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International Driving Permit: Why You Need One Before You Travel!

In Travel Planning by TIM

In all the prep, planning and saving for your upcoming trip, don’t forget to pick up an International Driving Permit before you leave home. Getting your International Driving Permit isn’t as fun and sexy as picking out your new swimsuit for your trip, but you’re going to be glad you have it when the time comes. Here are three reasons:

1.) Better Rental Rates

When you’re renting something like scooters while abroad, rental agencies will turn a blind eye if you don’t have your international permit/license.  90% of people on holiday don’t have an international license and the rental agencies need to make their money.

“We guarantee this will break down as soon as it’s most inconvenient for you”.-Every rental agency, ever.

However, if you do have your license we found that we got better rates everywhere from Thailand to Santorini.  Agencies know that you have open options in who to rent from and offer up better rates.  We were able to rent a scooter in Santorini for $7/day and got the price down to less than $2/day in Bali.

2.) Being Legally Qualified to Rent

Outside of South East Asia, you’ll actually need an international driving permit to rent anything at all. We couldn’t rent a campervan in New Zealand without proving we had an international permit. For our road trip in Europe, we needed to produce our International Driving Permit as well before the rental company would hand over keys.

While its possible to get your license while abroad it’s much simpler to take care of it while you’re still on your home turf.

3.) Saving Money on Bribes

Surprise! South East Asia is full of crooked cops looking for your cash.  Offering the police bribe money is just part of life.

While I’m completely in favor of the bribe based legal system found in Asia, you’ll want to make sure to limit how much cops can hit you up for. If you don’t have your international permit, officer friendly is going to act like you killed someone.

Might as well be written with crayons on construction paper...

Might as well be written with crayons on construction paper…

When we were pulled over in Bali we  ended up paying almost $20 in bribes.  Of course we didn’t have our licenses on us.  We found out later that the fine should have only been about $5.  The lesson here is to make sure you’re completely legal to begin with so there is no reason at all to have to pull out your cash.

Where and How to get an International Driving Permit

Happy to tell you that it couldn’t be easier. Just find your local AAA branch, swing by with $15, a valid drivers license, your passport and a few spare minutes to fill out a form.  AAA will issue your fancy new International Driving Permit on the spot. You don’t even have to take a test!

Any times during your travels when an International Driving Permit saved your butt?  Let us know in the comments!

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FAVORITE PLACES: Anywhere best explored on a motorbike: Vietnam, the Philippines, Santorini and Bali.