No matter where you’ve chosen for your holiday, hiring a car opens up unlimited possibilities for adventure. Driving can provide amazing experiences that you might not otherwise have had. From hideaway towns to secluded coves, you can pick any point on a map, hop in the car and go. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But what if you’re uneasy about driving abroad? Perhaps you’ve never done it before, or you’re nervous about driving somewhere new.
Let us help put you back in the driving seat. With these tips you’ll feel relaxed and confident to head off for a great day out, go the extra mile (literally) and explore the true meaning of freedom on your villa holiday.
Choosing the right car
Choosing a suitable car to fit all the family (and all of the beach gear!) can take a bit of thought. Make sure you have space for all of your luggage. You don’t want to be sitting with a suitcase on your lap!
You might want to hire a sat nav if one’s available. Not only can it calm any worries about directions and get you to where you want to go quicker, it might save you a few arguments with your “navigator”!
Make sure that the little ones can be strapped in safely. You’ll need to either request car seats when you book your hire car, take your own as baggage, or take something like ‘Bubblebum’ for older kids. This inflatable and deflatable booster is perfect for travelling lighter.
Check to see what’s included in your car hire package before you book. The big things to look out for are free zero excess, fair fuel policy, unlimited mileage, free additional drivers and breakdown assistance. Most of our suppliers’ policies come with these as a minimum.
Before you go
Check out the specific driving laws of the country you’re going to. The AA has a fantastic country by country guide with all of this information in one handy place.
Don’t get caught out by specific country regulations. In France for example, you need to carry a breathalyser in your car. Don’t worry though, all of James Villas’ car hire suppliers take care of these for you. So if triangles, luminous jackets and breathalysers are needed, they’ll be in your vehicle.
Remember to pack all of the documents you need to hire a car. All of our suppliers accept a valid photo card driving licence or old paper licence, and they’ll want to see a credit card in the name of the lead driver.
Study the directions that you’re given to your villa. If you’re confident of the route on paper you can relax and focus on the road.
You’ll want to know about any toll roads near your villa, and how to settle those. Check your villa directions for details and perhaps pop a few of the sights you’re planning to see into Google Maps for directions. That’ll also tell you if there are any tolls on those routes.
If you’ve booked your car with James Villas, look out for the fast track links or forms that we’ll send over to fill in before you arrive. They should make the car collection process quicker.
Make driving a dream
You’ll be raring to get to your villa, we know, but don’t rush. Before you set off, stop for a coffee or a quick bite. It’s not just the car that needs to be refuelled, and you can set off feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Later on, pick a quiet time for a drive before it gets dark. You get to explore, know the roads better and feel more confident in the car itself, as well as driving on the right. It’s amazing how quickly it all becomes second nature!
Adding additional drivers to your car hire policy means one person doesn’t have to do all the driving. The passengers can sit back and enjoy the views (and perhaps a glass of the local tipple).
If you’re planning a long road trip, make stops on the way. Yes the drive might take a little longer, but you’ll feel refreshed and you’ll get the chance to explore a couple of extra places!
If the thought of driving abroad still puts your mind in reverse, then choose a holiday destination like Malta, Cyprus or parts of the Caribbean where they drive on the left. Otherwise you could always choose one of our ‘car optional’ villas, with lots going on within walking distance.
Sometimes the drive is as much of a highlight as the destination, so do find out what great driving roads there are to explore. The N-222 in the Douro Valley is an absolute treasure, or check out the SS.163 in the Amalfi Coast. If you’re in Mallorca the road around Puig Major, known as the ‘Knotted Tie’, is a curvaceous, mountainous descent of twists and turns that you’ll love.
Freedom is what makes a villa holiday that extra bit special – to come and go as you please, each and every day. Hiring a car lets you do just that. So be impulsive, drive the coastal route, go the long way round and see what you find…
This post first appeared in our summer magazine, order your copy today!