In Part 1 of our guide on how to travel smarter, we showed you how you can get the best deals when it comes to hotels and airline tickets by using techniques that guarantee you get the best bang for your buck.
Now while a plane and a hotel (or Airbnb/room) are usually must haves when it comes to planning your holiday (no i didn’t forget you outdoorsy folks, that guide is coming soon), part two of this article is more optional.
Sure not everyone needs a car for their holiday. Maybe you’ll go to a place where everything is included.
Or where public transportation is top notch. Or maybe you don’t even want to explore more than your immediate surroundings, and that’s fine.
But if you want the freedom to go to places that are off the beaten track, that are not included in your typical tourist guides then a vehicle (be it a car, a scooter, a bike, etc.) will give you the freedom to explore on your own terms.
Renting a car can drastically increase the price of your holiday.
As presented in part 1, we have to do this in a smarter way as not break the bank and in the process to have a nice pair of wheels and some money to enjoy out travel adventure.
The travel is getting back to normal, but it’s not there yet. And that means that companies (such as airlines, hotels, car rentals, etc.) still have plenty of uncertainty to deal with when it comes to their business.
Because of this their main goal will be to find customers even if they have to reduce their profit margins. And here is where you come in.
1. Car rentals made easy
If you prefer to explore more on your terms, renting a car is usually the best way.
Now this will largely depend on your budget and your destination but usually to get the most of your vacation and step outside the accommodation boundaries that a hotel or bnb offers you, a car is useful.
Just like with everything travel related, there is a smarter way to do things. And that’s book early and book locally.
As an example, on my recent trip to The Canary Islands, i’ve decided to rent a car as the island itself has plenty of natural sites and beauty that you can only discover by using a car.
Thus originally searching on eDreams gave a result of $294.63 (without full insurance) on this mini car.
Comparing this to a local car rental company we see a difference in price and even a bigger capacity car.
Having said that here are some more tips on how to save money the next time you rent a car on vacation. some time you’ll already know, and most are common sense but they can help you save some money:
- Book in advance: Just like with flights and hotels, booking your rental car in advance can save you money. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to get a better deal.
- Compare prices: Don’t settle for the first rental car company you find. Shop around and compare prices from different providers. You can use websites like Kayak or Expedia to compare rental car prices from multiple companies.
- Use discount codes: Many rental car companies offer discount codes that you can use when booking your car. You can find these codes on coupon websites or by signing up for the rental car company’s email newsletter.
- Avoid airport pickups: Rental car companies located at airports tend to charge higher prices due to the convenience factor. Consider renting from a location outside the airport and taking public transportation or a taxi to get there. In my previous example, i choose to pick the car from a town next to where we had our accommodation. Saved money in return for convenience.
- Choose a fuel-efficient car: Consider renting a fuel-efficient car to save money on gas. This can be especially helpful if you plan on doing a lot of driving on your vacation.
- Bring your own GPS or use your phone: Many rental car companies charge extra for GPS rentals. Save money by bringing your own GPS or using your smartphone’s GPS instead.
- Decline rental car insurance: Rental car insurance can be expensive and may not be necessary if you have coverage through your personal auto insurance or credit card. Be sure to check with your insurance provider before declining rental car insurance. There are different types of insurance thou. Some companies will offer the car full insured. Other will not. And most global sites where you can rent, such as for example kayak.com offer their own insurance. If you need to choose, choose the one thats offered directly by the car company. Trust me it will save a lot of headaches.
By following these tips, you can save money the next time you rent a car on vacation and have more money to spend on experiences and activities.
Tip: Most of the times you can make the local car rental companies compete between each other to give you the best price. Thus getting quotes from them, on car models that you are interested in and then either notifying the other company about a competing offer (and even showing proof) will put you at a negotiating table with them. A 10-20% reduction in price will be highly appreciated by your wallet.
2. For the brave – Book last minute
If you like to live on the edge, you can gamble on the possibility of grabbing that highly discounted last minute deal.
If you’re flexible with your travel plans and can handle the uncertainty, booking last minute can be a great way to save money and have a spontaneous adventure.
However, just keep in mind if you’re working with a tight schedule or have specific travel plans, it’s best to book in advance to ensure you get the best deal possible.
Airlines/hotels do this to fill up those last few seats (in the best case) or as it’s been the case for the past 2 years, to fill up any seats.
Now there’s no way of telling when a last minute deal will pop up or if it will at all for the destination you have in mind, but looking at destinations that have had this in the past (mostly by tour operators since they are the most likely to put such offers) and searching online can give a rough idea what places see the most last minute deal chances.
Personally i’ve had good results with finding deals in Europe with TUI but i would also recommend checking Viator for North America and Klook that focuses on Asian countries like Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Having done this many times myself, i can confidently say that it is an experience that you have to try.
If you ever romanticised about just spontaneously getting a ticket somewhere random and just going the next day then this is a great way to go about it!
Tip: last minute trips usually require you to be quite flexible with your time, as sometimes the departure date is literally the next day. So take that in account when going for this option. I would recommend this route if you have the option to work remotely, or be able to take holidays from your work from one day to another. If thats possible, the spontaneity of booking a last minute flight to (possibly) a random place will for sure make great memories for years to come.
Make sure you do your homework before booking your trip as local and country regulations are constantly changing.
- Rent a car from local car rental companies
- Book last minute if you want to have a spontaneous travel adventure
- Check if the country you go is even accepting tourists
- Check the entry requirements(do you need to quarantine?)
- Get good travel insurance
- Get the option to reschedule the flights(if that option is not already include by the airline)
- Be flexible and prepare for the unexpected
- Check part 1 of this guide to have the full picture on how to travel smarter
For companies in the travel business, be it hotels, airlines, or car rental companies, uncertainty is their main nemesis, but this in turn for you is your main tool to get better prices, deals and go to that destination(s) you’ve always dreamt about for fraction of the cost.
See you soon!