Search 62305 Camino Questions

Renting a car and driving in Spain and Portugal

Time of past OR future Camino
2018
We just returned from Spain and Portugal two days ago, Sept 2, on our driving Camino to show my family my 2018 Camino Frances experience and to check out my next Portuguese Camino. The below information is much more than you asked for but it might be helpful in the future to someone so I am including it.

1. The international driver's permit is required. I was asked to show it along with my US driving license. Both data were entered into my rental contract at Enterprise car rental.

2. Driving was pretty much the same as in the US. It took me about 2 hours to get used to driving a stick shift and going through city traffic, stopping for pedestrians at every block and going through all the roundabouts.

3. Enterprise agent recommended that I used Waze app for driving and it was definitely better than Google Maps as it will tell you of speed traps, police on the road etc. The app was great also in that you can add a garage at your destination or gas station on the route. The bluetooth feature on my cell phone was able to replicate the road map to the Skoda dash screen and that was so amazing (my cars at home are from 2016 so did not have that awesome feature).

4. Know the street signs and drive defensively. I drove 5-10k slower than speed limits as there are speed cameras everywhere and I did not want to be pulled over or see huge speeding ticket fees from Enterprise.

5. Over a dozen times when I confirmed in the rear and side mirror there were no cars coming before I pass a slower car and in the middle of passing at 120+ I would be startled to see a car tailgating me in the rear view mirror. As soon as I pull over to the right lane, the car would pass us like we were standing still. I would estimate some were passing at 150-175.

6. The drivers are more polite than in the US as no one ever honked at me for going too slow or when I killed the car a few times at the stop sign. We had a joke in our family by saying "Damn tourists" (directed at me) when I would kill the engine or make a mistake on taking an exit too early/too late at the roundabout.

7. If you need a road map, bring it from home as I could not find any maps for sale at the gas stations.

Note 1 on renting the car: When collecting the car, the agent MUST try to sell you their coverage for collision, road service and broken windshield. It took about 20 minutes to extricate out of the insurance sales pitch. I had bought my full insurance coverage from AIG when booking at Expedia for peace of mind. The agent repeated several times that I would have to pay for any damages to Enterprise and then file a claim with AIG - extra stress if there is a claim to file with AIG. The agent worked up a quote for same coverage if I had bought the insurance from Enterprise and it was over $900.

Our Aug 19 - Aug 31 rental including insurance, taxes and fees was $575.88.

Taxes & fees​
$125.56​
Base price​
$307.31​
Due at car rental counter​
$432.88​
Collision Protection​
$143.00​
Pricing Summary​
Collected at Expedia checkout​
Total​
$575.88​
24/7 emergency assistance, including medical help, doctors on call, medical transportation assistance, and more​
Covers your rental car from theft, vandalism, and collision damage
$0 deductible/excess
Primary coverage up to $35,000 for damages to the car's body, windscreen, tires, and others incurred due to a car collision​

Note 2 on renting a car: I had originally booked my rental through Budget for approx the same rate but decided 2 weeks before the trip that I wanted to pick up the car the evening so we could leave at 7AM and not have to wait until 9AM opening, stand in line to get a car and finally get on the road at 10 or later. When I tried to change the pick-up date to 7PM the day before, the rate from Budget shot up to $1200. I went the web searching and Expedia came back with the same rate for earlier pick-up. Next time, I will do the same: book reservation 2 months earlier for best rate and then a couple weeks before check of a lower rate. Switching and canceling does not cost anything.

Note 3 on renting a car and driving between Portugal and Spain. I was uneasy on renting the car in Spain and driving into Portugal and then back into Spain. Was there a restriction or fee for crossing the border? I could not find anything on the rental sites so I called Budget and Enterprise and they confirmed it was okay and there were no fees. But I was still a bit cautious as my call was to US agent and maybe Spain would have a different rule. When I picked up the car I asked the agent and she confirmed there was no fee to cross the border. Do your due diligence.

Note 4 (I know this does not apply to Santiago to Finisterre): there are toll roads in Spain and Portugal. Most are easy to pay by debit card or credit card. Some have people in booths to take payments. But in Portugal, there are all variations including cameras that take pictures of the license plates and will bill the toll to the registered owner. I had to check the the Portuguese site (www.pagamentodeportagens.pt) daily to make to pay my tolls so I would not be surprised by a huge bill from Enterprise.

Overall, with all the learning experiences it was a very great vacation driving around Spain and Portugal reliving the 36 days of Camino Frances and planning the next year's Camino.

Buen Camino.
 
Last edited:
A selection of Camino Jewellery
This is great information, thank you so much, @natcire. I have rented cars many times in Spain and Portugal, and have also bought used cars in both countries, and have never been asked for a AAA international drivers license. Maybe things have changed, or maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I guess I’ll spring for the license the next time (though I do have a friend who just rented a car in Santiago for a few days with just her Illinois drivers license). I will confess, though, that it irritates me to pay money to what is essentially a lobbyist for the automotive industry and highway spending. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how a non-governmental agency became the source of an officially recognized ”license.” END OF VENT. I guess buying the card is a better alternative than not being able to rent a car. :D

When I rent a car in Portugal, I always add on the toll transponder and stick it on the windshield, so that the tolls go directly against my credit card. There are very few, if any, toll booths in Portugal where you can pay a human being. I know that years ago, you could go to a post office or any little shop or café that had a red “pay shop” logo in its window. Give them the license plate, and they could pull up the amount owed. I haven’t used that system in more than ten years, probably, but googling suggests that it’s still an option.

