Travelling to new places can be an exciting and adventurous experience. However, getting around can be challenging without proper transportation. While public transportation is an option, it can be limiting, and sometimes it is not available in certain areas. Renting a car can be a great option for travelers who want the flexibility to explore at their own pace. Here are some basic tips on how to rent a car.
- Research the rental car companies
Before you start your trip, research the rental car companies in the area you are visiting. Check their websites, read reviews on google or TripAdvisor, and compare prices to find the best deal. Car rental aggregators like RentalCars.com, kayak.com or DiscoverCars are usually the best places to find these top deals. We personally prefer DiscoverCars because their prices are usually unbeatable, it’s a trusted company and its based in Latvia😊. You can also check with your travel agent, hotel, or airline for any special deals or partnerships they have with rental car companies. Avoid companies with no or very few reviews.
- Book in advance
It’s always better to book your rental car in advance, especially during peak travel seasons when demand is high. This way, you can ensure that you get the type of car you want, and you can avoid long wait times at the rental counter. Most car rentals offer free cancellation up to the day of rental so you are not losing anything booking it in advance.
- Know what you need
When you’re renting a car, it’s important to know what you need. Do you need a small car for city driving or a larger car for a family road trip? What about the road conditions in your destination? For example, driving and parking an SUV in some regions of Southern Europe can be an absolute nightmare. However, consider if a small car is suitable for your group and luggage. Knowing what you need can help you choose the right rental car for your trip.
- Check for additional fees
Pay attention to rental conditions such as mileage restrictions, additional fees for drivers under 30 or 26 years old.
Check the insurance coverage and deductible amount in case of an accident.
Only one driver is typically allowed per rental car and adding additional drivers usually comes with extra fees. Driving without permission can lead to insurance issues.
Crossing international borders may require additional fees.
In the European Union, children under 135 cm tall and 36 kg must use a child safety seat. Consider bringing one if traveling with small children. Otherwise car rental company will charge you from €10 per day for safety seat.
- Buy third-party insurance cover
As a rule of thumb, third-party insurance coverage is usually much cheaper than the one offered by car rental companies themselves. The only drawbacks with third party insurance are that you have to pay the full deposit (which can be more than €1000 these days) and in case of damage, you will have to pay for it yourself and then claim the money from the insurance provider. Generally these companies work quite efficiently, so when possible, opt for third-party insurance. DiscoverCars offers this kind of insurance when you book with them. If you purchase third-party insurance, make sure to decline the coverage offered at the car rental office.
- Check the rental office’s operating hours
Ensure that the rental office will be open upon your arrival and when you need to return the car. Sometimes, you can return the car and leave the keys in a dropbox if the office is closed, but not always.
- Consider a longer rental period as it usually comes with a lower daily rate.
- Travelling outside EU?
An international driving permit may be required outside Europe. This can be obtained from your local transportation authority.
- Ensure there is parking available at or near your accommodation.
At the rental office:
- Prepare your documents
Present a valid driver’s license, passport/ID card, and credit card (sometimes a debit card is also accepted).
- Be cautious of expensive add-on services
Politely decline if you are offered a GPS (use Waze or Google Maps on your phone, it’s much better). Car rental may also offer you insurance, even when you already purchased one.
- Fill up the gas tank before returning the car
Make sure you fill up the gas tank before returning the rental car. Rental car companies charge high prices for refueling, so it’s cheaper to do it yourself. Make sure you return the car with a full tank of gas to avoid any extra charges.
- Check the rental agreement
Read the rental agreement carefully before signing, and ask questions or request clarification if needed. Be aware of potential hidden fees or unclear terms.
- Inspect the car before you drive away
Before you drive away in your rental car, inspect it thoroughly for any scratches, dents, or other damage. Take pictures of any damage you find and show them to the rental car company. This way, you can avoid any disputes over damage when you return the car. Good practice is to turn on your camera recorder when you are inspecting the car so in case you missed something you will have it on video. Ensure that the fuel tank is full.
When returning your car:
- Make sure that you have been given a written confirmation that the car has been inspected and is in good condition.
- Locate a nearby gas station to fill the tank and avoid extra charges.
- Clean your car
We encourage you to book your car at DiscoverCars.com – the service that we love and use ourselves.