Monday, 26 October 2015

Tips to Rent a SUV or a 4x4 Car Rental at best prices

Travelling to some regions can be difficult especially if the terrains are tough. However, this problem can be solved easily by hiring a 4x4 car especially if you are travelling with a team. 4x4 car hire is important especially if you want to drive off-road as many rental companies do not allow other smaller vehicles to be used on such roads. Below are some few tips to help you hire a 4x4 car:

Fuel type: Different 4x4 cars normally use either diesel or petrol. If you want to spend less on gas, then it would be advisable to choose a diesel engine as this is normally cheaper especially if you are supposed to return the car on a full tank. There is a notable cost difference between one litre of diesel and that of petrol and this could affect your budget significantly.

Fuel economy: Different 4x4 car models are designed with different fuel economy capacities. For example, you will find one car that consumes 1 litre per 7 kilometres while another one consumes the same amount of fuel for every 8km. This is an important consideration to keep in mind when renting your car.

Hire online:  Hiring your car online ( helps you save more money especially if you do it early enough. Take advantage of the significant discounts offered online.

You should also look for any extras that will help make your trip convenient and enjoyable. If you are out for camping, consider whether the 4x4 car hire company offers camping equipments and such items. Always consider the cost and compare prices from different companies.

Call Us Now to Know more for Dubai 800 4770 and Abu Dhabi 800 701

A Drive to 7 Emirates in United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is made up of seven emirates and is situated at the entrance of the Arabian or Persian Gulf, on the eastern side of Arabian Peninsula. The emirates are magical in that they have modern development and roads are fantastic thus allowing for exciting drives especially if you are visiting and would want to sample the beauty of the coastlines on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

There are many places to visit and a lot of attractions to sample including some of the world’s largest sand dunes located in Liwa Oasis area within the southern part of Abu Dhabi. There are also world class beaches on the eastern side, natural rock formations and archeological sites in Hajar Mountains not to mention the remote rugged Wadis located on the northern part of the emirates.

Car rentals are commonly used for travelling around the 7 emirates of U.A.E but you must be 25 years and above to rent a car in Dubai and drive along. This is in addition to the other legal requirements such as international driving license. Connecting between the emirates is easy and distances are shorter, plus the road network is superb. Among the many advantages is that renting a car in the emirates is cheaper that is the case with many other countries. There is need to be careful when driving along the U.A.E roads as many drivers tend to be a little bit reckless and this has led to a high death rate as a result of many road carnages.

You can travel the 7 Emirates in just 9 days. Plan a schedule like below. If you wish to go to attractions – spend 2 days more.

1st Day – Dubai -  if you are a shopping freak then keep 2 days to go around shopping in malls.
2nd Day –Visit to Sharjah and Ajman
3rd Day – Visit  Umm-Al-Quwain
4th Day – Visit Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah
5th Day -  Visit The Old Souk Via Abra (Traditional Boat)
6th Day – Visit Abu Dhabi & Al Ain City
7th Day – Go around Abu Dhabi attractions with Ferrari World on Yas Island

You can enjoy the amazing Wadi bashing or desert safaris which are fantastic especially if you rent a four wheel drive vehicle. The federation of seven emirates is definitely a great place to be in especially if you are looking for superb holiday sports in the Middle East.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Airport Car Hire

Travelling to new places always has its own share of excitement especially if you are the kind that likes seeing new things. However, travelling can also be very stressful especially if you have to rely on taxis and public buses when you have no time to keep on waiting or the money to pay for metered trips. Dubai luxury car hire however helps you take charge of your travelling especially in eliminating the hassles and high cost of road trips as you can get some of the most affordable and convenient models of luxury cars to take you anywhere in Dubai and the entire United Arab Emirates.

Whether you are travelling to Dubai for business or leisure, it is possible to book airport car rentals or if this is not an option you would like, you could still find an ideal package and pick up your car right within the great city. Thrifty offers amazing deals and services giving you an experience like no other throughout your travelling. Getting car hire cheap is always easy especially if you take time to book via .
We offer solutions which are always flexible thus making it easy for you to tailor the available packages to easily fit your travelling needs. Whether you are travelling alone or in a group, you will always be assured of friendly packages that will make your rides smooth and convenient. Some of the great advantages of booking car in dubai include:

Flexibility of time
Thrifty normally offers services to suit ourcustomers’ plans. We normally give top priority to customer satisfaction thus making it possible for renters to enjoy alternate booking. With 24/7 live booking services online, you can enjoy premium road travelling services that will leave you satisfied and stress-free. In fact, you will always find us in Dubai that will help fix your car rental arrangements whenever you are stuck in any way.