I am not sure if car rental agencies in Spain rent that little transponder device, but there are many more human-operated toll booths, or at least there were the last time I drove around!
 
This is great information, thank you so much, @natcire. I have rented cars many times in Spain and Portugal, and have also bought used cars in both countries, and have never been asked for a AAA international drivers license. Maybe things have changed, or maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I guess I’ll spring for the license the next time (though I do have a friend who just rented a car in Santiago for a few days with just her Illinois drivers license). I will confess, though, that it irritates me to pay money to what is essentially a lobbyist for the automotive industry and highway spending. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how a non-governmental agency became the source of an officially recognized ”license.” END OF VENT. I guess buying the card is a better alternative than not being able to rent a car. :D

When I rent a car in Portugal, I always add on the toll transponder and stick it on the windshield, so that the tolls go directly against my credit card. There are very few, if any, toll booths in Portugal where you can pay a human being. I know that years ago, you could go to a post office or any little shop or café that had a red “pay shop” logo in its window. Give them the license plate, and they could pull up the amount owed. I haven’t used that system in more than ten years, probably, but googling suggests that it’s still an option.

I am not sure if car rental agencies in Spain rent that little transponder device, but there are many more human-operated toll booths, or at least there were the last time I drove around!
@peregrina2000, I agree about craziness of International permit (how does a for profit business still profits from that archaic document) just because our driver's license is in English. It is crazy as the people in rental agencies all speak English to cater to the renters. Maybe it is because the local police might not know how to read driver's license in English if we are stopped?

The Budget customer service agent suggested I rent the transponder on one of my calls. I asked about a transponder at Enterprise and the Barcelona agent said the toll was easy to deal with and did not try hard to rent a transponder to me. Between Barcelona and Granada I saw remnants of a toll booth and posts and closer to Granada we encountered an unmanned toll station that only took only credit cards. The cost for Barcelona to Granada was about 29. After Porto to Santiago, there were several toll booths that only took debit card for like 0.28 cents to 0.90 cents...those booths refused my credit card.

In Portugal, there were so many variations of toll booths that included manned booths, pay by debit card only, scan your credit card or video cameras that it seemed like ill planned highway fund raising. I still check the Portuguese site daily to make sure there are no late reporting tolls. I stopped a UK camper and asked about registering the license and he said to go to Faros post office to register it. I did as he said and the post master said they longer register cars and I should go online to register and pay. They might be changing and simplifying their complex toll system.
 
Note that drivers from the UK do NOT require an IDP if they hold a photocard driving licence issued in the UK.

If you have one of the old pink, paper licences or one issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man you may need one so best to check.
 
In Portugal, there were so many variations of toll booths that included manned booths, pay by debit card only, scan your credit card or video cameras that it seemed like ill planned highway fund raising.
I have rented cars in Portugal with transponders for the last 8 or 9 years and have never paid any toll by any other method, no matter which highway I was on. So maybe it looks crazy, but the transponders work!
 
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.
We just returned from Spain and Portugal two days ago, Sept 2, on our driving Camino to show my family my 2018 Camino Frances experience and to check out my next Portuguese Camino. The below information is much more than you asked for but it might be helpful in the future to someone so I am including it.

1. The international driver's permit is required. I was asked to show it along with my US driving license. Both data were entered into my rental contract at Enterprise car rental.

2. Driving was pretty much the same as in the US. It took me about 2 hours to get used to driving a stick shift and going through city traffic, stopping for pedestrians at every block and going through all the roundabouts.

3. Enterprise agent recommended that I used Waze app for driving and it was definitely better than Google Maps as it will tell you of speed traps, police on the road etc. The app was great also in that you can add a garage at your destination or gas station on the route. The bluetooth feature on my cell phone was able to replicate the road map to the Skoda dash screen and that was so amazing (my cars at home are from 2016 so did not have that awesome feature).

4. Know the street signs and drive defensively. I drove 5-10k slower than speed limits as there are speed cameras everywhere and I did not want to be pulled over or see huge speeding ticket fees from Enterprise.

5. Over a dozen times when I confirmed in the rear and side mirror there were no cars coming before I pass a slower car and in the middle of passing at 120+ I would be startled to see a car tailgating me in the rear view mirror. As soon as I pull over to the right lane, the car would pass us like we were standing still. I would estimate some were passing at 150-175.

6. The drivers are more polite than in the US as no one ever honked at me for going too slow or when I killed the car a few times at the stop sign. We had a joke in our family by saying "Damn tourists" (directed at me) when I would kill the engine or make a mistake on taking an exit too early/too late at the roundabout.

7. If you need a road map, bring it from home as I could not find any maps for sale at the gas stations.

Note 1 on renting the car: When collecting the car, the agent MUST try to sell you their coverage for collision, road service and broken windshield. It took about 20 minutes to extricate out of the insurance sales pitch. I had bought my full insurance coverage from AIG when booking at Expedia for peace of mind. The agent repeated several times that I would have to pay for any damages to Enterprise and then file a claim with AIG - extra stress if there is a claim to file with AIG. The agent worked up a quote for same coverage if I had bought the insurance from Enterprise and it was over $900.

