This blog post was updated on April 9, 2020.

Car rental 101 in Europe


It’s one thing to do the researching, planning, and booking of your flight, but often a whole other task to book your car rental. There are so many options, from rental company to type of car to optional features and more. It’s not quite as simple as answering the question: Window or aisle?


Traveling abroad can even be more challenging, especially in Europe when you may be visiting multiple countries. However, we’re taking some of the stress out of it by providing some tips to keep in mind when driving and renting a car in Europe.

Book your reservation during the week. Booking your reservations mid-week can save you as much as a couple hundred dollars. This is the off-peak time when people are planning and booking their trips, meaning prices can be much lower. You can often also get a lower price by renting it for the entire week. If you’re thinking six days, you might as well extend it to seven, which may mean a cheaper rental rate.

Do your research. Make sure you’ve educated yourself on the car rental companies, insurance, and laws before booking your rental. If you have a primary car rental company that you use in the U.S., then they may have locations in Europe that you can rent from. Make sure you know how you’re covered before you pick up your rental.

Know how to drive a manual transmission. If you’re traveling with a spouse or friend, then make sure they know how to drive a manual car as well. Most cars in Europe are manual so you’ll have more options. Not to mention that renting a manual car is significantly cheaper than renting an automatic.

Obtain an international driving permit. If you’ll just be driving in one country where you know they don’t require an international driving permit, then this isn’t a problem. However, if you’re crossing several borders, then make sure to obtain an international driving permit before you travel. Not all European countries require it, but some do. Keep this, along with your passport, driver’s license, and car papers beside you when crossing borders.

Know before you go. Know your itinerary and plans before you go. The last thing you want to do is travel across the country, only to come to a border that is closed or won’t let you through because you don’t have an international driving permit. With a little extra time to plan your trip, you can save the headaches that many other travelers have experienced because they didn’t plan ahead.

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