It's a great idea to hire a car when you're travelling abroad, as it will give you the freedom to explore your destination at your own pace. If you decide to hire a car for your trip, there are some things you will need do and consider before you leave home.
Here are some pointers to help to make hiring a car as easy as possible:
- Work out the number of days that you will need the car for. Do you want the convenience of picking up your hire car from the airport after landing? Alternatively, if you've had a long flight, you may be tired and want to wait until the next day before tackling the roads.
- Booking a hire car online is quick and easy, and you can make a booking at any time of the night or day. You can look up all the information that you'll need, including hire car insurance details, age restrictions and the locations of the car hire company. You can also print off anything you may wish to keep for further reference.
- Make sure that you are taking out the correct insurance for your needs, and don't forget to ask how much the excess will be if you should need to claim. For more tips on insuring yourself and your hire car, check out our insurance page.
- If you are travelling with other people, make sure you that find out how much luggage they intend to take. You don't want to hire a small car only to find that the cases won't fit in the boot. You'll also need to take the number of people travelling and their sizes into account. Whilst children will be perfectly comfortable in the back of an economy car, larger adults may not. To find out more about the sizes and categories of cars available from most car hire companies, check out our types of hire car page.
- If there are young children in your party, remember to request baby chairs or children's booster seats for your hire car. You'll also need to be aware of your destination country's laws regarding the ages, weights and heights that children need to be before they are allowed to travel without these constraints. For more tips on staying safe, have a look at our safety page.
- Think about the length of the journeys that you intend to make in your hire car, larger cars provide more legroom and are more comfortable for longer trips. The size of the engine is another factor to consider.
- Think about where you are going on your holiday and where you will be visiting. Even if you only take a day trip into the desert, you will definitely need a car with air conditioning. As a minimum, you should always carry a bottle of water with you in the car. See our desert driving page for more tips.
- Check the car hire company's opening hours. Your flight may be landing after they have closed for the day if it is, some company's will wait for you if you provide your flight details in advance.
- Remember to allow for disembarking and baggage claim times along with the trip from the terminal to the car hire outlet. Give your flight details to the car hire firm so that they will know what has happened to you if you are severely delayed. Check to see if there is a shuttle that will take you to the hire car collection point.
- Remember to take your car hire details and relevant documents with you; these include any reservation numbers or vouchers, and the address and telephone number of the location from which you'll be picking up your hire car. You will also need both parts of your driver's licence, your passport and any necessary international driver's permits. It's useful to keep your passport with you at all times for ID purposes (this also applies to anyone who will be sharing the driving). The driver will also need a credit card, and any other ID that the car hire company may request to cover any local charges or excess payments. They may even require your boarding card, so be careful not to throw it away after disembarking.
- If you have a disability, you will probably need to pack your disabled parking sticker. If possible, keep these items safe in your hand luggage so they are available when you hire your car.
- It's always a good idea to inform your credit card company that you will be using your card abroad.
- Before you go, invest in a good map of the area that you'll be visiting, and keep it in your hire car. It is also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the traffic signs and service station availability that you'll encounter on your trip.
- It's useful to carry a mobile phone in your hire car in case of an emergency, but you may need to ask your phone company to unlock it for use abroad beforehand.
- Remember to carry driving glasses if you need them. You should also keep sunglasses in your hire car, to cut down on glare in sunny weather. For tips on driving in glare, check out our page on driving in the sun.
- For other helpful tips on choosing the right hire car for your needs, check out our types of hire car page.