5 Top Tips For Car Hire On Holiday from Motoring Journalist Dave Humphreys
Chances are you’re going somewhere new and therefore you might not be too sure of exactly where you’re going. Most car rental companies do offer an option to add in a satellite navigation unit and even though we haven’t yet grasped the concept of postal codes here in Ireland, Europe has and it makes finding your hotel or apartment much easier to find. Yes, you could just use the Google Maps app on your smartphone, but more and more EU countries have clamped down on mobile use when driving plus you could still land yourself with a huge data roaming bill from your mobile provider. One other word of warning – the satellite navigation units provided by the rental companies tend the be the separate, rather than built-in kinds, so make sure you’re covered against potential theft or loss of it.
Sounds simple right? Yet most people just pick the first car that comes up or the cheapest one, which could end up costing more money. First things first, find out where you’re likely to be going in it. If you’re on a city break then maybe choosing a smaller car could make life easier, especially if you’re in a built up city with tight on-street parking – Barcelona and Rome spring to mind. If you’re going to be doing a lot of mileage, go for a slightly bigger diesel car will mean you’ll lower your fuel bill.
Sometimes if you happen to find yourself in front of a nice, friendly member of car hire staff, mentioning that you have quite a lot of driving to do could end up in your receiving a complimentary upgrade to something a little bigger and better than what you had initially booked. It doesn’t always work, but it does happen.
You would be amazed at how many people just get to their rental car, hop in and drive off. I personally have twice gone around rental cars and found damage on them that wasn’t already highlighted on the agreement form I picked up. Had I not gone back into the desk and informed the staff who subsequently noted it, I could have found myself liable for the damage. In most cases you won’t find anything to worry about, but it still is well worth taking a minute to have a proper look around the car.
Just because it’s someone else’s rental car doesn’t mean you should speed. Speed limits can vary across different countries by a bit – motorways in Germany tend to be higher (130km/h) and despite popular beliefs, very little of the German autobahn network is free from speed limits. There is often average speed camera checks too, which can record your speed over a set distance which can lead to you getting a ticket. Other countries, like France, have variable speed limits on motorways depending on whether it is wet or dry. Towns and cities also have many fixed point speed cameras that will snap your car if you’re going too fast and this will eventually come back to you in the form of an automatic charge to your credit card from the rental company. So be warned!
Hopefully some of these tips might come in handy for your next trip away. You can also make sure that you’re covered against most other unexpected surprises with a car hire excess insurance policy from CarHireExcess.com
Dave Humphreys is motoring journalist and the owner & editor of http://50to70.com He is also the presenter of The Engine Room Show & @F1GridTalk. You can follow him at @LordHumphreys for car views and reviews.