Instant services
Mostly, no one wants to spend their time standing at the airport booths after a long flight or even worse to stand in the streets waving at cabs. With Thrifty, you will always find professional handlers who are waiting for you in the airport (in case you have opted for airport rentals) or at the car rental pickup location so as to offer instant rental solutions. Car rentals have employees who are dedicated in the provision of fast and convenient services based on the car rental agreements.

Suitable Dubai luxury car hire services
Thrifty normally tailor their services in such a way that you will never be disappointed whether seeking for convenient airport transfers or pickups. These services are designed to suit customers’ convenience, economical and availability.

Amazing deals
Thrifty offers a wide range of packages suited for different needs and occasions. Whether looking for a BMW or Audi’s, you will always be surprised to find a car that best suits your needs. There are many fabulous cars in the fleet which you can use to customize your Dubai car hire needs for a smooth and relaxed ride. Booking car in dubai early is always advisable as it helps save money and reserve the exact car that you need. Rent a Car Dubai Now.

10 Most Common Car Rental Myths

When it comes to car rentals, there are many things that you might have heard out of which many are true while others are just myths. Below are 10 common myths surrounding car rentals that we would like to debunk.

1. You’ll pay the same price if you show up on your travelling date without a reservation Booking your rental car early is always advisable. This not only helps you save money but also guarantees that you have a car ready when you arrive. During peak seasons, prices will always be high especially if you are a walk-in car renter and chances of getting a car are always slim.

2. Only rent from major companies like Thrifty because local car rental services you get from these small companies would not match what you would get from the multinationals.

3. You will always be charged for damage This is a very common myth. Customers always make calls with a story of how a friend of their friend’s friend was charged for damages after renting a car. This myth is also propagated by car rental reviews from many customers and it is easy to conclude that all damages will be charged. As a matter of fact, damages charged to clients are very rare and the percentage for this is very negligible.

4. You’ll be charged full day once you pick your rental car for 1 hour at 23:00 This is totally untrue. Rental clock doesn’t start ticking at midnight but rather when you pick up your rental car. The time is then calculated in blocks of 24 hours, meaning that if the rental is returned 3 days later before or at 23:00 that is counted as a 3-day rental and not 4. You do not have to wait until past midnight to make your booking, there is no need for that.

5. Car rental companies have their offices open 24/7 Since airports are open 24/7, why should rental companies close their offices? This is a common presumption among many people who think they can pick up or drop off their rental cars any time without incurring additional charges. It is good to check the car rental company’s office hours and charges levied for picking or dropping off rental cars after office hours. You discounted flight might help you save $30 USD but cost you more at the end if you are collecting the car outside office hours.

6. There is no difference in rental companies Many customers make the mistake of assuming that they will rent a car today under the same terms they were subjected to in 2008 when they rented a car in Dubai. Every rental company has its own T&Cs and although some might look similar, it is good to note the significant differences which might end up surprising you if you fail to read the T&Cs. Rental companies keep on changing as time goes by.

7. It’s okay to show up the following day if you have missed your flight Car rental companies will give you an allowance of about an hour based on the time you’ve indicated during your reservation. If you have given your flight details to the company and a delay occurs, the common thing is that they will follow up to know what is happening. However, if the flight doesn’t show up and you arrive on a different flight, don’t presume that the rental car will still be waiting for you since it might be hired to someone else or returned back to the company fleet. Any changes should be communicated accordingly as any “unclaimed” car will easily attract top dollar especially when someone turns up in need and they did not have a reservation.

8. Credit cards are different from debit cards All car rental companies ask for a credit card which cannot be substituted for a debit card. Credit cards help in pre-authorizing or blocking excess amounts during the car hire process and once the car is returned, the blocked amount is released back. The amount doesn’t reflect as a transaction and there is no transaction fee or interest rate thus making the card the best for blocking and unblocking such transactions. On the contrary, debit cards do not offer the blocking facility but instead money is taken out and must be refunded thus attracting foreign transaction or usual transaction fees together with exchange rate differences. A debit card can also be stressful to use since the refunds normally take up to 10 working days.

9. I’ll definitely get the car model I booked Although you will be given a car of the same size as the one you booked, there is no guarantee that it will be the exact model. The number of doors and seating capacity will be the same but everything else might be different since rental industry uses SIPP codes to allocate the rental cars. This might not mean anything to you as a customer but indicates the car type and size you book. You never are given a promise as far as color, model or make of rental vehicle is concerned. However, you cannot be given something smaller than what you booked.

