Don't let car hire woes ruin your holiday
Schoolchildren have just finished up – and so the peak holiday season begins.
Many families will head off for their holidays over the next few weeks. For a lot of these, taking their own car isn't an option.
If you're travelling abroad this summer, and you can't take your own car, car rental can offer you the freedom to go wherever and whenever. But there are a number of important pointers you should take on board.
* Look at car size. It may sound simple but if you are driving any distance, always look for comfort in the size of the car that you are driving as you will be spending a lot of time in it. Make sure to take luggage into account as well. At the end of the day, you are on holiday, why skimp on space?
* Make a plan. Plan your trip, think about where you are going. You would be amazed at how many people neglect to include GPS in their rental car. GPS can make life infinitely better – remember with all the distractions a holiday offers, being shown the way helps a lot!
* Take heed of your fuel type and what distances you intend driving.
If you are embarking on a long journey, rent a diesel. This will help you save money on long trips – and it might only cost you a few euro more when booking.
* It is crucial to stay awake and share driving. If driving on long trips, take regular breaks and share the driving when you can.
If you are the sole driver while on holiday and you feel tired behind the wheel, pull over immediately, get yourself a strong cup of coffee and rest your eyes. Despite an increase in the number of road deaths in 2013, Ireland's road safety record is steadily improving. Other countries have quite poor road safety records so be extra cautious when driving abroad.
* Credit cards are pretty much a must in most countries.
Some rental firms will take debit cards but it's worth checking directly to see. Cash is not king – bear this in mind.
* Insurance is another big area where potential problems can arise. Always check what insurance is included in the rate and what excess (the first part of a claim you must pay yourself) is required.
Be particularly careful when travelling to the USA or Canada as you need to have collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss damage waiver (LDW) included in the rate.
When picking up and dropping off your car, check it for any damage – and make sure this is noted on your rental agreement or damage report.
* There are various fuel options available with car rental. Ensure that Pickup Full and Return Full are available for short trips – ignoring this advice could be an expensive mistake.
Some companies allow you to prepay for the fuel at a discount and this means you don't have to worry about refuelling on return. When leaving the airport, take note where the nearest petrol station is when you pass it. Ensure your fuel level is also noted on your rental agreement.
* Try to beat the queues. You can do this by choosing companies with high customer service levels as they simply won't leave you waiting around.
Colm Brady is business development director with Europcar Ireland
Sunday Indo Business