As a child I always remembered the morning of; the last minute checks, the harried voice as my mother implored me to brush my teeth and the cry of, “where did you put your shoes?” echoing through the house. Some of my fondest memories as a child revolve around these road trips. There’s just something about being in a car for hours at a time, watching the landscape slowly change, playing 20 questions to pass the time. Of course, as much as I romanticize about my childhood, now that I’m an adult with responsibilities and a limited budget, I have to think more about the practical side of the equation: namely the cost. With the economics of going cross country with the family in mind, there’s one thing that I found to keep costs down more than anything else: getting a rental car. The benefits are numerous; it keeps the miles low on your personal car, can save on petrol, you can pick up and drop off at either end of your trip. The trick is how to get the rental car that suits your needs, at the lowest price possible. To do that you need to look at a few different factors.
Know what you want
Different rental companies offer different services, the main things to consider being price, locations, service fees, and car types available. Are you going on a cross country trip which might whack the cost of petrol up? Then you might have to sacrifice luxury for fuel economy. Going through the Highlands? Then fuel economy may be sacrificed for 4 wheel drive. Certain companies also offer services that are unique to them. For instance, Enterprise is famous for picking you up before and dropping you off after your rental.
Just like airlines, the further you book in advance the more money you save. Also, just like airlines, travel comparison sites negotiate with car rental companies to offer the most competitive rates. If you are flexible on travel dates you’re liable to save money as well, as you may be able to take advantage of late offers and there are always last minute car rental deals out there to be found by a clever shopper.
Sign up for their rewards program
A quick sign up to a car rentals reward program can lead to lots of saved money. Perks include free days and upgrades on your rental car. Many of these agencies offer deals to their rewards customer as well, deals that may not be available through other channels. All this said, my favourite part about road trips with the family was always exactly that: family. The time spent together in our car was treasured. We would always learn something new about each other on those long drives, that’s why I loved them. I may have to concern myself more with budget and getting the right rental car than what’s happening outside the window these days, but I’ll continue that holiday tradition with my family as much as I can.