Renting your car is probably the best way to have a road trip. It comes with all the benefits and comforts of driving your own car, with the added feature that you can stop your trip wherever you want and leave the vehicle.
Finding a rental car that will suit your trip takes some time and effort, but it’s worth doing it with care since it will make your trip easier and allow you to focus on the experience, rather than the drive.
Deciding Where to Drop the Car Off
The first decision to make is about the route of your trip itself. You get to choose between a round trip where you return the car where you’ve rented it in the first place or choosing a drop-off point where it will be picked up.
The best thing about a road trip is the freedom it provides, but it’s still important to make plans and figure out where the car can be dropped off. It will also help you set up a loose itinerary and therefore somewhat limit the sites you can visit.
Knowing What Kind of Documents You’ll Need
According to internationaldriversassociation.com, all rental agencies will require you to show proof of identification and an international driving license in order to rent a vehicle. Both of these need to be valid and up to date at the time you plan to drop the car off.
In some rare cases, there will be other documents you’ll need – and those are mostly about insurance and proof of residence. Ask about the documents beforehand so that you can come prepared and get to drive off with your vehicle right away.
What’s The Policy on Fuel and Refilling the Tank?
There are two most common ways rental agencies handle tank fuel policy. One is to pay for the full tank of gas even if you don’t plan to use it. It’s usually considered to be a worse policy from the standpoint of the driver, especially if you don’t plan a long trip.
The second policy is known as the full-to-full tank policy. This means you get a full tank and you need to return the car with the full tank. That way you only pay for the fuel you’ve used.
What Kind of Insurance Policy to Get?
There are countless different insurance policies out there and they vary in both price and in the coverage they provide. It’s best to look for a policy that will cover everything except negligence on the part of the driver. That way you’re covered if you get into an accident or if the car gets stolen or damaged.
It’s also important for your insurance policy to cover the belongings in your car as well. Chances are that they will get damaged as the car does and you want to be sure that you’ll be compensated if that happens.
Buying Insurance Separately
Some rental agencies allow you to buy car insurance separately and to provide proof that you have an insurance policy. This may be a better way to go since it allows you to shop around and get a better deal than you would with the insurance policy provided by the agency itself.
This is usually the case with larger agencies and it’s best suited to taking a long trip where you could cause more damage to the vehicle. It doesn’t mean you need to choose this option if it’s provided to you – make sure to actually explore and learn about other insurance providers first.
Choosing the Car to Suit the Trip
When it comes to choosing the actual vehicle, the most important thing to consider is the route you’re going to take. That way you can choose a car that will suit the terrain you’re going to drive through. SUVs may be the best option if you’re going off-road but they are going to be a drag to park in most European cities.
Convertibles are also a great option if you can count on the weather being suited to them for the whole trip, and they are a lot of fun as well, but they are not a good choice for long trips.
Car Seats and Other Features
Most rental agencies provide car seats since they are required by law. These are sometimes a part of the standard package and in other cases, you’ll need to pay extra per car seat. If you’re traveling with kids this is something to inquire about beforehand.
Another feature that should be on your mind is a GPS device. If you plan to drive far away from major cities the GPS on your phone may not do and having a system in the car can help you find your way. Keep in mind that these devices come with their own insurance.
Inspect the Vehicle Before Using it
It’s always a good idea to inspect the vehicle before you drive it off. Many drivers also choose to take a few photos of it before they first start using it. That way you can notice and document any problems and damage to the car before you go.
If you return the vehicle damaged and can’t prove that it’s not your fault, you’ll be charged for fixing it. It’s best to set up a checklist and go over it before you start using the car.
How to Return the Car?
In the end, you should make plans for returning the car and how easy it is to do that, should factor in – when choosing the vehicle in the first place. You want to make sure that there are plenty of locations where you can drop the car off and that they are in line with your route.
It’s also important to have a gas station nearby so that you can return the car with the full tank if that’s the policy you’ve decided on. It helps to inspect the car once again and make sure everything is in order when dropping it off.