Our Aug 19 - Aug 31 rental including insurance, taxes and fees was $575.88.

Collision Protection​
$143.00​
Due at car rental counter​
$432.88​
Base price​
$307.31​
Taxes & fees​
$125.56​
Pricing Summary​
Collected at Expedia checkout​
Total​
$575.88​
Primary coverage up to $35,000 for damages to the car's body, windscreen, tires, and others incurred due to a car collision​
$0 deductible/excess
Covers your rental car from theft, vandalism, and collision damage
24/7 emergency assistance, including medical help, doctors on call, medical transportation assistance, and more​

Note 2 on renting a car: I had originally booked my rental through Budget for approx the same rate but decided 2 weeks before the trip that I wanted to pick up the car the evening so we could leave at 7AM and not have to wait until 9AM opening, stand in line to get a car and finally get on the road at 10 or later. When I tried to change the pick-up date to 7PM the day before, the rate from Budget shot up to $1200. I went the web searching and Expedia came back with the same rate for earlier pick-up. Next time, I will do the same: book reservation 2 months earlier for best rate and then a couple weeks before check of a lower rate. Switching and canceling does not cost anything.

Note 3 on renting a car and driving between Portugal and Spain. I was uneasy on renting the car in Spain and driving into Portugal and then back into Spain. Was there a restriction or fee for crossing the border? I could not find anything on the rental sites so I called Budget and Enterprise and they confirmed it was okay and there were no fees. But I was still a bit cautious as my call was to US agent and maybe Spain would have a different rule. When I picked up the car I asked the agent and she confirmed there was no fee to cross the border. Do your due diligence.

Note 4 (I know this does not apply to Santiago to Finisterre): there are toll roads in Spain and Portugal. Most are easy to pay by debit card or credit card. Some have people in booths to take payments. But in Portugal, there are all variations including cameras that take pictures of the license plates and will bill the toll to the registered owner. I had to check the the Portuguese site (www.pagamentodeportagens.pt) daily to make to pay my tolls so I would not be surprised by a huge bill from Enterprise.

Overall, with all the learning experiences it was a very great vacation driving around Spain and Portugal reliving the 36 days of Camino Frances and planning the next year's Camino.

Buen Camino.
Thank you for your post - very interesting!
I was especially interested in your comment re speed:
As soon as I pull over to the right lane, the car would pass us like we were standing still. I would estimate some were passing at 150-175.
A few years ago on the camino, a friend and I decided to cut the day short and take a taxi onto the next town, about 10km away. Our taxi driver sped along at 160km/hr on a straight two-lane road (not a divided highway!) right next to the Camino trail. Luckily, there was very little traffic and he seemed to have total control. I have never ever driven or ridden in a car going that fast - and hope to never experience it again!
 
There were little Fiats and Smart Cars (the size of a big washing machine) zipping down the freeway at least 150. I wondered if they ever thought that if they crashed there would be nothing left of them. And I was also wondering if those driving at 150+ thought of their role in contributing to global warming. But then they were driving big Toyota, BMW and Mercedes SUV so I don't think they do.
 
This is great information, thank you so much, @natcire. I have rented cars many times in Spain and Portugal, and have also bought used cars in both countries, and have never been asked for a AAA international drivers license. Maybe things have changed, or maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I guess I’ll spring for the license the next time (though I do have a friend who just rented a car in Santiago for a few days with just her Illinois drivers license). I will confess, though, that it irritates me to pay money to what is essentially a lobbyist for the automotive industry and highway spending. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how a non-governmental agency became the source of an officially recognized ”license.” END OF VENT. I guess buying the card is a better alternative than not being able to rent a car. :D

When I rent a car in Portugal, I always add on the toll transponder and stick it on the windshield, so that the tolls go directly against my credit card. There are very few, if any, toll booths in Portugal where you can pay a human being. I know that years ago, you could go to a post office or any little shop or café that had a red “pay shop” logo in its window. Give them the license plate, and they could pull up the amount owed. I haven’t used that system in more than ten years, probably, but googling suggests that it’s still an option.

I am not sure if car rental agencies in Spain rent that little transponder device, but there are many more human-operated toll booths, or at least there were the last time I drove around!
@peregrina2000 totally understand your irritation regarding the international drivers' licence. We (my husband primarily) have driven numerous times overseas and have always purchased the international licence in Australia before travelling just in case, and have never been asked to view it upon arriving to collect rental cars. International drivers' licences are issued by a well-regarded automobile/service club here. Takes less than five minutes to issue and costs AUD20...
 
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Maybe it is because the local police might not know how to read driver's license in English if we are stopped?
Exactly.

I posted the following to another thread recently. Read the BBC article. Its funny and informative.


If your driver's license is in English Spain requires you to also have an International Drivers Permit.


Essentially a IDP is a translation of your license. It is used to avoid silly mistakes like this:

 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.
For the Americans venting about AAA getting money for the IDP someone has looked into it. The State Department authorized two travel clubs to handle this back around 1949, AAA and AATA but the later said recently it no longer does this. Enquiries as to why them kept getting the answer "I don't know." I suspect it was easier getting them to do it rather than all the states' Department of Motor Vehicles and there were many offices scattered across the country to go to.

Anyway, to learn more about the IDP read the following, hopefully amusing too, article (portions good for non-Americans also). Oh, yeah; I think the price went up to $20.

