Oman is best traveled by car. This is how you can make the most of it and rent the right vehicle.
Oman has become one my favourite countries for a road trip: Roads are in perfect shape, routes are extremely beautiful and getting off the beaten path is big part of the adventure. However, finding the right vehicle and company and preparing a route can be exhausting and annoying. I traveled the country for 10 days and prepared a list of the most important things you should have in mind before starting a road trip in Oman.
Choose the right vehicle
Usually when I´m planning a road trip around a country, I try to book the cheapest car on the internet. This will save some costs for my budget, and to be honest, I´m not very picky about whether I travel a country in a sedan or cabrio or even whether it´s an automatic or a manual car.
Oman is different though. Roads are mostly in excellent shape, still, some highways and routes can only be accessed with large vehicles. Where you want to go will have a big impact on which kind of vehicle you need.
Short trips around Muscat or the Wadis can be easily done in a small vehicle. However, if you are planning to go to the mountains and get some of the beautiful views from Jebel Shams or Jebel Akhdar, you will definitely need an SUV.
Insider Tip: The road between Nizwa and Jebel Akhdar can only be driven with a 4×4 vehicle. There is even a police station at the foot of the mountain controlling each vehicle that wants to go uphill.
Likewise, if you are planning to visit the sand dunes, a 4×4 vehicle is absolutely required. If you are staying in the desert in one of the many camps in the area, take into consideration that you need a vehicle to get there or pay an extra fee to get picked up.
Need to know: In case you are considering visiting the dunes by yourself, please take into consideration that you need to take some pressure of your tires and getting lost in the dunes is extremely easy. And the desert is definitely not the place where you want to be stuck at night.
Still, it is possible to get around the dunes by yourself and plan your own day tour. Make sure to plan your return ahead and keep in track your route at all times using offline maps.
Book in advance
Renting the right vehicle for the right price is not something you can do just a couple of days ahead. Prices tend to go higher if you book only few days in advance and many of the vehicles might already be booked.
There are also many websites finding the “cheapest” price for you. However, take into consideration that these are 3rd party companies, booking a vehicle from a 2nd party and they book it straight from the car rental company. This amount of middle men between you and the car company can create a lot of confusion regarding the payment method and insurance policies included.
I do like to check these search engines for car rentals. Still, I check the official website of the company as well and even call the offices to assure that my payment methods and all insurances are included.
Insider Tip: Most car companies do NOT accept prepaid credit cards which you might not realize until after the booking is completed. In order to avoid a very unpleasant surprise on your pick-up date, carefully check in advance whether your rental company accepts them and if the driver needs to be the credit card holder.
Do you have a company you trust? Big car rental companies like Europcar, Avis or Hertz have almost the same policies in every country. If you are a traveler frequently renting cars, you might want to consider always sticking to the same company. This will not only save you time, but you will be able to collect miles, points or become a member.
Insider Tip: For flights to and a vehicle in Oman you can easily spend more than 1000 Euros . Check which car rentals have a cooperation with your flight miles program. This is a great way to collect miles, without changing your itinerary or plans too much.
Don´t save on insurances
Full fuel policy, theft protection, personal accident insurance or a fully comprehensive insurance? Too many options to choose from? Don´t worry, this happens to me, too.
When renting a vehicle hundreds of choices can come up when it comes to selecting the type of insurance you want to purchase. I prefer to take the safest choice and select only a fully comprehensive insurance. This insurance will cover absolutely everything and although Oman is a very safe country when it comes to driving, I would hate to take a risk and end up paying a couple of hundred Euros for some scratches I didn´t spot, when I was picking up the car.
Need to know: Smaller companies sometimes don´t offer a full insurance. Before you rent any vehicle always ask for a fully comprehensive insurance. At the same time, avoid booking any insurance including deductibles. You could end up paying for minimal damages you didn´t even realize in the first place.
What was my choice?
For my trip in Oman, I decided to book Europcar. They offered the largest variety of vehicles and the most comfortable insurance policies. Their vehicles are also in excellent shape and although it was not the cheapest option when searching, I went for it since I had already booked Europcar several times back in Europe and had excellent experiences.
Europcar is also a member of the Miles&More program, which means that if you fly with Lufthansa, or any other Star Alliance member (Turkish Airlines, United or Singapore Airlines, among others), you can collect miles, too.