Like most people, travel for me was about sightseeing, food and completing a checklist of ‘must do activities’. Most of my trips within or outside India have had the similar structure when I planned them. It was not until one of my trips to the US, that I realized that a trip can include so many more things which most people don’t really think about. This was the first time I decided to rent a car outside of India and drive to my final destination!
This was funnily not something I really planned on doing. I was partially forced into taking this decision because I did not have a flight from Bangalore to my final destination. This meant I had 2 choices:
- Take a 22 hour flight to Washington and then wait 6 hours for a connecting flight and reach my destination after a short 30+ hours!
- Take a 22 hour flight to New York, rent a car and drive 2 hours to my destination.
The traumatizing thought of spending more than 30 hours traveling, got me to take Option 2 seriously and I decided to do it. I have now rented a car 3 or 4 times on my travels over the last couple of years. Here is why I love renting a car wherever possible:
- Adventure – Driving in another country is definitely a ‘not to be missed’ travel experience. If you are from India, driving on the other side of the road (in most cases) and being surrounded by drivers who stop and wait for you at junctions is another experience in itself! Whether it be driving through the Hilly Tuscan Countryside, the Chilly Scottish Highlands or the super fast German Autobahn, driving overseas is certainly a high adrenaline experience.
- Cheaper than you think – Contrary to what most people believe, renting a car is actually not that expensive. When traveling as a group of 3 to 4 people renting a car can actually work out CHEAPER than public transport. And you can take your picks from a simple hatch to a swanky 2 door sports car. We chose a Jeep Renegade for our Tuscan trip and boy was that an awesome drive!
- Less Touristy – Renting a car lets your explore destinations that public transport may not give you access to. For example, when Andrea and I were in Italy towards the middle of 2016, we were able to drive around and explore some of the quaint villages in the Tuscan region. Travel to places which don’t have access to convenient public transport and you get the chance to really experience the culture of the town or village.
- Flexibility – Having your own car on a trip gives you a huge amount of flexibility. When traveling to a place for the first time you never know what you will love and what you may not enjoy as much. Driving lets you increase the time spent at the places you love because you are no longer on a fixed schedule which has been decided by the trains or buses you have booked. Whether it was Italy, Scotland or the US, we are able to walk around the little towns we visited well after the peak tourists visiting hours. This is an amazing way to experience life as a local.
Here’s how you can prepare for you next International Road Trip:
- Do you need an International Driving Permit? – Whether you need an International Driving Permit or not depends on the country or region you travel to. This link should help you figure that out. For my trips to Europe, I was required to carry my International Driving Permit and was asked this before my car was given to me. Typically the United States of America doesn’t require you to have an International Driving Permit to rent a car. All you need is a Credit Card and Valid Driving License in English.
- Reserve your Car in advance – Make sure you make a reservation through Avis, Enterprise or Hertz well in advance. This will guarantee you get a car of your choice. You could also end up with some really cool upgrades or discounts. Accumulate points that can be redeemed for discounts and free rentals by creating an account and using the same rental company for all your rentals.
- Insurance – Do not ignore Insurance Coverage and Damage Waiver when renting a car abroad. Make sure you check the standard insurance and damage waiver which is included as a part of your rental package. If you didn’t know this already – read the fine print! There are plenty of additional insurance options that you can pay for, but make sure you understand them first. Remember, their goal is to sell you everything they have by instilling fear. So, spend some time on this one to ensure you get only what you really need!
Hope you have an awesome road trip! Do subscribe to our newsletter to receive more such insights 🙂
Peace & Love,