 
Got an IDP to travel in the US. When I got off Amtrack at Albany to pick up my rental, I gave the rental guy my IDP. Completely blank look.

Accepted my national drivers licence and insurance documents instead. Don't know why they suggest you get one.
 
I agree about craziness of International permit (how does a for profit business still profits from that archaic document) just because our driver's license is in English. It is crazy as the people in rental agencies all speak English to cater to the renters. Maybe it is because the local police might not know how to read driver's license in English if we are stopped?
No, it's not about the English language knowledge of the local police in Spain.

It is about the standards or models according to which a foreign driving licence has been issued in order to be valid in Spain. The website of the Spanish government (www.dgt.es) is a lot less categorical than many non-government websites. The Spanish DGT says that - if you come from a country not belonging to the EU or EEA - they advise you to get an international driving licence but they are not specific about who must get one. For precise information, they provide a link to Annex 9 of a Geneva Convention or Annex 6 of a Vienna convention and invite you to check whether your foreign licence conforms with what it says in these annexes. It is hundreds of pages and I did not bother to even look at them.

The story about the Polish drivers in Ireland is a funny story but it is already an old story. It, too, had to do with non-conformity with standard formatting. They have since adapted their format. It is still in Polish only and qualifies the driver to drive in Ireland, in Spain and in the whole of EU/EEA.

Holders of UK driving licences don't have to get an international driving licence either for renting a car and driving in Spain.
 
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Yes, EU licenses have a standard format and all the elements are numbered and so easily identifiable by officials in any country. I expect the reason UK drivers do not need the international permit is because the license still uses the standard EU format.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
In the past, I've obtained my IDP from AAA. As several have expressed, I have never been asked for it in any European country in which I rented a car. My Washington State driver's license has always sufficed. With my luck, if I elect not to get an IDP, that will be the time I'm asked for it. ;) That said, given my "advanced" senior status, I will probably not be renting cars anymore in Spain, Portugal, or anywhere else. Backroad buses will be my future and that will be fine. I have my photos and memories. Sigh . . .
 
We just returned from Spain and Portugal two days ago, Sept 2, on our driving Camino to show my family my 2018 Camino Frances experience and to check out my next Portuguese Camino. The below information is much more than you asked for but it might be helpful in the future to someone so I am including it.

1. The international driver's permit is required. I was asked to show it along with my US driving license. Both data were entered into my rental contract at Enterprise car rental.

2. Driving was pretty much the same as in the US. It took me about 2 hours to get used to driving a stick shift and going through city traffic, stopping for pedestrians at every block and going through all the roundabouts.

3. Enterprise agent recommended that I used Waze app for driving and it was definitely better than Google Maps as it will tell you of speed traps, police on the road etc. The app was great also in that you can add a garage at your destination or gas station on the route. The bluetooth feature on my cell phone was able to replicate the road map to the Skoda dash screen and that was so amazing (my cars at home are from 2016 so did not have that awesome feature).

4. Know the street signs and drive defensively. I drove 5-10k slower than speed limits as there are speed cameras everywhere and I did not want to be pulled over or see huge speeding ticket fees from Enterprise.

5. Over a dozen times when I confirmed in the rear and side mirror there were no cars coming before I pass a slower car and in the middle of passing at 120+ I would be startled to see a car tailgating me in the rear view mirror. As soon as I pull over to the right lane, the car would pass us like we were standing still. I would estimate some were passing at 150-175.

6. The drivers are more polite than in the US as no one ever honked at me for going too slow or when I killed the car a few times at the stop sign. We had a joke in our family by saying "Damn tourists" (directed at me) when I would kill the engine or make a mistake on taking an exit too early/too late at the roundabout.

7. If you need a road map, bring it from home as I could not find any maps for sale at the gas stations.

Note 1 on renting the car: When collecting the car, the agent MUST try to sell you their coverage for collision, road service and broken windshield. It took about 20 minutes to extricate out of the insurance sales pitch. I had bought my full insurance coverage from AIG when booking at Expedia for peace of mind. The agent repeated several times that I would have to pay for any damages to Enterprise and then file a claim with AIG - extra stress if there is a claim to file with AIG. The agent worked up a quote for same coverage if I had bought the insurance from Enterprise and it was over $900.

Our Aug 19 - Aug 31 rental including insurance, taxes and fees was $575.88.

Collision Protection​
$143.00​
Due at car rental counter​
$432.88​
Base price​
$307.31​
Taxes & fees​
$125.56​
Pricing Summary​
Collected at Expedia checkout​
Total​
$575.88​
Primary coverage up to $35,000 for damages to the car's body, windscreen, tires, and others incurred due to a car collision​
$0 deductible/excess
Covers your rental car from theft, vandalism, and collision damage
24/7 emergency assistance, including medical help, doctors on call, medical transportation assistance, and more​

Note 2 on renting a car: I had originally booked my rental through Budget for approx the same rate but decided 2 weeks before the trip that I wanted to pick up the car the evening so we could leave at 7AM and not have to wait until 9AM opening, stand in line to get a car and finally get on the road at 10 or later. When I tried to change the pick-up date to 7PM the day before, the rate from Budget shot up to $1200. I went the web searching and Expedia came back with the same rate for earlier pick-up. Next time, I will do the same: book reservation 2 months earlier for best rate and then a couple weeks before check of a lower rate. Switching and canceling does not cost anything.

