Renting a car is an excellent option in many destinations, it gives tremendous flexibility and it can lower costs of the trip, despite all the positive aspects there are several facts to keep in mind when renting a car abroad so that a fantastic vacation does not become a nightmare.
Final price: most online quotes do not generate the real final price. The main fact that influences the final bill is insurance, it may be mandatory by the country where one is renting or by the specific company one is dealing with. The final bill can be doubled or tripled, there may be many other charges such as tire fees, airport fees, return fee and any other possible fee that one can imagine, if one is in some kind of limited budget it is good to be mindful of all these possible extras, the best thing is to call ahead and confirm the final price.
The car needs gas and something else to work: the price of the car rental is only the first part of the bill, one has to put gas, pay for parking, valet, tolls and many other possible things. At first glance the price for the rental may be very attractive but the price for gas or tolls may be extremely high, this is common in Europe and countries such as Japan.
Restrictions and limitations: when one is picking up a rental it is important to inquire about all the possible limitations such as who can drive the car? Is it allowed to cross borders? Is the mileage limited? Some of the most attractive prices may come with surcharge per mile. As well if one has learned to drive automatic cars it is good to know than in many countries one will find only standard (manual) cars.
Be comfortable driving in the destination: Transit rules and cultural traditions are very different from place to place and one should not expect to impose a home style driving abroad. It is good to be familiar with street sings, speed limit, international driving license requirements and driving conditions.
Renting a car is most times a good option, but it is not always the best option: there are many destinations where driving is not a good thing, traffic may be too hectic, prices for parking exorbitant, gas too expensive, or public transportation just too good, examples are most of the European capitals or other cities such as Tokyo or New York.
Do not run away from fines: the fact of being far away from home does not give permission to do not follow driving rules. Nowadays a fine will follow you whatever you live. It may take months or sometimes even years, but most likely police will bill the car rental company and they will charge your credit card along with a nice extra fee.
Insurance is something that most times makes sense: do not go cheap with insurance, it is a good to get a reasonable insurance, this does not means to get the most expensive option. Many credit cars offer complimentary insurance but be sure that you are covered in your destination and to follow the steps to be covered, the best thing is to call your credit car company to be inquire about it. If one has not the money to pay for a good insurance, renting a car may be not a good idea.
Driving is fun, it gives flexibility and freedom to the trip, but a car is a tool not a toy, information and responsibility are the clues to fully enjoy a trip while driving abroad.