for transportation. However, it isn’t always necessarily the best option. The disadvantages to renting a car versus public transportation:
- Price of rentals can be expensive if you are a solo traveler; gas prices can also get expensive when traveling alone or as a couple
- Cars aren’t necessary to explore large cities; walking and metros are typically faster due to traffic
- Parking can be difficult, especially once you get into the cities. Expect limited parking and small spaces
What to know before you rent a car
The process of renting a car overseas is similar to the process in the US. However, there are few things that will help to know before you rent a car.
- Some countries require an International Drivers Permit in conjunction with valid US drivers license
- Car insurance- can be purchased through your booking site or some credit cards will cover the car insurance
- Certain types of cars are not allowed in some European countries. We learned this the hard way! Our car rental company gave us a larger Audi SUV; Croatia and Slovenia do not allow certain vehicles due to road and parking size. Check the restrictions for your rental car company and the country you are going to prior to renting!
- Gas can be expensive in difference countries: do your research to make sure the gas prices won’t significantly increase the price of your trip
- Look for accommodations that have free parking. Many airBNBs don’t have parking available, especially in cities like Dubrovnik where road parking and space are limited
- Fees are added if you want to pick up your car in one country and drop it off in another. Fees go up the further you are from your starting destination. We had a hefty fee added to our car rental when picking up in Munich and dropping off in Dubrovnik, Croatia. However, the fee added divided by our 4 travelers was still less than flying and busing to each location we wanted.
Renting a Car Internationally: Recap!
Remember, every country is different and has their own set of rules. Some require international driver’s licenses, some have restrictions on type of cars, etc. Do your research! Also, don’t be scared! We’ve driven on the left side of the highway in Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way and it is very doable! Follow the GPS, take your time and be aware of your surroundings!
Headed to Europe? Click here for more information on transportation options!