10. We use foreign language for rental agreements we feature contracts in English and do not require any form of translation. Our representatives are also fluent in English and therefore easy to communicate with.

Car Seats - To Hire or Take Your Own?

Hiring a car for your summer holiday is a great way to get out and about with the family and see the sights that the organised coach trips might miss. The surge of budget airlines shows no signs of slowing and the traditional package holiday is becoming less and less appealing to families and that in turn is having a positive impact on car hire with more and more of us looking for our own transport.

It is however a significant expense and adds to the overall cost of the family holiday. The base rental prices are often very competitive, however it’s when you start to add the extras you can really see the price jump. Here we take a look at the pro’s and con’s of taking your own baby / infant seat on holiday to use in the hire car rather than hiring one from the rental agent.
“Should I take my own car seat on holiday or rent one?”


A typical weeks rental of a car seat can be as much as 50 EUR, factor in families that have 2 or more babies / children that require a seat and that’s a significant cost on top of the rental. Most airlines will allow children (under 2) to carry 2 items of luggage in the hold, so this might be a push chair or travel cot, so it might be wise to take your own car seat as one of these items. Alternatively, you can pay for extra hold luggage at around £25 (always check with your airline before travelling to avoid unexpected costs). If you factor this in against the cost of hiring a car seat you could make a healthy saving.
Most car seats are compatible with modern cars, however the manufacturer will advise what make and model of car the seat is designed to fit. As the vast majority of rental cars are current make and models it’s rare to have compatibility issues, however we do recommend you check and also make sure you book a car of suitable size. For example, it’s unlikely that you would fit 3 child seats in the back of a mini / economy class car.

Quality / Safety

Whilst all child seats provided by car rental suppliers should be of an acceptable standard, it’s worth noting that not all countries will have the same standards, so what is deemed satisfactory in one country may not be what is deemed acceptable in the UK. You will usually find that most rental agents provide main brand car seats such as Britax, Maxi-Cosi etc, however if you are particular about which car seat your child sits in, it’s best to take your own.

Also, whilst the rental agent will fit the car seat for you so it’s ready for your arrival, we would always recommend that you check the fitting of the seat is correct and that you are satisfied.


Many people are concerned that their expensive car seat may be damaged if taking on a flight. Damaged suitcases are not uncommon, 

Ultimately, the decision is with the customer, however for assurance on quality and safety, we recommend that customers hire a car seat for peace of mind and also take responsibility for ensuring it's fitted correctly into the hire car. It could also work out significantly cheaper!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Nine Ways to Keep Your Car Safe on the Road

Travelers put their cars to almost every use imaginable: as a place to eat meals, hide things, take shelter from the elements and even live (on a trip to Pamplona several years ago, the smallest guy in our traveling party slept in the trunk).

thief robbery burglary car vehicle auto theft criminalSince your car can be almost your home away from home while traveling, you will want to take some precautions to protect it and the things inside it. Ideally, you wouldn't leave anything valuable at all in your car, but the reality of travel is that your car is going to serve as much like a safe deposit box or luggage storage closet as transportation -- especially during the day when you're between hotels. Read on for nine tips to help you protect your car and everything in it while traveling.

1. Load and hide your stuff before you reach your destination.

By the time you pull into a hotel lot, valet queue, parking garage or any parking spot, everything you plan to leave in the car should already be well stowed and hidden. To pull into your spot, and then take your most valuable items and pack them in the trunk, is to broadcast to anyone within view exactly where to focus their attentions if they want to rip you off. The best approach is to put your things in the trunk or other safe compartment before you even get into the car at the beginning of your trip.

2. Unload your stuff away from your parking spaces as well.

Similarly, if you are planning to return to the same parking area, you will want to take your stuff out of the car away from the lot if possible. If you open the trunk and take out all the good stuff each time you return to your car, eventually someone will notice. Best case is to be able to pull over somewhere safe away from either your home base or destination, and get your stuff then.

