European Car Rental – Top Ten Tips for Europe Travel – Tip #2: The Price Is Right

When it comes to shopping for something on-line, we tend to become naturally more focused on a singular aspect of the product or service we desire. There is so much information to be absorbed while browsing sites that it is nearly impossible to factor everything in. This is very true of the travel industry, which happens to be the second largest on-line market (I’m sure you can guess what the first is) and the one thing most customers tend to zero in on is that magical of all numbers: price.

This is of course to be expected. We can, after all, only afford what is in our budget. However, the first order of business should always be to understand the requirements of our vacation, in this case, the car rental. Before you look at prices, you should have a solid idea of how many people you need to accommodate, the amount of days you are staying, whether or not you can drive a manual shift, and the locations you are picking up and dropping off at. Provided you have those things locked down, you can safely move on to comparison shopping.

While it is true that 91% of travelers at least research if not purchase their trips on-line (source: Nielsen NetRatings – EyeforTravel independent study), it is always best to have some human contact before you make that important decision. In fact, if it is difficult to elicit at least a personalized e-mail response within 24 hours of contacting a travel company, you can almost guarantee that their customer service will put you on the back burner should you have a problem. Before you settle on a price, make sure that any future dealings with the company you choose will be satisfactory, or you will end up paying much more than that number on the screen.

The time honored tradition these days is “added extras”, also sometimes known as local taxes, hidden fees, or much more malicious wordings, depending on who you talk to. Some companies only quote you a “base rate”. Some companies will tell you their price is “all-inclusive”. Sometimes this is true, other times it is anything but. As long as the company is honest in conveying this information, it should not be a deterrent, as sometimes it is not within their control. Make sure you always read any terms and conditions and if you are still uneasy, call or e-mail the company and ask if there are any other charges to be expected upon arrival. Note that I say “charges” and not “fees” or “costs”. The basis of this being that in most cases a security deposit will be held for gas and key as well as a deductible for insurance purposes. The things that should either be included or not are:

Value Added Tax: Like sales tax in the States, all the countries in Europe have a different tax structure. This can be as low as 7.6% (Switzerland) to 25% or more (Scandinavia) and is generally not refundable as it is on goods, since car rental is deemed a service.

Insurance: While there are new types of insurance being imagined up by rental companies everyday, the main ones are usually Collision and Theft (these two are sometimes covered by credit cards – more on that in later articles), liability, personal accident insurance (like medical insurance) and personal effects coverage (covers your belongings inside the vehicle).

Mileage: Only luxury vehicles and SUV’s should come with limited mileage. Beware any company who does not have unlimited mileage on normal sedan and wagon vehicles, even vans.

Local Taxes: These typically include premium location surcharges (airports and railstations especially), road taxes, additional drivers, eco surcharges and more. Like insurances, these are called something different every day.

After inclusions are tallied up, request a free quote in writing. If you can’t get a free quote in writing, chances are the company will end up billing you for something you do not know about. If the company has a website where the quotes are stored, print it out off of your browser. Make sure it has a tracking number so you can pull it up when needed. Also make sure you know the difference between a tracking number and a confirmation number. One holds a rate quote, one holds an actual vehicle.

In general, you can get the lowest price from a consolidator, who deals with multiple suppliers. They have contracted wholesale rates and typically hold more weight when confirming special requests such as hotel deliveries, additional equipment and after hours pick ups. It helps if they have a “best rate” policy. The better companies will offer to beat any rate you can find provided it has the same parameters and inclusions. Always ask if they have discounts for memberships like AAA, AARP, etc. Ask friends who have used the company if they know of any discount codes. You never know what will bring down the price in the long run.

To sum this up, always remember that price should not be the first thing you look at. Make sure the company is reputable, is easy to reach via telephone and e-mail, has the criteria you require available, and then worry about the price. It may sound like a lot of work but in the end you will be happy that made the right choice.

Top Tips for Renting a Car for Your Trip

Whether you are staying in your home country or are planning a vacation abroad, having reliable transport is essential. Renting a car is one excellent way to enjoy freedom on holiday as well as complete convenience; hiring a vehicle abroad does not have to be expensive either, and there are now many companies offering excellent car rental services for exceptional prices worldwide.

