When you read the title of this post, you might think it is a bit of an oxymoron. Stress free and travel in the same sentence? But with a little bit of practice, you can make travel with a family much easier.
We are currently away on holiday in Spain, and one of the most annoying things when we travel, is hiring a car. We pretty much always choose to hire a car, as I can count the number of times we have arranged a ‘package’ holiday on one hand. We prefer to be able to do things at our leisure and explore a little off the beaten track. Car hire just seems to take a long time. I don’t even understand why it takes so long, but alas, it does. So how can you make that part of your journey a little less stressful?
First of all, you need to be prepared for a little bit of a wait. There are always queues in the hire car areas of an airport. When we arrived last night, there were two other flights that had arrived from the UK, within an hour of each other. So you can imagine how many Brits are wanting to hire a car. It is a pretty common occurrence in European countries, so you just need to be prepared.
With little ones, we have even chosen our flights around the times that might be better or quieter. You don’t want to be stood in a long queue at 11pm at night, with sleepy little ones, in a hot airport car hire lounge. And often my husband will just go to the desk and the kids and I will sit elsewhere. It makes everyone more stressed out if the kids are whining and bored, stood at the rental desk. So we do try to plan, as much as possible, to fly at more reasonable hours. You still need to be prepared for a wait, it just makes the wait more bearable.
Have Everything with You
I like to be organised at the best of times, but especially when I travel. The amount that I print out keeps A4 paper in business! It makes things so much easier to have your booking confirmation printed out and with you. You never know if you’ll be able to access it on your phone, as the airport might not have wifi, for example. So have a hard copy. Make sure you have your driving licence with you (both parts) and any additional insurance that you may have taken out. One thing that is good to get, is a ‘check code’ from the DVLA before you travel. Not all hire car companies will ask for it, but it speeds things up if you have requested the code (it just means that you approve the company checking your licence details).
Consider Excess or Gap Insurance
You will need to take out some car insurance at the rental desk. Quite often they can have a high excess, to keep the cost to you as low as possible. But if the worst does happen, do you want to be spending over £1000 just for the excess? So just something to look into before you travel. And like the above point, have all of the documents relating to it, with you.
Ask Lots of Questions
They say there is no such thing as a silly question. So if you have something that you need to clarify; ask! The car hire company might not have been clear about the refuelling policy, so double check. We have often had the conversation a few days before leaving, about if we need to take it back empty or should we return it full? If they haven’t mentioned the type of fuel that the car needs, ask. Nothing more stressful that rocking up to a petrol station and having a panic about which fuel to use. So ask lots of questions to ease the stress.
Holiday Autos have some great tips to avoid stress at the car rental desk, too. Watch their useful tips here:
Do you find it stressful when you travel abroad?
Do you still need to take both parts of the licence since they got rid of the paper copy?
Tricky one – we’ve always been asked for both. If you don’t have both then you can’t show both. I’m sure they’d understand after explanation
Have to say we have always been wary about hiring cars, not knowing the roads or the routes…should be more braver I think as it would make life a bit easier
Car hire always takes soooo long! It seems like everyone from your flight has booked with the same car hire place!
These are great tips. I have to say I’m quite relaxed about travel now. It’s going away in the UK I find more stressful lol x
I never would have thought about making sure the timings worked with the flight coming in and picking up the car. Thanks for the tip!
You’re right, it does always take ages to get the hire car and get out of the airport doesn’t it! Good tips, it can be quite confusing the first time you do it.
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These are great tips. We recently got back from our first long haul holiday with three kids and it was far less stressful than I thought it would be. I think a big part of that is down to being organised beforehand. We’ve never hired a car abroad though… will def come back to this post when we do 🙂
We haven’t been abroad as a family yet. Purely because it would be too stressful