Although many of us fly to our vacation destinations, once we are there we want to hit the open road and explore the sites. Sounds simple, but with red-eye flights, travelling by cash or having to choose between up to ten different rental companies can make the seemingly easy task a frustrating experience.
The Ten Best Tips:
1). The earlier you can make your reservations, the better. The difference between reserving a car four weeks ahead of time can easily save you over a hundred dollars over reserving it only a week ahead of time when renting the car for a week or more of time.
2). Know how you are going to pay for your car rental and read the fine print. Some car rental companies allow a bank debit card to be used, but only if you can show proof of your round-trip flight ticket. Also, some companies charge for the rental immediately upon check-out and other’s may charge at the return of the rental. And in even smaller print, some companies may charge at the return, yet hold a reserve on your funds at the point of check out – be careful as this may result in charges made on your vacation bouncing from your checking account or cause you to go over your credit card limit.
3). Investigate where the rental agency is located and if they have a shuttle bus that runs from the airport to offsite lots. Easy on and off to the rental agency, whether it is located on-site or is reached by shuttle, is a good thing to know. After all, who wants to worry about getting to their rental car?
4). Make sure you know their business hours. There is nothing worse than getting in late on a red-eye flight to find out that you have to wait until the rental agency is not yet open. Know if you can pick up the vehicle and drop it off after regular business hours.
5). Call your insurance agency and find out if your auto insurance covers rental vehicle usage. Otherwise, do purchase the insurance when you are at the agency. Although an accident is unlikely, often a rental car is newer and nicer than the one you have at home and you may find yourself worrying about dinging it or damaging it while out on your vacation.
6). Choose an appropriately sized vehicle. If you are going to be enjoying a lot of out-door sites and driving off the paved road a SUV may be a necessary evil. If you are going to be doing more driving more long-distance, however, you may prefer to choose a vehicle that gets better mileage yet has enough space for passengers and luggage.
7). Take advantage of the free maps at the rental counter! I guarantee that you will use them no matter how well you know the area. Besides, isn’t it always more fun to explore beyond the places you know?
8). Acquaint yourself with the car. Before you even leave the rental lot make sure you know where the windshield wipers and headlights are. And also, don’t forget to find that pesky dome light so your navigator can read the map!
9). Make note of which side the gas tank is on. Not only is embarrassing to pull up on the wrong side, it also can be frustrating when you are at filling stations during the busy part of the day and have to get into a different line.
10). Always leave enough time on your return flight day to fill up the gas tank, return the car and get to the airport in time. Being in a rush to fill up the tank – which will save much money over the rental companies option to have them fill it up at extra expense – and get to the airport in time can spoil an otherwise relaxed vacation.