The first tip for renting a car for your trip is to make sure you get a good deal on the price. Many agencies will offer excellent prices for those who spend an extended period of time renting a vehicle. Before you choose from any particular agency, check out their offers for one week or two week extended rentals – you may be pleasantly surprised with the prices you can get.

Of course, check that any special offers available are on good quality vehicles and all inclusive packages. Some companies will sell cheap packages on price, and then the customer finds out that not everything they need is within that package, or the vehicle is old and not particularly comfortable or reliable.

The next tip for renting a vehicle for your vacation is to ensure that many different kinds of insurance are included. This is vital to make sure that you are not out of pocket if you run into trouble whilst renting the vehicle. Unfortunately, accidents can happen on holiday, such as a broken windscreen or scratches on the vehicle.

An all inclusive insurance package will counter these issues, ensuring that all damage is covered should it happen. Although you may have to pay a little extra upfront for these insurances, it can provide you with great peace of mind in the long run and certainly work out cheaper should you have an accident.

Bear in mind that for many agencies, all-inclusive packages are standard. Although you may have to pay a little extra for certain insurances, prices should not skyrocket. If you find a car rental agency charging an arm or a leg for an insurance package on top of loan rental price, beware -this could indicate a dishonest company that will spring hidden charges on you.

In addition to your insurance packages and your long-term rental deals, look for agencies that provide roadside assistance. This can help a lot, especially in the case where you are abroad and do not speak the local language. There is nothing worse than experiencing a breakdown and not knowing what to do in a foreign country.

The best car rental agencies will ensure your safety with road side assistance. Check that it is part of your package before you sign up to rent a vehicle from any company. As with insurance, this extra should not cost you an arm or a leg, so expect prices to be reasonable for this service.

Last but not least, see if you can hire your vehicle with a GPS, as this will help you navigate a lot easier in an unknown area. It can be very frustrating to get lost, and this especially true when you are on a trip trying to make your way to a specific destination. The GPS system will help you with that and ensure that you encounter very few troubles finding your way around.

GPS systems are not generally included as standard, but they should be available at a reasonable price from your car rental agency. These few tips for renting a car for your trip can help you enjoy yourself a lot more and stop you from running into significant difficulties. Bear this advice in mind before you accept any vehicle rental agency’s quote.

Beep Beep, Top 10 Tips On Car Rentals

Ready to rent a car for your next trip? Follow these top 10 tips on car rentals before you book your next car. These tips will help save you money.

Top 10 Tips On Car Rentals

1. Do you really need transportation?

Are you planning on staying at a resort? Do you need a car once you arrive at the resort? You may be better off getting transportation to the resort and not renting a car.

2. Rent the vehicle only on days it’s needed

If you only plan to drive out of town for a day, only rent the car for the day rather than the entire vacation. If you’re staying in the city, generally you can rent a car from hotels for the day rather than from the airport for your entire stay.

3. Rent off the airport property

It is usually much cheaper to rent a car in town rather than the airport. The airport has additional fees that can be avoided by renting a car in town. Check with hotels in the area and find out where you can pick up a car for the day. If you rent the car at the end of your trip, plan on returning it at the airport, avoiding a transportation fee to get back to the airport.

4. Rent for a day trip and return it after hours

If you’re planning to take a day trip, pick the car up from a hotel in the city. Return the car after hours and avoid the second day rental as long as it’s returned before they open the next day. In addition, you’ll avoid paying overnight parking fees as well. Drop by the car rental in the morning and pick up your receipt or have them email it to you.

5. Search the web for coupons

Determine which car company you plan to use, then do a search for coupons and discounts that apply to that rental company. Typically, you just need the code. Once you have it, apply it to your car rental. Weekly car rental coupons typically can save you $25.00 – $30.00. That’s quite a discount on a weekly car rental.

6. Stay over a Saturday night

Car rentals often discount the rate for a Saturday night stay over. Most coupons only work when there is a Saturday night stay over. If you’re planning to rent a car from Sunday – Saturday, you might have a much better deal renting from Saturday – Friday.

7. Rent a smaller vehicle and request a free upgrade

Rent an economy or compact car and often they’ll tell you they just upgraded you to a larger vehicle. Rental car companies tend to have an overflow of the larger vehicles and will usually upgrade you without additional cost. Check with them to see if they’ll give you a free upgrade.

