Tips and Inspiration for your European holiday

If you're ready to take a self-drive holiday in Europe (hopefully my article Is driving in Europe hard? convinced you that it's not!), the next step in the process is to find the best rental car deal. Regular readers will know that I’m a real planner and when it comes to organizing my holidays to Europe, I like to have the majority (if not all) my reservations in place well before I leave home., and there are a few ways that I make sure I get the best deal possible.

Early bird deals

If you’re able to plan well ahead, my advice is to do so. Not only will you be able to benefit from the early booking discounts on offer from the various rental car companies, you’ll also have a larger choice of vehicles sizes and types to choose from.

Car hire companies usually release their early bird specials via their booking agents around September/October each year. The offers usually apply for cars collected the following year and in most cases the rental has to be paid in full by the end of February. For example, if you need a hire car in Europe in July 2015, you could book in October 2014 and pay in full by the end of February 2015 to secure the early bird rate.

Car hire consolidators

In my experience, using a specialist car hire consolidator like globalCARS or DriveAway Holidays usually results in finding the best rates. As these consolidators are agents for numerous car rental companies they are able to compare rates and find the best deal for you. The rates available from different car hire companies can vary depending on your pick up and drop off location, the size of vehicle you want to hire and the various specifications of the car such as whether you want a manual or automatic vehicle, petrol or diesel model, etc. By using a car hire consolidator, they can do all the hard work and make all the price comparisons on your behalf.


Best car hire deals in EuropeImage via Dollar Photo Club

Tax-free Leasing

Leasing can be another way to save money on the cost of your car hire in Europe. If you require a car for at least 21 days, the tax-free leasing program offered by Peugeot, Renault and Citroen, is worth considering. I’ve written a more detailed article about tax-free leasing but in summary, the longer you lease the vehicle for, the cheaper it works out per day. A 39-day lease in 2014 worked out at less than $50 per day for my husband and I.

The French manufacturers that offer the tax-free leasing scheme also offer early bird rates. Like early bird car hire deals these are usually released in September or October for collections the following year, with full payment due by the end of February.

Do you have any tips for getting the best hire car deal in Europe? Please share them in the comments below.


Like to know more ways to make driving in Europe stress-free? Order my eBook “The Stress-Free Guide to Driving in Europe”. It's packed with over 50 pages of handy tips and tricks, suggested self-drive itineraries, printable planning tools and much more.


The Stress-Free Guide to Driving in Europe




Related articles:

Self-drive holidays in Europe >>





# Sohail Ishaq 2018-03-01 20:09
Rizwan, I am also leaving for Budapest on 02 May till 21 May for euro trip on rented car (I got a good bargain for economy car for Euro 290 starting/ending from/to Budapest, routing through Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, France, Netherlands, Germany, Austria and back to Hungary.

Carolin's articles helped a lot.
# Carolyn 2018-03-02 10:11
Glad my articles have helped you plan your trip, Sohail.
Safe travels!
# Rizwan Ali 2018-01-22 22:17
We are total NINE friends, will be travelling Europe from 5th April, 2018. We are panning to self drive the car with International license. We will be in renting the car in Budapest on 9th April, and will drop off the car in Prague on 20th April. he countries we will cover include Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria & Czech.
Could you please advise the best car rental service and what things we need to have in terms of docs & luggage to make our trip safer?
# Carolyn 2018-01-23 10:51
Hi Rizwan, I'm based in Australia so I mostly use either DriveAway Holidays or globalCARS to rent my cars in Europe. They are agents for all the major car rental companies and can provide cost comparisons for the different car hire companies. On their booking sites (when getting an online quote) you will see a section called 'travel restrictions' - this tells you which countries the car can be driven in.
A couple of things to keep in mind: Austria and Slovenia require you to purchase a Vignette (road tax sticker), and a one way drop off fee may apply because you are collecting the car in one country and dropping it off in another.
You might find these articles helpful: and
Have a great trip :)
# Carolyn 2014-12-02 11:32
Quoting ti ti pambudi sprich:
We are planning to go to Europe probably end of May OR September 2015. Can you give me some information how and when to hire a car for two adult? Say start from Rome Italy and then drive or by train around Europe then end in London U.K.
Thank you in advance.

If you're after the best-value car hire deals I'd recommend booking sooner rather than later as most of the earlybird offers finish by the end of January.

There's lots of things to take into consideration, for example, will a one-way fee be charged if you collect the car in one country and drop it off in another.

I cover all this and more in my eBook (which you can see advertised above) but to obtain a quote, I'd recommend contacting one of the car hire consolidators that you'll find listed on Holidays to Europe - I'll include a link below.

Wishing you safe and happy travels!
# ti ti pambudi sprich 2014-12-02 09:52
We are planning to go to Europe probably end of May OR September 2015. Can you give me some information how and when to hire a car for two adult? Say start from Rome Italy and then drive or by train around Europe then end in London U.K.
Thank you in advance.