Navigating a Smooth Getaway: Your Guide to Planning for Driving on Holiday

Blue hire car parked outside airport

As you embark on your journey, whether it’s a road trip to a nearby destination, a cross-country expedition or even to a new country, careful planning for driving on holiday is crucial to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable experience.

From hiring a car to packing essential items, here’s your comprehensive guide to ensure your holiday drive is nothing short of memorable.

  1. If you are choosing to hire a car for your holiday, then pre-booking the vehicle may create huge savings. It is vital you do not leave the booking of your hire vehicle until the last minute for many reasons with the most obvious being the costs. The best way to decrease the cost of hiring a car is to do some research and look into different car hire websites and see what deals they may have available for your intended dates. Remember, in peak holiday periods, such as school summer holidays, there is often high demand. This means prices often increase and your choices are reduced. This is another reason why booking in advance is important. For the perfect holiday you want the perfect vehicle to suit your holiday’s needs. The best and most desired vehicles will obviously be the first to go so booking in advance allows you to get the car you want at the best price.
  2. Make sure to sort your excess insurance prior to picking up your vehicle. Again, look around for the best deal. It is important you purchase this incase anything unexpected should occur on your holiday, remember accidents happen! However, the price of excess cover often presented by the hire company when picking up your vehicle, should you not have it already, is usually expensive due to it being such a necessity to have it. You don’t want to be stuck without options and having to pay a large sum of money for insurance you need just havent sorted as of yet.
  3. Have you opted to drive your own car and not sure yet if you have got everything you need in your car? Here’s a quick reminder that different countries have different rules and regulations. For example in Austria and Croatia it is compulsory to have a first aid kit in the car. Other items cars may need include reflective jackets/vests, all insurance documents and so on. Failure to have items can result in fines so it is worth doing some research and checking. Hire vehicles should provide all the correct items however again, it is worth checking.
  4. Budgeting: managing expenses along the way. Budgeting is a vital aspect of planning a holiday. Consider fuel costs, tolls, and more. Having a realistic budget in mind helps you make informed decisions and prevents any financial surprises during your journey. Make sure to shop around for your petrol, as you would at home. It is easy to get swept up in the holiday good mood but huge petrol prices can quickly ruin that. So try and avoid the more expensive petrol stations such as those on motorways and look for petrol stations located at supermarkets.
  5. Do your homework on the roads at your holiday destination. Unknown signs can lead to huge stress and even make for costly mistakes. Motoring experts are urging Brits travelling to Europe to do their research before setting off to avoid any holiday blues.
  6. Make sure to take photos when collecting and returning your vehicle. This allows you to not to receive any charges for damage you did not commit as well as avoid any cleaning or additional charges. 
  7. If you choose to driving your own car, check your cars health before the journey to are about to embark on. Check your oil levels, tire pressure, brakes, lights, and wipers to ensure everything is in optimal condition. If your vehicle is due for maintenance, it’s advisable to schedule a service before your trip. Being proactive about your car’s health not only enhances safety but also prevents unexpected breakdowns in unfamiliar territories.
  8. Avoid adding a second driver unless it is free (which it is rarely not…). As listed on one site, it can cost you, in the UK, ‘an additional driver costs £12.99 including VAT per day per driver’. That works out at £129.90 over a 10 day holiday.
  9. Check if its cheaper to bring your own. With items such as childrens car seats it might be worth looking into if it would be cheaper to bring your own via the plane rather than hiring once at the holiday destination. Additionally factor in bring your own can secure the level of quality and fitting you desire.

Pick-up hire vehicle checklist:

Do not feel pressure to sign up for added extras and charged items within your contract.

If offered a ‘free’ upgrade, feel free to accept but make sure to have this agreement in writing.

Take pictures of the vehicle and do an inspection also to make sure all is working properly. If it is too dark to do so, make note of this with the hire company and do one in the morning.

Note that tolls for motorways, bridges and tunnels work on a cashless bases and on an automatic number late recognition system. So make sure to ask the rental company about how to pay for this to avoid automatic charges by them.

Check the car has everything included and present that was agreed upon before driving away. This will also include the potential compulsory items listed by the country.

Drop-off hire vehicle checklist:

Allow plenty of time to go through everything when returning the car.

Make sure the car is clean and had petrol in it to avoid additional charges.

Take photos of the car and the condition you have returned it in just incase there is dispute (you can then compare these to earlier photos of the cars condition upon first hire).

Keep an eye on your card statements and make sure there is no extra charges you do not know about upon return.

Planning for driving on holiday demands a thoughtful approach that blends practicality with a spirit of adventure. Each element plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth and memorable journey. By considering these aspects and being prepared for the unexpected, you’re well on your way to a vacation filled with wonderful memories and the freedom of the open road.