Consider driving a hire-car home from the airport

Here’s a handy travel tip if, like me, you live out in the countryside. Getting home from airports on public transport can be cumbersome, time-consuming and risk-prone: one delayed train early in a sequence can badger up your whole journey. I’ve found it useful to hire a car for a one-way journey.

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Several times on business trips, my inbound flight has dumped me at the airport at a time when there’s no good public transport to get me home, so I have rented cars in advance, picked them up from the airport, driven home, and had the rental company pick the car up from there. Obviously having them do the pick-up is crucial: it’s what makes this a convenient option. Avoid rental companies that require you to schlep into town and drop the car off at a location that’s convenient for them.

One-way hire with pick-up can be surprisingly inexpensive so long as you book in advance — for example, most recently I paid £58.99 for a car to drive home from Gatwick, plus £19.59 for the petrol. Train ticket prices seem terribly random, but they can easily cost as much as that for a journey that takes two or three times as long and is much less convenient.

Only two downsides: one is that sometimes there’s a bit of a queue to pick up the car. The other is that if you don’t book in advance, then renting a car on the day is much more expensive — £118.38 the last time I had to do it (from Heathrow), so literally more than twice as expensive as when it’s pre-booked.

Not all companies do this, and not all the ones that do advertise the fact on their web-sites, so you may need to ask around. For what it’s worth, I’ve had only good experiences with EuropCar, but I have to phone them to make the booking rather than being able to do it online.

Update (17 August 2015)

Do not rent from Europcar — they steal money from you. Find a different car-rental merchant.

One response to “Consider driving a hire-car home from the airport

  1. Pingback: How Europcar stole £22.08 from me (and why you shouldn’t rent from them) | The Reinvigorated Programmer

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