ith almost two years of road trip under my belt to more than ten destinations, it was finally time that I put out my complete guide to organize a road trip!. The information is valid for car or van rentals or road trips with your car. Everything is there: on which site to rent your vehicle and what type, insurance, equipment, calculate your budget or build your itinerary. Not to mention a few tips for organizing a cheap road trip. In the car Simone and good luck to you!!!
ORGANIZING A ROAD TRIP: SHOULD YOU BUY OR RENT A VEHICLE?
This question will only be relevant for people who go on a road trip for long periods. If you are organizing a road trip of a few days or even weeks, of course, rental is essential. However, a vehicle’s purchase can be much more profitable for road trips exceeding several weeks or months in some countries. If you plan to spend more than 2 or 3 months on the road, I advise you to inquire about the purchase. Knowing that a vehicle’s purchase requires a little time to buy and resell + administrative procedures, consider this solution only for the long term. Each country has its legislation on vehicle purchasing; please check the procedures on a case-by-case basis.
ORGANIZING A ROAD TRIP: WHICH VEHICLE TO CHOOSE FOR RENTAL?
Depending on the destinations, the distances traveled, the number of people, etc., your choice may vary. In general, and for cost reasons, I advise you to opt for a standard sedan because this model will do in 90% of cases. If you are thinking of walking on a very stony track or heavily uneven ground, consider an SUV instead; see a 4 × 4. Find out beforehand anyway, because contrary to popular belief, it is often unnecessary, even for a little track. If you have a preference for an automatic or a manual, you can choose from the filters. There is also the question of renting a van, space, or even a mobile home if you think that it is profitable to sleep in your vehicle. In large, expensive countries, such as the United States, Canada, or Pakistan, it may be a relevant choice. Renting is more expensive, but it is largely profitable by the housing economy.
WHICH SITE TO USE TO RESERVE YOUR CAR RENTAL?
There are inevitably many comparators on the market. Not to mention direct agencies like Carlay Car Rental. Over time, I almost only use Carlay Car Rental to rent a car in Lahore or any other city of Pakistan, because I have always been satisfied with the service (on the other hand, I had bad experiences with RentalCar. Well, everyone has their setbacks). I like this comparator, because it offers a very wide choice of agencies, from the most traditional to those offering specials. The prices are often very competitive. You can cancel free of charge up to 48 hours before picking up the vehicle. And the conditions are well explained (which is a significant advantage when you want to avoid unpleasant surprises, anecdote below). It is, therefore, a good tool to scan the possibilities and book directly with them.
A tip: select the country where you are going to rent the car. In some cases, the prices are even more attractive.
WHAT INSURANCE SHOULD I TAKE FOR HIRE?
Ah, we get to the heart of the matter, which scares everyone. And I understand you; this part is not always crystal clear. The first thing that I recommend to you whatever happens: read the conditions of the sites! I know, it sucks; we don’t want to. But I highly recommend it all the same, because the rules differ from one agency to another. And I learned it the hard way by losing several hundred euros… So better to take five unpleasant minutes and know what to expect than the other way around. Still, without dramatizing, there are several points you should be aware of:
This is the base, which in principle, almost all rental companies and brokers/comparators offer. This civil liability covers you in the event of damage caused to third parties (accident, injury, etc.). However, check the reimbursement limits carefully. Because depending on the country (United States, Australia, Canada, etc.), this type of cost can cost quickly, so it is better to ensure that the coverage is good.
Vehicle Damage Insurance / Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)
You will also find it very often in the basic covers. It protects you in the event of accidents and damage to the vehicle, damage or theft of the vehicle (TP), with or without a deductible payment. Ditto, check the amount of coverage upstream. Be careful here too, the CDW rarely covers certain damages, such as tires, broken glass, mirrors, sills, locks, or loss of keys, for example (the most common snags, obviously). Payment for this type of damage will be your responsibility or with a deductible.
Loss or theft of the vehicle (TP)
This insurance is often also included in the basic contracts. However, note that this insurance covers you ONLY for the vehicle’s loss or theft, not for what is inside. Suppose you want to be insured on the theft of your personal belongings, for example. In that case, this is something to be also provided (I discuss this below), or even with additional insurance to take out with your usual insurer.
Therefore, they are NOT included in the base rate, which causes the overall rental bill to increase by 30 to 50%, and yes. In principle, they cover:
- bodily injury to the driver or passengers (PAI)
- personal effects coverage, in the event of theft, for example (PEC)
- roadside assistance/breakdown assistance
- options for reimbursement of the deductible.
HOW TO PAY FOR THE CAR RENTAL?
Again, this is a subject that varies among agencies and brokers. But having seen several people get tricked, including myself, I emphasize the point.
With a credit card
Some agencies ONLY accept payment with a credit card (a real one). Outside, in France, most people have debit cards. You can check by looking to see if it’s written on your small (“debit”) card or by calling your bank if in doubt. If you don’t have a Mastercard Gold, Visa Premier, American Express, or something like that, there’s a good chance your card is a debit card. This means that you will be able to book online without a hitch. But when you pay at the branch, your card will be refused. And if you don’t have any more… you’re in trouble. It happened to me in Scotland. They had to switch me to another agency with different conditions, + my overall bill was weighed down by a hundred pounds as a result. I was disgusted…
With a debit card
Don’t panic, however. Some agencies accept debit cards. But it is absolutely to be verified under the conditions. It will be written in black and white under the “Terms of Payment” category; you can’t go wrong. A simple rule of thumb to get an idea: the more traditional agencies you take (such as Carlay Car Rental, etc.), the less likely you will have this kind of problem. Counterpart: the prices are often more expensive. If you take agencies with more attractive offers, the chances are good that a credit card payment will be required.
THE ADDITIONAL COSTS TO BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT IN THE RENTAL
Again, the rental includes some fees and some not. It is to be checked under the conditions. In principle, most agencies offer unlimited mileage, which I recommend. This way, you have to pay for your gas mileage without worrying about the distance traveled. Some agencies still resort to additional charges when you exceed the number of kilometers, and it is charged very expensively, beware!
Most agencies allow car rental from the age of 21 (to be verified on a case-by-case basis). Also, be aware that under a certain age (often 25 years or a license experience of fewer than two years, for example) and over about 70 years, fees may be added, etc. Ah, the joys of youth and the rest.
Drop-off point different from the rental point
For small road trips, the question will not arise. But if you are taking a road trip in a large country like Pakistan, Canada, or the United States, you may have the configuration to rent your car at an agency and drop it off elsewhere in the country.
If you opt for that, you will also have additional daily costs to pay for the rental of GPS, baby seat, or booster, and believe me, that drops the bill enormously. Ideally, especially for GPS, please take your own or use an application like Maps. Me. I talk about this type of cheap road trip tips below in the article.