Note 3 on renting a car and driving between Portugal and Spain. I was uneasy on renting the car in Spain and driving into Portugal and then back into Spain. Was there a restriction or fee for crossing the border? I could not find anything on the rental sites so I called Budget and Enterprise and they confirmed it was okay and there were no fees. But I was still a bit cautious as my call was to US agent and maybe Spain would have a different rule. When I picked up the car I asked the agent and she confirmed there was no fee to cross the border. Do your due diligence.

Note 4 (I know this does not apply to Santiago to Finisterre): there are toll roads in Spain and Portugal. Most are easy to pay by debit card or credit card. Some have people in booths to take payments. But in Portugal, there are all variations including cameras that take pictures of the license plates and will bill the toll to the registered owner. I had to check the the Portuguese site (www.pagamentodeportagens.pt) daily to make to pay my tolls so I would not be surprised by a huge bill from Enterprise.

Overall, with all the learning experiences it was a very great vacation driving around Spain and Portugal reliving the 36 days of Camino Frances and planning the next year's Camino.

Buen Camino.
What’s the age limit on renting a car in Spain & Portugal? I’m 80 years old. Thanks.
 
That was really informative thank you so much I’m gonna keep that in mind I’d like to see a map because I’m sure you can’t really follow the Camino by car can you?? Is there a guidebook to do it by car?? I really liked walking the Caminos That I have done the Frances 500 miles and the Portuguese Camino from Porto Santiago but it’s nice to keep options open I’ve always wondered about this thank you so much
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
For the Americans venting about AAA getting money for the IDP someone has looked into it. The State Department authorized two travel clubs to handle this back around 1949, AAA and AATA but the later said recently it no longer does this. Enquiries as to why them kept getting the answer "I don't know." I suspect it was easier getting them to do it rather than all the states' Department of Motor Vehicles and there were many offices scattered across the country to go to.

Anyway, to learn more about the IDP read the following, hopefully amusing too, article (portions good for non-Americans also). Oh, yeah; I think the price went up to $20.

Fun reading the article...i might get a second or third IDP if I ever drive south.
 
We just returned from Spain and Portugal two days ago, Sept 2, on our driving Camino to show my family my 2018 Camino Frances experience and to check out my next Portuguese Camino. The below information is much more than you asked for but it might be helpful in the future to someone so I am including it.

1. The international driver's permit is required. I was asked to show it along with my US driving license. Both data were entered into my rental contract at Enterprise car rental.

2. Driving was pretty much the same as in the US. It took me about 2 hours to get used to driving a stick shift and going through city traffic, stopping for pedestrians at every block and going through all the roundabouts.

3. Enterprise agent recommended that I used Waze app for driving and it was definitely better than Google Maps as it will tell you of speed traps, police on the road etc. The app was great also in that you can add a garage at your destination or gas station on the route. The bluetooth feature on my cell phone was able to replicate the road map to the Skoda dash screen and that was so amazing (my cars at home are from 2016 so did not have that awesome feature).

4. Know the street signs and drive defensively. I drove 5-10k slower than speed limits as there are speed cameras everywhere and I did not want to be pulled over or see huge speeding ticket fees from Enterprise.

5. Over a dozen times when I confirmed in the rear and side mirror there were no cars coming before I pass a slower car and in the middle of passing at 120+ I would be startled to see a car tailgating me in the rear view mirror. As soon as I pull over to the right lane, the car would pass us like we were standing still. I would estimate some were passing at 150-175.

6. The drivers are more polite than in the US as no one ever honked at me for going too slow or when I killed the car a few times at the stop sign. We had a joke in our family by saying "Damn tourists" (directed at me) when I would kill the engine or make a mistake on taking an exit too early/too late at the roundabout.

7. If you need a road map, bring it from home as I could not find any maps for sale at the gas stations.

Note 1 on renting the car: When collecting the car, the agent MUST try to sell you their coverage for collision, road service and broken windshield. It took about 20 minutes to extricate out of the insurance sales pitch. I had bought my full insurance coverage from AIG when booking at Expedia for peace of mind. The agent repeated several times that I would have to pay for any damages to Enterprise and then file a claim with AIG - extra stress if there is a claim to file with AIG. The agent worked up a quote for same coverage if I had bought the insurance from Enterprise and it was over $900.

Our Aug 19 - Aug 31 rental including insurance, taxes and fees was $575.88.

Collision Protection​
$143.00​
Due at car rental counter​
$432.88​
Base price​
$307.31​
Taxes & fees​
$125.56​
Pricing Summary​
Collected at Expedia checkout​
Total​
$575.88​
Primary coverage up to $35,000 for damages to the car's body, windscreen, tires, and others incurred due to a car collision​
$0 deductible/excess
Covers your rental car from theft, vandalism, and collision damage
24/7 emergency assistance, including medical help, doctors on call, medical transportation assistance, and more​

Note 2 on renting a car: I had originally booked my rental through Budget for approx the same rate but decided 2 weeks before the trip that I wanted to pick up the car the evening so we could leave at 7AM and not have to wait until 9AM opening, stand in line to get a car and finally get on the road at 10 or later. When I tried to change the pick-up date to 7PM the day before, the rate from Budget shot up to $1200. I went the web searching and Expedia came back with the same rate for earlier pick-up. Next time, I will do the same: book reservation 2 months earlier for best rate and then a couple weeks before check of a lower rate. Switching and canceling does not cost anything.

