There are a plethora of self drive car options out there suited for any type of travel. You can rent the smallest smart car or the largest van with many size options in between. The problem is, which one do you choose?
Start by assessing how many people are in your party, what are they going to be (realistically) carrying for luggage, and if there is anyone of substantial height that will be traveling in the vehicle. Families with small children will need to consider the added space required for child seats, while budget minded travelers will consider smaller, more fuel efficient rental cars.
Car categories available are, from smallest to largest: mini, economy or subcompact, compact, intermediate or midsize, standard and lastly full. Then for basic style there are: SUV’s, sedan’s, wagons, vans, and even sprinter vans (all styles are not available in all categories).
The misconception among many is that the larger the vehicle chosen, the more capacity is guaranteed for occupants and luggage. In actuality, what you’re getting is more interior space which does not always translate to more space for your suitcases.
Say you’re 6’2’, and only traveling with one companion. You are probably not going to want to take a mini or economy unless you like your knees on level with your chin and have a padded hat to save your head from grazing the roof. A compact could work for you if the seat is pushed all the way back but, you are more assuredly going to be able to relax in an intermediate and have ample room throw your bags in the back.
The family of 5 would typically start by considering a full size sedan. While providing a spacious interior for knees and elbows, this however does not guarantee that you’re going to be able to fit the luggage of all occupants as well. A van, wagon or SUV, which could come in categories from intermediate or above, would be most suitable.
Another pertinent piece of information is that in Europe, what we recognize for car sizes, come a bit smaller across the pond. When you drive around in a Volkswagen Golf or a Mercedes in the states, it’s going to be a step down in size abroad, so keep that in mind as well.
Finally, it’s important that if you are engaging in skiing, biking, golfing or other such activities that require additional equipment that will be traveling with you, make sure that you factor this into your chosen vehicle. Ask your reservation agent about optional equipment like ski racks, if you plan on hitting the European slopes!
With an attention to detail in advance, you can help make your vacation as smooth and seamless as possible. So, next time you’re looking to rent a car, whether for business or leisure, remember, size matters.