Everything You Should Know About Car Rentals on Your Next Photography Trip

Planning a photography trip to Europe? It’s tempting to rely on public transit for city hopping, but as a landscape photographer, it’s rarely an option. Luckily, renting a car is incredibly affordable if you do some research.

If you’re going for architecture or urban photography, public transit is a great way to cut out the stress of renting and driving a car, but if you want to discover unique landscapes, you should plan to pick up a rental. Landscapes within easy reach of public transit tend to be overrun by selfie-snapping tourists.

Driving in a new country is itself challenging, and picking up the rental without getting ripped off can be incredibly frustrating after a sleep-deprived flight. My first time renting overseas in Scotland, I was caught off-guard at the counter and ended up paying double what I had anticipated.

In the five years since that first photography trip, I’ve learned more about overseas car rentals than I cared to know. Thankfully, all those hours on the phone with my credit card company and researching Collision Damage Waiver benefits have paid off by the thousands. When I was in my first overseas accident mid-trip last year, I was able to continue with my existing travel plans. Once the dust settled, I was only out $100 or so for some foreign exchange fees.

This vlog covers a lot of the details about insurance and credit card CDW coverage I wish I had known five years ago, and hopefully, it will save you a few surprises. Combined with a handful of other money-saving tricks, international travel can be incredibly affordable.

Jonathan Lee Martin's picture

Jonathan Lee Martin is a fine art landscape photographer, educator and globetrotting digital nomad. He’s traveling the world for a year to discover unique landscapes and help fellow landscape photographers lighten their load to go further.

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you should add "in Europe" to the title. Yes, it's in the video thumbnail, but the title of the article should include "where"

I agree. It's not "everything you should know" either. But I guess an accurate title would lack the punch of the one they chose, and so might elicit fewer clicks.

Sounds like some good tips. I've hired lots of rental cars, but never in Europe, and it can be a little different to this in different places.

There are other scams rental agencies sometimes pull regarding vehicle damage claims (Europcar in Australia being my only bad experience), but this is rare.

It definitely differs — so far, the only major curveball I've hit has been the UK (where you can't decline their minimum collision insurance). But Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria have all been straightforward to decline.

Happy travels!

am going to Italy for some photography and this article helped me as I am renting a car while there.
Thank you!

Hurray! Have an amazing trip. Watch out for the drivers in southern Italy — Pompei, Naples and the Amalfi Coast are some of the craziest places I've ever driven in =D

But car rental is straightforward so long as you go with your credit card's CDW benefit. Dealing with your credit card company for any claims is *much* nicer than making international phone calls to the rental agency =)

Italy is great, driving in the cities is a real trip. The Italians are great drivers, but they expect you to be as good! Make sure you know the rules of the road for Italy, they are different from the US.

Hah, the problem is third-class US drivers like myself don't like to die =D North Italy though was super chill, I liked their drivers.

There's a learning curve, you have to practice. Return to Italy many times, bring you camera, drink some wine (but don't drive). Northern Italy is the best, drink more wine (but don't drive).

Lol, practice dying? Northern Italy is definitely on my list of favorite places in the world, so I'm sure I'll be back for photography *and* driving practice!

If you are renting in Europe, check out autoeurope.com for it is a broker site for the big name rental companies and lists prices with and without the CDW. I used it on my last trip to Ireland and they booked me through Enterprise. I was able to use my credit card for insurance and saved even more. Just be sure your card is covered for the country you are visiting.

Good to know, thanks for sharing! Are the prices better/similar to Expedia/Priceline?

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