Whether you’re heading on a road trip, or just picking up a hire car from the airport – you need to make sure that you know what you are looking for in a hire car, and be ready for the journey ahead. Here are our top tips for getting it right on a fly drive holiday.
1. Research car hire companies
Whether you are planning to pick up a car from the airport when you land or get a car from a local car hire company at your destination – it is wise to do your research first. You will obviously want to get the best price possible, but should also weigh up how much it will cost against the reputation of the company. Also, think about your journey, if you are flying out from another airport – can you leave the hire car at another branch?
2. Choose the right car
Make sure you choose a car that can comfortably accommodate the amount of people who are travelling, and any luggage that you are taking. If you are on a road trip and will be in the car all the time – think about your personal comfort. Having air con, heating, comfy seats, leg room in the back, a stereo and the like can make a huge difference to a long journey! Also consider the terrain you’ll be travelling through – does it call for a 4×4 or can you get away with a Cadillac?
3. Get car hire excess insurance
We have said quite a lot about this lately – without it you could face some hefty bills if anything goes wrong (even if it isn’t your fault!). See what Norbert has to say about it in our recent Car Hire TV Ad.
4. Plan your journey
Before you leave, map out your route. If on a road trip, break the journey into manageable chunks and book accommodation in advance. You can read more about planning a road trip in one of our earlier blogs, Planning a Road Trip. if you are not going on a road trip – are you departing from the same place that you arrived? Not all car hire companies have places where you can drop off a hire car – many may require you take them back to where you picked up.
5. Research the Highway Code for your destination
To void any nasty accidents, brush up on the highway code of the country you are visiting. It isn’t all just about what side of the road you drive on; rights of way, correct usage of lights, approaching roundabouts and pedestrian rights crossing roads can vary from country to country. Learning a few new words for road signs is also beneficial!
6. Pack your ID
Obvious, but easy to forget – take both parts of your driving license and any other documents the car hire company has said you must have to be able to drive away one of their cars!
7. Get some sleep
Plan your rest on the flight, especially if it is long haul. There’s nothing quite as dangerous as driving an unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar country after no sleep. If you are unsure about how you feel, book accommodation nearby so you can get some rest as soon as you arrive!
8. Don’t be sweet talked into an upgrade
When you pick up your hire car, the chances are the sales person will try and get you to fork out a bit extra for an upgrade. If you have done your research right at the start, you will be sure that you have the right car. Don’t go for a bigger gas guzzler if you don’t need to, or try to squeeze yourself into a sporty number just because it seems like a good idea at the time!
9. Check the vehicle
If a car hire company thinks that any damage has been done to the car while in your care, they will bill you for repairs. Therefore it is essential to make sure that every dent, scratch, scuff or scrape has been logged before driving off – inside and out.
10. Understand the controls
You may be eager to get on your way, but take some time to get to know your car before setting off. Knowing where headlights, hazards and horn are before driving will save you faffing, and possibly having an accident whilst looking for them when driving. Many new cars have a button ignition that requires clutch control to activate, and new fangled handbrakes (sans handle!) that take time to master. Finding your way around a modern motor should be done at the car hire centre, so at least you can ask for assistance if needed.