Places

Hiring a car while travelling

Every year millions of us head abroad on holiday and many of us decide to hire a car while we’re there. After all, it’s the perfect way to add even more freedom to a time when we’ll be relaxing and enjoying ourselves, as well as being the best way to visit attractions that are a little off the beaten track, not to mention secret and secluded beaches. Of course you can opt to take the organised trips that many holiday reps are all too keen to promote but these are expensive, especially if you’re travelling as a family, and they also mean that you need to fit in with their schedule, not yours.

Car hire firms offer such a wide range of vehicles from compact minis up to large people carriers so there’s bound to be the right one for you and a little searching around online will find the most competitive prices. Incidentally, it is a far better idea to make sure that you do book your car in advance rather than taking your chances and trying to arrange it on your arrival. The prices will be much higher and they may not even have any cars available, especially at peak times of the year.

It may also be that there’s a type of car that you’ve always wanted to drive and by booking in advance you can be sure that you’ll secure that particular make and model. To get the very best value from your car hire there are certain things to consider wherever you’re travelling. For example most rental companies will point out that there is a very high excess, often as much as £1,000, on their own insurance which means that you could be faced with hefty bill if you do have a scrape. They therefore offer you additional insurance to cover the excess but it’s invariably very expensive. It’s far better to arrange your own before you go with a reputable insurer. For even better value you can even arrange annual cover which is ideal if you’re planning more than one trip each year.

You’ll also be given the option of paying for a full tank of fuel when you collect the car or of returning it with a full tank. Most people agree that it’s better to take the former option for a couple of reasons. The first is that finding a petrol station near to your drop-off point at the end of your holiday’s not always easy, especially if you’re pressed for time. The second is that if the hire company does need to fill up the car they will charge way over the going rate for the fuel and probably add a refuelling cost as well.

Two other things to consider are children’s car seats and sat nav. Both are expensive if you add them to your car rental so it’s best to take your own if possible. Today there are even a number of sat nav apps that let you download maps for free onto your phone and most airlines will let you take children’s car seats as hold luggage.

So while there are lots of things to think about if you’re going to hire a car it’s undoubtedly a good idea if you want to enjoy real freedom on your holiday. It just takes a little planning ahead and you’ll be ready to hit the road.

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