Holidays can be a stressful time. They’re not meant to be, but they can. In a new place where you don’t know where to go, how things work or understand the language. The way many of us settle these nerves are to rent a car in Spain, as opposed to relying on public transport and expensive taxis.

Holidays are about comfort and exploration. Renting a car may end up more expensive than getting buses, but they are an affordable way to travel in comfort. They’re ready to pick up at the airport and can often be dropped off in a different place if needed.

Things to keep in mind

  • Most rental cars in Spain are manual (stick shift), which can be an issue for automatic drivers, as they cost more and are harder to come by.
  • Get the right insurance! Spanish roads are not the safest. T-junctions as opposed to slip roads, as well as narrow highways is a cause for concern. There are a lot of banged-up cars in Spain for these reasons. Picking out the right insurance carefully is a must. For example, check the coverage and excess fee.
  • Check what it includes. Here are some aspects to look into:
    • Does/can it include additional drivers?
    • Roadside assistance
    • Cancellation fees
    • Do they charge fuel used or merely want a returned full tank?
    • Theft protection
    • Insurance coverage
  • The minimum age to rent a car is 21 for most companies. However, there are often a young driver’s fee for those under 25. Also, there are some extra obligations for drivers over 65, or perhaps 75, which is to get full insurance from the rental company directly.
  • The cars will likely be very small! This is one for American’s and those who are used to having big vehicles. Europe generally has narrow roads and small cars. Make it will be big enough for your luggage and passengers.

Things to avoid

  • Spain has many toll roads. These can cost a few euros, so it isn’t too expensive. However they can often be avoided by taking a slightly longer route, and it is worth being prepared for.
  • Big cities may be high in traffic and expensive to park. This doesn’t mean they should be avoided, but if the whole holiday is in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao or Valencia then they all have a metro that can be used instead.

Other Options

Car sharing is better both environmentally and economically. Of course, it is less convenient though and not always something that is suitable on holiday. When traveling solo it is worth looking into, and is certainly more safe than hitchhiking.

  • Compartir.org is a Spanish car sharing site with a reasonably large Spanish user base. It isn’t the easiest interface to use, but it is functional with many different languages.
  • Blablacar is a huge car sharing site that dominates much of the European market. This is the preferred option for those travelling to Spain from outside of Spain, like France.