A rental car is an ideal way to travel around with kids in certain countries. We ourselves have rented a car in several countries (South Africa, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Croatia and Canada) and it did not always go well. Through trial and error, we’ve become wiser, which is why this list of nine things to look out for when renting a car abroad with kids.
Table of contents
Renting car abroad with kids
This is one of the most important things to consider when renting a car. Make sure the car is properly insured and don’t skimp on this.
You don’t want to cause an accident abroad and find out that your car is not properly insured.
It often turns out that the insurance you buy online is not enough. At least that is often claimed by the salesman at the counter where you pick up the car (he obviously gets commission if he sells additional items).
Read carefully beforehand to make sure everything is insured and read some reviews from other customers.
#2: Fuel Control
We recommend always choosing the full=full option here. This means you get a full tank with you and you return it full.
After all, you have several options, but they almost always cost extra money:
- Full = empty. Here, you often pay a fee for the fuel (which is higher than at the local pump) afterward, as well as a service fee (a few tens often, because an employee has to take the car to refuel). You understand that this is a great way for airlines to make extra money on your rental car
- Empty = empty. Here you have to fill up right away when you bring the car. In addition, you need to make a good estimate of how much gasoline you will use, because all the fuel you don’t use you lose.
#3: Size of the rental car
Pay close attention to the size of the car so that the suitcases and your kids will all fit in.
If you rent a very cheap small car, but you can’t get everything in the car, you will have to hope on the spot that a larger car is still available.
By the way, salespeople at the rental company on site often try to give you an upgrade. Then be wary right away, as this upgrade often comes with additional costs. So kindly decline this upgrade.
In Florida, the salesman claimed that our suitcases would absolutely not fit in the rented car, but when we arrived at the car, our suitcases could easily fit in the trunk.
#4: Number of kilometers
Some rental companies only allow you to drive a certain amount of miles per day. If it turns out afterwards that you have driven more kilometers, you pay extra per kilometer.
So look carefully in advance at approximately how many miles you are going to drive and add a 10% margin.
With the unlimited mileage option, of course, you don’t have to worry about this.
#5: Rental car excess
Insurance companies often charge a deductible so that the user of the car is careful.
If you make damage with your car, you will pay the first part of the damage yourself. So check carefully if you have a deductible, with the car. As a result, you pay less in rent, but if you make damage, you pay a certain amount.
These amounts are sometimes quite high and airlines often reserve this amount on your credit card. Make sure you have enough limit on your credit card or you won’t get the car.
This happened to us in South Africa and before it was settled with the bank, we were an hour away.
#6: Are you allowed to cross the border with your rental car
Check carefully in advance whether you are allowed to cross the border with your car if you want to visit several countries with your rental car. In fact, this may not be allowed and the car may not be insured.
Sometimes you pay an additional fee for crossing country borders.You often pay these fees only on the spot at the rental company, so include these costs in the total amount when comparing cars.
#7: Rental car accessories
Most parents will reserve a high chair with the rental car. Check carefully in advance what the cost of these is, as you often have to pay them on the spot.
Often you pay a rental fee per day, which can still be quite an amount if you rent a car for three weeks.
In addition, many people rent a GPS. With the app maps.me, you can also navigate easily with your phone and save the money of a GPS. Do download in advance the maps of a specific country where you will use the car, so you do not need the Internet.
Tip: Do make sure you know the exact cost of all accessories. The company you rent the car from online is often not the actual company in that country you are renting the car from.
For example, we had rented a car with free GPS through rentalcars.com from a local company in New Zealand and still had to pay extra for the GPS (otherwise we didn’t get the car). After long back and forth emails with Rentalcars, we still got the money back.
#8: Extra co-driver
If you have to drive long stretches, it is convenient that you can alternate who is driving.
With most airlines, you pay extra fees for an additional driver.
We ourselves never used this as we were never going to drive for hours at a time with our daughter anyway, so 1 driver was fine.
#9: Reviews from other users
It is always smart to read the reviews of other users with an unfamiliar airline.
For example, we rented a cheap car in Barcelona far too quickly with an unknown company and found that the reviews were tremendously bad (you still had to pay extra for everything on the spot).
In the end, we were still able to cancel the reservation and this mistake only cost us 20 euros. By reading several reviews, you will quickly get an idea of what kind of company you are dealing with.
Renting car abroad with kids: our favorite airline
Our favorite rental company is Sunny Cars. We have rented our car here in several countries and have never had any problems with this company.
You often pay a little more than the lowest rate from other providers, but then it includes all the insurance. As such, they do not recommend taking out additional insurance locally (as salespeople do always try to sell you that), since everything is included in the price.
You also don’t have a deductible, which allows us to drive you worry-free. Unfortunately, Sunny Cars is not in all countries, so then you still need to consider the above points when renting a car.