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Orlando Car Hire. How to get the best - cheapest


Unless you are staying in a Disney Hotel and intend to use the Disney Transportation System for all your journeys, you are going to need a hire car. The good news is that Orlando Car Hire and hire cars in the rest of Florida is easy, with some good cheap Orlando car hire offers available. All of the major Orlando car hire firms can be found at Orlando International Airport and in Downtown Orlando, there is a great choice of vehicles from small cars to large SUV's and Mini Buses, from cheap hire cars to luxurious ones.

Where to hire your car

Most travellers to Florida will pick up their hire car as they arrive at the airport, the car hire firms are all represented here with large scale operations and a good choice of cars. Orlando car hire can also be arranged in Downtown Orlando, at your hotel or for delivery to your villa.

In Orlando international airport all the car hire firms are located on the bottom floor, there are numerous desks for each company, however at peak times there can be a queue. With most UK flights leaving at similar times they of course arrive in Orlando at similar times, if yours is the last of two or three jumbos to arrive at once, things are going to be busy in car hire!

If your group allows why not leave someone waiting for the luggage whilst all those who will be driving go and sort that out the car hire

When you get to the car hire desk you will need the booking paperwork, driving licenses and passports for all drivers and a credit card for the deposit.

On completion of the paperwork you will be handed your agreement and asked to proceed to the attached multistory car park to collect your car. The cars are arranged in groups according to type, small, compact, midsize, luxury, SUV etc. the keys are in the vehicle meaning you just have to choose the one you like the look of most.

At the car park exit you will be asked to show your rental agreement and some form of identity. Take time to familiarize yourself with the car and controls before you proceed out onto the highway.

What car to hire

Cars are split into groups that on the whole represent the size of the car and the number of passengers it will hold. Be very careful here, unless you are hiring an SUV most American cars are saloons, which despite their huge size means they do not have large boots. If the car says it will hold four adults, it will, but it may not though hold four adults, four suitcases and four items of hand luggage all at the same time.

American roads and car parks are built for big cars, and most American cars are big. But as we all know size isn't everything! Whilst they may have large engines they lack the refinement of European cars, so don't expect heaps of gadgets and safety features.

Insurance and Upgrades

When choosing which company and which deal to go for pay very carful attention to the insurance cover that is offered with that deal. A real cheap quote may look eye catching but then so may the bill for additional insurance offered at the airport hire desk.

British Airways offer a comprehensive deal that includes all the insurance cover you will need and will stop any haggling at the rental desk, well worth checking out as a comparison to other sites.

You may well be offered an upgrade to the next size car up at the rental desk, be careful the rate quoted will be per day and can add up to a tidy sum over a two week holiday.

Driving in Florida

Driving in Florida is nothing to be apprehensive about, big wide roads, plenty of space and on the whole courteous drivers.

America has very few roundabouts, junctions instead being controlled by traffic lights. Look for signs at these telling you what you can do, at some you can turn right on red at others you can't. In suburban areas at quiet times some traffic lights will switch to just a flashing amber light in all directions, this means the junction has become a cross roads with drivers taking it in turn to cross.

Outside of residential areas you will be hard pressed to find a single carriageway road, most are dual carriageway or more. You can overtake on either side and roads including interstate highways and turnpikes will have exits from either lane.

There are some toll roads around Florida, these are generally cheap and offer a good alternative to more congested free routes. Parts of the journey from Orlando International Airport to the Disney and Highway 192 areas have tolls. When you leave the airport make sure you have a few dollars change preferably in quarters, most tolls have at least one manned booth able to accept notes, but some don't and here change is a must.

Toll Roads and Sunpass

When using the toll roads you will notice alongside the regular toll booths, Sunpass toll booths. Sunpass is a pre-paid monitoring system, that through a transponder in the car clocks you passing through toll booths.

Originally the majority of toll booths had unmanned change buckets alongside manned booths and Sunpass Lanes, however there is an increasing trend away from manned booths with just change buckets and Sunpass Lanes left. As long as you have a pocket full of change there is nothing to worry about, however if you find yourself at a toll station with no change and no manned booth then you will struggle.

If you do find yourself on this situation then don't panic and don't try backing away from the toll station, stay safe. The fine for passing through a toll station is minimal and will be taken from the credit card impression you left with the hire company, no police action or points will be incured.

Sunpass does though offer a solution to this, most hire companies either fit, or can fit on request a transponder to the car, with toll charges added to your final bill. No hassle with a pocket full of change and no danger of missing a payment.

When getting your car ask the representative for details of how Sunpass works with them.

Orlando Car Hire

Speed Limits

Speed limits on Interstate highways, expressways and Turnpikes are either 55 or 65 miles per hour, speed limits in built up areas are well signed and are generally lower than the UK. Pay particular attention to speed limits around schools.

Generally the Americans do not speed, and whilst there are very few speed cameras the many Highway Patrol cars are radar equipped and do pull cars over. You do not want to be spending your holiday time and money on speeding fines.

The rules on alcohol are very strictly enforced and any offence will result in a prison stay. If you have been shopping and have bought alcohol you must not transport this in the body of the car, it must be transported in the boot.

Filling with fuel

You drive into the petrol station, stop at the pump, fill with fuel, pay and go how can it get any more complicated than that? well by doing it the American way!

Most but not all US petrol stations will want you to pay for the fuel before you put it into the car. This means you have got to guess how many gallons (the US is still imperial) you will need, convert that to dollar's and then pay before the pump will be turned allowing you to fill your car. On completion you can just drive away. Some petrol stations do work on the fill first principle, although generally you don't find this out until after you get into the store to pay first.

The vast majority of American cars run on petrol, with fuel costing generally around one third of the price it does in the UK. Whilst this makes fuel comparatively very cheap the cars generally only do 20~30 miles to the gallon.

Returning you Orlando hire car

Check your rental agreement carefully before you return your car, some will want the fuel tank to be full some give you a tank with the original hire, and returning empty is ok. If you return a tank that should have been full, empty, they will charge you a premium to fill it.

If you are returning to Orlando International Airport then you will end up in the same multistory car park you left from. Things always seem a bit rushed here, no sooner have you pulled up that the returns people will have the keys from you and be all over the car. Its worth checking the car over for all your belongings before you set of for the airport and having us much as possible packed away into your travel bags and suitcases.