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5 Things to Consider When Renting a Car in Another Country

There are few things quite as exciting as a vacation in a foreign country. If you’ve never been there before and the trek has long held a place on your bucket list, you’ve probably spent months or even years visualizing the day when you’ll first step off the plane for your dream vacation. But as much as you might have prepared, with immunizations, currency conversions and reading up in all the travel guides, there are some things you won’t be ready for until you’re actually there and experiencing it. One of those is renting a car. This is quite different than renting here in the United States. Obviously you’re paying money and receiving a vehicle in return, but there are plenty of other factors that only come through experience. So here are five things to consider when renting a car in another country.

First of all, you’ll probably end up with a manual transmission vehicle. Manual is the standard in most other countries of the world, and depending on your destination country you may not have much of a choice in the matter. Automatics do exist in other countries, but they are many times more expensive than manual vehicles. If you aren’t comfortable driving a stick shift, don’t consider this your chance to learn. You’ll be trying to figure out the roads at the same time, and possibly driving on the opposite side of the street. You could end up in serious trouble if you’re not comfortable with manual transmission driving.

Even if you’re trying to save money on this trip, try to save up some cash to purchase the rental company’s insurance policy. Of course you don’t want anything to go wrong, but there is plenty that could happen that is completely outside of your control. If your credit card provides coverage for rental vehicles that may suffice, but it’s always a better idea to pay for the insurance policy. If an accident were to happen, this will be your only saving grace.

Check out the car you are renting back to front, but pay special attention to the spare tire. Never accept a vehicle if it doesn’t have a fully inflated spare and a jack you can use to switch out a flat. There are plenty of bad roads in other countries, far worse than what you’ll see here in the United States. Depending on your destination you’ll be dealing with cobblestones, gravel and even dirt, and you never know when a sharp rock or broken glass will stop you in your tracks.

When picking up the vehicle, ask them to provide you with a paper map. Some rental car companies will offer you the opportunity to rent a GPS device for your vehicle, and that’s a great idea if you’re traveling along. But it’s also a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist, which sets you up for a potential burglary. A good written map will still get you there, hopefully without having to stop at a gas station and battle the language barrier to figure out how to get to your destination.

Finally, make sure you read the fine print on your rental car contract. Unless you’re familiar with the brand, you might find all sorts of odds and ends on there that you aren’t prepared to handle. Some rental companies might require you to purchase an international driving permit, and if you didn’t know about this you could end up with a hefty fine. Other companies will require you to accept particular car insurance quotes, or charge you a lofty premium for crossing into other countries. It’s all up for negotiation, but you won’t know what to ask about if you don’t take the time to read it through.

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