While planning a vacation, we often focus on things like flight tickets, hotel reservations, and tours, and forget one important part—car rentals. It is a cheap and convenient way to journey through your holiday destination. However, you need to consider the price, model, and insurance before settling on the car rental of your choice.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you find the perfect car rental:
Compare before you buy
You wouldn’t buy a car without considering many dealers and companies first. Similarly, don’t settle for just one car rental service company; look around. There are a few comparison tools online, such as CarBooking.com and Bookingbuddy that help you compare different car rental services. You can compare prices, car models, insurance, etc, to settle on a convenient package. Comparing car rentals beforehand saves time and is convenient as you don’t have to wait for long after you arrive at the airport.
What, where, when, and how?
Before you book car rentals, you should consider answering these four questions.
Firstly, you need to decide what kind of car you would like to rent. It usually depends on the number of people and their bags. You would need an SUV or a larger car for bigger groups, while an economy car that accommodates four people is sufficient for a small family. Also, if you have a baby, consider inquiring about baby seats and other safety measures.
Secondly, you need to be clear about your destination and its route. Before booking car rentals, ask yourself if you know the route well. If not, a car with a GPS and unlimited internet is preferable. Furthermore, decide if you require a toll pass or waiver. It helps you drive through toll booths without making stops and haggling for exact change. Additionally, this helps you be safer as you would know your whereabouts.
Thirdly, be sure to give the exact time and date of your arrival. Some car rentals ask for flight details and adjust their services accordingly if there are any delays or cancellations.
Lastly, you can book these car rentals online through websites such as Alamo, Dollar Car Rental, Budget Rent a Car, Avis, Thrifty, or Enterprise. However, unlike New York and Michigan, where the age limit is eighteen, you need to be twenty-one or older to rent a car. Some of these car rentals charge more or add more restrictions if the driver is below twenty-five. It usually depends on the location and the type of car.
Do not book the car at the airport
While it seems convenient, booking car rentals at the airport might cost you more. The airports charge ‘customer facility charges’ or ‘concession recovery charges’ that may burn a hole in your pocket. Instead, consider booking your car through your hotel. Generally, the hotel themselves provide transportation to pick you up and drop you back to the airport. For any longer journeys, you can ask the hotel for recommendations.
Check hidden fees
Sometimes, car rentals charge you extra if there is insufficient gas in the car when you return it. Always check the gas gauge before you head off or refuel before you return the car. You can also pre-purchase a full tank of gas when you start.
Also, some companies charge for extra if you return the car earlier than the given period. Most car rentals make you pay less the longer you rent, so make sure to read the fine print.
Bring your own baby seat
Car seats or booster seats are mandatory in cars for any child below twelve if the current seats do not fit them properly. While most car rentals already provide you with car seats, it is always better to bring your own. When it comes to safety, you shouldn’t compromise on the quality. Also, you may save a quick buck by bringing your own car seats. Most airports let you check in baby car seats for free. Moreover, you also save yourself from uncomfortable situations if your car rental doesn’t have one in stock.
Renting a car abroad
Though it might seem like a daunting task, renting a car in a foreign country is quite similar. However, you must be careful about the policies and check if you would need an International Driving Permit. If yes, you are obliged to get one before you leave for your vacation. Countries like Canada, the UK, and some parts of Europe do not require an International Driving Permit.
If you want to apply for it, you can do so at the American Automobile Association or National Automobile Club. All you need to do is fill out an online application and mail it to the nearest branch, along with a photocopy of your driver’s license, two passport size photographs, and a fee of $15. Make sure you apply for this at least six to seven weeks before your vacation.
If you are booking car rentals abroad, you need to also consider some subtle but important differences in the cars and places. For example, on which side of the road the country drives, how brands differ, and if the car is a manual one or has a stick.