Are you planning a holiday to Georgia? You probably want to visit the great outdoors outside the big cities Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi. A good way to do so is renting a car or a campervan. This way, you can set your own pace, go off the beaten track, and stay as close as possible to the nature.
There aren’t too many options for rentals in Georgia, it is hard to find information online, and of course you’re looking for a reliable and trustworthy company. Below we will provide you with some tips and tricks to take into account when you’re looking for a home on wheels or just a means of transport. Pay attention to these points if you don’t want to get disappointed!
- Where do you want to go? Do you really need a 4×4 car?
It’s good to have a rough idea about where you want to go. Will you need a 4WD or is a 2WD car enough?
Roads in Georgia have been improved a lot over the last years, and a lot of information online is pretty outdated. People also like to exaggerate the bad condition of roads, and recommend renting a 4WD quickly while there is no actual need for it.
Truth is, for most popular destinations you don’t need a 4WD car at all. Sure, some roads are bumpy – but you’ll get there in any everyday sedan. It might not be the fastest or the most comfortable ride. So if that is important for you, sure get a big 4×4!
Are you planning to go camping, stay deep in nature, drive on tracks, in forests and venture in the middle of nowhere – then yes – a 4×4 is advisable as you don’t want to get stuck somewhere remote.
- Are you allowed to go off-road?
OK, you’re getting adventurous, want to visit remote regions such as Tusheti, Vashlovani, Ushguli. Do some desert-driving and maybe a water crossing? Cool!
You pick up this big Land Cruiser four-wheel drive beast of a car and then have another look at the terms and conditions that are presented to you: ‘off-road driving not allowed’, ‘list of roads that are not allowed:’ oops…
A lot of rental companies in Georgia don’t allow driving off-road at all, or limit certain mountain passes or entire regions. Make sure to check before you book if this is the case or not. Often, these rules are NOT mentioned on the websites or sometimes even not even in the terms and conditions. You will find out only if you specifically ask for it, or when they tell you when it is too late.
Don’t risk going to these forbidden locations, apart from the fact that you won’t have any insurance cover – your vehicle might be remotely disabled and you are stranded somewhere.
- Details of the insurance policy
Surely every rental car will have an ‘all-inclusive-all-risk’ insurance. But as you know – no insurance policy covers everything, and without any limits. This is normal, but it’s good to be aware of what is, and more importantly, what is not covered.
Ask if tyre damage is covered, what about off-road tracks? Are there age limits? Some policies exclude persons above 65 years old, some don’t cover third parties.
Third party insurance? If there is any, what is the limit? There are generally very low limits for this kind of insurance in Georgia. Some will cover only €5000 of damages, that’s almost useless if you accidentally bump into a new car.
- Are you allowed to drive in the vehicle?
Do you have the correct drivers license? Some companies rent out busses and vans to everyone with a B-license, while you actually need a C or D license to drive these vehicles. This won’t be a problem in everyday life – as the police does not really check this, or cares too little. Even if you would get a fine, it would probably not be very high. However, once you get into any kind of accident – there goes your insurance cover! Better be safe than sorry.
They do happen. Especially when you least expect it, and even when cars are perfectly maintained. What happens if the car you rented breaks down? Does the company have multiple vehicles, and would they maybe be able to offer a replacement? Do they have a network of trusted mechanics and garages around the country?
What does road-side assistance service actually mean? Usually it’s quite limited to only changing a tyre, or charging a dead battery. And only close to the bigger cities.
Who pays for the repair costs? Don’t assume all these things are covered by insurance, because they likely are not.
Set your expectations right. If you are going into a remote area, with a population of a few hundred persons, on a 10-hour drive from the capital. Help might be far away. This applies to all rental companies. But if you don’t want to risk the inconveniences – consider another destination.
- Wrecked and right-hand driven cars
A lot of cars in Georgia are imported from Europe, Japan or USA, that is because the repair costs are too high in those countries and they are sold for a penny. These cars have been in major accidents, were drowned or sometimes even have radioactive contamination. The standards of repairing these cars aren’t exactly very high. The minimum is done to make the car drivable again, and that’s it.
Do you want to drive in a car that is supposed to have an airbag, but that likely doesn’t work anymore? Or a car where a part can fall off at any time? Is it possibly a right-hand driven car in a country where cars drive on the right?
If safety is important to you, check what kind of car you are renting. Is it imported and fixed or bought new from the dealership?