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Car Hire First Timer - Looking for any and all help and tips

Birmingham, United...
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Car Hire First Timer - Looking for any and all help and tips

Hi guys,

So we are booking our third trip to Florida for May 2014, and this time we plan on hiring a car, which I have never done before. I have read far too many horror stories on here to allow myself to just "book and pray" so I was hoping your collective knowledge would be able to guide me.

I am 24, and will be when hiring the car, so I know I would need to pay the $25 per day surcharge, and that's fine, but I am looking for answers to the below questions, if you didn't mind, and please share any tips you have, such as pay for extra charges when you arrive with a credit card so you can dispute them when you get home if needed.

- Do I pay the young driver surcharge, and any other charges in the UK, or on arrival? I have heard both have their pros and cons, such as it's cheaper in the UK, but the US will try and charge you extra anyway.

- This will be my first time driving on foreign soil, so what sort of insurances and extras should I add to my booking to make sure I am not left out of pocket or in trouble should I have an accident or problem?

- What should I avoid? I'm easily upsold, but I know to avoid being upgraded as that can nullify any previously paid for insurance and contract.

- Is a GPS essential?

- Should I collect the car at the Airport if possible (Sanford International) or should I take a transfer to International Drive and collect the car there to avoid the toll booths?

Again, any tips you have, or any previous experiences from people who were in my shoes are more that welcome. I don't want something as trivial as car hire to ruin what should be an unforgettable holiday.

Thanks guys :)

Manchester, United...
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1. Re: Car Hire First Timer - Looking for any and all help and tips

Hi first time I went I was 24 so know where you're coming from. Firstly once you get used to driving on the right, it is really straight forward and the car is easy to use. You will only turn across traffic in a filter lane and the spaces are bigger than home. In fact I pity the Americans when they come to the UK!

I always buy the full package including insurance and a tank of gas from the UK. You normally pay the supplement locally. Make sure you bring both your paper and photo driving license and if you have a UK sat nav see if you load the us maps on it since one you will know how to use it and means you won't have to hire one.

When you first get in just relax. Coming out of the airport is really well signposted and there is even a sign to tell you to drive on the right!

Houston, Texas
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2. Re: Car Hire First Timer - Looking for any and all help and tips

Hi,

A gps is a must; you might save some money if you bring your own, or can borrow one from a friend, before you arrive. Be sure to download the FL maps to the unit, before you arrive. You might also want to buy the option for a toll pass, or stop by a bank,and get some rolls of quarters, to pay your tolls, as you drive.

We find some good deals with Dollar and Thrifty Car Rentals: Notice the third tab at the top that says "Specials". They have a program called "Lock Low and Go", where you might get a larger car, for a small car price.

this website can also provide you with some discount codes:

http://www.retailmenot.com/s/t/code/car+rental?networkType=search&keyword=rental%20car%20discount%20codes&network=g&matchtype=p&content=&search=1&creative=34216155574&placement=&adpos=1t2&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Category_Travel_Phrase&utm_content=Car_Rental_Discount&utm_term=rental%20car%20discount%20codes&SID=462c771c-8a6c-d428-4370-00003d8400fc&ch=cpc_t&gclid=CLmqhu-knLkCFbFQOgodgisA4g

Here is Thrifty's website, too:

http://www.thrifty.com/?s_kwcid=TC|13726|thrifty%20car%20rental||S|e|23705543426&ef_id=-nhPvaMkMfMAAEZb:20130826234247:s

Orlando has some good car rental deals found on this website, too:

mousesavers.com/transportation-for-disney-va…

Hope this helps!

cc,

Cupcake

Birmingham, United...
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3. Re: Car Hire First Timer - Looking for any and all help and tips

Wow, thanks a lot guys! I knew these forums were helpful but you just went above and beyond.

Suzyack that is one of my worries, getting used to their driving differences, like turning right on a red light and generally driving on the right, as well as freeways/highways and the general rules on there. Can I ask who you use for your rentals?

CupcakeToo Thank you for the helpful links, can I acquire the toll pass from my rental company or is it something I would have to buy from another party in advance? I'd imagine the former option, as I'd need the licence/registration of the vehicle I want to pay for.

