What to keep in mind when you rent a car in the Baltic states

Summer is the time for travelling, and often a car is the preferred means of transport as it enables you to take more luggage than allowed on a plane and gives greater freedom of movement; but if you rent a car, you should pay attention to several aspects to make the rental as safe as possible and ensure the car meets your expectations.

As the summer is the peak season for car rental, you should make your booking at least two weeks before the pick-up date. If you leave the booking to the last moment, the desired car group may not be available any more, or its price might have increased several times. When you compare prices, look at the price offers for longer periods than one or two days, because the rental vehicle has a better price per day the longer the rental period is.

You should also carefully read all the terms and conditions, and pay attention to the mileage restrictions, minimal liability coverage and requirements of the customer. “Before renting a car, it is useful to read through the rules, so that there will be no unpleasant surprises in the form of various additional costs,” Madis Sinijärv, the Estonian representative of the international car rental company, Budget, said.

It should also be kept in mind that if you plan to visit several countries, you have to inform the rental company of this. “The rules vary by country, and it may be that there are restrictions on entry for certain groups of vehicles in some countries. When you book, this part of your travel plan should be agreed upon with the rental company in order to avoid misunderstandings,” he emphasised.

It is also necessary to pay attention to the special requirements of the person renting the car – in some countries, persons under the age of 25 cannot rent larger cars, and often there are surcharges for younger drivers or additional drivers.

You should also make clear whether you are entering into a contract with an agent or a specific car rental company when you rent a car, and ask about special offers directly from the car rental company or the agent.

Keep in mind the particulars of your destination

Airi Ilisson-Cruz, the marketing director of Estravel, the largest travel agency in the Baltic states, said that during the summer season, people mostly travel to the neighbouring countries and to southern Europe. “In summer, people often travel with the whole family. For example, car trips to Latvia and Lithuania, where you can find many theme parks, beautiful beaches and high quality spa hotels, are popular. Finland continues to be the most popular destination for Estonians all the year round.Of the countries of southern Europe, the most popular destinations during the summer season are Greece and Bulgaria,” she said.

“The choice of destination is influenced by convenient air connections, and also good climate, beautiful nature and many interesting sights in these countries. The most convenient way for travelling around in these countries is to rent a car, which can already be booked before the trip. Then you will not have to waste time on rental during your vacation. In Estravel, we closely cooperate with the car rental companies to provide flexible car rental solutions to our customers and find the most suitable car for each traveller,” Ilisson-Cruz added.

On the basis of their long-time car rental experience in the whole of Europe, Sinijärv emphasised that the customers should keep in mind the particulars of their destination when travelling. He pointed out that, in warmer countries, a well-functioning air-conditioning device is of great help, and in destinations with more extreme weather conditions, the tyres of the rental car should be examined closely.

Before renting a car, it is also useful to make sure whether you are dealing with an international company or a local small rental company. International rental companies usually have established rental conditions that are clearer than the contracts of local small enterprises. If an international company has an office in your home country, the employees there can help you and explain the conditions and options in your native language.

“It is very important to read all the terms and conditions in the contract very carefully before signing, and always ask if something is unclear. This is especially so in places where communication is in a foreign language to one or both of the parties,” Sinijärv recommended.

The cover image is illustrative (courtesy of Budget Car Rental). Please note that this article was originally published on 6 July 2017.

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