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Two questions about renting a car

Bombay, India
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Two questions about renting a car

We (a family of 4) plan to rent a car to visit places like Bath, Arundel, Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon for 4-5 days. These will NOT be day trips from London - we will stay in convenient motels near these places. I must mention that since I drive in india, I am already used to driving "right-hand-drive" cars on the left side of the road, so that's not a concern.

First question:

Would paper maps be relaible and accurate enough for navigating around the motorways and highways between these places? Or would a GPS be essential? Any suggestions for where I can get good maps - preferably free?

Reason for asking is primarily to save the approx 50 pound cost of GPS rental, which is almost a third of the entire car rental cost!

Second question:

I'd like to pick up and return the rental car from somewhere near our London rented apartment, which is in Maida Vale (post code W9 3TN). Most of the car rental companies have garages in the Edgware Road or Padington areas, which is reasonably close to the apartment. I'm a little apprehensive of driving in the city and finding my way upto the motorway. I'd also like to avoid the congestion charge zones (the apartment itself lies just outside the CC zone, at its nothern edge).

How difficult will it be to find my way in and out? On our first day we will be driving south to Arundel, aiming to reach there by approx 10 am. On our last day, we will be returning from the west along the M3 or M4, probably around 4 pm.

Would it be better to take a train or bus to some point outside the city to pick up the car?

Any other points I need to be aware of?

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Detroit, Michigan
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31. Re: Two questions about renting a car

I don't think you would need an Oyster for extension fares. When we've purchased extensions, we just got a paper ticket for it. It has been a couple of years, but I would think they'd still be available on paper tickets. Sounds much easier than messing with congestion charge worries and driving out of the city. : )

Bombay, India
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334 posts
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32. Re: Two questions about renting a car

Based on all the sage advice here, I've booked the car for pickup and dropoff from Alamo/National's Putney Bridge garage, located at Ranelagh Gardens, SW6 3UH. Meets all the requirements: It's in tube zone 2, it's outside the congestion charge zone, and it's just 600 feet to the A219, which connects directly to the A3 after 1.7 miles.

That leaves just one question: On my return, once I've dropped off the car, which is the nearest National Rail station from where I can buy 7-day paper travelcards? I'll need these to get back to our rental apartment at Admiral Walk, Maida Vale (Westbourne Park or Royal Oak tube station).

Richmond, VA
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33. Re: Two questions about renting a car

In the last ten years we've visited England about twice a year, driven every time.

It was a shock at first but not because of the wrong side/other side of the road, but because of the way that Brits drive--fast!! And everyone else seemed to know where they were going and we didn't.

But since you're used to that driving style, wouldn't be an issue for you.

I find the roadways to be very organized in the UK. And similar to US roads, especially the motorways. We adore back country roads and farm lanes, but I realize they're not to everyone's taste.

The signage was a bit of a mystery at first but that was because we didn't do our due diligence and study UK road signs before we went, which we should have.

We bought a Phillips Road Atlas and my husband, an excellent map reader, was the navigator and I drove.

And although we had some near-misses and some confusing moments, it worked very well for us in general.

Our most confusing times have been in towns and cities where the maps don't cover the city streets.

We use google maps to find the streets where we want to go in a town, print the maps, either in map or satellite view, and bring them.

I wouldn't pay 50 pounds for a GPS.

Richmond, VA
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34. Re: Two questions about renting a car

Philip's website:

http://www.octopusbooks.co.uk/philips-maps/

Vancouver, Canada
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for London
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35. Re: Two questions about renting a car

Putney Bridge Underground station won't sell the correct paper Travelcards, so you'll have to make a quick stop at Putney rail station before returning the car. The station is in Putney High Street, just north of the Upper Richmond Road. There isn't any parking in the High Street so you'll either have to send someone in to the rail station to buy the tickets or find a place to park nearby.

Nebraska
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36. Re: Two questions about renting a car

Take this for what it's worth, JK, from someone whose first driving experience in the UK was starting from the center of London....if you are going to do any driving in London itself, street signs are difficult to see at best. Without the GPS system, we would still be driving around East London trying to find our way out.

I personally, like using both maps and GPS. My husband had the map in front of him always, to watch for the towns we were coming upon and the GPS kept us on track. It's dead easy to use maps in the countryside for navigation, but if you are driving in London without having previously done so, years of city driving training withstanding, the GPS system is invaluable. I totally agree with Kay.

Bombay, India
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37. Re: Two questions about renting a car

Thanks again folks. I should be OK with a map, since my city driving within London will be limited to 30 minutes getting out and another 30 min getting back in. For the rest of the 5 days, we'll be out in the 'countryside'.

TP, Putney rail station works well - I used Google maps and street view to find some side streets nearby where parking is likely to be available.

Watford
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38. Re: Two questions about renting a car

The side streets around Putney rail station will have restrictions and be limited to residents only for the most of the day. It is also a fiddly walk across Putney Bridge to the car rental office. You could take the District line from Putney Bridge to Paddington and get your Travelcards there and then get a taxi or another tube the short distance to your apartment.

Bombay, India
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39. Re: Two questions about renting a car

Adam, what if I return the car first (near the Putney Bridge tube station), ask the family to wait there or at the tube station, walk back to the Putney rail station alone to buy the passes, walk back to rejoin the family and take the tube back to the apartment?

Edited: 24 April 2010, 10:42
Bombay, India
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334 posts
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40. Re: Two questions about renting a car

Yet another option: Drop the family off with luggage at East Putney tube station, drive to the garage and drop off the car, walk back towards East Putney, stop at Putney rail station which is on the way, buy the passes, then rejoin the family and take the tube from East Putney.