Middlesbrough...
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4. Re: Car Hire First Timer - Looking for any and all help and tips

First time here, group of 4 and 2 of the group are 25 and over so could drive. We booked our car hire with Alamo including gold insurance. Boyfriends had problem at first (I.e slamming the break on thinking it was the clutch!) but he found it easy enough straight away and is enjoying driving! We use the Sat Nav I totally recommend it. We downloaded the maps before we came. Sat Nav took about 20 minutes to pick up the signal so be patient with it. Good luck!

edinburgh
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5. Re: Car Hire First Timer - Looking for any and all help and tips

Don't buy the toll pass, if you are just driving around Orlando, you won't need one. You will proberly only go through a toll to and from Airport.

Take a Sat Nav if you want, but most tourist spots are well signposted.

The drive from the Airport will be the worse, but Sanford is a lot easier than Orlando. There are two main ways via I4 or the toll road. Pick one and look at the route on Google maps/earth.

Houston, Texas
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6. Re: Car Hire First Timer - Looking for any and all help and tips

Hi S,

I think in the case of a rental car, you can only use their toll pass, and wouldn't be able to purchase one, for a short time there. But, you can use this website and call them, for their advice:

https://www.sunpass.com/callCenterHours

We usually just make sure to get some change (any bank will trade your dollars for a roll of quarters--Chase Bank, Bank of America, are some your gps will indicate), get it ready, and are able to get through the toll standpoints quite easily, this way. The toll roads really do speed things up, when traveling around Orlando.

You are totally welcome, we look forward to your enjoying The States!

cc,

Cupcake

Glasgow, United...
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7. Re: Car Hire First Timer - Looking for any and all help and tips

Silly as this may sound, why not mess around on Google Maps or Google Earth before you go?

Set some driving directions, eg from car rental depot to your destination, or from your hotel to the theme parks. Then follow the route using Street View to get a feel for the locale. Helps build familiarity.

You will also find many kind/strange people have video'd popular routes and uploaded onto Youtube, (journeys to/from airports, driving on I4 or along 192 etc)

From many years holidaying experience in Orlando, the straight roads are a godsend. Just research your routes so you are sure which exits get you to your various destinations ...and remember a vast number of other drivers are also tourists so be sensible about driving too close.

Chicago, Illinois
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8. Re: Car Hire First Timer - Looking for any and all help and tips

Have never flown into Sanford, but from looking at transportation sites and what others have said...the taxi fare one way appears to be $80 to $130 dollars. I'd probably rent from the airport and drive myself. Remember, you can turn right on red...provided there's not a sign stating "No turn on red". Note that this sign might not be placed in an obvious place here it can be easily seen. As a courtesy (you probably already know this) don't drive with your bright lights on. We prefer Alamo for rentals as we usually find just as cheap rates from them as Dollar or Thrifty. You also get to choose your own car from the size category you selected. Always take a picture of signage near where you park...it will help you easily find your car in the parks, etc. Keep an eye out with rental companies for special that waives the young driver fee. It happens now & then. If you choose to bring car back on full (which usually works out cheaper than paying in advance for a full tank and bringing back empty)...fill up at a gas station away from the airport. It will be cheaper than the stations nearest airport and a 5 or 10 mile drive from fueling station to airport won't make a big difference in the needle.

Gourock, United...
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9. Re: Car Hire First Timer - Looking for any and all help and tips

Take a look at http://www.uscarhire.com

I can recommend them, they also offer a Young Drivers Package, see ...

uscarhire.com/faq-booking-procedure.aspx#145

Try a quote and see how it works out.

Also they have a forum where you can chat wiht previous customers and the owners also come on-line to answere questions direct.

orlando-guide.info/forums/forumdisplay.php/1…

They also have good information for first timmers and nervious drivers.

David

Manchester
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10. Re: Car Hire First Timer - Looking for any and all help and tips

DH booked our car online last night through Alamo Brits as it was the best value for us. Paid the extras now as the exchange rate is definite. If you pay on arrival the exchange rate will have changed which cold be good or bad - just a bit of a gamble really!

As others have said we also find driving in the US easy, in fact in our experience its a total pleasure (and we get to drive a big car for a fortnight!!).

In terms of GPS I would recommend Co Pilot app for smartphones. The iPhone app is currently £10.49 on the App Store. Download the maps before you go to save data & it just uses GPS when you're there. If you get an itrip & windscreen mount you're sorted - you could probably get the whole lot for £50 and you've got it for any future trips, plus you can use the hardware here too.

Cheers