Some destinations are just better explored by Car (or Camper or bike). We’ve had some awesome road trips over the years and have a few more planned in the not-too-distant future.
But without our own vehicle, our only choice is to rent one. We’ve rented cars in the US, Canada, Oman, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Future trips will hopefully include Iceland and other parts of Europe. We’ve also rented scooters to explore many destinations.
Personally, I’ve found searching for the best value vehicle rental challenging at times. Different rules for different countries for licenses and insurance, ‘inclusions,’ and fees that suddenly escalate the price create stress.
So I’ve started gathering tools and resources to simplify the process.
Section 1 – Provides a selection of resources, including links to booking platforms, insurance providers, and International Driving Permit information.
Section 2 – Links to other posts and pages relevant to rental vehicles.
Of course, resources such as websites, apps, and booking platforms, constantly evolve.
We try to keep up, but please tell us if you know what products, services, and tools we should add to the list. We’re always excited to learn about and test new things.
Section 1 – Rental Car Resources
- Rent Cars
- Rent Campers/Motorhomes
- Rent Bikes (Motor, Quad, Pedal)
- Rental Car Insurance
- Driver's Permit (IDP)
Rent a Car
Nowadays, there are so many Car Rental booking platforms it’s hard to know where to start.
1. I usually check the following:
- A mega comparison platform like:
- Sometimes more localized platforms like LocalRent.com, which operates in central and eastern Europe, the UAE, Thailand, and Mauritius, provide better prices.
2. Once I find the lowest price for the most suitable vehicle, I go to the specific Rental Company’s website to see if I can get the same or a similar vehicle for cheaper.
3. I also check to see if I can get a better deal on one of the peer-to-peer rental platforms (think Airbnb for cars), such as:
We’ve had awesome success with Turo in both Canada and the US.
Then it’s time to look at the actual costs before booking. I review all the fees, add-ons, and insurance options and choose the option that best matches our risk profile – e.g. road service, insurance excess, etc.
See the Insurance Tab for more on that.
Rent a Campervan or Motorhome
Sometimes a car just won’t cut it. We’ve hired SUVs and wagons several times, packed our camping gear, and set off on a road trip. But we know from experience a campervan or motorhome is often far more suitable.
But buying one can be expensive or not an option because of local restrictions on vehicle ownership. (We know because we bought one before in the UK and are considering buying another one to tour Europe soon.)
Thankfully, there are a growing number of companies willing to rent them. And ‘Peer-to-peer platforms are also growing in popularity.
UK & Europe
Paul Campers – the largest Peer-to-peer camper rentals in Europe
Yescapa – A European-based company with peer-to-peer rentals.
Quirky Campers – specializes in peer-to-peer rentals of bespoke campervans with seriously gorgeous designs.
Goboony – Peer-to-peer rentals
Campervan Finder – Compares all the big brands, so it is an excellent place to start.
Kia Ora –
Outdoorsy – Peer-to-peer Rentals
RV Share – Peer-to-peer rentals
We dream of hiring a campervan or similar vehicle for a self-drive holiday in South Africa and Namibia. Here are a couple of companies I dug up doing the research.
Rent a Bike (Motorbike, Quad Bike, Bicycle)
Not strictly car rental info, but for those who like two wheels better than four, this resource is for you.
I (Sharyn) have a valid motorbike license, and we’ve often hired a scooter to go touring (Greece, Vietnam, Bonaire, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.)
Tim hops on the back, and we ride off into the sunset…well, not quite. But you get the picture.
In places like Vietnam, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, everyone has a cousin willing to hire their scooter for a few bucks a day. But it’s not that easy in many places, so I’ve added Bikes Booking to these resources. As well as motorbikes, they also cover scooter, bicycle, and Quad bike rentals.
Bikes Booking puts more structure around pricing – no need to haggle and a price match guarantee – and meeting local insurance requirements. Good to have it sorted if you get stopped by the authorities. and your Travel Insurance Company will love that in the event of an accident. They cover 65+ countries and 940+ rental companies.
