Tips on Hiring a Car

When I travel overseas, I prefer to hire a car to explore my latest destination.  I just find it so much easier to be able to go where I want and to see what I want. Not to mention it provides shelter from bad weather, a place to put all of my things and a place to charge my phone and camera.

Hiring a car isn’t for everyone, but sometimes it is just the fear of not knowing how to hire a car that stops people from doing it. Hopefully the below tips will help you feel more confident to hire a car on your next adventure.

Step one – Researching a car

Picking the car hire company

I feel this more comes down to what comforts you. There are hundreds of different car hire companies around and some have a better reputation than others. Do your research and don’t forget to take budget into consideration!

Pick a car that will suit your needs

Are you going four wheel driving? City driving? Are there heaps of people in the car? Or will it be just you? Heaps of different factors to take in when you are browsing the internet for that perfect car.

Are you under the age of 25?

Essentially there is a fee if you are under 25 as the insurance costs so much more but it can be done. Some of the lesser known car hire companies may offer a waiver of the fee but please do your research first.

Do you need an International Drivers Permit (IDP)?

This answer can be covered with some quick Google research. But make sure you do it so you don’t waste your money or your time!! This is a step that quite a few people forget.

Some times you need lots of room in the boot!

Step Two – Signing the Papers

List all of the drivers that will drive

This is a requirement and you will thank your lucky stars if something goes wrong. Also don’t forget about the under 25 fee.

Get all of the details about the insurance

Ask about collision insurance, excess and any other insurances/fees you may have to pay in case of an accident.  Your travel insurance may cover this as well  but I would recommend doing your research beforehand.

Clarify the phone numbers in case there is an issue

This is a just in case although all of the paperwork you get from the car hire company should have the phone numbers written on them.

Returning the car with a full tank

Double check if you are to return the car with a full tank of fuel. If you don’t, you may get slapped with high prices to fill it back up. While you are there, check if the car takes diesel, unleaded petrol etc.

Ready for the car trip

Step Three – Checking out the Car

The cosmetics of the car

Walk around the car and film it, find any marks and scratches and make a note of it. This will hopefully save you if the car hire company has any issues with marks on the car upon its return.

Check the spare tyre, jack and brace

Is it all there and do you know how to use it? It is better to be safe than sorry!

Familiarise yourself with the car features

Reverse – I have been caught out with this one before. When I was in Scotland I could not work out how to get my car to reverse (it was manual). For the life of me, I couldn’t get it in the right gear. It turns out there was a little disk that I had to pull up and that would get me into reverse. Now this is quite common today but I had never come across it before!

Hand brake – Is it a foot pedal or is it next to the driver in the middle section?

Indicators/windscreen wipers – which sides are they on?

Cruise control – how to use it?

Petrol cap – are there any tricks on how to open it? Is there a lever you have to pull? Screw cap? Better to check before you get caught at the petrol station!

I hope these tips help you with finding the perfect car to hire and to get you out to explore! Let me know in the comments section below if you have any more tips about hiring a car!

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38 Comments

  • Garth

    January 22, 2017

    Good tips, it’s the collision waiver insurance they always try and sell you, like in Spain which is always a nightmare deciding on whether to take it or not, as it’s expensive. Have you come across that before?

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 23, 2017

      I have come across it before and I find it a hard one to decide. I like the peace of mind but I don’t like the price tag that comes with it. I don’t pay the extra money but maybe we will see if that is a mistake (hopefully not)

  • Aisha

    January 22, 2017

    Ha! In the US we call it renting a car. I love how we have different ways of saying the same thing. Great tips!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 22, 2017

      Haha it is pretty cool that we just have the little differences in our words! Thank you 🙂

  • Diana Chen

    January 22, 2017

    Great tips! I agree on the convenience factor, and that’s my #1 reason for renting a car too. My biggest complaint is that it’s not often the cheapest option, but I still end up doing it most of the time because my vacations are usually short and I want to make the most of my travel time. Thanks for sharing these practical tips 🙂

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 23, 2017

      I completely agree with you! It isn’t always the cheapest option but the freedom is usually totally worth it.

  • missairportsandpassports

    January 23, 2017

    These are all great tips. I am not a fan of driving in foreign places, which is why I never rent a vehicle. I may forget and drive on the wrong side of the road or fail to understand the road signs. Lol. These are fears of mine. I will, however, keep these tips in mind if I ever decide to rent a vehicle.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 23, 2017

      I completely understand those fears! There are some places that I am not mega keen on (eg, any places that doesn’t speak English. I just want to be able to understand the rules properly!). I have driven on the other side of the road accidentally a few times and it is definitely a wake up call!