3. Choose your parking space wisely.

When I lived in Manhattan, I found that a shift of a few feet in where you left your car overnight could make the difference between your car being safe and your car being robbed. On one street in particular, there was a fire hydrant in the middle of the block, and all cars on one side of the No Parking Fire Zone were safe, and most cars on the other side were robbed on a regular basis. It had everything to do with sightlines; the spots beyond the fire hydrant could not be seen by folks in the foyers or lobbies of any of the local buildings. Out of sight, out of safety.
Here are my recommendations for your best parking spots when traveling:
A) In airport lots, I recommend parking in view of the exit toll booths or parking office if possible, or just as well within view of a shuttle pickup location or kiosk. The increased foot traffic and eyeball count will discourage potential thieves. Well-lit areas are next best; most airport lots have surveillance cameras in place, so making it easier for an attendant to see your car on a grainy camera will help.
B) Park "trunk out." If you are storing items in your trunk, you will want to point the trunk out into the lot aisle, where more people can see anyone trying to break in. Don't give thieves the opportunity to use your car as cover while ripping you off.
C) When parking on the street, try to park within sight of a busy store or hotel entrance, under a street lamp, near a busy corner or out in the open away from things that might provide shelter to a thief (like thick or low-hanging trees). The busier the street, the better.

4. When in doubt, use a parking garage.
parking garage

Parking on the street is the most vulnerable place to be, so if you are uncomfortable with your street parking options, by all means use a parking garage instead. Although you are safer in a parking garage, that does not mean that you are invulnerable; certainly enough travelers get ripped off by garage personnel everywhere. Remove or lock up any really juicy items -- GPS units, accessories for your cell phone or MP3 player, a loose E-ZPass apparatus -- in order to remove temptation. All of the same precautions above apply; no matter where you park, make it as difficult and uninspiring to potential thieves as possible.

5. Self park when you can.

Most attendant or valet parking garages are safe on the whole -- but if you make it too easy, the temptation to steal can be too great for a person working at or near minimum wage.

6. Assume thieves want to steal your car.

It turns out that most thieves will try to steal a car outright rather than break into a car; if there is anything valuable inside, they can take it and dump the vehicle, and certainly there is a market for hot cars as well. For this reason, parking your car in a well-lit place where there is likely to be some foot traffic is always a good idea. Similarly, visual cues that might deter a thief can be critical -- even if they are just for show. Things like a steering wheel lock or a blinking alarm system light will inspire thieves to move on to the next vehicle, even if you don't have the alarm activated.

7. A neat car is less likely to get robbed.

A car that is filled with jackets or beach towels that appear to be covering items of value, or that has wires sticking out here and there suggesting that electronic devices may also be stowed, are much more likely to attract interest. If a potential thief sees nothing but car upholstery, he or she is less likely to be curious about what might be hidden in the car.

8. Check for your valuables as soon as you return to your car.

Notwithstanding our second rule above, if you have any suspicions, you will want to make sure nothing was stolen before you pull out. If your car does get ripped off, you want to figure it out at or near the location it was robbed, in case you have to file a complaint. When surveying your vehicle, keep in mind that thieves know what to take -- often items you won't notice until you are long gone. For example, a common tactic is to take a camera out of a camera bag, but leave the bag behind; it looks like it was undisturbed so you won't figure it out for hours or days.

9. Rent wisely.

A) Rent models that are not easily exposed or broken into, and that have a trunk big enough to store anything you need secured. A hip and tiny convertible sounds like a great idea, but it could not be harder to hide stuff, and easier to break into.

B) The more modest and nondescript the rental model, the less likely to attract attention it is.

C) Don't leave your rental contract in the car, as this document has just about all the information you will need if the car is stolen -- and also all the information a thief will need to evade detection if he or she is stopped for any reason before you report the vehicle as stolen.
Remember that as a traveler or tourist, you are a mark. Making the time and effort to take a few precautions with your vehicular home away from home can help ensure that you and all your stuff return home intact.

For More Info Visit us on or call 800 4770

The First 10 Minutes of Your Car Rental

If most auto accidents occur within one mile of the departure or destination site, then most car rental auto accidents must occur within a few hundred feet of the car rental parking lot.

We've all done it -- hopped into the rental vehicle, started it up and headed out into the streets. Then, in the midst of airport traffic with buses bearing down on you and taxis nearly swiping you, you're trying to read utterly illogical signage as you start groping for knobs, headlights, windshield wipers, window controls, defroster/heat controls or the radio seek button.

Check for scratches, dings or tears. If the car rental agent is circling your car with a pad making notes of scratches and blemishes, make sure you do the same. I've rarely failed to find a scratch or two that the agent missed, and if they're going to hold you to this process, you should do the same in return. Don't be afraid to take pictures with your camera or smartphone.

Start the car. Although it wastes gas and pollutes, you might find that allowing the car to warm up is a good call. This affords you the opportunity to make sure the car is running fairly well, with no strange noises. Although most people take a good look for scratches and dings so they won't be charged upon return, they rarely check how the car is running.

