Different driving rules and different languages conspire against you when driving outside of the United States, making you extremely vulnerable to scam artists. Calculated forethought is your best defense.
To prepare for driving abroad consider the following tips:
- Obtain an international driving permit (IDP). This document is recognized by 174 countries and translates your drivers license information into 10 languages. If you're pulled over or involved in a car accident, it can help smooth potential language barriers. Plus, an IDP duals as internationally recognized photo identification. Along this thought, only obtain IDPs from authorized government agencies. Do not fall prey to third-party Internet sites selling "International Driver Licenses," which do not exist.
- Educate yourself on the driving laws of the country your visiting. This will help avoid drawing attention to yourself for all the wrong reasons, exposing yourself to potential scam artists.
- Do not pull over if another driver attempts to alert you of a car problem (flat tire, open gas cap...). Only pull off the road if you're certain of a problem. Many scam artists pose as "good Samaritans," only to rob you after you pull over.
- Be aware of shady rental car dealers. Opt for legitimate agencies over big savings. Take pictures of the vehicle, from all angles, before exiting the rental car lot. Then do the same when you return the car. This will protect you from being charged for false damages. Also, avoid pressures to upgrade to a bigger or more powerful vehicle. Many agents will lie, saying the vehicle you reserved is unavailable with the intent of forcing you into a more expensive rental vehicle. Hold your ground. Vow to walk away unless you get the car you reserved.
- Self-park when you can. This will help you avoid valet parking scams.
Do you have any experience with avoiding scams when driving abroad? Share your knowledge with our online community by leaving your expertise in the comment area below.