Friday August 12th, 2011 17:19 Pitfalls to Avoid When Renting a Car Abroad

The motor car is often quoted as something that most people want to get away from when they’re on holiday. Sitting in gridlocked traffic on the motorway on the way to work is one of the most stressful and soul destroying day to day tasks we face, and going on a relaxing holiday is the ideal form escapism from the daily rat race.

Of course some holidays require a bit of driving to get around, renting a car can often be a much simpler and more economically viable method of getting from the airport to the resort and then to the beach and other attractions once you’re there. Driving abroad is often a much more pleasant experience, than it is in the UK, the road network in France for example is of an excellent quality, with smooth, wide-laned motorways. Renting a convertible will also make the journey a damn sight more pleasant!

Of course some people even choose to make their holidays all about driving, an extended ‘road trip’ down Route 66 is must-do experience and (literally) a world away from chugging along the North-Circular. Fly-drive holidays are also extremely popular in the U.S and involve a multi-center tour of the country. So while driving abroad can be a very rewarding experience it is important to be wary of a number of pitfalls that could end up costing you more than you first expected.


Most people that rent a car don’t give insurance a second thought, after all, who wants to worry about insurance right? You’re on holiday. Ignoring this important step could land you in hot water should you be unfortunate enough to suffer an accident.

Most rental cars are covered on your existing car insurance so long as you have comprehensive cover, but make sure you go through the contract with a fine tooth comb, some policies my be invalid if you

  • Exceed a certain mileage
  • Venture outside a designated geographical area
  • Rent a certain class of vehicle


Existing Damage

When you’re at the airport, all you want to do is jump in your motor and drive off into the sunset. Not so fast. It is imperative to scan the expanse of the bodywork for the tiniest dinks and chips, if you don’t indicate any existing damage it will almost certainly be attributed to you and you’ll have to pay.


When it comes to fuel, it pays to have an eye for detail. When you grab the keys for your car, ensure you check the position the needle on the fuel gauge, if it’s not a full tank this means you’ll only have to refuel it to this point when you hand it back.

Additionally, if you have the option to collect your car with a full tank of fuel, don’t. It is often cheaper to fill the tank yourself since rental companies add on all kinds of sneaky admin charges.


When the time comes to return your car, keep an eye on the clock. Most rental companies specify a time when the car needs to be returned, if you are too late you will face additional charges. Leave your accommodation in good time and endeavour to get your car back on time, failure to do so will mean incurring extra charges, some firms may even charge you for another day if you don’t meet the deadline.

Like many business, car rental firms engineer their contracts so they can make a healthy profit from seemingly minor stipulations which are commonly overlooked by customers. Save yourself potentially hundreds of pounds by remaining saving and not falling foul of disclaimers and caveats designed to catch you out. Happy motoring!

Joe loves cars and is a travel blogger, he’s going to rent out a V8 monster when he’s booked his Flights to Australia!

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