When summer comes, it’s difficult not to think about going on holiday! For many, July and August are the months most synonymous with sun, travel, adventures and so much more. For a relaxing trip this summer, read our top 5 tips for a successful car rental. Of course, these tips are relevant for people hiring a car at any time of the year, not just in the summer!
Tip 1 - Book your car as soon as possible
Along with many other things, getting the best rates means booking well in advance. If you go on holiday during the high season, particularly to the most popular places or those more difficult to reach like islands and mountain regions for instance, you’ll find that the availability of vehicles is often greatly reduced. And the high season can vary depending on your destination. In Europe, it’s normally during the months of June, July, August and September, but if you’re flying to Martinique then the peak months last from December through April. Booking at the earliest possible opportunity means you’ll avoid the last-minute price frenzy and have a car waiting for you when you arrive. Generally speaking therefore, the later you leave it the more money you’ll have to pay.
Tip 2 - Compare prices
To make things easier for you, there’s are a large number of price comparison websites on the Internet, including Auto Europe which helps you find the best rate in just a few clicks, as well as the ideal vehicle for your needs (a cabriolet for a romantic weekend in Italy or a monospace car for your family holiday, etc.). These price comparison websites are easy to use, just select your destination and dates and once you’ve found the right vehicle you can book and pay either directly online or by calling one of their rental specialists.
Tip 3 – Take supplementary costs into consideration
Additional costs need to be taken into consideration during the booking process or when picking up the car. Some of the most common ones are the young driver surcharge for people under the age of 25 and the senior driver surcharge for the over-75s. Besides fees for additional equipment and local taxes, etc., extra costs are payable for motorway tolls, crossing borders and returning the vehicle to a different drop-off location.
An attractive offer can quickly become less advantageous once all the supplementary fees are added, so make sure you read all the terms and conditions of the contract. If you book well enough in advance, the majority of suppliers and intermediaries allow you to cancel or amend your reservation up to a few days or even a few hours prior to picking up the vehicle. Avoid surprises by finding out about all the conditions concerning your car hire
Tip 4 – Make sure you have all the necessary documents
In order to guarantee a smooth pick-up, it’s essential that you have all of the following documents with you: a valid driving licence without any restrictions, a valid passport or ID card, a credit card and your voucher number. Some suppliers may require you to have held your licence for a certain number of years. In some countries, an international driving permit is mandatory.
These permits are available for a small fee (around £6) at UK post offices. To apply for one in person, you’ll need to have a full valid UK driving licence (preferably a photo-card but older paper licences are also accepted) as well as a passport-sized photograph (i.e. a recently-taken true likeness of the applicant). Please note that if you are presenting an older paper version of your driving licence, you’ll also need to have an original and valid passport as proof of identification.
Tip 5 - Check the vehicle
Once the contract is signed, and before you leave the car hire company’s premises, it is highly recommended that you thoroughly check the condition of the car. Please do not hesitate to take photos and make sure you mention any damage (dents, scratches, etc.) on your car rental contract. If you have hired any additional equipment (GPS, children’s seats, etc.), then it is important to make sure they still function properly and are in the same condition they were when you picked them up. And don’t forget to make a note of how much fuel is in the tank. Some rental companies allow you to return the vehicle without it being full (the full-to-empty option), but in most cases you’ll need to fill up the tank before dropping off the car.
All you have to do now is enjoy your trip! All sorts of rental vehicles are available such as motorhomes, luxury cars, electric cars, SUVs, etc. as well as a wide choice of car hire services (car sharing, personal rentals, leasing, etc.) which cater for any kind of travel situation, or almost. The hardest part is choosing the right vehicle for your needs.
Have a good trip!