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Desert road trip, winding mountain passes or zooming around national parks? Wherever you’re headed, the only thing between you and freedom is nailing down your car rental. So how do you find the car hire gems among the clapped-out rustbuckets, and navigate the fog of fine print?



Car rental tips from Lonely Planet’s travel experts

Dreaming of the open road? Car rental is all you need to hit the highway. Here’s how to lock down the right car hire deal.

Desert road trip, winding mountain passes or zooming around national parks? Wherever you’re headed, the only thing between you and freedom is nailing down your car rental. So how do you find the car hire gems among the clapped-out rustbuckets, and navigate the fog of fine print? Grab the best car rental deals with our tips.

How to snap up the perfect car rental

Perfect timing. Budget car rentals with the most va-va-voom are often available just after peak holiday season. If you can plan your road trip away from school holidays or give summer a wide berth, car rental discounts may be your reward.

Know your terrain. Will you be flooring the gas on Germany’s Autobahn or grinding your gears in the Australian Outback? Might you need winter tyres to make it up that mountain? Make sure your car hire deal matches your road trip style – or you might find yourself flexing your hitchhiking thumb as your hire car wheezes to a halt on an Icelandic glacier.

Plan ahead. Confirmed your flights or booked time off work? The time to reserve rental cars is now. Early-bird car rental deals are out there, and you don’t need to have perfected your itinerary to know you need wheels.

Are you feeling lucky? Even if you are, you’ll want peace of mind on the road. When researching car rental, keep one beady eye on options to reduce your excess if you get into any scrapes. And if you’re in doubt about your navigation skills, tick the option to include a sat-nav (so you’ll know exactly when to turn around where possible).