Archive - Blog

Me, an International Driver?

 My cat, Billy jumped into the shot. I couldn't resist posting this version even though it's not a perfect permit pic. (Ooh, unintentional alliteration!)

My cat, Billy jumped into the shot. I couldn't resist posting this version even though it's not a perfect permit pic. (Ooh, unintentional alliteration!)

I travel fairly often and have been driven around internationally by both strangers and friends, but I've never driven internationally...at least, not outside of the North American continent. (Canada just doesn't really count as international. Who's with me?)

On this crazy trip with family, extended family, a genealogist and his wife, it came down to puzzle pieces...what fit. We went back and forth quite a bit about what to rent, when to rent it and how to rent it. ("Quite a bit" doesn't really make it sound as truly difficult as it was. Family trips, eh?) We finally settled on a super-large van. It would cover the five of us, all of our luggage and Agata our remote newly found Polish representative of the family. (postscript: The super-large van wouldn't cover Agata's fiance so now we're down to a smaller van and some of us are going to take the bus. Madness!) The genealogist and his wife joining us later would drive their own car and perhaps one or two of us at times.

My brother, Doug offered to drive. I did too also noting I've driven large moving trucks before. (I think both of us offered to drive because we like driving, we like being in control and most importantly we could drive away from everybody under our own steam if they drove us crazy. Doug: I dare you to disagree!) Since no one else wanted to drive, this worked out well.

We soon realized we needed international driver's licenses. (Oh, excuse me. "International driving permits" or IDPs.) You can only get these officially in the US from one of two places and those places provide them cheaply (<$20): the AAA and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). Weird, huh? Even weirder is finding out that there are scams out there to wrestle vast sums of money away from unsuspecting Americans.

The IDP is just a separate piece of paper that translates your state-issued driver's license into a bunch of different languages. It's valid for one year and it's pretty easy to get. You just bring a little bit of money, two passport photos and your driver's license over to the AAA or AATA, and within a short period of time, you have your international driving permit.

I wish it looked fancier, but it's just the little booklet of paper you see above. It almost seems like one of those exam booklets from school in miniature form. Ah, well. At least I can now drive in Poland, Lithuania and ~180 other countries for the next year. (Doug got his too, but apparently he's an old hat at this.)

I'm just happy that driving occurs on the right side (in both senses of the word) in Poland and Lithuania.

Click here for official info about international driving permits.

1st new thing tried this week: International Driving Permit.