Driving abroad

Hire car hell? 10 ways to avoid it this summer

Car hire

Ensure your holiday hire car is all smiles by following our top tips

Hire car problems are one of the biggest bothers for holiday makers going abroad. But it should be one of the easiest parts of the trip. After all, it’s not as if it’s a new industry. And the modern automobile is a fairly bullet-proof piece of kit.

However, with a lack of transparency over pricing, exorbitant insurance to cover excesses, punitive charges for fuel, and occasional blatant overcharging, some hire car companies can make a holiday memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Things are improving slowly. The industry has been ordered to clean up its act by the Competition and Markets Authority and its European counterparts. But although the key five players – Avis-Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt – have all made changes, there is plenty drivers can do to protect themselves. Here are 10 ways you can save money and ensure you have a trouble-free holiday – at least when it comes to the hire car. Continue reading

Driving abroad: all you need to know plus cover for insurance, breakdown

Driving abroad arranging insurance and breakdown cover checking local laws and loading the car safe

When it comes to setting off for a holiday on the continent, drivers and families have a packing list as long as beach towel. But it’s easy to forget one or more vital elements. European insurance, breakdown cover, extra kit to comply with foreign laws and your driving licence are all indispensable. And unlike a missing tube of sun cream, these aren’t easy to organise abroad and missing them can take the joy out of a much-needed break.

That’s why it’s important that drivers write out a list of everything they and their car need for the trip. That way, there should be no danger of conking out on the hard shoulder only to find that your car insurance doesn’t include breakdown cover abroad. Or that the tool to release wheel nuts is at home in the garage.

Millions of Brits prefer to drive rather than fly, given the affordability, practicality and flexibility it gives them. Here are the things you’ll need for a road trip abroad.

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How to pack your car for a self-drive ski holiday

How to pack your car for a self-drive ski holiday

As sure as you’re going to have at least one spectacular wipe-out on the ski slopes, packing the car for a self-drive ski holiday will have you muttering under your breath and wondering whether it would have been easier to fly and rent all your equipment at the ski resort.

But keep the faith. As many holidaymakers know, there’s a whiff of romance to a long distance road trip, and during the winter ski season the traffic at the ports and on the roads is mercifully light – unlike the queues at airports.

Most of the popular European winter resorts are less than 10 hours from the continental coast. And once you know how to properly pack your car with ski gear, you’ll find everything slots into place like a series of deftly executed parallel turns.

Here’s how to do it.

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Best place for drivers? It’s not the UK. But we’re not the worst either

Best place for drivers

Drivers in the Philippines capital Manila have the longest commute

Where’s the best place to be a driver? With our potholed roads and frequently congested city streets, you probably don’t think it’s the UK. In fact, you may not be surprised if the UK was towards the bottom of any road ranking. The good news is, we’re not. There are some places in the world where the traffic is so congested you wonder how anyone ever gets anywhere.

There’s more good news for hard-pressed UK drivers. We have one of the best records in the world for road safety. That’s compared to some roads in the world where safety is so shocking it borders on scandalous. However, it’s not quite time to get out the bunting and begin baking the celebration cup cakes. The UK has a long way to go before it can match the best for drivers on a daily basis.

The best countries for safety

First the good news. One area where the UK is world class is in road safety. According to the International Traffic Data Safety and Analysis Group which analyses information from 32 countries around the world we’re in third place with 2.9 deaths per 100,000 people. Only Sweden on 2.8 and Iceland on 1.2 were better.

The best place for drivers

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Dover traffic chaos: How to prepare for crossing the channel this summer

Dover traffic chaos

Increased French security checks mean more queueing for ferries

Authorities and ferry companies have reassured travellers that the recent Dover traffic chaos was a one-off. But police are still warning of delays at channel ports. This is because of increased French security following recent terror attacks on the Continent. A Kent police spokesperson said: “A large volume of holiday traffic is anticipated over the next few days with holiday makers making their way to Europe. This together with heightened security checks by the French Authorities could however mean some delays over the next few weeks.”

Here’s our guide to crossing the channel this summer.

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Expert advice: How to stay safe driving at night

Driving at night

The roads might be quieter at night but they can also be more dangerous

When we’re heading off on our summer holidays, many of us choose driving at night because the roads are quieter after dark. It can make for a quicker, cheaper and less stressful journey. But it can also be more dangerous.

According to government figures, around four out of 10 road accidents occur after dark. Considering there are generally fewer cars on the road at night, that’s a significant proportion.

Around 90 per cent of the information we use when driving is processed through our vision. When it’s dark, our ability to see things obviously decreases. That means it takes longer to spot pedestrians and other road users, road signs and traffic signals. So here are some tips for staying safe on the road when you’re driving at night.

Clean up your act

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England wins the Euros… for cars. Mini beats Belgium’s Land Rover

Euros for cars Group B original Mini

The Euros for Cars has been decided. And just like the real thing there was a surprise in store with the winner coming from a nation unused to winning football tournaments, after thousands of votes were cast on Twitter for Green Flag’s car shootout. The winner of the Euros for Cars 2016 was… England!

In order to triumph, England ‑ represented by the original Mini ‑ had to overcome a strong challenge from Belgium which had the Minerva Land Rover Series I wearing its colours.

The final, voted for on Twitter #Eurocars2016 was a cagey affair. And it’s probably fair to say that like the Euro 2016 football competition, it needed extra time to decide the result thanks to two competitors who were so evenly matched. When the counting was over, England came out on top. But only just. The Mini recorded 57 per cent of the vote compared to 43 per cent for the Minerva Land Rover. Continue reading

Euros for Cars semi-finals: Spain’s bullish Seat Leon takes on England’s mighty Mini. Vote now!

Euros for Cars 2016 Seat Leon vs Mini

Can England beat Spain in Green Flag’s Euros for Cars 2016? Follow the semi-final clash on Twitter, using #Eurocars2016

The line-up for the Euros for Cars 2016 semi-finals has been decided, and it promises closely fought, wheel-to-wheel action which anyone using Twitter can get involved in. Tonight, from 7pm, Spain’s bullish Leon hatchback will take on England and everybody’s favourite classic car, the plucky pint-size Mini.

The action doesn’t stop there. Tomorrow night Albania will tackle Belgium, in a clash between the robust Mercedes E-Class, which makes for a hard working taxi in Albania, and the even more rugged Minerva, a Land Rover that was built under licence in Belgium for the nation’s armed forces.

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Quiz: Do you know what all of these common French road signs mean?

Quiz: Do you know all of these common French road signs?

British holiday makers and France go together like a slice of camembert on a freshly baked baguette with a glass of Bordeaux wine. A staggering 17 million Britons visit France every year, and whether they’re living it up in the City of Light or unwinding in Provence, one thing is certain: millions use their car to explore la belle France.

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Hire car tips: Advice that can save money and hassle on car rental

Hire car tips

We’ve prepared these hire car tips after research found drivers planning to rent a car this summer are likely to face a disappointing experience. Almost one in 10 travellers have arrived to collect their hire car only to find that none are available. One in five have had to queue for more than half an hour at the rental company desk. And nearly one in five said they found the process of collecting a hire car a stressful experience.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Almost a third of drivers were unexpectedly given a better car than they expected. The findings are the results of a YouGov survey. It discovered that Continue reading