Hiring a car is the perfect way to get around during your trip abroad. When choosing a hire car, remember to consider the size and type of car, and any extras that you may need. Extras should be ordered in well in advance, so that you can be sure that the car hire company will have them available. Don't turn up at the rental desk and expect to obtain extras that have not been pre-booked, as it won't always possible for the car hire company to fulfil your request. Not all hire cars will be fitted with everything that you want; the availability of extras will depend on the class and size of car you have requested.
The extras that are commonly available when you hire a car include:
- Navigation systems - These give you step-by-step directions from your location to your destination. If you are going to be using your hire car beyond the immediate area of your hotel, you'll find a computerised navigation system, such as Hertz Neverlost®, very handy. Some units have touch-screen controls and/or a voice recognition feature, and will alert you to traffic hold-ups, road works, detours and any other problems.
- Music systems - A broad selection of music will make driving in your hire car more enjoyable, especially on longer journeys. Some car hire companies offer radios with CD players, MP3 or iPOD connectivity, satellite radio e.g. Sirius in the United States, which will also give you access to news and other programs. However, some smaller hire cars won't even have a CD player, so bear this in mind when booking if music is important to you.
- Safety restraints for children - Child seats must be used for children at all times. You will find that these seats are a legal requirement in most places, but even if they aren't, you should still use them. You will normally have to fit the chair into your hire car yourself, so take care in doing so and always check it afterwards. Remember to check that the belts fit correctly and are done up securely. For more information on child seats, check out our hire car safety page.
- Booster seats - Children who are too old for an infant carrier or child seat may still need extra help to be safely buckled in. A booster seat ensures that the child is at the correct height for safe travel in the hire car. Never take a chance with children's safety; it is against the law to not comply with the local regulations.
- Fast-track service - Many car hire companies offer an upgraded check-in option, where you are fast tracked through the process of picking up your hire car. Everything will be ready for you, and there will be no standing in line, which is great after you have disembarked from a flight and just want to get to your hotel as quickly as possible. This service is available as standard to Hertz #1 Club Gold members - an online check-in service is available as a free option to all Hertz customers.
- Instant Return - This is a similar fast-track solution available when you drop off your hire car at the end of your trip.
- Ski racks - Just the thing for anyone taking a winter sports holiday with skis to transport. Remember that if you have snowboards, you will need a hire car that can handle the extra equipment.
- Winter-equipped cars - These come with special tyres, chains and other accessories, such as scrapers to rid windows of ice for improved visibility, to make travelling in icy or snowy conditions easier. For tips on driving in snow and ice, check out our guide to driving in winter conditions.
- Hand controls - These make it possible for mobility restricted drivers to drive a hire car and use the pedal controls. Other car adaptions may be available - you will need to check with your car hire company prior to booking as advance notice may be required to equip your chosen hire car. Before you leave home, remember to find out if you will need to supply your own disabled parking sticker.