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Hiring a car abroad: 7 things to remember

Hiring a car when you’re on holiday ensures you can easily get around and see the sights at your own pace. You’re able to make your own adventure, rather than being reliant on public transport. It’s convenient and can take you places a train or bus doesn’t reach. But hiring a car abroad is not without its concerns. We’ve gathered seven key things you need to remember before getting behind the wheel.

1. Book ahead

If you turn up and choose to hire from a desk at the airport, you’ll pay more for the same car. You also won’t have time to read all the terms and conditions and could end up being ripped off.

Instead, do a bit of research beforehand and look into what charges are fixed or optional from different places.

2.Check the car over

Before you drive off, give the car a once over and check any damage is documented with the company – otherwise you could be blamed at the end. Take dated photographs if you’re worried. You’ll save yourself hassles at the end of the rental by taking the time to note any scratches and dents. At the same time, you can check the lights and indicators work.

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3. Get insured

Talking about damage, it’s vital you’re insured to drive abroad. You can buy this from the same company you’re hiring the car from – or you can get standalone excess insurance cheaper elsewhere. It’s likely you’ll still have to leave a large credit card deposit, though. Just be aware of some of the rip offs to avoid when you’re hiring abroad.

4. Give yourself time to adjust

Depending on where you’re travelling to and from, you could end up driving on the other side of the road and from a different driving position. So don’t rush the first journey and give yourself plenty of time to get used to the car and different roads.

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5. Use your phone as a sat-nav 

You can minimise the stress of driving abroad by downloading apps that allow you to use your phone as a sat-nav. Just remember to get the correct charging point.

6. Know the rules 

Around the world, there are some unusual driving rules– so check out those in your country of choice. Here’s a starting point:

  • You must have a fire extinguisher in your car in Belgium
  • If you need to wear glasses, you are required to carry an additional pair when driving in Spain
  • In Sweden, it’s illegal to drive without headlights, even in broad daylight
  • In France, all cars need to have an unused breathalyser on board
  • You will be slapped with a hefty fine if you’re caught driving a dirty car in Belarus

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7. Ask about upgrades

If you’ve booked in advance, when you arrive to pick up your car, it’s often possible to get an upgrade. Don’t be afraid to ask – especially in low season.

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