On the Road: Car Rental Tips for Your Next Trip

Car RentalRenting a car may be the best way to harness your trip experience; you can enjoy both freedom and flexibility when you are driving around your favorite vacation destination. Today, we want you to consider a few tips to chose the best car option, save money and avoid car rental hassles.

Choose your car wisely depending on your trip itinerary, party size and your own driving requirements. If you are traveling with kids and family, consider renting a SUV or Van. If on the other hand your concern is budget, try renting the smallest available car or an eco-friendly (like a hybrid vehicle) to save on rates or gas. Also, do your research in advance and reserve accordingly. Some countries only offer stick shift cars, so finding an automatic transmission car can be cumbersome if you don´t plan in advance. While you are at it, ask rental companies for kid´s seats, GPS gadgets, ski racks or any other thing that comes in handy for your road trip.

If you are renting a car for a couple of weeks, check major rental companies like Hertz, National, Dollar, Avis, Budget, Enterprise or Thrifty. Be sure to visit their websites, they often offer exclusive discounts and you will bypass booking fees by aggregators, affiliates or other operators. Sometimes, frequent flyer programs, credit cards, coupons or promotion codes are available to lower the rates, check these on local newspapers, on the company´s websites or just search with the keywords “rental coupon code” and similar words on the Web. If you are a member of AAA, or your company has a company deal with a car rental shop, make sure to check on those too for discounted rates.

You should understand all the implications outlined in your rental agreement. Read the terms and conditions carefully so you avoid any last minute surprises, and if you are booking a car rental over the phone, ask the agent about restrictions, local taxes, airport surcharges, drop-off and late fees, insurance rates, mileage and gas fees, liabilities and any other issue that comes to your mind. No question is a dumb question. Also ask for national service and support in case you get tangled in an emergency situation.

When picking your car and just before you drive away from the rental lot, fully check the car´s condition. Be sure the lights, honk, auto lock, and windshield wipers work properly and check the mileage odometer. Report any malfunction immediately to your agent. In short, familiarize with your vehicle before driving away.

When you are ready to return the car, fill the tank yourself so that you’re only paying for the amount of gas you actually used. Try to avoid gas stations near the airport where you’re dropping off the car; usually fuel prices are higher there. Before leaving the vehicle, be sure you have not left any personal belongings behind inside the car or trunk. Make sure the check-in attendant inspects the car in your presence and that you agree on its return condition. Finally, check your bill for all charges and make sure the company credits any outstanding deposit to your account.

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