Top tips for hiring (and driving) a car abroad

Are you planning a trip overseas in the near future and looking to drive around and explore new pastures? Driving may seem like riding a bicycle in terms of muscle memory, but when it comes to hiring a car abroad, there are plenty of things to take into consideration beforehand. When you hire a car in a country which speaks a language that isn’t your mother tongue, things can become even trickier since they will be asking for many documents to make the process as secure as possible.

Today we’re going to look at renting a car in English and see what top tips can make your experience a little less bumpy.

What documents will you be asked for?

It goes without saying that you will need to be a legal driver in your home country before you will be able to hire a car abroad. In the UK you will be asked for your “driving licence” which is known in the USA as a “driver’s permit”. But really, it doesn’t matter which country you would like to hire a car in, having your driving licence is an absolute must. It’s also worth mentioning that depending on the country, you might not be legally allowed to rent a car unless you are over 21 years old and have been driving in your home country for a minimum of three years.

In addition to being asked for your driving licence, you will most likely be asked to pay an insurance premium in case anything happens to the car. In almost every country in the world this is mandatory, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, it is worth checking out different insurance policies offered by car hire companies so you have an idea of what they should be charging.

What about mileage and fuel usage?

In the United Kingdom when you hire a car, they will often speak to you about mileage and fuel. In other words, they will ask you the distance you estimate that you will drive and the fuel you will use. Generally, you receive the car with a full tank of petrol – or gas as it is known in North America -, and you will be expected to return the car in the same condition, including a full tank.

In some English-speaking countries, depending on the car dealership that you rent from, you may be able to hire a car with mileage and fuel usage included in the price. This, however, will clearly depend on you paying more to hire as this price will be factored in. It is therefore worth calculating if this is the best option for you financially.

Make sure you know the rules of the road!

Hiring a car in a foreign country can be difficult enough with just the language alone but if you don’t know the road rules of the country then it can be even more difficult. In the United Kingdom, people drive on the left-hand side of the road which can be a challenge for many. The official road guidelines for the UK are called The Highway Code and can be read online so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with it before going. For example, if you have never used a roundabout before, you’ll learn how to navigate them in this book (this is essential in the UK as there are A LOT of roundabouts).

Enjoy the experience

Driving in a foreign country can be a daunting experience, but just enjoy it as much as you can. Always ensure that you read up on the rules of the country you are travelling to, to make sure you are fully prepared.

Remember that in addition to this post, you will also find many other great articles on the ABA Journal about different cultures and how to behave in certain countries. We hope you follow our advice and have a great time on your holidays whilst practicing English. Don’t forget that in addition to the ABA Journal, you can also sign up for free to the ABA English course and get full access to 144 free video classes to help you improve your English just in time for your travels.

What are you waiting for?


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