  • 100cobbledroads

    January 23, 2017

    Reading this post of yours makes hiring a car abroad look like a cakewalk. We haven’t done it ever, but have been thinking/talking of a road trip across Australia sometime. These tips will definitely come in handy when that happens.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      May 20, 2017

      Thank you so much! Hiring a car shouldn’t be a daunting task. I would highly recommend hiring one in Australia, just due to the size of this place!!

  • Shona Grant

    January 23, 2017

    Good tips there!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 22, 2017

      Thank you very much!

  • Castaway with Crystal

    January 23, 2017

    Damn I wish I knew this the first time I hired a car! So confusing! Thanks for the info 🙂

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 22, 2017

      It really can be confusing when you aren’t sure! Hopefully this will help for next time.

  • kidsandcompass

    January 23, 2017

    Handy tips, thanks! I’m always bound to forget one of these. I remember when hiring a car at about 11.30pm in Spain that there was almost no petrol in the tank and I then missed the turning to the petrol station. Cue a very panicked 30 minutes driving round the nearest town trying to find another while the car ran on fumes…

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 23, 2017

      Oh that would really panic me as well. I freak out when I have a quarter of a tank let alone in a different country!!

  • Juliette @ Snorkels to Snow

    January 23, 2017

    Hiring a car is usually always a preference when travelling unless we are going to a major international city, as it gives us more flexibility to travel around!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 23, 2017

      I completely agree with you! I am not a big fan of travelling in the city (plus they usually have awesome public transport) but it is so much easier everywhere else.

  • benandjessadventures

    January 24, 2017

    I will uses this when i next hire a car thank you!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 22, 2017

      No worries, I hope it works for you!

  • Such a great idea. Leave the hassles to a professional. We did this in Scotland and were really pleased with our services, plus had a free guide.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 23, 2017

      Scotland was the easiest place to hire a car. It is just so much easier to leave it to the professionals.

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    January 24, 2017

    We would love to do this and your post has some valuable pointers. it would be great to be able to travel freely, stop wherever you wanted to and move around at your own pace.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 23, 2017

      It just makes it so much easier to have a freedom to stop and take photos whenever you want to! Hopefully these pointers will help you.

  • Jarrod

    January 24, 2017

    Haha look how stuff you packed into thatbtiny little car! Thats awesome! Looked like fun!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 22, 2017

      I know, right?? And it still wasn’t enough warm gear! I should also mention that the tiny car is my 4WD haha

  • Tracy Collins

    January 24, 2017

    Very useful and thorough guide! Will probably be hiring a car in Australia for our first few weeks – we tend to use public transport as much as possible though have hired cars 🚗 in France 🇫🇷

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 22, 2017

      I am glad you found it so useful. Some countries are great for public transport and others not so much. In Australia, the big cities are fine but it is much easier with a car for everything else.

  • Lisa (Simple Sojourner)

    January 26, 2017

    Great tips here! I do those these things myself. Fortunately, no issues really to speak of but I cover all of my bases. Less room to be cheated. Thanks for sharing.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 22, 2017

      Thanks Lisa. I am happy to hear that you are already doing all of these things and it has worked for you! 🙂

  • travelsewhere

    January 26, 2017

    Useful post Helena, definitely a bit of a process to go through which I think is what puts me off it. I generally stick to public transport but there have been times where I wish I had got a rental car. Will keep this in mind in future for sure.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 22, 2017

      Thank you 🙂 Definitely keep hiring a car in mind. It isn’t as much of a process when you get down to it. I just love the freedom of driving!

  • Siddharth and Shruti

    January 27, 2017

    This is really helpful. Thanks for sharing. We had rented a car in Iceland and had to do a fair bit of research. Ended up in a storm and damaged a part that was not covered by insurance 🙁 Expensive. Ugh

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      May 20, 2017

      Thank you for the comment. Oh no! That is definitely one of the risks with car hire. You just can’t predict storms 🙁

  • ThriftyTrails

    January 27, 2017

    Great tips! We definitely made sure to take pictures and video of our campervan inside and out before we took it on our road trip through New Zealand. You never know when having that footage will help you save thousands of dollars. Luckily our credit card comes with auto rental collision insurance so we saved by not having to the pay the optional insurance fee.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      June 22, 2017

      That is pretty good that your credit card has that insurance on it. It could definitely save you. But you are so right, a quick video could save you a lot of money!!

  • Travel Lexx

    January 28, 2017

    Very useful post – I have never hired a car on a trip abroad (except cars/camper vans in Aus but I was living there so a little different) but definitely would want to explore that way of travelling! Definitely will refer to this in the future!

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      April 16, 2017

      Thank you so much! I would definitely recommend if it there isn’t a great public transport system. I always enjoyed being able to stop where I wanted and to do what I wanted!

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