Our top seven money-saving tips should help you find a cheap family rental car deal, if you know what to look for in a car rental and what rental companies will never tell you.
Renting a car when you’re on an extended family holiday isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. Especially when you’re traveling with young kids in tow and even more so if those children are under 10.
But there are a few more things to consider when making your booking to ensure a smooth ride for the whole family.
Car Size Matters
The first thing you’ll need to come to terms with is that when it comes to family travel, size really does matter. A family of four is going to have at least four pieces of luggage so make sure there is ample room for bags and bodies. We hope you won’t need any extra room for body bags, but if you’re concerned, go supersize on your rental choice if you can afford it.
When choosing your rental vehicle also consider ‘luxury’ items that will make your trip more pleasurable. We recommend some SUVs for the sheer joy that only copious amounts of cup holders can bring to a road tripper. And keep in mind that in this era of sky-high gas prices and rental car shortages, compact and small cars usually cost much more than larger vehicles.
If the ankle biters are still in the food-flicking, drink-dribbling age bracket (and note that for some offspring this has been known to extend far into the double digits… past the sweet sixteen even), then it’s likely you’ll require a car seat.
Be sure to inquire about this when making your booking your cheap family rental car deal as most car companies will charge an extra fee. If you’re bringing your own, you’ll need to ensure it fits in the model you’re hiring. Oh, and since it’s in your interest to return the vehicle in the same, unstained state it was given to you, you might want to pack a picnic blanket or large towel to cover the upholstery on the back seat.
Believe us – this will pay off.
Pickup at the Airport
Don’t make it hard on yourself. If you’re traveling interstate or from overseas, be sure to check that the pick up location for your cheap family rental car deal is near the airport. Getting a bus after a long flight is the last thing you’ll want to deal with if you have a grouchy, sleep-deprived toddler.
If it’s a little further away, send Mom ahead to get the paper work happening while Dad herds the rest of the family. Remember that a pick up and return to the same location is usually much cheaper too.
Bring the Gadgets
Is your rental car a cheap family rental car deal because it’s not space age with all the latest bluetooth and USB interface capabilities? If so, then you must, absolutely and without fail, pack a bag of electronic goodies.
Life saving equipment includes enough headphones for all and – this one is worth its weight in gold but relatively inexpensive – a headphone splitter. If little Johnny’s iPhone runs low on batteries he can plug in to Peggy Sue’s MP3 player and they can – gasp – share it. Or, if you only have one video device, then teens can enjoy “Spider-Man: Far From Home” all at once.
Also consider packing or hiring neck supports (for naps), snack trays and sun shades. Well entertained, non-sunburned children are infinitely more tolerable.
Teens Can’t Drive Rentals
Be warned that if they’ve just qualified for their licence then teens are going to pester you to drive the shiny rental car. Do not allow this to happen unless you are certain they are listed as drivers and are insured. (Unlikely to happen on a cheap family rental car deal.)
Many rental companies won’t allow drivers under the age of 25 and others charge an additional fee. The legal age for unrestricted driving will also vary from state to state. You need to be clear on this when you pick up your car rentals.
And finally – always, always get full comprehensive insurance. The reasons for this are obvious. Nobody wants to think about the potential for an accident but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Driving tired or with the inevitable distraction of a car full of children will by no means decrease the risk. However, your travel insurance policy may include Collision Damage Waivers and Liability, so be sure to check before shelling out more cash.
You’ve probably heard of stories from friends about cheap family rental car deals and being charged more than expected for all sorts of strange fees. Use a price comparison website like RentalCars.com to make sure there are no hidden fees.
Summing up, next time you travel on the road in a rental car with your family, consider car size, airport pickup, gadgets, teen drivers and insurance and you’ll find you have a very smooth vacation without any nasty surprises.
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