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Many travel advisers recommend renting a car in Jamaica. Although it is sometimes pricey, driving your own car will enable your island tour to take off in new directions.
Several companies throughout the island supply cars, but the best selection is generally in the larger cities of Kingston, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. Local companies may offer better rates, but larger companies provide more service options, including the ability to pick up the car in one city and drop it off in another.
The Jamaica Tourist Board has also gone out of its way to issue one of the most comprehensive maps of Jamaican roads. Look for the map, titled Discover Jamaica, at tourist board offices and car rental agencies. It can be a big help out on the back roads and in crowded cities.
In order to rent a car in Jamaica, you must be 25-years-of-age or older, have a valid driver's license from your home country, and have a valid credit card.
Rates for car rentals can be steep in the high season, but they can be half the regular rates in the low season. Expect to pay as much as $120 (USD) per day for your rental, including compulsory collision damage waiver coverage. The extra fee covers potential damage to the car. Low season rates can dip as low as $35 (USD) per day. Weekly rentals are generally in the vicinity of $400 (USD).
Travelers should also make sure taxes, fees and surcharges are included in the price they expect to pay, or they should find out what those extra costs are. This will help avoid unwelcome surprises when it comes time to pay for the rental. Speaking of unwelcome surprises, it is not uncommon for rental agencies to run out of vehicles. If you plan to rent a car, make sure to reserve it months in advance.
If you are traveling with a young child, bring his or her safety seat from home, unless you plan on buying a brand new one on the island. Rental companies do not provide child safety seats to customers.
The road conditions throughout Jamaica vary depending on the type of area you are in. Rural areas have bumpier, less frequently maintained roads that may be difficult to navigate, and are often crowded with livestock. Roads in larger cities and tourist areas are fair to good. You can expect traffic to be manageable no matter where you are driving on the island
It is important to note that Jamaicans drive on the left side of the road, as opposed to the right side like in America, and gas stations only accept cash as payment.
Requirements and restrictions regarding renting a vehicle in Jamaica can vary. If you are concerned about minimum and maximum age restrictions, insurance requirements and the like, consider contacting each firm directly, before making a final decision.
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