Get Latest Updates For Free!
Subscribe to get our Daily Scoops & New Car Alerts delivered to your mailbox instantly.
We hate spam! Check your inbox for a confirmation link.
Do you like this story?
Hiring a car at a holiday destination is a fantastic idea. It gives you the freedom to explore different locations at your own pace, without the limitations of travelling by public transport. If for example, you decide you’d like to explore somewhere in more detail, having your own car means that you stay for as long as you like. .
That said, there are certain things you’ll need to take into account before hiring a car abroad, including the different customs and driving laws of each country. We’ve create this brief guide, to help you prepare.
Organise a car
First things first, you’ll need to organise a car at your destination. The best option is to find a company that has an office in the airport you’ll be arriving at, otherwise you’ll have to travel into the city by public transport (with all of your luggage) to collect the car!
When it comes to choosing your hire car, it’s best to keep things sensible. If you’re used to driving a compact city car or having your own car, trying to teach yourself to handle a huge SUV on unfamiliar roads generally isn’t a good idea. Car hire companies generally organise their cars by size, in terms of passenger capacity and engine size, so you’ll need to familiarise yourself with what you’re used to.
To get an idea of how this works, take a look at the list of vehicles offered by Economy Car Hire as part of their car hire at Malaga Airport service. Though this company offers a specific car make and model as an example, they state that if this should be unavailable, something similar will be supplied. You shouldn’t worry if you notice disclaimers like this, as its standard practice for the industry.
Familiarise yourself with laws
Depending on which country you’re driving in, the laws will vary – so it’s impossible to list them all here. Basic things like sticking to the speed limits, indicating when moving lanes and not driving under the influence of alcohol are obviously going to apply wherever you go.
You can use sites the RAC and the AA to find information on the specific countries you’ll be visiting. Take a look this RAC guide to driving in Spain as a useful example. In some countries, driving laws apply to more than just how you drive. They can also cover what you should be carrying in the car with you. For example, if you’re driving through Portugal, you need to have a reflective vest and a warning triangle in the car at all times; failure to do so will see you landed with a heavy fine.
Learns the ways of the road
Let’s start with the basics; find out which side of the road you’ll be driving on. This might sound obvious, but you’d be amazed at the number of travellers who arrive at a destination, and proceed to leave the airport in the wrong lane. Again, places like the RAC and the AA are good places to find this out, as well as questioning friends and family who’ve experienced it for themselves.
It’s also a good idea to check whether toll roads and toll ways are part of the road system at your destination. Though these are relatively uncommon in the UK, they’re everywhere in continental Europe. The AA has a great service allowing you search for tolls by country and includes how much you’ll need to pay at each one.