Note 3 on renting a car and driving between Portugal and Spain. I was uneasy on renting the car in Spain and driving into Portugal and then back into Spain. Was there a restriction or fee for crossing the border? I could not find anything on the rental sites so I called Budget and Enterprise and they confirmed it was okay and there were no fees. But I was still a bit cautious as my call was to US agent and maybe Spain would have a different rule. When I picked up the car I asked the agent and she confirmed there was no fee to cross the border. Do your due diligence.

Note 4 (I know this does not apply to Santiago to Finisterre): there are toll roads in Spain and Portugal. Most are easy to pay by debit card or credit card. Some have people in booths to take payments. But in Portugal, there are all variations including cameras that take pictures of the license plates and will bill the toll to the registered owner. I had to check the the Portuguese site (www.pagamentodeportagens.pt) daily to make to pay my tolls so I would not be surprised by a huge bill from Enterprise.

Overall, with all the learning experiences it was a very great vacation driving around Spain and Portugal reliving the 36 days of Camino Frances and planning the next year's Camino.

Buen Camino.
Great information. We rented a car in Portugal from Sixt. They were easy to work with, great customer service. Here in the US, in most places, we are only now putting in roundabouts. They were everywhere in Portugal. Got used to them quickly and had no problems except for the wicked multi-lane roundabout near the Lisbon airport.
 
In the past, I've obtained my IDP from AAA. As several have expressed, I have never been asked for it in any European country in which I rented a car. My Washington State driver's license has always sufficed. With my luck, if I elect not to get an IDP, that will be the time I'm asked for it. ;) That said, given my "advanced" senior status, I will probably not be renting cars anymore in Spain, Portugal, or anywhere else. Backroad buses will be my future and that will be fine. I have my photos and memories. Sigh
John, a
That was really informative thank you so much I’m gonna keep that in mind I’d like to see a map because I’m sure you can’t really follow the Camino by car can you?? Is there a guidebook to do it by car?? I really liked walking the Caminos That I have done the Frances 500 miles and the Portuguese Camino from Porto Santiago but it’s nice to keep options open I’ve always wondered about this thank you so much
I saw the Michelin map at AAA when I got my IDP. Then decided to wait till i got to Spain to buy one but they sold everything (pocket knives, hats...) but maps. Just looked and you can also get the Michelin Spain amd Portugal map on Amazon.
 
We just returned from Spain and Portugal two days ago, Sept 2, on our driving Camino to show my family my 2018 Camino Frances experience and to check out my next Portuguese Camino. The below information is much more than you asked for but it might be helpful in the future to someone so I am including it.
I also rented a car. For about four weeks mostly in June 2022. Thrifty was my renter, which is owned by Hertz. I did have my international driving permit but they weren’t interested in it. They just wanted my regular United States drivers license. Perhaps if I have been pulled over by a traffic police man, they would have required it.

I did cross the border to go into France. I was a little worried about it, but I didn’t even bother to check because I was going to visit some friends. The only thing I would say about France is that the traffic tolls are much higher and much more frequent than in Spain.

I agree with you, there were some very fast drivers on the highway. You really had to pay attention if you switched lanes.

I have a slightly higher end credit card that posits that they have primary auto insurance if I rent a car overseas. So I did indeed turn down the insurance at the office, and had to initial in a few spots.

Unfortunately, the day before I had to return the car, I pulled over into what I thought was a grassy pull-out and put the front passenger wheel in a ditch. I got a flat and it ripped off the bumper and headlight.

The rental company was very good about coming with a tow truck, and even paid for a taxi to get me to my next destination which was about 150 km.

However, I ended up getting that bill for about €1200 for the car damage. They took this directly from my credit card.

I filed a claim with the insurance company, which is technically the Visa credit card. Through an email correspondence they seem to agree that it was an appropriate claim and asked me for further documents. I was able to get those from the rental car company, but it’s been almost 2 months now without a peep from them. Even though they promised to respond in five days to any correspondence.

Their website says “we are experiencing longer than normal wait times,“! Like everybody. I assume I’ll get it back eventually, but I might call them up this wek.
 
I also rented a car. For about four weeks mostly in June 2022. Thrifty was my renter, which is owned by Hertz. I did have my international driving permit but they weren’t interested in it. They just wanted my regular United States drivers license. Perhaps if I have been pulled over by a traffic police man, they would have required it.

I did cross the border to go into France. I was a little worried about it, but I didn’t even bother to check because I was going to visit some friends. The only thing I would say about France is that the traffic tolls are much higher and much more frequent than in Spain.

I agree with you, there were some very fast drivers on the highway. You really had to pay attention if you switched lanes.

I have a slightly higher end credit card that posits that they have primary auto insurance if I rent a car overseas. So I did indeed turn down the insurance at the office, and had to initial in a few spots.

Unfortunately, the day before I had to return the car, I pulled over into what I thought was a grassy pull-out and put the front passenger wheel in a ditch. I got a flat and it ripped off the bumper and headlight.

The rental company was very good about coming with a tow truck, and even paid for a taxi to get me to my next destination which was about 150 km.

However, I ended up getting that bill for about €1200 for the car damage. They took this directly from my credit card.

