Car hire in the UK: what do you need to know?March 28, 2013
When on holiday, transportation is always in the forefront of your mind. Will you be able to get from the airport to your accommodation? Is there sufficient public transport to do all the sightseeing or day trips you have planned? Are the routes easy to follow?
One solution to all of these concerns is to hire a car, giving you the freedom to explore the country on your own time and budget without being at the mercy of public transport.
Comparatively speaking, the UK is a small enough to be easily accessible by car, with a stable and efficient road network that’s (largely) free to use. Car hire for international visitors to the UK is a quick and easy process, with many large car rental companies operating out of airports. However, it pays to do a little digging around for the best deals, so checking online before you arrive in the UK for a hire contract that suits your needs and budget is advisable.
With the UK government increasing train fares by 4.2% back in January, and fuel duty surviving a price hike in the latest budget, car hire can make a lot of economic sense if you’re planning a number of journeys in a short space of time.
Similarly, while public transport systems in the big cities are fairly comprehensive in their service, they can be pricey – especially London’s underground system, which can cost up to £4.50 for a single journey in the inner zones, and up to £7.60 further out. Driving in London can be expensive also, but avoiding the congestion charge area is relatively straight forward, and a car will give you access to the outer regions and into the Home Counties.
If you do decide to hire a car for your trip to the UK, there are a few things to consider outside of the general things to look out for when hiring a car (mileage limitations, insurance excess charges, car condition etc).
For example, driving speeds are measured in miles per hour instead of kilometres (particularly important for European visitors), and are usually limited to 30mph in urban areas and 70mph on motorways, with a few variations in between. Highway Code books are available from many newsagents and petrol stations for more information on speed limits and other regulations for driving on UK roads, and will help you to identify any road signs you don’t recognise.
That vast majority of cars in the UK use manual transmission, which could come as a surprise to visitors from North America, where automatic vehicles are the norm. Some hire firms will be able to offer cars with automatic transmission, but be prepared to have to learn how to use a stick shift!
Parking is often restricted during the daytime on many city streets, especially close to commercial areas, so be sure to check any visible signs before leaving your vehicle parked on public streets, paying if necessary.
And finally: drive on the left! As obvious as this may sound, it can be easy to forget if you are used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, and driving on the opposite side can take some getting used to – especially at roundabouts and busy junctions.
Whitgift Hire offer fantastic deals for all tourists and visitors to the UK, with a fleet of over 400 vehicles available that are all less than 4 years old. Every rental we provide comes with unlimited mileage, perfect for those wishing to explore the UK countryside at length, and is covered by 24 hour national service support for absolute peace of mind.
Whitgift have locations close to all the major London airports, making us easily accessible for those arriving by air, and our rates are highly competitive with prices to suit all budgets.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch today to discuss your needs with a member of our friendly team, or to get a free quote on any of our hire deals.