It depends on where you are as to whether hiring a car is a good idea or not. Ask around at your hostel to see what your fellow backpackers say, and listen out for any horror stories.
Of course there are some destinations where the whole point is to hire a car or campervan and cruise your way around – the USA and Australia for starters. Just make sure you’re using a reputable company with excellent recommendations and always do a reccy of the car before you agree to hire that particular one. Take photos and point any pre-existing damage out before you leave. Check the oil and petrol levels too. It makes sense to cover all bases so you can just relax and enjoy the trip.
If you're in a country long term - doing your Working Holiday Visa in Oz for example - you may want to buy a car instead. Just make sure you do all the usual background checks that you would at home and before you drive it anywhere get it checked at a garage for safety.
Imagine it, sunnies on, a warm tropical wind blowing in your face and some of the most incredible beaches in the world all around you, within easy reach. There’s only one way - scooter!!