8. Don’t opt for them to refill your gas

Always choose the option to bring the car back full of gas. If you elect to have the car rental company fill the gas tank for you, you’re paying for a full tank, regardless of how much you’ve used. Most times your tank is not registering on empty as you pull in to the car rental to return the car.

9. Check with your insurance company for coverage

If you already have car insurance, it probably covers car rentals. Check with your car insurance and find out what your car rental coverage is. This could save you quite a bit if you’re already covered.

10. Check with your credit card company for coverage

Most major credit cards provide for car rental insurance. Read the fine print as some state the reservation and the payment must be made with the same credit card.

There are so many ways to save money on rentals. Consider renting a car at the beginning or end of your trip, allowing you to avoid transportation costs to or from the airport. Plan your day trip requiring a vehicle at the start or end of your trip, to avoid keeping the car for the entire vacation.

Top 10 Tips For Maintaining Your Static Caravan

A static caravan is a great investment in your families future holidays. You can enjoy amazing times in your new holiday home but you should look at after your static caravan to ensure it stays in tip top condition year on year.

I thought I would give you some hints and tips on maintaining your caravan and I will write some more detailed advice in other articles, but this one covers the main areas.

1) Gas and Electric Maintenance

Your holiday home will most likely be fitted with a gas boiler which in some cases will be connected to a central heating system.

Annual maintenance of your boiler should be completed by a competent and registered engineer, however you can ensure that it’s running smoothly and highlight any concerns to your engineer as soon as possible. This will keep your overall costs down in future years.

As for electric systems I would recommend getting these annually checked for safety. Again, you can check if the fuses are in place correctly and that when you leave your static caravan that both the electric and bass is turned off at the main connection points to your plot.

2) Exterior Maintenance

Dirt will collect on your caravan throughout the year. Cleaning the exterior of your caravan will keep it looking great and will also ensure it stays waterproof.

You can use a jet wash or a cloth and detergent to clean the outside of your caravan. Windows can be cleaned with a normal window cleaning solution.

Ask your park manager if they offer a cleaning service or know someone who does if you feel this is a too greater task for you.

3) Guttering

One area to check on a regular basis are your gutters.

Remove any leaves and debris to ensure that water can pass easily away. This is a common cause of damp in caravans so by performing this quick and simple maintenance task your static caravan will perform as expected for many years.

4) Anchor your static caravan

You might think that your caravan weighs quite a bit, but high winds in the autumn and winter can cause them to flip over.

I would recommend that you anchor caravan and check this on a regular basis. Anchor chains will be available from all good caravan accessory retailers or ask your park manager if they can recommend a solution.

Some caravan parks will check and maintain this for you, however I would ask the question rather than just think its happening!

5) Window Latches and Doors

A new caravan can be installed with double glazing and uPVC doors. However I would advise that all windows and doors close and lock securely.

A static caravan can warp as it gets older, so checking that the seals are tight and all security features are in good working is a quick precaution that can save you money in the long term.

6) Check for rust

The chassis of your caravan will be constructed from a hardy metal however you should check for rust on other areas as your caravan gets older. This would especially be the case on any fittings attached to the caravan.

7) Wheels

It’s rare to have to move your static caravan however an annual inspection of your wheels will ensure that if it is required to be moved it will easily without issues such as getting cranes in.

8) Electric Fridge and Freezer

Your fridge and freezer will get some serious use each year. When you leave your caravan for a prolong period of the time and your fridge is not required I would advise that you allow the freezer section be correctly defrosted.

This will reduce any issues of water leakage and also reduce down any damp that could be created when not in use.

9) Internal Cleaning

I would recommend that you clean your caravan on a regular basis. As you perform the cleaning you will be able to notice any signs of wear and tear that could effect the life of your static caravan.

If you are unable to perform a deep clean your park manager will be able to advise of local cleaning companies that specialise in static caravan cleaning. They will report any problems they notice to you so you can react quickly and repair any problems before they get worse.

10) Static Caravan Insurance

Please, please, please ensure you have adequate static caravan insurance.

This is one area where many owners fail to get the correct level of cover. If its too cheap, then it probably won’t meet your requirements. Check your policy wording carefully and ensure that you are correctly covered for accidents or other insurance related claims.