Holidays may be the last thing on your mind as Christmas approaches.
But the festive period may be the ideal time for you to plan your perfect winter holiday and if you are thinking of hiring a car there are quite a few do's and don'ts you may want to be aware of to help save you hundreds of pounds.
The United States, UK, Spain, Portugal and Ireland lead the destinations with the most car inquiries between October and December
Ireland is the up and coming road trip destination for 2017, with inquiries up 34%.
Ahead of the winter holiday period, TravelSupermarket has conducted analysis on the most popular driving destinations during the winter period, suggesting that the Great British Road Trip is alive and well.
The Emerald Isle is the place to watch for 2018 however, as Ireland saw a 34% increase in inquiries compared to 2016 data.
But it may be worth noting a few things before your embark on your road trip.
Don’t just book the first car hire “bargain” you see. To allow yourself time to find a real deal, you should start looking for your hire car well in advance of your trip.
TravelSupermarket data indicates that by booking early, it’s possible to save hundreds of pounds on a rental.
Do your research and shop around. Think about what’s right for you: How big does the car need to be? Are you hoping to pick up and drop off in different places?
When you’re comparing your options, make sure you check the fuel policy too as opting for the wrong one could wipe out any savings you’ve made on the rental itself.
To help, here are the three most common options and each has benefits based on your preference:
The first is full to full which means you will be given a full tank of petrol and expected to return the car full.
When you arrive to pick up your car, ask where the closest petrol station is so you can refill just before you return it.
The second is full to empty so you will be asked to pay the rental company upfront for a tank of petrol and can return the car empty but the point to note here is that returning a car empty is extremely hard to do and you’re likely to be charged at a premium for the fuel whether you use it all or not.
The third is pay for what you use where you will be expected to return the car with exactly the same amount of fuel it had when you left the rental company.
Last year, the paper counterpart to your photocard driving licence was condemned to the scrapheap by the DVLA.
In its place, a shiny, new digital code was introduced to share driver information (points, penalties, etc.) with car hire companies and you will need this when you pick up your car.
You can generate this 21 days before you’re set to pick up your vehicle on the DVLA’s website.
Another essential is a credit card. There aren’t many companies that will allow you to drive away without some sort of security deposit first. The deposit itself isn’t actually taken from the card, just blocked out until you return the car.
The credit card will need to be in the name of the primary driver; some companies will also accept debit cards, but it’s wise to check beforehand.
It is also a good idea to check the expiry date on your licence and don'tr get caught out with excess insurance.
You can save up to 65% off the price you’ll be charged at the rental desk by buying your insurance online in advance.
Ben Wooltorton, from iCarhireinsurance.com, says: “By the time you get to the rental desk, if you want insurance you’ll only have one option: buy from the rental company.
"This tends to be the most expensive option and typically costs between £10 and £15 per day – this can easily add £70 to £100 to a week’s rental.
“Some rental companies sell two different types of insurance: one is an excess waiver, which the customer may think is all they need, and one for tyres and windscreens.
“Sometimes people think that the two are the same, but often tyres and windscreen are excluded from the excess. If the customer then takes this out, they are looking at a bill of around £150 for insurance alone.”
Other tips include checking the small print on your contract, check the condition of your car before you set off to make sure it is safe.
It is also wise to make sure it is stocked with equipment you will need, such as a spare tyre, if you break down.
And make a note of the phone number for the rental company in case you need to contact them when miles from home.
For more information about road trips please go to https://www.travelsupermarket.com/en-gb/blog/travel-advice/your-essential-checklist-when-hiring-a-car/