It’s always this time of year that gives me itchy feet for travel; you can pretty much guarantee that the days here in the UK are dark, cold and invariably pretty wet. So it should come as no big surprise that January is the busiest month of the year for booking holidays. This year we’ve agreed that we’re going to attempt a ‘big’ holiday with two children for the first time. We’ve loved having our UK breaks this year but I think I speak for all of us when I say, I’m itching for a bit of sunshine and a laze by the pool with the cocktail… well a mum can dream, can’t she!?
When it comes to booking family holidays, there are a number of different options available from a fully planned, package option through to self-catering, and each with it’s own drawbacks and benefits. Do you go all inclusive and know before you go exactly how much the trip is going to cost you or do you go self-catered for a lower cost but with no break from cooking and washing up? A hotel room in a resort packed with activities or a villa/Air BnB that gives you more space for a young family? With our children being the age that they are now (3 and 1) we tend to swing more toward trips that will give us space and freedom in the evenings, allowing them to go to bed on time and for us to not be stuck in a hotel bathroom from 6.30pm onward. That means self-catered villas and of course, a hire car. We’ve partnered up with Discover Cars to share why we believe a hire car is a no brainer when you’re travelling with a young family and the different options that you have available to you.
Why Should I Hire A Car For Our Next Family Holiday?
If you’re travelling with little ones then I’d almost always recommend renting a hire car for part or all of your vacation. Why? It’s easy! A hire car gives you freedom and flexibility throughout your trip and can often work out more cost effective than taxis and transfers. Best of all, you can do all the planning in advance meaning that you just turn up and collect it when you arrive; one booking and then you’re free to come and go as much as you please – far less stressful than having to leap in and out of taxis to hunt down nappies in the early hours of the morning. Trust me.
What Are The Benefits Of Hiring A Car?
It’s easy to think of hiring a car as adding more stress to the arrival at the airport, but in reality this is often a thing of the past. Sure, it’s more involved than stepping straight on to a transfer shuttle or bus but after that, the benefits come into their own. Firstly, there’s no need to stop at every other hotel on the way to and from the airport; your car, your journey giving you far greater flexibility to come and go from your holiday at a time that suits you. That flexibility stays throughout the trip; fancy a day out exploring? No problem. Need to find a supermarket? Hop in and make an adventure of it. Want to visit the beach but don’t know how long you’ll need? Simple. There’s no need to book taxis to and fro or be tied to shuttle buses – both things that add additional stress when dealing with little ones at the best of times!
Next up, the most important (in my eyes) reason for hiring a car – safety. Whether you’re hiring car seats with your car or have chosen to bring your own with you, both options are often far safer than what a shuttle bus or taxi can offer those with young children. Unfortunately, just because you’re on holiday in a different country, it doesn’t mean you’re immune to road accidents so the same safety guidelines should apply just as they would at home. Transfer buses often don’t have safety seats for toddlers meaning they’ll be strapped in like adults if at all. As such I’d much rather use a vehicle that I know has properly fitted car seats rather than have to hope the taxi will have one or drag a car seat around with me all day for when I next need it. Hire cars all the way!
Lastly, if you’re looking to do a number of trips or are travelling as a larger group than a hire vehicle can work out far more cost effective than other options. Hire vehicles can often seat more people, whereas taxis are often limited to a maximum of four people, so if you’re travelling with 3 or more kids or grandparents, friends, siblings etc, then hiring is a no brainer. Whilst there may seem like a greater upfront cost, use a comparison tool to look at what each model will cost you and find out if there’s a charge for parking near your accommodation. In my experience, having hired cars extensively abroad both in Europe and the US; it’s often far cheaper across the whole trip to get a rental and far easier than you might think. Freedom, flexibility, safety and cost savings? What’s not to love?!
But, How Do I Hire A Car?
Every destination will have multiple different options for hire cars with many different companies all offering different models and package to tempt you. But how do you know which option is best for you and your family’s needs? That’s where hire car comparison sites such as Discover Cars come in to help you sort through what’s out there and make a decision that works for you based on cost and availability. You’ll be able to search online based on where and when you’re visiting and get quotes from over 500 different hire car providers – without the hard work of having to visit every single different site! With a 4.6 out of 5 rating on TrustPilot, you can be confident that they’re giving consistently great service to customers just like you and if you’re unsure or need a little help then they’re always available with 24/7 customer support… whether that’s dropping them an email, giving them a call or using their chat functionality at any stage of your booking process.
