Tips and tricks when booking a rental car – so that your dream holiday doesn’t turn into a nightmare

Your ultimate adventure is to discover the most beautiful and hidden corners of the holiday paradise on your own? Drive along the famous Route 66, the breathtaking Garden Route in South Africa, the gorgeous Great Ocean Road in Australia or the 1,777km long Croatian Adriatic coast, completely independent and free, with only the feeling of boundless freedom in your luggage? Then a rental car is an absolute must to ensure a flexible and stress-free holiday. To ensure that your dream holiday remains stress-free, here are a few tips on what to look out for when booking a rental car.
1) Book your rental car from home before you travel.
If you book your rental car from home before your holiday, you can benefit from discounts and special conditions. Both large car rental companies (e.g. Sixt, Europcar, Budget, Hertz, Avis, etc.) and comparison and booking portals (e.g.,,,, etc.) often offer favourable early booking bonuses. In addition, you can read through the rental contract at your leisure and in German, thus avoiding additional cost traps. Tip: Read the small print in the contract conditions carefully!
2) Don’t skimp on insurance cover
When it comes to insurance cover, the saying “If you buy cheap, you buy expensive” is right on the money. When signing a contract, make sure that you choose comprehensive insurance cover, including third-party liability, fully comprehensive and theft insurance. Depending on the destination and travel route (keyword: off-road!), it is important to note that damage to tyres, rims, underbody or due to stone impact (glass/tyre protection, underbody protection) is not excluded from the insurance.
Offers with excess are not recommended, as comprehensive insurance without excess is only slightly more expensive, but you will not incur any additional costs in the event of damage. Tip: The coverage amount of the liability insurance should be at least one million euros.
3) Inspects the vehicle at the takeover
Keyword: vehicle inspection! Insist that the employee inspects the vehicle together with you when taking it over and records all damage and previous defects on the vehicle in writing in the contract. You can and should be picky about this because it is about every dent, every scratch (on the paintwork, on the rim and on the windscreen), the tread of the tyres and also general dirt that was not caused by you and for which you cannot be held responsible. And while you’re at the car, have the basic functions of the car explained to you (tip: opening the bonnet, fuel filler cap, boot etc. – don’t be shy, dear lords of creation 😉 ) and take the opportunity to check whether the brakes, lights (incl. brake lights and hazard warning lights) and other safety systems are intact.
4) Pay attention to the refuelling regulations
When you book your rental car, you can protect yourself against additional charges by choosing the right fuel policy. With the “full/empty” arrangement, you pay for the first tank as part of the rental and can drive the car empty and return it empty. The disadvantage of this option is that you always have to calculate how much fuel you will need for your road trip – you don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road or give away the remaining fuel to the car rental company.
We, therefore, recommend the “full/full” rule, whereby you take the car with a full tank and return it with a full tank. Tip: The last trip before returning the rental car should always be to the petrol station and be sure to get a receipt at the petrol station for documentation purposes!
5) Be punctual when handing over the vehicle.
“Time is money!” – in the truest sense of the word. The basic rule is that a rental day lasts 24 hours. You can seldom rely on the goodwill of car rental companies, which is why even a one-hour delay in returning the car will cost you an extra day’s rental. Tip: only book the rental car at the hour you actually need it and choose the time for the return (if possible) one hour earlier than the pick-up. It is also advisable to book your rental car early before you start your journey to ensure the availability of time slots for picking up and dropping off the car.
With this in mind, we wish you an unforgettable road trip with the help of these tips – but not because of the rental car 😉 PS: Discover Austria, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovakia, Croatia, Italy or the Czech Republic and benefit as a guest of Falkensteiner Hotels from our summer special with up to a 15% discount on your car rental booking with Sixt!

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