Monday 11 November 2013

Gifts From The Pirates in Orlando - Driving on the wrong side of the road and rental concerns.

The thought of driving in the US was terrifying me. I didn't let on to Mrs M just how bad my anxiety was because I really didn't want her stressing out. I don't generally tend to be a worrier but the thought of making a wrong turn and driving the wrong way up the highway was filling me with dread. On our last visit to Orlando we stopped on international drive, probably the most popular area for tourists due to there being bus services to all parks and the I Ride Trolley which pretty much takes you wherever you want to in regards to the parks along its epic route. Although the idrive is great if you want to be doing a lot of shopping etc hiring a car is a must as we spent a small fortune last time on taxi's.

This time round though we wanted to try staying somewhere out of the way so we booked a condo in Davenport, because of this a car was really important. i need to get used to the roads anyway as we will be coming here many more times. We've been lucky enough to work with Hertz while on our tour of Orlando and on arrival of the pick up point, despite feeling like a nervous wreck and firing a barrage of questions at our taxi driver about all the possible things I could do wrong on the roads the two chaps at Hertz made me feel right at home and their friendly laid back attitude definitely calmed me down. 

There's a great selection of cars to choose from depending on your preference. For a little run around your looking at around £200 for a fortnight. You can pay for a full tank of gas up front which works out cheaper and for convenience is just what you want to be on your way and enjoying your holiday. There are lots of add ons, which come at a cost. A satnav is a must if you're not familiar with the area it's made our journeys so far effortless. If you have younger children and need car seats there is the option to add them to your hire package but at $70ish each to hire them for 2 weeks we chose another option. For opeie we looked on eBay for a cheap maxi cosy car seat that we could take in our case which we intend to leave here when were done. For Seth we were lucky enough to be sent a BoostApak by Trunki which has turned out to be an amazing and much needed bit of kit, a backpack that transforms in to a car seat, Seth loves it and feels like its some sort of James Bond gadget. Although the carseat is solid and takes up the full shape of the back pack there is still space to pack items to carry about making the backpack usable out of the car too, great work Trunki. (I will write a full review including spec when we're home).

Anyway back to the driving, the guys from Hertz were amazing and fully showed me round the car explaining every part in detail by the time I got behind the wheel though I felt like I was going to be sick, ridiculous when I think about it now as by the time I'd got 10 minutes down the road I felt fine. Because of the 55 speed limit on most of the larger roads driving seems so much more relaxing, plus we're on holiday, there's no racing to do the school run. It's important to know that at a red light you can still turn right as long as you come to a stop and checked oncoming traffic (apparently if you don't stop it's called a 'California roll'). Also if parking on the side of a road always park facing the way the traffic is going or you will be given a ticket.

Here's a few more of our top tips for hiring a car in Orlando with Hertz. 

  • There are lots of destinations where you can pick your vehicle up, use the Zip Code tool to work out where is closest to where you're staying, that way the taxi to the pick up centre won't be too much and you'll save time.
  • Ideally pay before you hire, this saves you money but also makes it easier when hiring due to the way all hire companies put the payment into a pending transaction , which you have to then pay at the end of the contract hire... slightly confusing when you first sign up, as they add $200 onto your rental agreement in case anything gets damaged, as a deposit, again in a holding form payment, which then gets returned to your bank if all is well with the vehicle.
  • Hire a GPS as I've said, worth every penny! Saves you time, stress and makes it easier to drive on the opposite side since they prompt everything.
  • Book in advance if possible... a lot cheaper than last minute!
  • Make sure you keep the keys safe, there's a excess of $200 to pay if they're lost with any rental company.
  • Think about taking out the optional $6 a day road side assistance, breakdown cover. Totally worth it when you think how much it would cost to get towed.
  •  Make sure you choose a model which is big enough for your luggage , if collecting from the airport, you don't want to struggle making two trips!

Well its been three days on the US roads and I've not hit anyone, got seriously lost and most importantly I have driven along every road in the correct direction, which was my main fear. The first hour or so is a little daunting while you adapt but once you are comfortable driving in Orlando is really relaxing. There are a few drivers in a rush weaving in and out of traffic, you get that everywhere but a large percentage of the drivers on the road happily drive well under the limit (these may of course be other tourists panicking and being over cautious). In regards to both Hertz rental company and the SUV Style vehicle we chose i cannot recommend them enough, The motoring side of the holiday has been a joy.

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