Self drive holidays

When we asked Cox & Kings’ in-house travel guru, Ashutosh Mehere, what’s the ‘in-thing’ in International travel this year, his answer was – “of course, self drive holidays!” But this was quickly followed with How, When, What, Where? We then realised, an informative series on self-drive holidays is an absolute must! Especially, for travel enthusiasts who’ve never done it before. So here it is! Part 2 of this series will tell you about all the elements involved in the booking phase of your International self-drive holiday; explained as concisely as possible by Ashutosh himself. So belt up, and read on about The Absolute Essentials Of This Trip!

#1 International Driving Permit (IDP)

An IDP or International Driving license is a booklet of 18 pages with the details of your current driving license mentioned in it, along with your photo. It is a United Nations sanctioned document valid for one year, and it translates details of your driving license into 9 languages with acceptance in over 150 countries. You will have to carry the driving license issued by your country, along with the IDP to rent a car.

How do you get one? Apply for an IDP at your Automobile Association or at the local RTO.

NOTE: Most car rental companies accept the Indian driving license as long it’s in English. However, best to carry an IDP in case you are stopped by traffic police who may not follow English.


International driving permit

An IDP will be of great help if you run into a cop who may not know English


#2 Choice Of Car

A lot of abbreviations as well as terms are used on car rental websites to identify categories or groups of the vehicles offered, such as IDAR, IFAR or ‘E’,‘A’, ‘W’ or Compact, Midsize, Intermediate, Sedan, etc. It’s best to ignore these and focus on the actual images of cars available for hire to avoid surprises later. Also, be careful when the option of ‘or similar’ in any category is offered. It is best to understand what other vehicles that you could end up with.

A Word Of Caution Here: On a week-long vacation, do opt for a larger car. Just because the car has four seats for four travellers does not mean it will have space for their bags! The problem gets bigger if all four travellers are not from the same family, which equals to even more pieces of baggage….

On every website, the maximum number of pieces of baggage (big and small) that can be fitted in the trunk is clearly mentioned against each car. The other important classification for you to choose at this point is manual or automatic gears.


Avoid this situation. Pick a bigger car!

Avoid this situation; choose a bigger car!


#3 Pickup/Drop Off Location Of The Car

As self-explanatory as the term may sound, there are some nuances that one has to consider.

In most cases, cars are collected upon arrival from airports. Almost all International airports have booths/counters of car rental agencies to complete the paperwork and handover the keys. The cars are normally parked in large parking lots, and can be reached by walking or a shuttle bus from the terminal.


International airports have several car rental brands to choose from

International airports have several car rental brands to choose from

Depending on your program, the drop off location may or may not be the same as the pick-up location and this has to be communicated during booking.

NOTE: Almost inevitably, there is a ‘one way’ drop off charge levied by the agencies to cover their cost and effort to return the vehicle to the original depot. I would say, if the charge is reasonable and helps your itinerary, pay it. It would cost you more in fuel, road tax and overnight stay at a hotel to return the car back.

Here are some of the most popular car-rental brands that offer their services across the globe:

  • Hertz
  • Avis
  • Europcar
  • Sixt
Popular car rental options you'll find at most Int’l airports

Popular car rental options you’ll find at most Int’l airports


#4 GPS Navigator

The days of unfolding a large unmanageable map on your trip are long gone. While large maps sprawled on a car bonnet make great photo-ops, the need of the trip is really to get information at a street level. Depending on the model chosen, this will either be in-built into the dashboard or an additional unit will be handed over along with the car.


GP navigator; making life simple all across the globe

GP navigator; making life simple all across the globe


#5 Insurance

This is the trickiest part, and an item on which the car companies make the highest profit. The rental cost per day provides basic coverage in case of an accident.

  • Apart from the above, there is an amount ranging from USD 3000-7000 depending on the category of car rented that you will still be liable for. At this point the car rental companies will offer an option at an additional price that will bring this risk down to zero. This means in the event of any accident or even if the car is stolen, you owe them nothing.
  • For drivers below 24 years, there is an additional ‘young driver’ premium charged by all rental companies. And finally there is a personal accident insurance option offered by collecting more premiums to cover risk to life and limb.

Phew…that is a lot to comprehend and manage, isn’t it?

The tricky part, but also the most important one

The tricky part, but also the most important one

So Here Are Some Tips That Will Definitely Help:

  • Most car agencies offer rentals with basic cover included. I would recommend buying one more level of protection by paying additional premium bringing down your risk down to USD 3000.
  • If you have bought overseas travel insurance from a decent vendor, a self-drive car cover is included in the same policy for the duration of your holiday or by paying a couple of hundred rupees more! Risk to life and limb is covered in the travel policy anyway. The savings through this route, if managed intelligently, can be up to 25% of the rental cost.

Some Parting Advice

Finally, how do you unravel the complex combinations in renting a self-drive car abroad?

Use this handy trick: Browse a few websites of car rental agencies, and try to select a car with all the options that suit your need. You will not be asked to pay until you have reached the last page, at which point you can quit and try another one.

It’s also one of the best way to educate yourself on all angles of your self-drive tour.

Happy Exploring  :)



About The Author

Ashutosh Mehere

Ashutosh Mehere

Unusual, frequently outspoken and absolutely fun! That’s Ashutosh Mehere, Sr. Vice President – Alliances & Special Projects at Cox and Kings Group, India.
A globe-trotter in its truest sense, he has over 21 years of experience in the travel & tourism industry. Ashutosh is always equipped with valuable (and quirky) advice for every travel query! You can get in touch with him at


Cox and kings
DCP expeditions
Rent Set Go