Take a look –
Note: Check the license requirements in the country you want to ride in. If you have an accident, your travel insurance company won’t want to know about you if you are riding illegally.
Car Rental Insurance
One of the ways car rental companies make their money is with add-ons. One of the best earners is car insurance. In my search for the best deal on some of our North American, Omani, and Australian road trips, I found that insurance can double or more the price quoted when you search.
BUT most times, it’s not compulsory to buy your insurance through the company.
Some of your own car insurance, roadside assistance membership, credit card benefits or travel insurance policy may include car rental insurance. Ditto with roadside assistance. Always check these first before laying out the cash. But we don’t own a car, and I don’t think our credit cards provide coverage so it’s always extra.
So I did the sums and found that taking out a separate policy through RentalCover.com can save hundreds on your total rental costs for a week or more road trip.
(NOTE: I have started a comprehensive case study on our experience, but it’s not finished yet. I’ll update with a link as soon as I do.)
The bonus is the policy terms are usually better – e.g. higher limits, lower excess. You can see a full list of policy benefits on their homepage.
So before you lay out extra cash for insurance for your rental
1. Check your car insurance back home, roadside assistance terms and conditions, credit card, and travel insurance policies to see if you are covered already. Claiming on your policy could lead to higher premiums when you renew. So you might save a few dollars on the trip but end up out of pocket long-term.
2. If you need extra insurance, get a quote from RentalCover. If it’s cheaper than what the rental company is quoting you, purchase through their intuitive, user-friendly platform.
3. On the off-chance RentalCover is more expensive (it won’t be!), buy the expensive policy through the rental car company. 🙁
Driving Legally Overseas
Before renting a car, you should check if you have the right license to drive in that country.
Sometimes your national license will be enough, as many countries have reciprocal agreements.
Sometimes you will need an International Driving Permit (IDP.) This LINK will take you to the International Driving Permit Organization, where you can find more information.
Sometimes an IDP won’t be enough, and you must jump through more hoops. For example, because of a quirk with different countries signing two various International Conventions (1949 and 1968), Australians, Americans, Brits, and Irishmen used to need a Vietnamese license to drive legally. (That may have changed. Check the latest requirements to be safe.) Sri Lanka requires you to get a temporary license from the Automobile Association in Colombo before you can legally drive there. China has a similar rule.
I’m sure there are many more anomalies we’ve yet to strike.
Also, be aware that your IDP is only valid for the vehicles you are licensed to drive at home. So if you have an automatic license, you can’t drive a manual overseas. If you only have a car license, you can’t ride a motorbike or drive a truck.
I know many people take the risk of driving motorbikes, especially in Asia. And the average traffic cop might not read the fine print. BUT your insurance company will if you have an accident and want to make a claim. Without the correct license, they are unlikely to pay up, and you could be out of pocket for thousands.
How To Get an International Driving Permit
1. Most Automobile Associations will issue IDPs. Some can now issue them online. In Australia, at least, an IDP is usually only valid for one year. Make sure to ask them to check if your IDP is valid in the countries you want to drive in before you apply. That’s how I found out about the Sri Lankan requirement.
2. For a little extra cash, you can order a one-year permit from the International Driver Association. However, they will issue IDPs for up to three years. So, in the long run, it could be a cheaper option for you.
The site also mentions additional requirements, like the Sri Lankan and Chinese examples I gave above. It’s intuitive and looks easy to use. And has driving guides on each country.
Our Aussie licenses need updating soon, and we currently have current IDPs from home. But I’ll use this service next time as it works out cheaper for three years and will save us the hassle of renewing annually. I’ll give an update on the experience when I do.
Section 2 – Relevant Posts & Pages
- How to save money on Car Rental Insurance
- X tips for booking rental cars
- Stay Safe – X tips for renting motorbikes and scooters overseas.
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