There may be several 'extras' that need to be booked to complete your trip plans...
- Independent travellers may wish to take their own car across the Channel or hire a car abroad
- Ferries provide an alternative to flying, with destinations including France, Holland, Ireland, Spain and even Norway. See our comprehensive list of operators
- If you're flying out of the UK, you'll need to consider booking airport hotels; airport parking; public transport/private transfers to get there.
If you're booking a fly-drive holiday independently, then you'll find the following list of car hire companies very handy. But first, when getting quotes and deciding what to book, consider these helpful tips:
- You will not necessarily pay a daily rate - a week might cost the same as 3 days
- If it's hot you'll want air con - the cheapest cars often don't have it but it shouldn't cost much more
- You can usually return the vehicle to a different location (if, for example, you're flying in and out of different cities), but there will be an extra charge for this
- Make sure you check if you're selecting a manual or automatic - it won't always be possible to change it when you pick it up
- Check how many 'free' kilometers are included (beyond which you'll pay an extra charge per km)
- Find out what you would be liable to pay in the event of accidental damage (the excess on the insurance), it can vary a lot between companies - look for a 'Collision Damage Waiver' and make sure it gives you sufficient cover
- If you're required to return the car with a full tank, remember to do this, otherwise they'll charge you (most likely more than it would have cost if you had done it yourself)
Because of the different levels of insurance offered, choosing a company should not be simply down to price. Other factors to consider are the likely age and quality of the cars (not easily known, but consider contacting the companies to enquire), the possibility of hidden extra costs (always read the small print), and the network of rental offices (smaller, cheaper, local companies may not allow drop-offs at other locations and may have shorter opening hours, restricting the time window for picking up and dropping off the car). Bear these things in mind when weighing up between the reliable but more expensive international companies like Hertz and the smaller, cheaper, local companies such as those used by Holiday Autos (a broker/agent that searches several local companies for the best price). Finally there are agents that search for the best deal among all of the multinationals - Opodo and Expedia are recommended by us. Don't forget these agents can offer good deals if booking car hire together with flights and/or accommodation.
Our full list of car hire companies now follows, separated into multinationals and agents for cheaper local companies.
|Main Multinational Networks|
|Hertz||Professional and reliable worldwide network - a name you know you can trust.|
|Sixt||"SIXT international. Travel First Class – Pay Economy. 3.500 branches, throughout 75 countries."|
|Avis||"Avis worldwide operates in over 4,000 locations in 114 countries."|
|Thrifty||"Thrifty Car Rental is a low cost car rental company that has been established for over 15 years within the UK."|
|National||"Outside the UK, our global network gives you access to more than 80 countries, 3,800 rental locations and a fleet of approximately 300,000."|
|Alamo||"Alamo has more than 180,000 vehicles available serving more than 15 million travellers annually, through 1248 different locations in 43 countries."|
|Budget||"Our global network now includes more than 2,700 locations, operating a wide range of cars, trucks and vans in 115 countries."|
|Guy Salmon||"Performance and luxury away from home… we offer a mouthwatering line-up of vehicles in exciting destinations around Europe – including Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy and Monaco."|
|Europcar||"Car hire with great rental deals, holiday offers, and discount UK car rentals. Europcar UK make car hire quick and easy."|
|Dollar||American company, but also have a good network in Europe, Caribbean and Latin America|
|Enterprise||Car hire in the US, Canada, Ireland and Germany.|
|Holiday Autos||"Award winning, low cost car hire from quality suppliers worldwide. Part of lastminute.com"|
|Easy Car Rentals||"The low cost, online car hire specialist. We currently provide car rental in more than 2,400 locations in over 60 countries"|
|Opodo||"Opodo offer access to more than 7000 car rental locations worldwide."|
|Expedia||"No hidden charges! Our Expedia Special Rate includes insurance, taxes and surcharges."|
|Auto Europe||"Auto Europe offer car hire in over 4000 locations worldwide. We offer the best car hire deals guaranteed and pride ourselves with outstanding 24/7 customer service."|
|Argus Car Hire||"Argus Car Hire is an internationally successful car hire broker who serves its customers by giving them the lowest possible rates from major car hire companies around the world."|
|Carrentals.co.uk||"We search up to 40 leading car hire suppliers to find you the best deal in seconds. We do all the hard work of comparing rental vehicles from different suppliers to fit your requirements to save you time and money!"|
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All reputable ferry companies known to us are listed below, along with the Channel Tunnel web links.
|P&O Ferries||Dover-Calais, Portsmouth-Bilbao, Hull-Rotterdam and Hull-Zeebrugge|
|Condor Ferries||Poole/Weymouth-St Malo via Jersey/Guernsey on fast ferries, and Portsmouth-Cherbourg via Jersey/Guernsey on standard ferries|
|DFDS Seaways||Newcastle-Amsterdam, Newcastle-Norway, Harwich-Denmark and Copenhagen-Oslo|
|Stena Line||Harwich to Holland and extensive services between the UK and Ireland|
|Brittany Ferries||Portsmouth-Caen/Cherbourg/St Malo, Poole-Cherbourg, Plymouth-Roscoff/Santander and Cork-Roscoff|
|Irish Ferries||Dublin-Holyhead, Rosslare-Pembroke/Cherbourg/Roscoff|
|Norfolk Line||Dover-Dunkerque and Liverpool-Belfast/Dublin|
|Wightlink||Isle of Wight only - Portsmouth-Fishbourne/Ryde and Lymington-Yarmouth|
|Red Funnel||Isle of Wight only, between Southampton and Cowes|
|Eurostar||London to Paris/Brussels at speed and in comfort, plus connections across France, Belgium and Holland|
|Eurotunnel||Take your car from Folkestone to Calais in 35 minutes|
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Most UK airports have several options for airport parking. Generally, the ones closer to the airport are dearer, but obviously more convenient. Check that the cheaper ones offer frequent shuttle buses to the terminals, but most do because they wouldn't get much business if they didn't.
Alternatively, travel there by public transport or book a private transfer. You might wish to stay in an airport hotel if you have an early flight the next day - prices are more reasonable than you might think.
We have comprehensive guides to all UK international airports where you can organise all of these things... click here.
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