Eight Tips for Renting a Car in the UK

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(Last Updated On: January 24, 2019)

When planning my solo trip throughout Europe, I decided to bite the bullet and rent a car while in the UK.  It had always been something I wanted to do.  To be able to say, “I can drive on the opposite side of the road!”  I wanted to take my time, be my own boss!  Roll down the windows and breathe in the fresh air as I moved from town to town, crossing country borders.  Which is exactly what I did!  But not without a few hiccups along the way.  Below you will find my tips for renting a car in the UK so that if you choose to do so too, you can move seamlessly through the process.  And even avoid some of the mistakes that I made along the way!

Keswick, Lake District

Tips for renting a car


  1. ALWAYS call ahead of time to confirm your reservation…

I booked an automatic car online without thinking twice.  I showed up on the day of my reservation to pick up my car and little did I know… they only had manual cars.  ALWAYS call ahead to make sure that the car you ordered will be available.


  1. Familiarize yourself with the car before you hit the open road…

How do you use cruise control? Does the car have built in navigation?  Where are the blinkers?  Because you’re driving on the opposite side of the road, everything is turned around.  If you’re used to the blinker being on the left side, it is now on the right side, etc.


  1. Know how to fill up your gas tank…

In the UK you fill up your car first, then pay inside.  Familiarize yourself with how to open the gas tank and what side of the car it’s on.  Make sure to ask what type of gas your car takes as well.


  1. Familiarize yourself with the road signs and the rules of the road…

Another thing that threw me off my game were the different road signs.  I didn’t know what the squiggle lines meant!  Or that the slow lane was all the sudden the left hand lane!  You’ll be much less stressed if you learn the basic signs before venturing out.


  1. Learn to roughly convert km to mph…

The UK uses km instead of mph.  (In fact everyone uses km instead of mph – oh, besides the US).  To better understand how fast (or slow) you’re going it’s a good idea to be able to generally convert between the two.


  1. Have the phone number of the car rental shop and local emergency responders handy…

Always be prepared in case of an emergency.  Know how to contact local law enforcement and even a tow truck. There is nothing worse than being stranded and not knowing how to contact local authority or having the cell service to do so.


  1. Focus, go slow, and be aware of your surroundings…

So what if people are behind you honking.  You are driving a car, on the opposite side of the road, in a country you are unfamiliar with.  Nobody expects you to know what you’re doing right off the bat!  Breathe and keep moving.  Better to arrive alive my friends!


  1. HAVE FUN!

Renting a car may or may not be for you; but if you decide to do it at least have fun while you’re at it!  Laugh at yourself, breathe it all in, and enjoy the open road!


For my opinion on renting a car as a solo female traveler; click here.

For a solo guide to a seven day trip through the UK; click here.


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Kylee splits her time between being a NICU nurse and solo traveler. Spending half her time at the bedside, Kylee has been caring for premature babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for five years now. She began Passports and Preemies in 2017 to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – A vacation geared towards nurses aiming to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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  1. November 25, 2018 / 7:05 pm

    You can also be like me and ask the rental car agent to come along with you and do all the driving, hahaha. I am glad you successfully drove in the UK! You made it look easy too with your rental!

    • November 26, 2018 / 2:07 pm

      Hahahah I should’ve asked the rental guy to come with me! Would have saved me a heart attack or two. I swear that trip took a few weeks off my life!

  2. Sandy
    December 10, 2018 / 4:10 am

    I was never so relieved as when you had turned “Betsy” back in!! WHEW! And it took a couple weeks of of YOUR life??? took a couple YEARS off of mine ?

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