On your next road trip, you and your partner plan to cruise across the country. You’ll visit the most famous landmarks in Australia, from Uluru to the Bungle Bungle Range. You know your commuter car won’t live up to the journey, so you plan to hire a vehicle for the trip.
However, if you haven’t rented a car or truck recently (or at all), you should keep the following dos and don’ts in mind.
1. Choose the Right Vehicle
As a general rule, car size affects total price: the bigger the vehicle, the higher the bill.
When you plan for your trip, carefully consider the amount, size and weight of the luggage you want to bring as well as the number of passengers who will accompany you. Make sure the car you choose gives everyone room to breathe and stretch their legs while maintaining low fuel costs.
If you don’t know how to drive a stick shift, ask about cars and trucks with automatic transmission.
2. Pack an Emergency Kit
Rental cars are carefully maintained, but sometimes the open road can present unforeseen challenges. Even the best vehicles could pop a tire and the most reliable engines could refuse to start.
To ensure you and your passengers have an enjoyable trip despite potential obstacles, pack an emergency kit with the following items:
- Mobile phone cables and chargers
- First aid supplies (bandages, aspirin, antiseptic wipes, etc.)
- Reflective warning triangles
- Jumper cables
- Torch with batteries
- Duct tape
And though you may have restaurants and rest stops in mind, remember to bring plenty of water and non-perishable snacks (protein bars, trail mix, fruit leather, etc.).
3. Snap Photos of the Car
Understandably, most rental car companies will charge you for any nicks, scratches and dents you accidentally inflict on the car. They hope that you will take the utmost care of the vehicle no matter where you go.
Of course, rental car companies don’t want to charge you for damages you didn’t commit. To ensure that both you and your rental company are on the same page, take photos of the car before you sit behind the wheel. Note any holes in the fabric and stains on the floor.
Remember to double-check the time and date on all your photos. Although the rental company should have a record of any previously inflicted damages, a time stamp will give you better accuracy if you wish to present these images later on.
1. Forget to Book Early
During the summer and popular holidays, travellers like yourself will often turn to rental agencies to accommodate their trip. And if you don’t act fast, you’ll likely end up with a car that doesn’t suit your needs or budget.
When you book early, you have more opportunities to compare rates and vehicles. And often times, you can find discounts that will make your upcoming trip a little easier to manage.
2. Neglect the Fine Print
Always make sure you understand every aspect of your rental agreement before you sign it. Some policies state that only one person may get behind the wheel, and additional drivers may result in extra fees. Other companies may ask you to fill up the tank before you return the vehicle.
When you read through your contract thoroughly and ask the company’s representatives any questions, you can better calculate your budget for the trip.
3. Ignore Your Auto Insurance Policy
The average auto insurance policy covers rental vehicles, but not all of them do. Carefully review your policy to determine how it transfers to rental cars.
If your current policy does not include rental vehicles, talk to your rental agency about supplemental insurance for your trip. While additional coverage comes at a cost, it will minimise your liability should an accident occur.
When you follow these simple dos and don’ts, you’ll start your next trip in the right direction. However, if you need more guidance or if you don’t understand certain clauses in your rental agreement, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your rental agent can advise you on the best ways to drive your rental car safely and help you avoid common mistakes.