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Car Rental Safety Tips

By Marianne Schwab | Best Travel Deals Tips Blog

Knowing a few tips about car rental safety is the key to a great vacation since you don't want your vacation ruined by becoming a victim of a collision or a crime. I've put together some safety tips for car rentals that may seem like common sense, but they are here for a reason: because people have not followed these car rental safety tips and have found themselves in trouble.

If you're like my me, you're always looking for a great deal on a car rental and I usually find all the best car rental company brand names at great low prices through Expedia.com. Also, if you like Priceline, you can see winning rental car bids in top cities from $12/day!

One final travel savings tip since I'm all about the best travel deals tips and then we'll get to car rental safety. Did you know that you can usually save hundreds of dollars if you book your car rental, airline ticket and hotel together as a package? This works best on weekend getaways and vacations, but you can also save on business trips as well.

Whatever company you decide to rent your car from, these important car rental safety tips should be followed, so drive safely.

1. Don't rent a flashy car. Car rental safety begins when you rent a car. Always choose a commonly available make and model for the local market where you are visiting. Renting a Mercedes or a Cadillac may not get you a lot of attention in a large city like Los Angeles where the 405 can be a sea of luxury vehicles, but it will stand out in most cities in the United States. Renting a flashy sports car or luxury brand could draw unnecessary attention to you and your rental car which might single you out as a possible "mark" by professional criminals.

2. Inspect your rental car before you leave the rental car lot. Make certain that the car you’re renting is in tip-top shape. I've actually rented a car from a budget car rental company and there was no window wiper fluid. This can be a real car rental safety hazard if you're driving in bad weather how I discovered the issue. Also, check the mileage on the car before you leave as it will give you a good idea as to the reliability of the car you've just rented, especially if it has low miles. Finally, if possible, ask that any markings on your car identifying it as a rental car be removed as this identifier can make you a target for certain crimes.

3. Rent a car with a remote access that includes automatic locks and windows. If rental cars are available with universal door locks and power windows, rent one with these features since they give you better control of access to your vehicle. I think having remote locks on my car is one of the most important car rental safety tips. It allows me quick entry into the car so I'm not fumbling with a key to try to get into my vehicle which could make me vulnerable in certain situations.

Check with your car rental company as to whether or not the class of car you're renting has these car rental safety features BEFORE you rent your car. I generally rent an economy car when I travel and I've found out when I pick up my car that there are no power locks or windows.

As a single woman who travels alone on business a lot, this is a very important safety feature for every car. In 2011, it would never occur to me that they still make cars with manual locks and windows, but they do so call ahead and verify these essential car rental safety features for the class of car you'll be renting. If the company only offers cars in certain classes without the power locks and windows then consider another car rental company. You should be able to rent economy class cars with these features but keep in mind it varies from car rental company to car rental company.

4. Air conditioning is a car rental safety feature. Renting a car with a working air conditioner an essential car rental safety feature because it allows you to drive with closed windows. Thieves have been know to snatch purses through open windows of cars even while the car is in motion. A friend of mine rented a convertible when she was visiting me in Los Angeles because she wanted to have an L.A. experience. While she was stopped at a stoplight, her purse was snatched right from her car. Similar situations can happen when you drive around cities you're not familiar with and have your windows rolled down. It always pays to exercise caution, drive in the middle lane so you're not curbside vulnerable and always be aware of your surroundings.

5. Wear seat belts and keep the doors locked at all times. In most states, it's now a low that you wear your seat belt so you don't want to get a ticket. Also, for the same reason you don't want to drive with your windows rolled down, you want to make sure you keep your car doors locked as well. If you're wondering why, then understand that while you're stopped at a light, someone could enter your car. Though we don't like to focus on crime, keep your doors locked and you can prevent being a victim.

6. Do not under any circumstances pick up hitchhikers, men or women, even if they look innocent or are attractive. In this day and age we all should know this, but it always surprises me when I'm driving by state prisons that you will see signs that say, "Don't Pick up Hitchhikers." Evidently people have done this very thing so the government feels the need to post the signs. Remember, Ted Bundy was an attractive looking business man, but a lethal one. If you see someone at the side of the road with car trouble, call for help for them from your cell phone to request assistance but do not stop.

7. If you see suspicious looking people around at your intended destination, do not get out of the car. Instead, drive to another location that is well populated or where you know there will be people working like a 24/7 business. Trust your instincts in these circumstances. We're wired with gut feelings for a reason.

8. Do not park your car in a remote area overnight. When you are parked at your hotel, try to park near an entrance to your room and in a well lit area of the parking lot.

9. Try to avoid filling up your gas tank after dark or driving at night. Driving at night may be unavoidable but definitely avoid having to make a stop at a gas station after dark.

10. Southern Europe precautions. Travel safety tips you may not be aware of is that in some southern European countries, there are many scams you need to be cautious of which lead to carjackings. These carjackers and thieves operate at gas stations, parking lots, in city traffic and along the highway. You should be suspicious of anyone who tries to hail you or flag you down to get your attention when you are in or near your car. If you're genuinely concerned for someone who's trying to flag you down, then dial the emergency number in the country you're in (like 9-1-1 or 9-9-9) for assistance to help them. It's a dangerous world we live in and our inclination is to be a Good Samaritan, however, exercise wisdom in suspicious circumstances.

Now, you know about car rental safety, don't forget I have more hotel room safety and travel safety tips for your vacation on BestTravelDealsTips.com.

Now, please drive safely.

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About Marianne Schwab
TV Travel Show Producer

For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more