If you are planning a new scooter trip for your family, you should find out more about local laws, renting tips, and general safety measures. You need an efficient method to see all tourist spots in a few days so riding a scooter might be the best choice. However, you should be aware of the legal requirements for riding a scooter. You might not be allowed to ride without a helmet or at night. Also, there could be mandatory scooter equipment.
Why you should choose a scooter
Renting a scooter for your holiday will give you freedom when riding around the city. There is no schedule to follow like in a guided tour since you decide on your own when and where to stop. Also, it is better than hiring a driver because you can move through traffic easily while feeling the fresh air.
The small engine size of scooters stops you from reaching high speeds so it should be safer. A scooter is also lighter and easier to maneuver than a motorcycle, which makes it a great choice as your holiday vehicle. A scooter might be disadvantaged by the lack of space for luggage and its vulnerability to the weather conditions so keep this in mind when planning the trip.
Where riding a scooter is a good choice
While traveling on a scooter has many advantages, there are some places where it might not be the best option. In big Asian cities such as Seoul or Taipei, the roads are filled by vehicles moving chaotically rather than in clear lines. Some drivers use the horn as a sort of audio blinker to indicate they are passing you or if you should pass them.
Driving in this environment will make you feel more stressed instead of having a relaxing vacation. Maybe you should stick to using local taxis or public transportation. However, numerous countries and cities are great for scooter riders. Countries with large and flat roads such as Greece or Costa Rica might be your next holiday destination.
Before going on your next adventure, remember to check the age requirements for driving a scooter. For example, in the US and Canada, people who have turned 14 or 16 are allowed to drive a scooter. In most of the countries that are part of the European Union, you can legally drive a scooter if you are at least 16 years old.
Having the proper license
In many countries, riding a scooter does not require the same driver’s license needed when driving a motorcycle. If you plan your trip outside of your country, you will need an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). You must also have a (valid) driver’s license issued in your country before obtaining an IDP.
An IDP is not a license on its own, but you can easily get one from AAA or AATA after paying a fee smaller than $50. The IDP has the advantage that it also serves as a recognized ID. Take note it will take a couple of weeks to receive your International Driver’s Permit.
Some of the Asian countries don’t accept IDP as an appropriate license while in other countries IDPs are not required if you receive a local tourist license. Anyway, you should always include your driver’s license in your traveling bag and make sure to check the local laws before leaving for your holiday.
Renting a scooter
First of all, carefully read the renting contract and make sure you completely understand it. If they don’t have a copy in an international language of circulation or you feel that something is not right, go to another rental company without hesitation. Be ready to show your IDP or local tourist license, your driving license and maybe a form of identification (passport or ID).
In some countries, the rental center operator will ask you to leave your passport there as a guarantee. Leaving your passport to a stranger while traveling abroad might be stressful, especially in a country where you are required by law to carry your passport always while visiting. Try to leave a cash guarantee or an authenticated copy of your ID instead of your passport.
The last thing you need on your holiday is having your passport blocked at the rental center because of some real or imagined scooter damage. Furthermore, tourists have been complaining about “lost” passports by employees when their passports were sold on the black market for a lot of money.
Check the scooter
When you receive your rented scooter, take photos or film each side of the vehicle. This is a fast and effortless method to document the initial state of the rental. If the rental center tries to make you pay for any invented damages, having photos is a great safety measure. We recommend doing this while the rental center employee is still attending you. This way, you will not lose time at the end of the day arguing about fake damages.
Before leaving the rental company, check everything on the bike. Just because a scooter is available for rent, it does not mean it is safe to drive. Pay attention if there are scratches or dents on the scooter’s body, test the brakes, check the tires and verify the lights. This way, you will avoid having technical difficulties on the road and you will increase the chances of having a carefree day.
Do a small test drive
Don’t be afraid to ask what may look like silly questions. Ask an employee from the rental agency to show you how to take the scooter off its stand before leaving. You don’t want your rental to fall and get damaged or, even worse, trap you underneath it. Practice several times in the rental store’s parking until you get confident that you can do it by yourself.
If the scooter is different than anything you have driven before, find out how to start it, how to turn on the lights, and how to put gas in it. Also, you may ask for a ride with a more experienced driver before you drive it by yourself.
As a passenger, you will have the chance to see how the scooter handles and how to use the commands before driving on public roads. So don’t rush into taking the keys and make sure that everything is in order.
Take care of the scooter
Remember to lock the scooter and take the helmet with you whenever you make a stop. Don’t ruin your vacation because you did not take the key or lock the wheel and your scooter got stolen. Even if you take these precautions, try to keep an eye on your rental since it could be picked up by thieves.
Don’t forget about insurance
Check with your car insurance company before leaving and see if they cover you when traveling abroad. If you have an accident, you could end up paying for all damages since there is a chance you don’t speak the local language. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t cause the accident. For some people, you are just a wealthy tourist and they will try to obtain as much money as possible from you.
Don’t drink and drive
This may sound obvious but a big number of accidents are caused by tourists driving to the bar, trying some local drinks and then getting involved in serious accidents. Also, avoid speeding even if you are in a hurry. Don’t forget that in a lot of countries both tourists and locals are crossing the road where and whenever they feel like doing it.
Also, they might travel on the road at night without having any lights or reflective clothing. It is not uncommon for rural areas to have animals crossing or blocking the road or any kind of hazard you are not accustomed to.
Scooters are considered by other drivers to be safer because of their small size engines and easy maneuvering. Nevertheless, riding a scooter might be dangerous since they are harder to see by other drivers due to the smaller size. So make sure you are visible by using lights or reflective clothing, don’t stop in vehicles’ blind spots, and avoid high-speed traffic.
Always wear a helmet, but also other protective equipment such as gloves, long-sleeved jacket, closed footwear, and eye goggles. It doesn’t matter if it looks good or not as long as it keeps you safe.
Also, don’t be ashamed to use the horn to notify people about your presence despite it is considered to be impolite. Gently touch the horn before passing other scooter riders or people walking on the side of the road.