IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Take the guess work out of renting a car

Here are tips on saving money and making the process  hassle free
/ Source: Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel

Domestic or international, Utah or Uzbekistan, car rentals always cost less if they are reserved in your own home city, many days in advance of the actual trip.

And those rates can be marvelously cheap if you make the arrangements in advance. How many times have you seen billboards, or glossy advertisements, promising you a price of only $99 per week per car in Florida and California, $119 in England or Germany? With unlimited mileage, no less.

So you fly to those destinations in a state of euphoria, thinking that you’ll pay only $99 to $119 at the counter. Too late you discover that the promotional, advance purchase prices of all car rental companies are based on just that—advance purchase. By not having called ahead, you’ll pay substantially more, sometimes outlandishly more. Just wait until you walk up to a car rental counter at London’s Heathrow Airport and hear their quotations!

Anything else to know about preparing for a car rental? Only this: Make sure that the car you will be driving has a cassette player, and if it hasn’t, bring a portable cassette player with you. Some car rentals automatically come with CD players these days, so make your request for whichever mode of music you prefer. Bring CD’s or cassettes of good music and audio books; the normal radio stations in the hinterlands of America can range, on occasion, from the mediocre to pretty bad, and there’s nothing worse than being relegated to their care.

Be sure, before you leave, that you can obtain road help if the car should break down in the course of your trip. See if you’re rental car company provides 24-hour roadside assistance. If it doesn’t and you don’t already belong to one of the many auto clubs supplying this service, then join one, or join AAA (Automobile Association of America).

If you are traveling abroad, in a compact-sized rental vehicle without adequate trunk space for your luggage, always advise the auto rental company well in advance that you will need a roof rack (these are not supplied at the pick-up point, unless they have been ordered in advance). But be aware, also, that luggage openly exposed on a roof rack is prone to being stolen while the car is parked. Better to pack light, and avoid having to order one.