Whether you choose to take a leisurely drive down Route 66 in the United States or a thrilling cross-continental trek across Asia or Europe, a well-planned road trip is sure to provide an unforgettable travel experience. Even if you choose to take a more exciting road trip, you still have the freedom to see the sites that interest you and travel at your own leisure.
Many of my favorite travel adventures have been road excursions, including a 47-day drive from London to Mongolia during the Mongol Rally, a fun road trip jumping between Icelandic waterfalls, and a highlights-focused tour around the west coast of the United States.
The auto rental process and what to look for on a pleasant journey are two things I’ve learned from those experiences.
I’ve compiled a list of the best advice I’ve received for planning an unforgettable exciting road trip:
Automatic or Manual (stick-Shift) Transmission?
In the United States, automatic cars are common, but in other nations, they are rare and more expensive to rent.
Make sure you’re hiring a car that you can drive before anything else. Ask the clerk or website if such information isn’t obvious before signing on the dotted line.
Car rental comparison sites like DiscoverCars.com will show you all of this information clearly so that you can choose the finest rental for your trip.
Renting a manual car when you don’t know how to drive one is a big no-no. Even while it was amusing for me, you may not have the same tolerance or desire to put your driving skills to the test abroad.
Keep an open mind and a map handy as you map out your route and stop along the way.
Begin by mapping out a path that takes in the sights you most desire to see. Are there any important dates to keep in mind when making your plans? You might like to see these kinds of celebrations in your new location.
List and find these sites on a map, then take a macro look at them to begin tracing the logical paths that contain all of the significant features:
However, be prepared to deviate from your original strategy. Even with meticulous planning, travel is a dynamic experience, and there is never enough time to see and do all you want to. You’ll always discover new things you want to see when you’re on the road.
It’s a good idea to schedule some downtime into your schedule, either for a rest or to use as “extra” time.
Driving on a right-or left-hand road is a personal preference.
Look it up first before making a rental. This cannot be overstated. Wasn’t it interesting to learn that there are 55 countries that drive on the left side of the road?
Here is a list of nations where driving on the right or left side of the road is permitted:
Your rental car’s steering wheel is likely to be on the right side when driving on the left side of the road. Only the pedals remain in the same sequence, despite the fact that everything else has been inverted.
- Is Your Driver’s License Recognized Outside of the Country?
Your American driver’s license is likely to be accepted if you travel to an English-speaking country.
An International Driving Permit (IDP), a piece of paper containing your driver’s license information translated into ten languages, may be required for countries where English is not the primary language of instruction. There are more than 150 nations where it is legal to use it.
I’ve hired cars in Indonesia, Iceland, Reunion, and Morocco without an IDP, despite the fact that this is the “correct” way to rent a car in non-English speaking nations.
You should be fine as long as the rental firm can communicate in English. Then again, this could change depending on where you are going.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) and the National Automobile Club (NAC) are the only two IDP-authorized agencies in the United States.
2. Make Sure You Have All of Your Vehicle’s Paperwork and Required Visas in Order.
Yes, I’m going to be in more than one place. Is there enough room in your passport? Do you require special permission to enter the country? Count me in if that’s the case.
You may need to obtain a visa in advance or upon arrival, depending on the countries you plan to visit and the nationality of your passport. Make sure you complete all the necessary documentation on time for some of these visas, which can take weeks or months to process.
A travel visa limits your time in each country, so planning out how long you’ll spend in each one is critical to avoiding overstaying or having your visa expire early.
In order to prevent getting stuck at the border, make sure everyone in your group/car has the same validity dates on their visas. Visa requirements for American citizens can be found on Wikipedia.
If you have a car, be sure you have all of your paperwork and insurance up to date. Some nations require foreigners to purchase local car insurance at the border or to pay an additional fee known as a “vignette” (a type of road tax).
Some automobile rental companies can let you drive from one side of the border to the other without any hassles. It’s the same in most of the Schengen Zone countries in Western Europe.
However, most Eastern European nations would require you to undergo a more thorough border examination and acquire their insurance at the border before you can enter their country.
Each country on your trip should be searched for this information before you reach the border. Also, make certain that you can cross borders with your rental car company’s vehicle.
3. What Kind of Insurance Does Your Rental Include?
You should always check to see what insurance is included in your rental price, whether you rent online, in person, or over the phone. Only mandatory insurance is typically provided, and that only covers the bare minimum in the event of damage due to the often prohibitively large deductible.
Determine how much coverage you need for your trip based on the other insurance alternatives that are available, as well as their cost.
Will your rental vehicle be used to cross rivers, for example? If this is the case, river crossing insurance is not required.
You may figure out how much insurance you need by comparing your risk to how much you’re willing to pay in deductible (in the event of an accident) and the total cost of insurance for the rental period.
4. Your Vehicle and Travel Companions Affect the Amount of Adventure You Have:
It’s important to pick traveling companions who share your sense of adventure and desire for exploration before embarking on a road trip together.
Also, do you plan to stick to major thoroughfares most of the time? A conventional automobile or RV may do. Do you intend to cross rivers or go off-road? When that occurs, a 44 vehicle is highly advised.
Want to take on some of the more challenging roads in a smaller vehicle? Sure! Isn’t it exciting when a car can’t cross a river, climb a steep slope, or get stranded in the middle of a barren desert?
After the tension of the moment has passed, those are the best stories to tell and cherish.
Occasionally, I’ve taken a little car for most of the trip and only rented a 4×4 when required.
Prepare Yourself for the Possibility of Spending the Night in the Car
It is possible that you will miss your target for the night because of traffic, being lost, exhaustion, or variations.
Take a rest stop, parking lot, or somewhere safe to get some shut-eye instead of jeopardizing your life by falling asleep behind the wheel.
5. Find out How Much Gas Is Currently Selling For:
Planning a road trip necessitates factoring in the cost of gasoline, as one might assume.
If you’re considering a cross-country road trip, gas rates can vary greatly from nation to country.
As an example, gas prices in Iceland are more than twice as high as in the US, but in Central Asia and the Middle East, they are less than half as high.
Plan your trip so that you can refuel in lower-cost countries before heading to higher-cost ones.
In order to figure out how far you have to travel, use Google Maps. Calculating a gas budget is simple if you can access the average gasoline price in each country and the amount of petrol your car uses.
For the most up-to-date information on gas prices around the world, go no further than this page.
6. Prior to Leaving, Check the Distance Between Gas Stations:
Gas stations may be few and far between if you’re going off-road or off the main path. Nobody wants to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no gas, especially if you’re driving.
Using Google Maps to look up nearby gas stations can help you prevent this. In order to reach the nearest service station, you’ll need a full tank.
If you’re driving in a remote location, you may want to carry a “Jerry can” (an extra gas can) with you just in case.