Renting a car when you're on an extended family holiday isn't a luxury – it's a necessity. At least when you're travelling with young kids in tow and even more so if those children are under ten. But there are a few more things to consider when making your booking to ensure a smooth ride for the whole family. Here are some of them.
The first thing you'll need to come to terms with is that when it comes to family travel, size really does matter. A family of four is going to have at least four pieces of luggage so make sure there is ample room for bags and bodies. We hope you won't need any extra room for body bags but if you're concerned, go supersize on your rental choice if you can afford it.
When choosing your rental vehicle also consider 'luxury' items that will make your trip more pleasurable. We recommend the Toyota Siennafor the sheer joy that only copious amounts of cup holders can bring to a road tripper.
If the ankle biters are still in the food-flicking, drink dribbling age bracket (and note that for some offspring this has been known to extend far into the double digits…past the sweet sixteen even) then it's likely you'll require acar seat. Be sure to enquire about this when making your booking as most car companies will charge an extra fee. If you're bringing your own you'll need to ensure it fits in the model you're hiring. Oh, and since it's in your interest to return the vehicle in the same, unstained state it was given to you, you might want to pack a picnic blanket or large towel to cover the upholstery on the back seat. Believe us: this will pay off.
If you're travelling interstate or from overseas then be sure to check the pick up location is near the airport. Getting a bus after a long flight is the last thing you'll want to deal with if you have a grouchy, sleep-deprived toddler. If it's a little further away, send Mum ahead to get the paper work happening while Dad herds the rest of the family.
If your rental car isn't space age with all the latest blue tooth and ipod interface capabilities then you must, absolutely and without fault, pack a bag of electronic goodies. Life saving equipment includes enough headphones forall and – this one is worth its weight in gold but relatively inexpensive – a headphone splitter. If little Johnny's ipod nano runs low on batteries he can plug in to Peggy Sue's ipod touch and they can – gasp – share it. Or, if you only have one portable DVD player or other video device then all the kids can enjoy Wall-E at once. Also consider packing or hiring neck supports (for naps), snack trays and sun shades. Well entertained, non sunburned children are infinitely more tractable.
The same can be said for teenagers but be warned that if they've just qualified for their licence then they are going to pester you to drive the shiny rental car. Do not allow this to happen unless you are certain they are listed as drivers and are insured. Many rental companies won't allow drivers under the age of 25 and others charge an additional fee. The legal age for unrestricted driving will also vary from State to State. You need to be clear on this when you pick up your car rentals.
And finally, always be aware of potential damage that you're covered (or not covered) for. The reasons for this are obvious. Nobody wants to think about the potential for an accident but that doesn't mean it won't happen! Check out our insurance page to see your different options and make sure you're happy with the level of cover you have.
You've probably heard of stories from friends about renting cars and being charged more than you expected for all sorts of strange fees. Use a comparison website like https://www.vroomvroomvroom.com to make sure there are no hidden fees. Summing up, next time you travel on the road in a rental car with your family, consider car size, airport pickup, gadgets, teen drivers and insurance and you'll find you have a very smooth vacation without any nasty surprises.