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Car hire top tips
After months of cold and rain, it’s finally holiday season, and many of us will be renting a car at some point during the summer. This can be a bit of a stressful business, but why should it be?! This is your holiday after all. And what’s more, your rental motor will only be with you for a week or two at most – so while some of the same rules apply, it is not the same as buying a permanent car. You can afford to have fun, try something new, and splash out a bit.
To help stop you getting hot under the collar on an airport forecourt somewhere in Europe this summer, here are some of our top car hire tips.
Book in advance
The last thing you want to do when you first arrive on holiday is stand in a long, hot queue, haggle for half an hour, only to find that the car you were hoping for has disappeared. So – an absolute golden rule – book in advance and you’ll have more time to consider your options and find a better deal. Squeezed merchants have cut their fleets in recent years, and lower supply means higher prices. So, particularly if you’re travelling at peak times, make sure you’ve got that all important booking number before you leave the UK.
Choose your size
It’s very easy to think that just because you drive a 4x4 at home, you’ll automatically need a big vehicle while you’re away. Or, at the opposite end of the extreme, if you drive city runaround here, you’ll only need something little on holiday. But think carefully about the size of your group and what you’ll be up to – the last thing you want to do is either pay over the odds for space you don’t need, or find that those all-important golf clubs just won’t fit into a Renault Twingo.
Check for damage
This is absolutely essential. You’ll probably be exhausted after a budget flight that arrives at 3am, but it really is worth checking over the vehicle before you drive off. We all know that European drivers can be a bit careless on the road (put politely!), and companies are paying increasingly close attention to bumps and scratches. We do hear horror stories from time to time, and while we’d like to think that most people won’t try and rip you off, the bottom line is – don’t take the risk.
Check your kit
Now we don’t mean to sound like Captain Sensible, but as well as the body of the car itself, it’s vital to check the breakdown kit and spare tyre. Again, this is a quick two minutes that you may well end up not regretting. Depending on where you are and what you’re up to, you may well be driving on bumpy or damaged roads, so the risk of puncture and breakdown is higher. Make sure the spare tyre is good to go, and that accessories such as a jack and visibility equipment is available.
Know your extras, know your variables
In the age of internet shopping, the price you’re initially quoted is rarely the same as the price you eventually pay. There are lots of factors that car hire companies through in to drive up the cost. Insurance, the number and age of drivers and the accessories that come with the car can all add significantly, and are often charged per day as opposed to a flat fee. Think carefully – who will most likely be doing most of the driving? Is it worth putting two drivers on the agreement? Can you take any of your own extras like GPS systems or child/baby accessories?
Remember you’re on holiday!
It isn’t all doom and gloom though, and while you should keep the above points in mind, we’d recommend indulging your motoring fantasies a bit as well! Why not? You’re on holiday! So if you’ve always dreamed of cruising down a beachside promenade in a nice little convertible, then go for it!