Car Hire in the Alps: Where to find cheap car hire, tips, how to drive in the snow

By adamrowden, 18 Dec '12 at 09:53

Airport Car Hire

The increase in discount flights and competitive prices for cheap car hire have made this a much more attractive option in recent years. Driving around the Alps is something everyone should try at least once. Alpine roads include some of the most beautiful scenery you are likely to see while driving and the advantages of having your own car in resort are considerable.

However, there are also some downsides to hiring a car and driving to the mountains yourself, and, as we are always trying to be as diplomatic as possible, we thought that we should lay out all of the pros and cons in front of you...

Pros:

- Drive on beautiful mountain roads
- Follow the snow and tour from one resort to another
- Get off the beaten track (eg La Grave, Ste Foy and those other gems)
- More flexibility over flight times/dates than charter-based packages
- A better way to travel for long weekends
- Car rentals companies (Holiday Autos in particular) often upgrade you

Cons:

- Your luggage is still limited to your flight allowance
- Hire of chains are usually at extra cost
- You need to know how to put chains on!
- Automatics are no use for Alpine roads
- Don't forget to factor in accommodation when you cost it out

Who to Hire From?
Your Car Hire plc is a quality worldwide car hire broker offering excellent, fully inclusive rate in over 4000 locations. They launched in December 2003, and they are headed by Ruth Bligh who has over 20 years experience in the car hire business starting with the formative years of Holiday Autos.

Your Car Hire specifically targets those agents and tour operators whose clients need a vehicle as an integral part of their holiday rather than simply a means of transport. And, it is not a vast organisation so they are therefore able to offer a personal service, which is sometimes lost with the multi-nationals.

They only use the most reputable of companies around the world such as Sixt, Alamo, Thrifty and Europcar to name a few and you can rest assured that they have negotiated the very best deals on your behalf. So, if you are looking to rent a car, then you should head over to Your Car Hire and take a look for yourself.

Other options that are worth taking a look at include, Easycar and Holiday Autos.

Safe Winter Driving Tips
Once you have rented the vehicle, you will want to ensure that you can safely drive it around the mountains. Even if there's no snow on the road, you should always be aware of possible black ice or the next unmarked hairpin bend. And if there is snow, don't take too long before putting on your chains.

In many cases they're not necessary, particularly if you have snow tires, but depending on the temperature, wind and depth of snow, in most cases chains (or a 4x4) are the only safe option.

If you've never used chains before, you should definitely practice first. When it's dark, snowing heavily and -10C outside, you'll want to get it done as quickly as possible.

It's when you're going downhill that you'll need to be particularly cautious. Stay in a low gear, keep your speed down and brake where possible by using the engine. Avoid using the brake on bends in particular. Easier said than done of course, but if you do feel the wheels lock and start to slide then steer into the slide.

Don't Forget...
Your Driving licence - without this you are truly up a creek without a paddle!

Airport Transfers:
A viable alternative to hiring a car if there are several of you is to book a transfer from the airport, here is a comprehensive list of some of the best Airport Transfer Companies around. The advantages are that you can be met at the airport by an English speaker who knows the resort inside out and then you can relax all the way to the resort. All of which means you don't need to worry about mucking round with snow chains or finding your way there.

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