Rent a car that is common to the area you’re visiting, versus one that is extravagant or will stand out in some unusual way. Go cheap, with the exception of insurance.
Pay for the extra insurance (unless you have confirmed your insurance company will fully cover you in a foreign country). Note that it can be extremely complicated to settle a dispute with a rental car company overseas. Many of them are just franchisees of the larger companies. Customer service may be very limited or nonexistent. Don’t forget they have your credit card number and may put a hold on your card for the entire amount of the damage to the vehicle.
Ask for a car that is similar in size or type to the car you normally drive or smaller. Get an automatic transmission, if that is what you’re familiar with driving. This is also a good idea if you’re driving somewhere completely different, like the United Kingdom.
When you get to the car, ensure it has good brakes, tires, and lights, at a minimum. Test those things out as soon as you drive it the first time. This will minimize your chances of having an accident and improve your chances in a scenario where you need the car for protection.
Ask for a dark color and don’t wash it. Accumulated dirt and dust make tampering easier to detect and prevents the car from “standing out.” You can enhance the technique by looking for ways to make it dirtier, such as driving down a dusty road. Dark interior makes it harder to see inside and the dark paint enhances the advantages of the dust and dirt technique.
For more than 25 years, Steve was an intelligence community professional who traveled and lived throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central America. He now uses his experiences and formal training to help people overcome their reluctance to travel by giving them the solid, reliable information they can use to plan effectively, reduce risk, react to danger, and return home safe.