Hiring a car on honeymoon can be one of the most liberating decisions you make for the trip – it invariably enables you to do and see more, and means you are at liberty to easily explore beyond your hotel. Hiring a car may be a major part of your trip, or it might just be something you decide to do once you get there. Here’s our tips for getting the most out of hiring a car on honeymoon:
Plan ahead Generally, booking your car hire in advance is by far the cheapest option. I always find that going direct to the car rental company is the most expensive route – instead, look at agencies that collate and offer deals for various companies, such as Car Hire 3000 (often the cheapest), Rhino Car Hire or Ebookers. Arranging car hire at the airport, or at your hotel, can be very pricey and a bit risky, as it will really depend on them having cars available for you to hire.
Automatic vs manual What you feel comfortable driving will depend on what you’re used to. In the US, cars will be automatic as standard – manual just won’t be an option – while in Europe, manual cars will be standard, and you’ll invariably have to pay more if you want an automatic.
Size Unsurprisingly, the cheapest cars will be the smallest. As there’s likely to be just two of you going on honeymoon, this most likely won’t be an issue – though if one of you is particularly tall, you may want to consider something more spacious. If you’re travelling from destination to destination, it’s worth considering how much room a small car will have for your luggage, as you might want to ensure that both suitcases can be tucked away discreetly in the boot, rather than sat in plain sight on the rear seats.
Air-con If you’re honeymooning somewhere hot, this can be a pretty major consideration. That said, if you’re going to be travelling on quiet roads, then having air-con will be less of an issue as you can roll your windows down (which is always a lot more pleasant anyway), but if you’ll be travelling for any substantial amount of time on motorways/freeways then air-con can be invaluable for those times when you won’t want to have your windows down because of the noise.
Insurance Perhaps the most vital part of hiring a car. Insurance isn’t always included as standard, so do check carefully as to what your car hire package includes. If it’s not included, you’ll usually have a chance to purchase insurance before you finalise your booking online, or to purchase it (though often for an inflated price) at the pick-up desk. Even if you’ve got an absolutely clean driving license, you should always take insurance. It’s also worth considering that most insurance will incur an excess charge if you need to make a claim (or if the car is damaged by you and covered by the insurance) – this can range from anything from £50 to £3000 depending on your contract. You’ll usually be offered the opportunity to purchase excess insurance, which I feel is worth the extra charge, as you won’t have to pay out any excess – even better, you can purchase it in advance through a number of companies like iCarhireinsurance for a cheaper rate than offered when you pick up your car.
Additional drivers If both of you intend to drive on honeymoon, you’ll have to make this clear on the booking – some companies will charge extra for this.
Age If you’re under 25, you’ll often find that hiring a car is more expensive, and potentially more difficult in places like the US.
Rules of the road Don’t take for granted that the road rules for your honeymoon destination will be the same as at home. In addition to knowing what side of the road to drive on, you’ll need to know things like the different speed limits (say for built up areas, single-lane roads, and motorways), right of way at junctions and roundabouts, and what ID you need to carry with you. Most of this information can be found online, or in your guidebook.
Petrol I usually find that there’s always one point on holiday when I spend a frantic half hour or so watching my petrol gauge get lower and lower, with no petrol station in sight – it’s not much fun at all. So I now don’t let my petrol level drop below half a tank for too long – if it gets below half a tank and I see a petrol station, I’ll fill up, just for piece of mind – and this is especially important when travelling in rural areas when you don’t know where the next place to fill up will be.
Driving licenses Make sure you take your entire driving license with you – so, if you have a UK-issued license, take both your plastic car and paper counterpart. There’s some discrepancy between what renters insist on having for you to hire/pick up your car, so it’s better to play it safe – for example, in the UK, they insist on having both parts (even if you’re a British citizen), but in South Africa, I was able to pick up our hire car without my paper counterpart, which was a relief when we turned up on honeymoon and realised we’d forgotten it.
Photograph © Tunde Pecsvari
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