Renting a car when on holidays? Yes, this is definitely a good idea! We did that when in Sardinia, Cyprus, Israel and Portugal! So far we can only say good things about the experience, but we were prepared! And if you want to rent a car there are things you need to consider and be aware of even before leaving your home to enjoy time off.
Why do I like renting a car while away? Rented car gives us a freedom with our movements, allows us to go anywhere where there is no connection for public transport and see as many remote places as we wish to, discovering something what is beyond “touristy attractions”, perhaps even create our own attractions for other travellers!
- Book your car online before leaving for holidays. Compare several places as some of them will be cheaper. In order to get good results in your search put a name of the country you are travelling to– e.g. “rent a car in Cyprus” into a chose search website – and you will get few websites which allow you to compare. Some examples available on my Helpful Links – Rent a car section!
- Try booking as soon as you can – this might work out much cheaper than booking last minute and you will not be asked to pay the whole amount straight away, just the deposit to secure your car. The rest you will need to pay at the desk, when collecting the car. You can change your times and dates later on as well, without occurring any additional charges too, if the chosen dates and times are not very different – please, make sure you read terms and conditions to make sure you will not be charged for changes!
- Read the terms and conditions of renting. This is very important, especially when we talk about insurance. The majority of companies will supply full insurance, but not all of them. They will always ask you to consider buying an additional insurance for tyres and windscreen. Sometimes it is better to shop around for an additional insurance for a rented car before going on holidays as this might work out cheaper than buying directly from the car provider, but not always. This is a grey area – we bought an additional insurance for our rented car in Portugal but decided against it in Cyprus. It was not very expensive, usually it will be between £5 and £10 per day, depends on the car.
- Look out for companies which offer additional driver for free – the majority of them will do that so it is worth to add this feature to your deal for more comfortable traveling and a piece of mind.
- If you are considering renting a car for your holidays, and you are booking a package holidays, do not pay for a transfer from the airport to the hotel – rent a car straight from the airport providers. It is more convenient and cheaper than using other options (more in point 8).
- Read carefully specification of the car – for our Cyprus holidays I have rented an automatic car and neither Marcin or I have never driven an automatic one! But we had fun anyway!
- Consider prices for petrol, diesel and gas in the country of your destination – it might be cheaper to rent a little more expansive car but more economical if you are planning to do a lot of driving.
- Don’t rent a car through your hotel or when you are at your destination directly from the company you can spot when exploring the area – it will always work more expansive. If you did not rent via internet when at home, try doing your research using internet at your destination – companies are always willing to bring your car to the hotel if needed and the difference between the price on the net and in the shop might be quite significant. Even if you decide to use company on the street, you can negotiate the price with them knowing the prices on the net!
- Do your maths – it might be cheaper to use public transport if you know where you want to travel. From the other side you can always offer to take someone with you on a trip and ask them to participate in petrol costs.
- Get your own gear like Sat Nav or baby seat! They will be expensive to rent almost always! You will be expected to pay around £5 or more for additional gear so it is not worth it on a long run. It might work out cheaper to bring it with you, especially Sat Nav.
- Don’t forget to supply your credit card details and have it with you when collecting the car – the company will want to secure a deposit on the car – this could be between £500 or £1000 – depends on the car you are renting. They will block this amount on your credit card until the car is safely returned. The companies usually do not rent cars to people without credit cards, so be aware of this too.
- Don’t forget to take your driving licence too – they will need to see it and put details into their paperwork.
- Make sure you will check the car with the representative of the company and mark all marks or missing parts. We never had problems with that and they will do it anyway, but why would you need more stress? They will give you a paper work with all the marks and missing parts so keep it safe!
- Remember – make sure the car you are renting is safe – in Israel we were given a car which we could not accept as there was no belts on the back seats. We made a case and refused to accept the car. The company needed to supply alternative which in our case was even bigger car (for 9 people and our group was 7) and we were quite happy with the change. Don’t ever show you are tired or in a hurry, we are talking about your safety during your time off work so make sure that there is not a lot of stress later on!
- And the most important – have fun! When in Cyprus we discovered that our car did not have a working honk, which we were not aware of at all when collecting the car! Marcin was hitting the “inaudible honk” many times during driving just for pure fun 🙂 We have reported this to the car provider and they were very grateful for this and apologized. Cyprus is a safe place to drive, so when we discovered that our honk does not work, we were not very concerned. Now, we will check the honk in our next car for sure 🙂
I hope you will find these tips useful – and please, do not hesitate to ask me a question if you are not sure about renting a car. After renting in four countries I could help you to avoid “newbies” mistakes 🙂