When visiting Europe, one of the best ways to take in the sights is from the comfort of a rental car. Whether you want to go on a relaxing drive through the countryside, or on an action-packed road trip through a major city, renting a car enables you to explore at your own pace.
However, if you are considering renting a car on your next trip to Europe, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure that you do not encounter any bumps in the road. So, let us discuss 3 factors to consider when hiring a car in a European country.
Find a Rental Company
It might seem intuitive but one of your first steps to renting a car in Europe involves tracking down a reputable car rental company. Travel-booking websites such as Kayak, Expedia, and AAA are all filled with plenty of fantastic resources. Moreover, if you already have a favourite car rental company back home, you could always consider using a European branch operated by the same company.
Be prepared to shop around to find a few different quotes. While it can be tempting to accept the first car rental offer that you see, there is always a chance that another company might be able to offer you a better deal at a more affordable price. With this in mind, there are some fantastic travel comparison websites out there. Even the pickup and drop-off location of your chosen vehicle can have an impact on the actual rate that you receive so do not be shy about comparing your options.
Choose Your Car
Another point to bear in mind is the type of car that you actually want to drive. European cars are typically much smaller than American models and so you can expect to find less trunk space and manual gears. Correspondingly, although automatic cars are available, these types of vehicles do tend to be more expensive. Therefore, if you are traveling on a budget and have experience driving both types of cars, you might want to opt for a manual model.
When comparing different cars, you can expect to see a wide range of familiar makes. In Europe, Ford, VW, Citroën, and Fiat are all hugely popular options, so if you have experience driving a particular brand you might want to opt for a similar make and model for peace of mind. At this stage, it is also important to keep your destination in mind. A smaller car will make light work of navigating some of the narrower European roads, whereas a larger vehicle might hold you back.
Decide on a Pick-Up and Drop Off Destination and Time Slot
Is this your first time renting a car in Europe? If so, it can sometimes be helpful to begin your first driving experience at a safe distance from any major cities or attractions. Driving around a small city, town, or village can help you to build your confidence on the road. Plus, most major cities in Europe are serviced by fantastic public transport links including subways, boats, and trains that are often much quicker to use than the roads.
Nevertheless, it is still important to consider any possible inconveniences associated with collecting your vehicle from somewhere more remote. With this in mind, most rental car companies will deliver your chosen vehicle to an airport or train station for an additional fee. No matter which options you decide to settle for, always check out the location beforehand to ensure that you know exactly where you need to be to pick up and drop off your rental car.
Regarding time slots, most European cars can be rented in 24-hour time periods, so it makes sense to plan your days around this. Never book a pick up time earlier than when you need the vehicle and always book a drop off slot that falls within office hours where possible. Above all, when booking your rental car always ask about the different options in case you want to change your plans and drop off your car at a different location or at a later date.
On a final note, strictly speaking, you should not need any additional insurance when you rent a car in Europe. Any car you rent should come with third-party car insurance as standard. This might appear on the rental agreement as third-party liability cover. Additionally, your rental agreement should come with a damage waiver. This effectively covers any damage to the car. If your car insurance does not cover this, you may want to look into who is the cheapest car insurance that you can get, and see what their policies are for when you go abroad.
Ultimately, renting a car is one of the best ways to explore Europe at your own leisure without being bound to any restrictive tour itineraries. Above all, remember to always ensure that you carry a valid passport if you plan on traveling between countries, and do not forget to check whether you might need an international driving permit.