Find and turn on heat/air-conditioning. This will allow the interior to heat up or cool down, depending on the season, while you get your bearings. A dark blue Neon is going to be blistering hot in the summer. Turn on the air-conditioning and let the car cool down while you continue your orientation program.

a man and woman looking at a map in the front seat of a carConsult a map, whether paper or via your phone or a GPS. Car rental lots are often inconveniently located in the outer reaches of the airport loop road organism. If you take a wrong turn out of the lot, you may find yourself back at baggage claim before you know it. Most car rental agencies will give you a map of the area that pinpoints the location of the rental lot; take out and consult this map, and formulate your intended route out of the car rental void and into the world.
If you have a GPS, this is the time to set it. But we always recommend having a map as a back-up.

Fix your mirrors. A quick adjust to the rear view won't do it -- you've got to deal with the side mirrors. If you're traveling with someone, he or she can help. This will save you some heartbeats when you first have to merge into heavy traffic.

Figure out the radio. Despite the nonessential nature of the radio, this may be the most important step. Drivers tinkering with radio dials continue to be a leading cause of car accidents. (In my case, the only accident I've ever caused occurred when I rear-ended a police car while rooting around for a cassette tape.)
For the quickest approach, turn on the radio, figure out how to program stations into memory, find the seek button and move on.
I encourage you to take your time with this -- although the corporatization and franchising of radio has rendered the public airwaves almost uniform from coast to coast, some vestige of regional character remains at both ends of the dial and on both bands.

Find the window controls. When you arrive at the first toll booth and you're fishing around for the controls, and doors are clicking open, windshield wipers are going on and off, and rear windows are going up and down, you'll thank me for saving you the embarrassment.

Find the turn signals. This one is usually pretty straightforward, and will be exactly where you expect it to be. With all the ergonomic "improvements" to auto interior spaces that have forced me to write this article, the location of the directionals has changed very little since I was learning to drive.

rainy car windshield with the wipers goingFind the windshield wipers. Do this before you figure out the lights. As the sun sets, you'll have plenty of time to discover how to turn the lights on and off. If it starts raining suddenly, you'll be frantically hitting buttons in search of your wipers.

Locate the lights. This is a two-step task.
1. Find the on-off switch. When an approaching police car starts flashing its lights at you to turn on your own lights, you can now do so before the cop is past you and he won't turn around and pull you over.
2. Figure out the high beams. When you turn on your lights and the high beams are on, you can now turn them down -- you can also give a "thanks!" or a "go ahead, I'm lost" flash to the guy who cuts you a break when you're trying to figure out how to drive this high-tech Neon.

Find the fuel latch, if there is one. Save yourself the embarrassment of popping open the trunk during your first fill up at the pump by figuring out where the fuel cover latch is right now.

Check the emergency brake. Is it on? You don't want the car rental employees to pick up the smell of burning brakes even before you leave the lot. Find it and release it.

Put the car in gear and head for the exits.

Head out the driveway and into the world.

Say, "Darn it, which way do we go again? Where's that map? How do you put this window down? Could you fix that mirror?" Repeat.

Got it? Remember, it can get worse – you could be driving on the opposite side of the road.

Monday, 12 October 2015

International Car Rental Tips

Need wheels for your next trip abroad? There's more to consider than driving on the "other" side of the road. From international driving permits to liability insurance, renting a car in a foreign country can be a bit more complicated than renting one at home. Here are some tips for getting a great deal, making sure you have the right documentation and driving safely while abroad.

Booking Your Car

Book in advance. Rental rates are almost always higher at the counter than they will be over the phone or online, even just 24 hours before pickup. If you have time, comparison shop. Visit our website and search for various cars on your travel dates.

Whenever possible, make all car rental arrangements, from booking to payment, before you leave your home country. Doing it this way generally makes the process cheaper, easier, safer and less likely to include hidden clauses. Once you are overseas, shifting exchange rates, unfamiliar rental specs, language barriers and other cultural differences can cause unexpected problems.

Ask about weekend specials, late penalties and gas charges. Many unadvertised discounts and hidden costs will not be explained at the time of rental, and it may be too late by the time you've discovered them.

Ask what time a car is expected for drop-off. Many rental agencies begin charging for each 24-hour-period from the time of rental, and will bill a full day for cars returned after another 24-hour period begins.

Be aware that many countries have a minimum and maximum age for renters. Drivers under the age of 25 or over the age of 70 may face surcharges or not be permitted to rent at all.

