Whether you’re going away to Europe, the US or anywhere around the world, renting a car is an easy and affordable option that thousands of Brits choose for their travels every year.

But if you’re hiring a car abroad for the first time it can feel a little intimidating and, even worse, you can end up paying for extras that you really don’t need. Here are six essential things that you need to know before you rent a car abroad. 


1. Read through the contract carefully

The first and most important thing to note is that the contract for each hire car business is different, so you should take a look through the contract thoroughly to establish exactly what is expected from you. This is also the time to ask any questions regarding anything you don’t understand.


2. Think about fuel

What to know before hiring a car abroad

There are a few things that you need to remember about fuel when you are driving a hire car. Firstly, make sure you know which fuel to fill up with.

There is nothing worse than the feeling of filling up a hire car for the first time with petrol, and then noticing the tiny sign on the inside of the cap that says it is a diesel car. Find out for sure when you take the car and make a mental note so that you don’t forget.

It’s also worth noting that there are generally two kinds of car hire: ‘supplied full, return full’ and ‘supplied full, return empty’. Check which one the rental company expects from you so that you don’t either put in too much fuel, or return with none and face a penalty. 


3. You don’t have to return it to the same place

Many people don’t realise that there is usually no need to return your car to the same place that you picked it up from.

The large rental firms usually have a huge range of locations that you can return your car to. So if you are planning a road trip, this is not a problem.

Just make sure that this is made clear when you book, otherwise you could face a fee if you return to somewhere different than the rental company is expecting. 


4. Learn the rules of the road in the country you’re visiting

If it is going to be your first time driving in a country, it’s worth taking a quick scout online or in a guide book to establish any differences in the rules of the road there compared to the UK, as well as any laws that you will need to follow.

For example, in France it is a legal requirement that drivers must carry a breathalyser with them at all times. 


5. Bring your own…

Advice for hiring a car abroad

Almost every car hire company will offer you a range of optional extras with your car hire to make your journey easier.

This could including anything from car seats for children to sat navs. The truth is that hiring these directly from the car hire company is almost always extremely expensive and does not represent good value for money.

In almost all cases you can bring your own equipment with for no extra cost and avoid having to pay these fees. If you are going to bring your own sat nav, however, you should make sure that it definitely has maps for the country you are visiting. 


6. Don’t forget your driving licence!

Finally, don’t forget to bring your driving licence as you will not be allowed to drive without it. In some cases you may need to get a specific licence for the country that you are going to drive in.


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