In a nation like the United States, where icons like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart have spoiled us into thinking we can go anywhere we like and still get a quarter pounder with cheese - or find people wearing blue smocks - it can be easy to think that the world is all the same. Even the car rental game seems the same, because we can get off at any airport and choose between compact, mid-size, or full-size, and generally get what we want and expect. While we may not want to admit it, the rest of the world just does not operate according to our way of thinking.
Getting a car rental in Spain, for instance, may not be difficult, but it certainly is not the same as securing one in Cleveland. There are some subtle differences between a car rental agency in Europe and one in America. If you plan on traveling abroad, don’t expect everything to be exactly the same.
So what can I expect when I want a car rental in Spain?
For one thing, don’t expect a great selection of vehicles with automatic transmissions or air conditioning. A car rental place in Spain, or elsewhere in Europe, will usually have only a limited selection of vehicles with these customary American options. Plus, while a car rental place in the United States will charge you an insane fee for not filling the fuel tank before returning, this pales by comparison to what may happen in Europe. Not only will you pay a steeper price for returning to the car rental company on “E”, but you will have to pay for gas by the liter - and the cost could break the bank for you.
In fact, because of the steep gasoline prices in Europe, you may want to ask the car rental agency for a diesel-powered car, as this will be easier on your budget. This may not measure up the exotic dreams you had for your time in Europe, but your wallet will thank you for making the more conservative choice at the car rental agency.
Will I have problems actually renting a car?
That depends on what you mean. Some nations require an international driving license, and the car rental agencies in these countries are required to ask this of anyone renting a car. To be on the safe side, you might want to go to a place like the American Automobile Association to avoid an embarrassing scene at the car rental place in Spain. It’s up to you, of course, but “better safe than sorry” is a good way to go here.
Now, because Europe is such a popular tourist destination in the summer, you might be very disappointed when the car rental agent in Spain shakes her head and tells you that nothing is available. It is best to reserve your vehicle as far in advance as possible, especially if you hope to have any luck at the car rental places during the peak periods.
What else should I know?
While not necessary, you may want to opt for the insurance at the car rental place. The reason? Europeans are known to be more aggressive drivers than their American counterparts. This is not to say that they are worse drivers, but their aggressive maneuvers may take you off guard. And you don’t want to return to the car rental agency and have them charge your insurance company for your European driving lesson, do you? I didn’t think so.
So take these guidelines into account when securing a car rental in Europe, and they will provide for a much more enjoyable and hassle-free experience. And when you get there, say “Hi” to the Eiffel Tower for me.
Albert Medinas has developed and maintains the website Car Rental Central, which answers the most common questions travelers have about Car Rental. Please visit us at http://www.carrentalcentral.net today.