When making reservations for car rental pickups at an airport, choose a smaller car than you would typically desire. Airport fleets are often stocked with larger cars, as they are primarily used by business travelers, and you will often receive a free upgrade from a subcompact booking. Be aware, however, that European cars tend to be smaller than their American counterparts; while this might be useful if you're planning on driving on narrow country roads, it's not so great for those who are extra tall, carrying a lot of luggage, or traveling with a family or large group. In these cases, don't take a risk -- be sure to order the size you need just in case you don't get an upgrade.
In many countries, manual transmissions are the norm and you'll have to pay a premium for an automatic. If you can drive a stick shift, it could save you money and hassles. Driving overseas can often be more strenuous than what you're used to at home; roads may be poorly paved, winding, or precariously placed on a mountainside or ocean cliff. For this reason, it's often a good idea to divide up the driving -- so if not everyone can drive a manual transmission, consider looking for an automatic. Also, if you're going to a country like England or Australia, be sure everyone's comfortable with driving on the left side of the road -- it can be challenging!

International Driving Permits

If you're traveling to an English-speaking country, chances are you'll be able to get by with an American driver's license. However, many other countries will ask that you also obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP), which is basically just a piece of paper that translates your information into 10 different languages and is recognized by over 150 countries. If you are planning to rent a car abroad, you may be asked to present one along with your regular state license. You must be at least 18 years old to get an IDP.

Know Before You Go

Familiarize yourself with the local rules of the road well before you actually get into the car. Study up on such details as which side of the road to drive on, who has the right of way in a traffic circle and whether you're permitted to turn right on a red light. The best sources for this type of information are the country's consulate or embassy, or an up-to-date guidebook.

Most car rental companies offer GPS rentals; check the GPS rental rates for your rental car before you purchase an international map from your GPS provider. 

Car Rental Tips

Need wheels on your next trip? Renting a car can give you freedom and flexibility when you're traveling, and in some parts of the world it's the only feasible way to get around. 

But a rental car can sometimes add complications to your trip -- like trying to find the best deal or sorting out exactly which insurance options you need. Read on for our practical tips on saving money, understanding your rental agreement and avoiding problems with your car rental.

Choosing a Vehicle

Think carefully about what kind of vehicle you'll need. If you're traveling with children or with a lot of gear, you may want a large sedan or SUV. If you're simply looking to save money on rental rates and gas, you'll want to reserve the smallest available model.

But size isn't the only factor. Can't drive a stick shift? Be sure to reserve a car with automatic transmission. (In many countries, a manual transmission is the norm -- so read the fine print before booking. Learn more with our International Car Rental Tips.) Also, be sure that the company from which you're renting offers any extras you might need or want, such as baby car seat or GPS system.

Booking Your Car

How long will you be renting? If it's for less than a week, you'll probably do best with a major rental company such as ours Thrifty Car Rental , Remember, however, to be wary of local companies if you plan to drive a lot; if you break down or get into an accident, they usually lack the support services of the majors. 

Understanding Your Rental

If you're booking online, read the terms and conditions carefully before confirming your reservation. If you're booking over the phone, ask the agent about restrictions. Be sure you understand the conditions of your reservation. Is there a penalty for no-shows? How long will the car be held if you're stuck in traffic on the way to the pickup station? Is there a fee for additional drivers and must their names be listed in the contract? Is your 20-year-old daughter old enough to drive the car? (For liability reasons, this is important.)

If pertinent, ask about any restrictions on interstate travel. For your own protection in case of breakdown, be sure the company has offices in all the states on your itinerary.

At Pickup Time

Before you drive away from the pickup station, inspect the car carefully for body damage. Be sure the lights and turn signals are working properly, and check the mileage odometer. Report any defects at once.

Familiarize yourself with the workings of the car before you leave the lot. Check which side your gas tank is on, and learn how to use the headlights, windshield wipers and turn signal. It may seem obvious, but you'll also want to memorize the make, model and color of your car -- that way you won't lose it the first time you park in a busy lot!

Returning Your Car
Be wary of prepaid gasoline plans. Always fill the tank yourself before returning the vehicle so that you're only paying for the amount of gas you actually used.

Before leaving the vehicle, check to be sure you haven't left any personal belongings. Don't forget to check the trunk! The most common lost articles include cell phones, sunglasses and umbrellas.

Be sure that the check-in attendant inspects the car's body in your presence and that you agree about any damage. Examine your rental agreement carefully for all charges and make sure they credit any deposit to your account while you wait.