Tips for hiring a car abroad

Hiring a car abroad is a great way of exploring your destination without the restrictions that come with travel company tours or the qualms of navigating public transport in a foreign country.

Although hiring a car can give you total freedom to go where you want, when you want, it can end up being costly if you’ve not planned in advanced. Take a look at our tips for things to consider when hiring a car abroad.

Book in advance – To guarantee you get a decent price you need to book your car hire in advance rather than at the last minute. If you decide to book your car hire at your departure airport or even worse at your holiday destination’s airport, you’ll be sure to get stung with a dearer price tag.


Shop around – As well as booking in advance shop around for the best deal. There’s a number of comparison sites around including Money Saving Expert and Travel Supermarket allowing you to quickly compare car hire deals.


Choose wisely – It may seem like a fun idea to drive a car which you’d never normally drive at home but this could be a recipe for disaster when driving on unfamiliar roads in a foreign country. Remember to choose a car that you will be confident driving on the other (wrong) side of the road, but also that has enough room for all the family plus luggage.


Do your research – Carefully read through all policy documents and terms and conditions before signing to ensure you know exactly what is and isn’t covered. Plus if there’s any extra charges which you may be liable for such as refuelling charges if a car is returned without a full tank or late return charges. It pays to know what’s included.


Designated driver – It’s not always cost-effective insuring more than one driver, so if you know there will only be one person doing the motoring during the holiday it could be worthwhile having only them insured.


Optional extras – Car rental companies will always try to sell you hire of a sat nav but these can be extremely expensive adding a hefty chunk to your hire cost. If you have an existing portable sat nav we recommend checking the European maps upgrades available or purchase a sat nav app for your smartphone.


Bring your own child seat – You may think that bringing your child’s own car seat with you may be a costly expense, however it sometimes works out cheaper to check it in with your luggage than hiring a car seat from your chosen car rental company. Check with your airline provider the costs before committing to hiring one.


Know your Highway Code – Make sure you know the Highway Code and road legislation of the country you’re travelling to. Many motorists have been caught out in France for not having a reflective jacket, warning triangle, headlamp beam deflectors, GB sticker or breathalyser which are items you are legally required to carry.


Always check for damage – Make a note plus take photos of any damage however small that you spot when you pick the car up to ensure that you are not held responsible. A reputable car rental company should complete a pre and post rental inspection with you that both parties sign and retain a copy of.


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