Air-car packages for England
Get your airfare to England and rental car together and save on both
Most people think of vacation packages as air-hotel deals, but there are also versions where you get your plane ticket and rental car bundled together—often for less than it would cost to book both independently.
Some will even bundle airfare, rental car, and lodging into one fabulous package—taking care of all your major travel expenses in one fell swoop. (Sceptre Travel is brilliant at this.)
This is largely because the outfits that package these vacations are consolidators of at least the airfare portion (sometimes the rental cars as well), meaning they can sell the tickets at a discount because they buy them in bulk from the airlines way below market value.
The practical upshot is not only can you get to the U.K. pretty cheaply, but once you're there you have your own set of wheels so you can properly explore the island nation's nooks and crannies.
Do always do your due diligence and see if you can't find airfare and a rental car separately for less—but then always check to see if one of these air-car packages can beat it.
- Go-today.com - Hands-down the cheapest and best packager of air-hotel vacations out there (along with fly-drive packages). They seem to operate under a "we will not be undersold" attitude, and their exceptionally low rates on basic, (largely) six-night city breaks reflect that. I used them once for a family trip to Paris, and everything went pretty smoothly. One drawback: it's Net-only; you have to pay extra for customer service on the phone
- Gate1travel.com - One of the consistently cheapest tour providers around. They cover the entire world and offer a range of travel "products" from air-hotel packages to escorted tours.
- Sceptrevacations.com - Among other packages, does excellent air-car-B&B week-long escapes in England and Scotland (I've done the Ireland one, and it's a great deal). Also has standard air-hotel packages.
- Untours.com - Sort of like the Platinum Edition of a vacation package, taking care of all the major costs, details, and logistics but leaving you to plan your daily sightseeing and travels. For one price, you get airfare over there, some form of transport (rental car in Scotland; Travelcard in London), an apartment, and a local contact who will help you get settled in, show you the ropes, then be on-call to help with questions. You also usually have one activity during the course of the week when all other "untour" participants in your area are invited to get together.
- Expedia.com - The big booking engine can also bundle air-and-hotel, air-and-car, or air-hotel-car into a vacation package.Partner
- Hotwire.com - Hotwire can bundle air and hotel together, or air-car, or even air-car-hotels.Partner
- Hotels.com - This famous lodging booker can also bundle in airfare.Partner
- Tripmasters.com - Good generalist vacation package and tour company.
- Gov.uk - Official UK governmental rules of the road, guides to road signs and their meaning, and more
- Amazon.com - A link to get road maps of Great Britain.Partner
- Slowtrav.com - Nice article introducing all of the quirks of driving in the United Kingdom—not just how to drive on the left, but roundabouts, highway types, speed cameras, and handy tips.
- Orcutt.net - Almost comically in-depth blog entry—with loads of links—about driving in the U.K. This guy went way above and beyond what's necessary when planning to drive on his British vacation, but it is about the most complete explanation of being on the British road from a Yankee's point of view as you'll ever find. Some good tips.
- Theaa.com - The British version of AAA provides, among other things, a monthly gas prices chart and a map of traffic incidents and slowdowns.
- Parkopedia.co.uk - live parking maps
- Tfl.gov.uk - Driving in London
- Cclondon.com - All about the infamous "congestion charge" you have to pay if you happen to drive in central London.
- Urbanaccessregulations.eu - Central clearinghouse for information on every city in Europe (most, nowawdays) that has some sort of limited access to the city center, congestion charging, Low Emission Zones, or other wrinkle you need to be aware of.
- Autoeurope.com - Wholesale prices on rentals (and short-term leases) from major rental companies. You end up picking up the car at the local Avis, Hertz, Europcar, or whatever office; you just pay less than the rack rate from those companies.Partner
- Rentalcars.com - Comparison shop the rates at multiple rental companies all at once.Partner
- Momondo.com - Comparison shop the rates at multiple rental companies all at once.Partner
- Europebycar.com - Offers both short-term rentals and short-term leases, making it easy to compare prices on a single site.
- Priceline.com - Actually finds good prices on U.K. rentals.Partner
- Vayama.com - aggregatorPartner
- Carrentals.com - This Expedia.com property searches about a dozen major rental companies at once.Partner