by Richard Hill, Ph.D.
Rick Hill drove in Ireland and the UK last year and
he knew then what he knows now.
Thinking of driving on your trip to
England? Car Rental 101 will provide the background you need to
minimize expenses, stress, and cross-cultural strain. Yes, you
CAN save money, be an independent traveler, and communicate with
folks separated by a common language while driving on the “wrong”
side of the road.
ENGLAND CAR RENTAL 101: Good News First
1. License. Your U.S. or Canadian driver’s license works
fine; no need for an international license unless you’re
going on to continental Europe.
2. Gas. Yes, gas is around $6 a gallon in the UK. But you won’t
be paying much more to gas up your gas-stingy England car rental
than you do for your U.S. guzzler. My compact Nissan rental cost
about as much to run as my six-cylinder van back home.
3. Rental rates. England car rental rates are slightly higher
than the US, but not as high as Europe. See Lesson 1, below.
4. Courtesy. Procedure for England car rental is essentially the
same as in the U.S., and the desk workers are professional and
courteous. Most English drivers are sane, too. They do like you
to stay in slow lanes if you’re not ignoring the speed limit
as they are, and they can get a bit testy in cities if you’re
poking along in, as I tend to do. But overall, I found that I,
not the other drivers, was my biggest problem.
ENGLAND CAR RENTAL 101: THE BAD NEWS
1. Driving on the left. Scary at first, but you’ll soon
get accustomed. Drivers coming at you on the right will remind
you to keep you to the left; the harder part is getting used to
that extra chunk of car to your left, since your steering wheel
is on the right.
2. Roundabouts. You’ll find these traffic circles all over
the UK, Ireland, and Europe, doing the work of off- ramps and
4-way intersections. Just remember that the drivers already in
the roundabout always have the right of way. Miss your turn? Just
go around again.
3. Narrow roads. Most roads in English towns and countryside are
paved-over 19th century horse byways, so you’ll get a crash
course in tight squeezes as you pilot your England car rental.
To practice ahead of time, find a busy alley in your city with
lots of cars parked along the side and plenty of delivery trucks
coming at you.
ENGLAND CARE RENTAL 101: LESSONS
ENGLAND CAR RENTAL Lesson 1. Arrange your rental before you go;
you’ll get better rates from both the big chains and the
locals. Comparison shopping on the web is easy, and you can do
it all online. Check several companies overseas as well as the
regulars (Hertz, Avis, etc). If you’ll be gone for a couple
of months, leasing saves big, and the collision damage wavier
ENGLAND CAR RENTAL Lesson 2. Check with your insurance company
to see if you’re covered for England car rental (they usually
do, but NOT for Ireland). You probably won’t need to buy
the expensive desk offers.
ENGLAND CAR RENTAL Lesson 3: Get a Platinum Visa card that covers
whatever deductible your insurance carries and the miscellaneous
items the England car rental companies don’t cover. My Platinum
Visa paid me back when I had to go out of pocket for a flat tyre
(note the local spelling) in Northern England. Car Rental companies
in the UK don’t pay for such incidentals, even if you have
ENGLAND CAR RENTAL 101 Lesson 5 Save all your paperwork and take
photos of the car before you leave the lot. England car rental
companies aren’t vicious about scratches and such, but they
are sticklers for evidence if you have a dispute.
ENGLAND CAR RENTAL: OPEN BOOK FINAL EXAM. An England car rental
will take you many places unavailable or inconvenient via public
transportation. Just do your above-listed homework ahead of time,
and you’ll pass with flying colors!
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