Of course I filed a claim with the insurance company, which is technically the Visa credit card. Through an email correspondence they seem to agree that it was an appropriate claim and asked me for further documents. I was able to get those from the rental car company, but it’s been almost 2 months now without a peep from them. Even though they promised to respond in five days to any correspondence. Their website says “we are experiencing longer than normal wait times,“! Like everybody. I assume I’ll get it back eventually, but I might call them up this wek.
Yes, it really is worth just paying a little extra and taking insurance from the hire company. I always pay for full insurance with no excess, so I'm covered for everything.
 
Hike 30+ miles on California’s Santa Catalina Island as part of the Catalina Camino
Thanks Stephan for sharing your experience. I normally turn down domestic (US) coverage for my rentals because Visa covers for damages. I'll have to call Chase to see if they cover for international rental.
 
Great information. We rented a car in Portugal from Sixt. They were easy to work with, great customer service. Here in the US, in most places, we are only now putting in roundabouts. They were everywhere in Portugal. Got used to them quickly and had no problems except for the wicked multi-lane roundabout near the Lisbon airport.
Yes, those multi-lane roundabout was nerve wrecking first couple of times. Then I started to just use the outer lane so i did not have to change lanes to get out at the third or fourth exit. Just for giggiles, i decided to drive around the roundabout twice in Madrid by Atocha Estacion before handing the car back to Enterprise. Kinda like a victory lap...luckily there were no issues and it was good to learn if I ever miss my exit i can go around again to get on the right exit
 
Yes, it really is worth just paying a little extra and taking insurance from the hire company. I always pay for full insurance with no excess, so I'm covered for everything.
In the UK there are specialist standalone policies to cover the excess. I just rented for 10 days in Iceland and the no excess insurance was very expensive. I took the standard cover and my CDW excess insurance was about £30 through Zurich.
 
In the UK there are specialist standalone policies to cover the excess. I just rented for 10 days in Iceland and the no excess insurance was very expensive. I took the standard cover and my CDW excess insurance was about £30 through Zurich.
Yes, but you still have to pay and then claim it back. If you don't want the hire company to take your money, you need to pay for their insurance.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
I am now at the point in life that the peace of mind that comes with the hassle-free but expensive advantage of having full coverage through the rental company is worth it. Some people spend money on fancy cars, I spend money buying full insurance for a small-ish car. Reading some of the stories on the forum over the years has made me glad I’ve done that. It also eases the anxiety that someone checking the car in is going to see some dings that you didn’t do but that don’t appear on the hand-written inspection report at the beginning of the rental.

I know lots of people think this is a waste of money. Last time I did a long rental, it added about 300€ to the cost, but I just look at it as removing hassles by throwing money at the problem.
 
I am now at the point in life that the peace of mind that comes with the hassle-free but expensive advantage of having full coverage through the rental company is worth it. Some people spend money on fancy cars, I spend money buying full insurance for a small-ish car. Reading some of the stories on the forum over the years has made me glad I’ve done that. It also eases the anxiety that someone checking the car in is going to see some dings that you didn’t do but that don’t appear on the hand-written inspection report at the beginning of the rental.

I know lots of people think this is a waste of money. Last time I did a long rental, it added about 300€ to the cost, but I just look at it as removing hassles by throwing money at the problem.
Agree, totally, peregrina2000. One less thing to worry about.
 
By the way, I forgot to mention that I saved €1000 on the rental car by taking a four hour train ride to Leon from Santiago. At first I was getting quotes of about €2000 for a four week rental in Santiago or anywhere nearby. And then I just started plugging in other cities….. I felt very clever!

A Coruna was also much cheaper, but they only had SUVs.
 
I rented a car this summer after completing the Camino Frances. (Santiago airport) The agent didn't need my international permit but said it would be needed should I have any interaction with the police so it was good that I had it. (only $20 through AAA) I did get the extra insurance. My personal agent at home recommends getting it even though our insurance would cover the rental. He said he always gets it. I figured better safe than sorry and less hassle should there be an issue when I was driving in a foreign country on very narrow roads while visiting family in Galicia. We decline when renting in the US (home).
 
UPDATE: Using my credit card for rental car insurance:

I had made a claim in July, and they actually just paid it. About €1200, 100% of my claim. It’s true it was a little bit of a hassle, and I made sure I took pictures when it happened. I probably spent two or three hours all together getting the paperwork together, submitting it online, and calling them once to ask them what was going on, etc. But considering it was a whole month rental and probably saved me 3 or €400, it was worth it.

I think for a short rental I would just pay the extra fee for comprehensive coverage from the car rental place.

One thing I did read, is that it’s easier to get your home country credit card to pay an insurance claim is if you’re dealing with a big international company, like Hertz or Avis. Because they have a system and relationship in place, English-speaking people in Europe, etc.
 
Last edited:
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
We just returned from Spain and Portugal two days ago, Sept 2, on our driving Camino to show my family my 2018 Camino Frances experience and to check out my next Portuguese Camino. The below information is much more than you asked for but it might be helpful in the future to someone so I am including it.

1. The international driver's permit is required. I was asked to show it along with my US driving license. Both data were entered into my rental contract at Enterprise car rental.

2. Driving was pretty much the same as in the US. It took me about 2 hours to get used to driving a stick shift and going through city traffic, stopping for pedestrians at every block and going through all the roundabouts.

