Now that restrictions are easing and traveling domestically is much more feasible than it used to be, you could already be planning your next vacation. But due to the pandemic, there are many aspects of the travel experience that have changed from pre-COVID-19 times.
One thing that is notably different now is that taking public transportation does not feel as comfortable as it used to. There are workarounds to this, though, such as renting a car for your next trip.
Car rentals make your travel experience much more convenient, but the process of booking a vehicle is not always the most fun. Here are some things you should know to make the experience as painless as possible:
Six Tips for Renting a Car
Take note of these important preparations that will let you rent a car that suits your vacation needs and spares you from unnecessary expenses.
1. Plan out your routes beforehand.
Renting a car means you are also in charge of navigating the states and cities you will be visiting. You will not be able to rely on public transport to take you where you need to go. Even before making a rental, you should familiarize yourself with the routes you will take on your trip.
Borrowing a GPS from the car rental company quickly adds around $10 daily to your total payment. By using your own navigation apps, you can find the directions on your own and also get additional information, such as fuel prices and open parking lots. It also helps to look online for a food travel guide that gives insight into the best places to eat, including directions on how to get to these restaurants.
2. Make your bookings online.
Making a booking at the rental place itself is usually more expensive than booking online, so book your rental vehicle ahead of time. When renting online, make sure you do it more than 24 hours in advance, too, to avoid surcharges.
In the event that you have to make a booking in a rush, check with local rental services. Their rates are usually lower than big franchises.
3. Compare rental prices.
When you look for bookings online, don’t just check out on the first website that you find. Visit several websites that offer car rental services to see which prices are affordable.
You can also browse Expedia and similar websites that aggregate prices to make easy comparisons. Check the websites of the car rental companies themselves, too, and keep an eye out for discounts. Don’t forget to also read recent customer reviews to see how their services are.
4. Double-check your insurance.
Travel insurance is not exclusively for overseas trips. You need insurance for your domestic flights, too. These are important in case you lose your luggage, get sick, or damage your rental car during the trip.
Note that you may not always need to get separate insurance for your rental car because if you have an existing auto insurance policy, it could cover rental cars. Make sure to call your insurance provider to confirm. You can also check with your credit card company if they have insurance that covers domestic travel.
5. Take pictures of the vehicle before driving off.
Sustaining damage on your rental vehicle means having to pay some hefty fines when it’s time to return the car. Sometimes, a vehicle may already have existing scratches or dents that the rental company will insist you pay for as the damage was not accounted for in the previous user.
Avoid these complications by inspecting the vehicle and taking pictures of all sides in the presence of staff, and don’t just do the car exteriors. Take pictures of what’s inside the vehicle, including the compartments. Be thorough in your inspection and inform the company immediately of existing damages before you leave with the vehicle.
This protects you from any misunderstandings. It also allows you to prove your innocence should extra charges be imposed on you due to damages.
6. Drop off the rental car where you borrowed it.
Renting a vehicle from one location and dropping it off at another place at the end of your trip means more expensive fees at the end of your trip. While planning your trip, try to make sure it starts and ends in the same place. If this isn’t possible for your trip, be prepared for the higher fees you will have to pay once you return the rental vehicle at the drop-off location.
Renting a vehicle online is hardly the most exciting part of going on a vacation, but doing it well allows you to enjoy your trip without any hassles.