Family travel: Tips for car hire overseas and road trips with children
We love a good road trip and it is truly wonderful way to have a family adventure. With lots of flexibility you are really able to enjoy more off the beaten path attractions. After hiring cars in New Zealand and Malaysia we have had plenty of experience and learnt (in some cases the hard way) of things to take into consideration when hiring a car. Below are some of my top tips for car hire overseas and road trips with children!
Tips for car hire
Research is key before you go! There is a wealth of knowledge which travellers can access yet I am always surprised that people travel so under-prepared. Always check reviews of companies, the biggest companies aren’t necessarily always the best and pay attention to the small print. Are there any extra charges? Is there is any restriction on mileage, daily or over the term of your hire? If you are crossing over islands like we did in New Zealand is this allowed under the terms of your policy? Again in Europe, where it is easy to travel to a neighbouring country for a day trip, is this allowable? Also, check what extras you want or need before you get there otherwise you may be sold much more then you wanted.
This again falls part and parcel of your research, it is important to decide whether you should buy insurance waiver cover before you travel? Dependent on the terms of your hire policy there is often a set amount of insurance liability which you must pay in the event of damage (even if the fault was not yours!). I would recommend reading and understanding what the small print stipulates as some of these can be extortionate! You can buy additional insurances before you travel or you can add these on to your hire when you pick up the car. We have always added ours on at the time of collecting the car and the piece of mind cannot be beaten.
Travelling with children does add a lots of paraphernalia to your packing list but car seats are an essential. When you price up the costs of hiring car seats you will be shocked how much extra these add to your daily cost of hire. If your children are old enough for a booster seat, there are great options from Bubblebum to the Trunki booster. For babies, I would recommend that you take your own, you have no idea the condition of the car seat you will be given and for your peace of mind, your own would be the ideal option. There is lots more information about different car seats here.
The condition of the car
We have been stung by this previously. Before you get into the car, take pictures of the interior and exterior of the car. If you find any damage, however small (scratches to the paintwork / rips in the seats) I would make a note of these and also take pictures on your phone / camera as evidence if any dispute should arise. The lawyer in me is always on high alert when I am signing a contract and we have learnt to ensure that we and the hire company are aware of the condition in which we received the car.
We ventured on a French road trip in May half term and were shocked by the amount of additional rules which we needed to adhere to whilst driving in France. With tightening security it is always best to ensure that you fully adhere to the local rules to ensure that you are not accidentally breaking local rules.
Tips for a road trip with children
Our little adventurers can now manage 5 hour stints in the car before we need to take a break. Having lots of snacks to hand is the key in successful road tripping. We pack a good range of fruit, healthy treats like raisins and fruit bites to crisps and chocolate. Travel / treat size snacks work best as you want to make sure the children have enough to distract them for a while without having too many treats.
My little adventurers are pretty amazing in the car and we rarely hear a peep from them. However, we still have lots of things on hand to help make the journey more enjoyable. We have a very eclectic music playlist on my phone and the children are happy to listen to these for a couple of hours. I would recommend that all hand held devices such as the iPads, computer consoles are fully charged before you set off and you bring along a car charger (with extra long charge wire) just in case you need a charge top up during the journey. Another thing which is really popular with our children are these free car journey printables.
Tidy as you go is the advice I give to all families. At every car stop, we spend 5 minutes collating all the rubbish we have amassed and make sure we chuck these in the bin. This is the best way to stay on top of it all and ensure that your car doesn’t come to resemble a wasteland by the end of the road trip!
For more travel tips, Holiday Autos have this short video to help travellers!
*This is a collaborative post