Drivers in the United States drive on the right side of the road. Driving on the right side was thought to have stemmed back from the 1700s when wagons pulled pairs of horse were produced that had no driver’s seat. The driver sat on the left rear horse, so they could keep their right arm free to lash at the team to get them to move. Most people are right-handed and thus sat on the left horse for better use of their right arm. Also, when the U.S. freed itself from British rule, they wanted to rid of many customs and traditions and start their own as a free country. This was another reason as the why Americans drive on the right side of the road, while in England they drive on the left side.

Legal Issues with Renting a Car?

To rent a car, you will need a few things. Most rental car companies require that drivers be at least 25 years old to rent a vehicle. Also, you will need a driver’s license, and many companies will not let you rent a car without a credit card. If your foreign driving license does not have a photo on it, you may be asked to show your passport as well. Get an International Driver’s Permit to be used along with your driver’s license as this will be requested for. Some companies do rent to younger drivers, but they may charge a bit more. A deposit of some sort is usually required to hold the car for you, and that is why many companies will ask for a credit card or some monetary deposit.

What is Expected?

The car is usually cleaned and the tank full when you pick it up. You are expected to pay for any fuel you might need and to return the vehicle with a full tank as well. Different companies, of course, vary in their rules, but this seems to be the standard. Car insurance can be purchased, and it is recommended. Liability only, full coverage and other types are available. When you are driving or riding in the car you are responsible for any damage to the car and any injury that might occur, including crashes or accidents so use caution. Some rental agencies may only allow you to drive within the state while others don’t mind if you leave the state to explore further so check around to see which rental agency suits you best. Also, automatic transmissions are the standard, so drivers won’t have to worry about shifting gears or using a clutch.

What are Rates Like?

Rentals are placed into size by body size or classes for rates, not by engine size. Classes such as convertibles, luxury car rentals, coupes and premium car rentals are all available, usually at higher rates. However, if you’re visiting a Hawaiian Island, it is a fantastic experience to drive around a tropical island with the top down on your rented convertible. Rates are otherwise based on the sizes like an economy, mid-size, standard, full-size, compact or sub-compact. If you are traveling with a family or group, obviously the larger vehicles would be more for you than a small economy or compact car. Economy, compact cars, and hybrids get stellar gas mileage and will let you save money on fuel. This is an excellent option if traveling long distances or zipping around a large city where a more substantial car would be challenging and pricey on fuel. Local taxes are added to the rates and extras like insurance and surcharges may also be applied. Holiday and weekends may have higher rates too, so keep all this in mind when planning your trip and choosing a car.

Find Those Deals

Deals on rental cars are standard. Booking a package trip that includes a hotel, flights and rental car may often save you hundreds of dollars. Are you visiting a nice hotel? Hotels usually have extras like “add a rental car for 40 dollars a day,” type deals which in reality may be much cheaper than renting it separately on your own. For example, I stumbled across a deal at a hotel I had booked that offered “breakfast plus rental car” for 60 dollars a day in addition to the room charge. Many times the rental car alone can be 60 dollars a day, so I accepted the deal as it was the cheapest I had found and now I also got a breakfast every morning. Rental companies run specials especially during down seasons that are less visited in particular areas. Do an internet search before you book your car for possible discounts and call the company to see if they have any on-going specials available for your trip.

Rules Rules Rules

Of course, there are road and driver rules when driving in a foreign country. Drinking and driving are not allowed and can get you in big trouble. If you had too much fun at a bar, call a cab or use UBER to get a ride back to your hotel. Seatbelts are also a must. You can get a ticket if a police officer sees you not wearing your belt. It could save your life and someone else’s. Also, obey the speed limit signs. Try to do the speed limit and not go too slow or too fast. Either could result in an accident and a ticket from a police officer. If you have small children, a proper car seat in the back seat is required. Watch the road signs, speed limit signs, etc. for speed and cautionary road practices that might need to be used. Pay attention and be safe!

The Endless Possibilities

Renting a car in the U.S. is a fantastic way to see the sights. If your vehicle is allowed to go out of state, you could plan a trip to see several national parks and take their gorgeous scenic drives for the best views in the area. Zip around the city in your rental and stop and see the popular attractions and dine at the highest rated place in town. Renting a car is comfortable and convenient. It allows you to look at the sights and explore on your schedule. Be safe, follow the rules and ask the car rental agency if you have any questions and what is expected upon return, as well as what documents and I.D.s you may need for your rental. Enjoy the freedom of exploring the U.S, in your rental car.


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