Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Renting a car for foreign travel can be fun with advance planning


Renting a car abroad -- here in Sardinia -- calls for advance planning.


RENTING A CAR while traveling abroad can be unnerving.
Daunting questions arise: What do you do about a bang or a ding noticed before you take the car out of the lot?
How will you transcend a language barrier?
Do you book at home before you go, or wait and take your chances there?
What about airport rentals versus
A small car is a good idea, particularly in southern Europe.
downtown or hotel rentals?
Can you pick up your car in one town and deliver it in another?
THESE TIPS -- in two blog posts, today and Saturday -- will help you navigate the paperwork and come out safely with a good experience.
 We've had luck renting through Europcar, which we've used in several European cities.
It's a thrill to be on the road and on your own in a new place!
You can indeed pick up a car in one town and drop it off in another, but you must make your desire clear in the contract from the beginning. (Say you're flying into Barcelona and returning to the U.S. from Madrid.  No worries, but let the car people know on-line.)
Maneuvering in close quarters -- here Egypt -- challenges.
  So that you do not squander a moment of your precious time abroad, book in advance. You will save money  by booking on line and printing out the contract. Take some time on the web and look and comparison shop.  Even payment can be made before you leave home.  You'll know the precise amount and won't have to translate Euros or other foreign currency. It's also cheaper, easier, safer and less likely to include hidden clauses. Once you are abroad, exchange rates can change, you'll have unfamiliar rental agreements, possible language barriers and other cultural differences.
 GASSING UP.  You'll get the car with a full tank and save money by filling it up yourself just  before you return it.  Most car companies charge a standard fee of up to $100, depending on the car's size, if they refill it for you.  Hertz charged us for gas, despite the fact that we'd filled up the car minutes before returning it.  We supplied the dated credit credit card receipt showing the charge in Euros for a full tank.  In time, the charge was reversed.

Be sure to fill your tank up just before you return the car; keep a receipt.
IT'S A SHAME we have to be so defensive while renting cars, but it's the way life has become.  Record anything suspicious for the record "just in case."
  We rent the car in the airport and return it to the airport, which is cheaper than returning or renting downtown or at your hotel.  And you save the cab fare to get to your first overnight stop.
If you are unlucky enough to have an accident, take photos.
 WE DOCUMENT with photos any scratches, dings or questionable areas not noted on the contract. This was helpful recently when Hertz also charged our credit card nearly $300 more for a supposed dent incurred, the company said, during our rental. We disputed the charge with photos of a small ding taken before we left the lot.  It proved that we hadn't done it, that it was a rusty dent and had obviously occurred some time ago.  We also noted that part of the "damage" in the bad photos sent us was a tree leaf. If, gods forbid, you do have an accident, take photos of everything while waiting for the officials.
Give yourself plenty of time to get where you're going in unfamiliar cities.
ASK ABOUT  weekend specials, late penalties and gas charges.  Unadvertised discounts and hidden costs may not be explained at the time of rental, and it may be too late once you find out.

 Be sure to know the time for drop-off. Be a bit early. Many rental agencies begin charging for each 24-hour-period from the time of rental, and will bill a full day if you return the car even minutes after another 24-hour period begins.

In Rome and elsewhere, scooters buzz easily about cars. 
  START A FOLDER as soon as you book your trip. Toss clippings and promotional codes you come upon.  If you see a TV ad for a good rental car rate, jot it down.  If you're reading a magazine or newspaper, clip ads and write down promotional codes. Many of the best rates do not show up on agents' computer screens.
  Inquire about senior citizen, AAA, credit card and frequent flier program discounts or add-on offers. Be sure to show your airline or member card for the promised mileage credit before you drive the car off the lot.
THIS WEEKEND: Small or large car, manual or automatic transmission, driver's license and insurance information. More on car rentals abroad. We post weekends and Wednesdays.  Remember to explore, learn and live, and tell your friends about www.whereiscookic.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment