Writer: Steve Dinnen
Arriving at the ferry terminal at Aegina, Greece, for a week of vacation, I face a logistics problem—how to get around. Footwork won’t do; the island is the size of Ankeny. Community buses run on their schedule, not mine. Taxis are cheap, but hailing one from a remote beach might be difficult.
Across from the ferry lie several auto rental shops. I don’t need a car—t’s just me—and it’s always hard to find a parking spot. A two-wheeled scooter won’t do—stability issues. What about an ATV? They’re easy to operate, can squeeze into any parking spot, and are thrifty on fuel (gasoline here is $7.90 a gallon). And affordable: 40 euros a day credit, 25 euros cash.
Off I go, at the cash rate and with a helmet. I’ve seen way crazier drivers than here, but the roads are kind of twisty and no-shoulder cliff sides have few guardrails. That said, renting an ATV seems a credible option for any island in Greece, or Italy, or resort area anywhere in Europe. I would not recommend them for the mainland, or even a large city as speeds are higher and there is way more congestion. Opt for a passenger car there; you’ll have luggage to haul, anyway.
Check local and national regulations. My ATV people seem to have winked away the law that says renters need both a U.S. license and an International Driving Permit that the American Automobile Association issued. I carried one for years and was never once asked for it. I finally quit, and wham, that was the first thing they asked for in 2017 when last I visited Greece.
Age matters, too. They supposedly will not rent a car to anyone over 70 in Croatia, or 75 in Greece or Ireland. In France, some agencies will rent a mini car to a 21-year-old, but you’ll have to wait until you’re 24 to get a compact, or 30 for a luxury vehicle. Ahh, the French. But the Europeans are developing a soft spot for Americans and now offer cars with automatic transmissions with little if any upcharge to manual transmissions.