Italy has been touted as one of the best destinations, be it for honeymooners, for families or for a group of friends. Places like Amalfi Coast, Tuscany provide for a beautiful drive destination. Today let’s see 10 tips for a safe and fun self drive in Italy.
Renting a car in Italy makes sense when you are not visiting the main cities and instead have places like Tuscany and Amalfi coast on your mind. Italy has a lot of vineyards, isolated beaches, hill towns and fishing towns that could feature in your self -drive trip and make it a holiday to remember.
However there are lots of factors to be considered while making the decision of self -drive to ensure that your holiday is smooth and hassle free.
Self drive in Italy – 10 tips for your perfect italian holiday
1) Selecting a Car Rental Service
Once you have mapped out your itinerary, invest some time in sourcing out the car rental companies operating in Italy. An important tip here is that you should not be tempted by any company offering cheap rates. The company’s credentials should be thoroughly scrutinized and validated, for all you know they might just swipe your card and leave you high and dry at the Airport.
Get reviews from fellow travellers about the company you intend to use. This will give you a fair idea of their services and if they are as good as they promised. Most travellers will offer their unbiased opinion and this will help you in choosing the apt car rental company for you. The car rental service must have a clear policy about the fuel, charges, insurance, damage policy etc so that before you are handed over your keys, you have a good knowledge about what you are getting into rather than getting a shock at the end of your trip.
2) Selecting the right Car
Just as selecting the car Hire Company is important the same way selecting the apt car is also important. All countries do not get the same model of cars, especially if you are planning to self drive in Italy, where you will find different makes and models than USA for example. Your selection must be based on the number of travellers involved, the seating space that you will require, the luggage that you will be carrying.
Do not pick point a car just because it looks fancy, you might end up forking out more money than intended. Remember that your entire holiday plan will revolve around this car so make sure that you select a model that is comfortable and aptly suits your needs.
3) Reserve at the earliest
Whether you are travelling in off season or a tourist season, it is wise that you pre book online your car. Leaving this to the last minute can upset your plans. There may be non-availability of your model or it may simply take a lot of time. Most people indulging in self-drive pick up their cars from the Airport and it makes sense to collect your car keys without wasting a lot of time as you would already be tired with the flight journey and might just want to hit the road to your destination.
4) Check the Car and get it signed by the attendant
This is a mandatory rule that must be followed by every potential self-drive traveller. Once you are handed over the keys, take your time to inspect the vehicle. Don’t be in a hurry to zoom off or let the attendant rush you. Check all the necessary details and only then sign the form. This will help settle any disputes /discrepancies that may arise later.
5) Plan your rental wisely
Plan your rental wisely. Don’t give in to the temptation of hiring the car for your entire stay. Hiring cars in cities like Venice, Florence, Rome is of no use and will only add to your expenses. Car Rental is only required for country sides, vineyards and hill towns and not for cities that will have congested traffic and will not allow you to take full usage of the car rental service and will leave you frustrated.
6) Restricted Traffic Zone or ZTL (Zone of limited Traffic)
If you opted for self drive in Italy, please read carefully. Italy has a majority of historical monuments and places which come under the ZTL. This means that a lot of places are restricted for car traffics. In this case it is better to know the zones before venturing out so that you don’t end up having to waste your car rental usage.
Most junctions and squares will have signs to alert you of the Zone of limited traffic.
7) Child seats
Most car rental companies charge a bomb for providing a child seat in cars. If you are travelling with a child, make sure that you have clarity on this point. More wise would be to carry your own child seats to avoid any hefty charges while you are vacationing.
8) Photographing or video graphing the car
Taking a photo or video of the car is very simple due to the advent of smartphones. Taking a picture of video will just lend authenticity to your claims should any dispute arise at a later stage.
You can also follow the same procedure when you hand back the car just to make sure that the car rental company does not accuse of any wrong doing. There are a number of apps that allow you to take pictures or videos along with the date and time so it cannot be disputed later. This won’t cost you anything and might just end up strengthening your case if any situation demands the same.
9) Checking your credit card statement
Most car rental companies will take down your credit card details as a safety measure. Make sure that you check your credit card statement once in a while so that no unauthenticated charges have been levied while you were on a holiday.
Mostly this does not happen but being a little vigilant will cause no harm.
10) Familiarization with rules and regulations
Once the self drive in Italy option has been decided, it is better to invest a little time knowing the traffic rules and regulations. Make sure you have an international driving licence to be able to drive in Italy. The international driving license issued by the national motor authority of your country should suffice.
Italy has its own set of rules and regulations which must be followed. While the rules and signs are there for everyone to see, sometimes you may forget to read it or confuse it with some other sign. To avoid this, familiarization of rules beforehand is a good idea. Make sure that you stick to those rather than following some locals and landing yourself into trouble. Speed limit is another factor that is worth taking note of. Read also: www.lonelyplanet.com/italy/travel-tips-and-articles/
Just because the road is clear do not cruise at a speed that is not permissible as there are cameras everywhere that will capture your view and you will be fined for it.
The above tips should surely help you in selecting a suitable car for your trip and also on ways to have a hassle free and smooth car rental experience. After all your holiday must be a relaxing time for you and not end up giving you headaches and more problems.
Do you know more tips on self drive in Italy? Share them with us!