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1st time car rental for UK

My husband and I will be visiting England next month and everytime I think I'm just about ready to check on renting a car I read another thread about problems people have. I have looked at quotes from kemwel, auto europe, europcar, 1st ukcarrentals and novacarhire all of which I read about on travel websites. Prices range from $360 to $600. I know I won't need CDW with credit card but do I need CDW plus?? Nova does advertise no hidden charges but their quote is highest.

Any advise or comments would be appreciated.

Posted by
1589 posts

Advise? Do not rent a car. Train travel is extensive. Driving on the left is a major PIA. Neither of you will enjoy one minute on the roads, either major highways or little used secondary roads. It sounds exciting, but the reality is harsh. All of your instincts will pull you toward your "normal" driving habits and one second could lead to tragic results.

Posted by
1358 posts

Driving in England can be stressful but not impossible. My suggestion is not to rent a car unless you want to or unless you have to.

Rental rates vary from day to day with each of the companies you mention; so it is impossible to suggest the best for you.

The day you decide to rent a car call all of the companies then choose the one with the best rate or the best features. You can ask 10 people and get 10 different suggestions.

I have rented cars many times in Europe and never with the same company twice.

I always talk with my auto insurance agent before I go, telling him where I will be and asking his advice. To date he has always suggested I not buy any insurance from the auto rental agency.

Call your credit card company before you rent to make sure of your insurance coverage. Do not buy any coverage you do not need.

Posted by
2779 posts

Once you get used to that anachronistic wrong-hand-side driving on those outlying islands it's actually pretty simple. My advice: Look out at round abouts as we all tend to take them rightbound instead of leftbound! You also need to get acustomed to the English road type system: M are motorways but A roads work like US highways as well. There might be a few intersections but not that many. B roads, however, can mean anything... well, anything paved ;-)...

Posted by
359 posts

If you get into a roundabout and aren't 100% sure of which exit to take (and the big ones can have more than a few), just go around a few times to plan your move/exit.

Posted by
9363 posts

I love driving in the UK and Ireland. The only real problem I had was with the little farm walls on either side of the road if the road was narrow (and they usually are). After an hour or so, though, I was used to that. Roundabouts were no problem for me going leftbound because we don't have them where I live, so I'm not used to driving on them at all. The ability to just go around again until you decide which exit you need is so great compared to, say, missing your exit on the interstate here and having to drive for miles and miles before you get a chance to go back. If you take a wrong exit on a roundabout you just have to go a short distance and turn around, then try it again.

Posted by
2779 posts

Nancy's got a good point. If you don't know roundabouts from where you live you'll certainly have no problems. But since we've got a lot of right-bound ones in Germany it IS a bit confusing. Other than that I agree: You get used to it fairly quickly.

Posted by
5678 posts

I love driving in the UK--in the countryside and small cities. Glasgow is as big a city as I've gotten and I sure woudl avoid London! But the wee roads are wonderful. I even drive stick with no problem. The pedals are the same and your left hand can shift! One thing to remember is that you navigate by the places you are going to not by the routes you travel. So, you follow the signs to Carlisle, and then see the signs for Penrith and then the signs to Gamblesby, the little town you're headed for. If there are little towns between Gamblesby and Penrith, you'd better know them. I would build a list of the towns that I would got through before my final destination. Remember too, getting lost is part of the fun. It's a small island, you can't go far.


Posted by
208 posts

The rule for roundabouts (per my Scottish friend) at your approach, if your exit is before 12:00 (like on a clock dial) stick to the left. If your exit is after 12:00 of your approach, stay to the right until you get to the center (12:00 spot) and move to the left to exit the roundabout. Hope that helps. Be sure if you're renting from here and want to avoid a manual transmission, make sure you're getting an automatic.
Good luck!

Posted by
4 posts

THanks for all the replies and help. We have decided to rent a car and drive a lot on this grip and I know we will be fine--I think. I am more leery to larger roadways and fast traffic than the smaller roads and slower drives which is what we are used to. Anyway, thanks for everything and I will let you know how everything goes.


Posted by
506 posts

To answer your question about CDW - I would check to verify the coverage you have under the credit card. First, to ensure it will cover rental in the UK and second, verify how much it will cover. This should help you to really determine if the Credit Card coverage is sufficient. Typically it is fine. I normally do not purchase the additional insurance.

Posted by
313 posts

Sue, we haven't driven in UK yet, but last year drove in France for the first time. As the others have suggested, my husband contacted the credit card people and the car and medical insurance people to get confirmation that we were covered for everything. (And we were, so didn't have to purchase any extra coverage.)

We also found last year, that our Costco membership got us a MUCH better deal on an Avis car in France than all the other renters or consolidators (including AutoEurope, etc.). I don't know if you're a member, but there's one more suggestion.

Have a great trip --