Planning a road trip this summer? The holiday season is almost upon us and car rental is a great option for getting around whether you’re on holiday for a weekend break or a coast to coast adventure. Driving can give you the freedom to move around when you want and get to see the sights that you wouldn’t otherwise see. Janene Scurfield, Managing Director of Enterprise Rent-A-Car has some tips on saving money and avoiding unnecessary problems with your car rental.
- When deciding on the type of car to rent, remember to consider how your vehicle needs might change during your trip. If you’re hooking up with friends along the way, you may need extra seats than your normal car. Or you might need extra boot space for luggage or sports equipment, or for bringing back shopping. Plan ahead so you rent the best type of vehicle for the trip – or just try something new for a change.
- When choosing a car hire company, check they have locations that are convenient for your trip, especially if you’re planning to travel to different locations. It can be helpful to have a branch office close to where you are going to be.
- All vehicles rented in Europe are priced with insurance. However, most rental car companies will apply an excess – that is, an amount that you will have to pay in case of an accident or damage caused to your car. Make sure you check this before you leave. If you wish, you can lower the excess by buying excess protection from the rental car company.
- Look around the car in detail and know what condition it’s in before you leave the rental office. Point out any damage or marks at the beginning of the rental and do the same when you return the car. Take photos if possible. Also remember to check all the lights are working and the wheels are in good condition before you take the keys and leave.
- Remember – you will be charged for damage caused to the vehicle even if you don’t do it personally, say when the vehicle is parked. So always be careful when you leave the vehicle: check it is in a secure, well-lit location and lock it every time, making sure all valuables are hidden from view.
- Before you set off, familiarise yourself with the car. Features differ from car to car, particularly if it is different to your day-to-day vehicle. The most common features which differ are the indicators, windscreen wipers and lights, check you know where they are and how they work. Another feature which tends to catch people out is how to open the fuel cap (and which side it’s on) and the boot. If you’re not sure of something and your car hire company hasn’t talked you through the car’s features, ask for a full run down before you set off.
- Check what type of fuel your rental car takes, as again it may differ from your day-to-day car. Also check for any mileage restrictions and terms and conditions on the contract that you are signing.
- Make sure you have a note of who to contact in case of an accident or emergency. Your rental company should be able to provide these before you leave with the car. Quite often, they’re located on the rental contract.
- Know where you’re going. Plan your route in advance and map out your trip from start to finish. Choosing the most direct route will help to save on time and fuel. Also, if you’re driving your rental car straight from the airport ask for directions to the motorway before you set-off. Airports can be complicated networks to navigate, particularly if you’re driving in a different country.
- Remember to bring your mobile phone and car charger in case of an emergency.
- If you’re travelling solo always let people know where you’re going, whether it’s your friends and family or people at your hotel. That way if something goes wrong, people will know where to find you.
- If you’re renting in one town and visiting another, find out where the local rental branch is at your destination. It can be a quick and valuable source of help whilst you are away. Enterprise has more than 7000 locations across the UK, Germany, Ireland, France, Spain, the United States and Canada and three quarters of the UK population are within five miles of a branch.
Janene Scurfield is Managing Director of Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s East of England region and has been renting cars for 20 years, having started at the company as a graduate. Enterprise operates over 370 branches and in excess of 55,000 cars across the UK.
4th June, 2013