To make things simple, we’ve run through how to use them below…
Step One: Get Started
When you arrive at the Discover Cars site you’ll be asked to input where you want to collect your car from and the dates you want to hire from and until. If you’re flying in to an airport then this obviously dictates your collection location but if you’re just hiring it for a couple of days mid-trip, then you can put in the city or town that you’re staying in. Across the top of the screen you’ll have options to select your currency and language, allowing you to work in whichever best suits you. Input your details, check that you fit the main criteria for hire (most companies will quote based on you being between 30 and 65 years old and that you live in the UK – there may be extra fees on top if this isn’t the case) and then hit the search button. Congratulations, you’re on your way!
Step Two: Make Your Choices
Once you’ve hit search you’ll be met with a first pull at what meets your requirements. From here you can start to tailor your search criteria to help whittle down the number of options available to you and help you find the best match (I’m hoping Dave will pick up on my Orlando hints right about now…). Firstly, use the large selection boxes at the top to decide the car size that you’d like, from small to large and with extra options for people carriers or convertibles (yes please!) with handy hints next to it on how many people and bags each one carries. In my experience, I’d always go for a bigger car than you think you need, especially if you’re maxing out the suggested number of occupants and cases. You’ll be grateful later!
Next use the options down the side to choose additional extras you might want such as the type of fuel policy (my preference is normally full to full as you know where you stand) or the most important, if air conditioning is provided!
As you can see, based on us wanting a medium sized vehicle with air conditioning and a full to full fuel policy, our search has narrowed from 125 options down to a far more manageable six. On each car you’ll see the pick up location, the fuel policy, key points and at the bottom of each one it’ll show who the provider is along with a ranking out of ten as well as the cost. Based on this, I’ve decided to go with the Toyota Yaris iA option that’s slightly more expensive but comes from a provider with a far higher rating.
Step Three: Full Coverage Explained
Once you’ve decided on your car and hit view you’ll be taken to the next step in the booking process. This will run through the details that you’ve put in so far giving you the opportunity to double check dates and choices before confirming.
You’ll then get the option to look at Discover Cars ‘Full Coverage’ policy and decide if you want to opt for it or not. Full Coverage is designed to take the stress out of any car hire issues, you’ll still need to give a security deposit to the car hire provider but this acts as an insurance policy to cover those charges should the worst happen and the deposit be taken to cover an accident or damage. Put simply, you pay the charges to the rental company, and then claim it back under the Full Coverage policy up to a maximum of £2600.
Full Coverage will help cover any deductibles or excess charges around damage or theft, more expensive repair costs than basic protection, help toward towing or taxi costs if you breakdown or have an accident, lost keys and any admin costs. A basic screenshot showing what’s covered is shown below but for full details, it’s easy to find on the Discover Cars page just above the tick box diagram shown below.
For a small payment each day, Full Coverage can work out substantially more cost effective than a full insurance policy that’s offered directly by car hire providers whilst giving you a similar level of coverage. Need to extend the rental period? Don’t worry, it’s easy to extend your Full Coverage package as well. It’s at this point you can also select optional extras such as additional drivers or car seats.
Step Four: Finalise Your Booking
You’ve put in your requirements, chosen whether or not you want Full Coverage and maybe added in an extra driver. All that’s left to do is to put in your personal details and finalise your booking. My favourite part of this process is the summary breakdown that you can see in the grey box below. Here you’ll find the cost of the rental plus the additional costs for extras such as Full Coverage and an additional driver. You’ll also understand exactly how much you’re paying now and what will need to be paid upon collection of the car – making it really clear for budgeting purposes. If you’re happy, fill it in, check the cancellation policy and hit book now. Congratulations, it really is as simple as that!
Why Discover Cars?
With so many options available when it comes to hiring cars, comparison sites make life easier and speed up the entire booking process. But why Discover Cars over others? We love the simple to use website, the clarity around options and pricing and the back up support available. It’s easy to get in contact with them whether you’ve got an issue or just need a little help with the booking process. With customer support services there on the end of the phone, they can help guide you through your options to help you select the most suitable car for your location. Finally with such a good Trust Pilot rating, you can have confidence that you’re making a purchase from a reputable provider who’s worked with thousands of customers just like you and given great results.
What Happens Next?
Once you’ve booked your car hire, you don’t need to worry about it until you go to make your collection although you can access your booking online at any stage. At this point, take your booking details, your driving license and your credit card with you to collect your car – your booking will have full details of where you collect from and whether you need to take a shuttle or can collect from the terminal directly. You’ll need to show your license and give a security deposit to the provider before being shown to your car. At this point you can often book a sat-nav (VERY helpful!) and add any extras you may have forgotten. You’ll be shown to your car and asked to check it for any dents or damage. My advice would be to take videos or photos of the car before you get in so that you’ve got proof of any issues should you need them. Be sure to highlight these to the hire company before you drive away. All that’s left to do is to enjoy your family holiday – sit back, enjoy the freedom and start relaxing… you’ve got it all sorted!