Car rental travel tips


You’d think that renting a car with a local license plate and up to the minute security system might be safer while you’re traveling than taking your own (if that’s feasible), but the worst can still happen. Some friends of mine had their rental car broken into last week – in a National Park of all places – and it got me thinking about where they went wrong. Here are some tips to keep your car secure.


Make sure it’s insured: Yes, if you add on insurance at the time of renting it can be horrendously expensive but if you can get deductibles or excess reduced through your own policy, or by taking out an annual policy for rentals, it’s definitely worth doing. Luckily, our friends had taken out the extra insurance, so they simply called the rental company and had them take care of everything.


Hide the GPS: Some rental companies (Hertz, for example) have GPS systems fixed in their cars. Yes, it’s annoying to go through the hassle of removing it every time you park, but it’s worth it – it was probably the GPS on display that encouraged the thieves to slash through the hood of my friends’ convertible and take it. Speaking of which…


Consider the car you’re choosing: There’s nothing like cruising along Highway 1 in a convertible – or so my friends thought. Lovely as the high end cars are, they also draw unwelcome attention to you – and if you leave your belongings in a car like that, you’re kind of asking for trouble. An economy car may not be as flash, but it’ll stay under the radar better.


Remove all the rental evidence: Whether it’s stickers on the gas flap telling you which gas the car takes to rental-branded maps on display, remove anything that serves as evidence of a hire car. No smoking stickers and barcodes count too – just put them in the glove compartment and stick them back on when you return the car.


Put local stuff in view, tourist stuff out: You already know to hide anything touristy like luggage from view, of course, but it’s worth putting something ‘local’ INTO view. A local paper on the backseat automatically makes the car look local – no matter where its license plate says it’s from.

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