Taking a road trip in another country can be great fun, as using a car means that you can plan your own itinerary and see places off the normal tourist trail. Chances are that unless you are travelling in your own vehicle, you'll need to hire a car. These practical car rental tips are a good checklist for things to consider beforehand.
Travel Tips for Hiring a Car
Here's 8 things to consider before you hire a car for your next road trip in another country:
1. Do your homework
Before you set foot outside of your home, see what options you have. You can save a lot of time and money by doing your initial research online. It's easy to see what car rental agencies are available in the place you’re heading to, and most major cities around the world have dozens of places you can choose from. You can check out other traveller's opinions on some of the forums on places such as Tripadvisor.
2. Shop around and compare prices
Once you’ve done your research and got a good idea of which companies have the best service where you are headed, you can now shop around and compare prices to zero in on the best deal available to you. Speaking of getting great deals, it’s a good idea to visit the car rental agency’s website and check what they have on offer. Not all the best offers appear on flight and travel sites, as their commission comes from somewhere.
3. Look for cheap rentals that fit your budget
While most travellers tend to look first at the major players, what many folks don’t know is that local outfits are also vying for their business. They would often offer a lower rate that’s cheaper than those big car rental companies. When I took a road trip in Cyprus, I used a small hire company with no problems whatsoever.
4. Rent outside the airport.
Sure, it may be more convenient to rent a vehicle at the airport, but it's always going to be more expensive. A little bit like exchanging money in an airport (something you should avoid!). Choosing a car rental outside of the airport is most likely to save you money, and if you’re concerned about the distance, these off-site car hire agencies usually provide a complimentary shuttle service, which takes you to their depot.
5. Make sure you book a suitable vehicle
Take the time to see what car is available. Most car rental agencies have a large fleet that can accommodate your needs. For example, if you are travelling with a large group, you can choose to hire an SUV, an 8-seater van or whatever works for you. On the hand, if you’re travelling solo, a compact car would be enough for driving around town.
6. Don’t hesitate to ask for discounts
At the rental counter, one of the first things you should ask is if the car rental company has any special deals, and chances are, they probably do. For example, if you’re lugging around a lot of items, travelling with a large party or just want more legroom, you can upgrade to a larger vehicle for a low price. These special offers are often posted on the company’s website.
7. Book the vehicle a bit longer
This may seem counterintuitive but by making your reservation longer than you may need the car can significantly reduce your rental base cost. Many agencies will often give special discounts if you extend your car rental for a couple of hours or an extra day. Just be sure to clarify any details or check the terms and conditions.
8. Use a competitor’s quote as leverage
This is a great way to get even more savings. Once you have shopped around and compared prices, use the quotes you get from these car rental agencies and see if they can beat each other’s prices. To get more business, they would often have a special deal like a Price Beat Guarantee or something similar. So, be sure to take full advantage of those great deals.
If you have rented a car, I'd like to know how it went. Did you find the rental experience convenient or exasperating? Please let me know and if you have some tips, feel free to share them with us so many people can also benefit from them. Have a safe and hassle-free journey!