Get an IDP at AAA in SEA … and make it PDQ.

Do you have an International Driving Permit… an IDP? Have you ever needed it? For a French traffic cop? For a desk clerk at a hotel in Norway? For any reason at all … ever?

About two months ago, I had occasion to call the Customer Service Department at Avis on a billing question. As I finished the conversation, I mentioned to the woman on the other end of the line that I was leaving for France in two days and had reserved Avis cars in the two towns where I would be staying. That was when she asked if I had an International Driving Permit.

I said I did not. Well, she said, some of the rental car companies in Europe, Avis included, are now requiring an IDP in addition to the normal driver’s license and I should consider getting one before I left on my trip.

I immediately had visions of being turned away from the Avis counter in Brive-la-Gaillard and finding myself stuck without wheels, 40 miles from the hotel where I was expected and had already paid for the first night.
International Driving Permits are issued by AAA, but they don’t have an office on Maui. However, I was going to have a full day in Seattle before my flight left for Paris … plenty of time to find a AAA office and get the permit.
And that’s the way it worked out, too. There was, however, the 30-minute cab ride from my hotel at SEA-TAC to the AAA office in downtown Seattle, the $40 fee for the license, and the cab ride back to the hotel. Total? A hundred and twenty-eight bucks. Plus tip.
And did anyone ask me for my brand-new International Driving Permit? Of course not.