3. Enterprise agent recommended that I used Waze app for driving and it was definitely better than Google Maps as it will tell you of speed traps, police on the road etc. The app was great also in that you can add a garage at your destination or gas station on the route. The bluetooth feature on my cell phone was able to replicate the road map to the Skoda dash screen and that was so amazing (my cars at home are from 2016 so did not have that awesome feature).

4. Know the street signs and drive defensively. I drove 5-10k slower than speed limits as there are speed cameras everywhere and I did not want to be pulled over or see huge speeding ticket fees from Enterprise.

5. Over a dozen times when I confirmed in the rear and side mirror there were no cars coming before I pass a slower car and in the middle of passing at 120+ I would be startled to see a car tailgating me in the rear view mirror. As soon as I pull over to the right lane, the car would pass us like we were standing still. I would estimate some were passing at 150-175.

6. The drivers are more polite than in the US as no one ever honked at me for going too slow or when I killed the car a few times at the stop sign. We had a joke in our family by saying "Damn tourists" (directed at me) when I would kill the engine or make a mistake on taking an exit too early/too late at the roundabout.

7. If you need a road map, bring it from home as I could not find any maps for sale at the gas stations.

Note 1 on renting the car: When collecting the car, the agent MUST try to sell you their coverage for collision, road service and broken windshield. It took about 20 minutes to extricate out of the insurance sales pitch. I had bought my full insurance coverage from AIG when booking at Expedia for peace of mind. The agent repeated several times that I would have to pay for any damages to Enterprise and then file a claim with AIG - extra stress if there is a claim to file with AIG. The agent worked up a quote for same coverage if I had bought the insurance from Enterprise and it was over $900.

Our Aug 19 - Aug 31 rental including insurance, taxes and fees was $575.88.

Collision Protection​
$143.00​
Due at car rental counter​
$432.88​
Base price​
$307.31​
Taxes & fees​
$125.56​
Pricing Summary​
Collected at Expedia checkout​
Total​
$575.88​
Primary coverage up to $35,000 for damages to the car's body, windscreen, tires, and others incurred due to a car collision​
$0 deductible/excess
Covers your rental car from theft, vandalism, and collision damage
24/7 emergency assistance, including medical help, doctors on call, medical transportation assistance, and more​

Note 2 on renting a car: I had originally booked my rental through Budget for approx the same rate but decided 2 weeks before the trip that I wanted to pick up the car the evening so we could leave at 7AM and not have to wait until 9AM opening, stand in line to get a car and finally get on the road at 10 or later. When I tried to change the pick-up date to 7PM the day before, the rate from Budget shot up to $1200. I went the web searching and Expedia came back with the same rate for earlier pick-up. Next time, I will do the same: book reservation 2 months earlier for best rate and then a couple weeks before check of a lower rate. Switching and canceling does not cost anything.

Note 3 on renting a car and driving between Portugal and Spain. I was uneasy on renting the car in Spain and driving into Portugal and then back into Spain. Was there a restriction or fee for crossing the border? I could not find anything on the rental sites so I called Budget and Enterprise and they confirmed it was okay and there were no fees. But I was still a bit cautious as my call was to US agent and maybe Spain would have a different rule. When I picked up the car I asked the agent and she confirmed there was no fee to cross the border. Do your due diligence.

Note 4 (I know this does not apply to Santiago to Finisterre): there are toll roads in Spain and Portugal. Most are easy to pay by debit card or credit card. Some have people in booths to take payments. But in Portugal, there are all variations including cameras that take pictures of the license plates and will bill the toll to the registered owner. I had to check the the Portuguese site (www.pagamentodeportagens.pt) daily to make to pay my tolls so I would not be surprised by a huge bill from Enterprise.

Overall, with all the learning experiences it was a very great vacation driving around Spain and Portugal reliving the 36 days of Camino Frances and planning the next year's Camino.

Buen Camino.
It is also a lot cheaper to pick up at the airport rather than downtown. Rates have shot up though post Covid as the companies sold off their fleets.
 
My experience was lower cost to pick up at Barcelona train station vs airport. And dropping off at Madrid train station. Maybe there was airport tax to include, like in Seattle. Thanks @dick bird for suggestion, next time I will call my United Airlines Visa customer support to ask about their coverage for international car rental accident.
 
just because our driver's license is in English
For the record, that has nothing to do with it. You only need a international driving licence in 14 countries worldwide.
They are,
Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, and Thailand.🙏
 
…. I will call my United Airlines Visa customer support to ask about their coverage for international car rental accident.
That’s the card I used. I have a version that you pay about $100yearly fee for that gets you a couple lounge passes and free luggage.

But that extra costs also gets you primary car rental insurance, as opposed to secondary. Another words, they pay first, instead of trying to figure out if anybody else will pay for it.

So when using a credit card for insurance, it depends on which cards you have. They almost all have coverage for it, but I bet some of them make you really jump through a lot of hoops!
 
That’s the card I used. I have a version that you pay about $100yearly fee for that gets you a couple lounge passes and free luggage.

But that extra costs also gets you primary car rental insurance, as opposed to secondary. Another words, they pay first, instead of trying to figure out if anybody else will pay for it.

So when using a credit card for insurance, it depends on which cards you have. They almost all have coverage for it, but I bet some of them make you really jump through a lot of hoops!
Thanks @Stephan the Painter for clarification. I will change my card for the free lounge and primary car rental insurance after 2023 (when I retired and will travel more).
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

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