Hiring/Renting a Car For The Whole Family

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Renting a car is a great way to get around the UK, or most any country for that matter. If you and yours are looking to go on holiday, but want the freedom of coming and going as you please and the convenience of taking everything you need with you, then rent a car

All you need to do to get to mainland Europe is to pick up a car, drive to your nearest port, and board the ferry. Once you’re on the other side, you can make your way to your destination. Your hired car will provide a veritable home-from-home on wheels, while you’ll be afforded the freedom to travel where you want, exactly when you want to.

If you’re thinking of making your trip a fairly cheap one, renting a car to go camping in the south of France is a great idea. You can live as cheaply as you want to live for the duration, and next to the incredibly inexpensive camp pitch and your food and drink, the cost of the car rental, ferry trip, and petrol will be the most expensive things for which you’ll have to fork out money. With rental prices in the UK starting from around £120 for a five-door hatchback, for example, that’s a very cheap start indeed.

When you choose your rental car, you should consider carefully what exactly you’re going to require of it. Some of these considerations are listed below:

  • Where will you be travelling to? 
    • What types of roads will you be driving on? Gravel, rocky, or paved? For more rugged terrain, you’ll probably need a truck or Sport Utility Vehicle. Also, consider if you will need 4-wheel drive or not.

  • How long will it take?
    • If you have an incredibly long journey ahead of you, it’s most likely best to get a more comfortable/larger car. This will enable every one to feel relaxed and happy when you reach your destination.

  • How many passengers will be travelling? 

  • Does anyone in the party have any problems with travelling or any special requirements?
    • Note from Jacob: For my family, one thing that is a requirement is that the car has to have working/functioning seat belts. While one might think that this would be a given, in some countries, seat belts are still not required in all cars (especially in the backseat).

Make a comprehensive list of all these aspects of the holiday and read up about car hire and car journeys online.

Choose a car that’s too small, and you risk making the journey for you, your kids, and any other passengers very uncomfortable indeed. Choose one without air conditioning and, again, your passengers aren’t going to be your (or the car’s) biggest fans.

Choose one without a CD player or MP3 player input, and you risk being forced to listen to ropey local radio stations that you probably won’t even understand, let alone like.

Renting a car equipped with TV screens in the back of the headrests will be a make you very popular with your kids and will keep them entertained (and you relaxed) for hours.

You must also make sure that if your little one(s) need a baby/child seat, you’ll need to reserve it when you book your rental car. More often than not, leaving it until you get to the rental depot on the day of departure will result in you having to forfeit your car and perhaps even your entire holiday.

How about you all? What considerations do you think about when renting/hiring a car? What techniques do you use to save money? Do you have any entertaining car renting “horror” stories?! 

Share your experiences by commenting below!

Jacob’s Thoughts – Listed below are my random thoughts as I was reading this article.

  • @Taking a ferry to get from the UK to mainland Europe – How long does the ferry trip take? It seems like a fun trip! I wish we could do that sort of thing here in the USA!
  • @ A cheap trip idea being to rent a car and go camping in the South of France – I am incredibly jealous of this. If only it was considered a cheap trip for me to go from Virginia to camp in Southern France…I went to Southern France in the summer of 2008 after studying abroad and absolutely loved it. I want to go back!
  • @ The cost of renting a car – 
    • One thing that you can do to save money on renting a car is to avoid renting the car at an airport. Generally, prices for rental cars at airports are approximately 30% than it would be to rent the same car in town. 
    • Additionally, you can save money by returning the car to the same location from which you rented it. 
    • Lastly, when evaluating whether or not to rent a car, you should compare the price of renting a car to other transportation options. For example, when my family goes skiing in Colorado in the United States, renting a car costs the same amount of money as getting a shuttle directly from the airport. However, because we simply don’t need the car the entire time we’re at the ski resort, we opt for taking the shuttle.
  • @ Added stress of driving a rental car – While driving a rental car in the countryside of the USA or Europe is fairly easy, you should also consider if driving a rental car in a foreign country will induce added stress. This can be caused by differences in traffic etiquette in other countries. You want to make sure that the added convenience of having your own rental car is not outweighed by the stress of driving in congested, dangerous, traffic situations.

***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/nuttinbutlove/3495518365/sizes/m/in/photostream/


  1. Marlene says:

    Perfect time of year for this post! Thanks for this thorough check list…it will certainly come in handy when planning vacations!

    • Thanks for reading Marlene! Got any trips planned coming up that you're thinkin about using a rental car for?
      My recent post Carnival of Financial Planning 184 – May 13th- 2011 Edition

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