Heading to Spain soon? Make sure you're not stranded

Yesterday we told you about a potential disaster waiting for you in Spain when you arrive on your summer holidays - the country appears to be suffering from a massive shortage of hire cars. As we mentioned, in plenty of resorts the weekly rates have doubled since last year; even picking up a hire car at any cost at the airport is proving difficult in the likes of Murcia, Malaga, Alicante, Mallorca, Menorca and Barcelona.

Bitterwallet reader William Geddis commented on the story, confirming what we'd heard from holiday makers last week - that the situation is sadly as grim as it sounds:

Having booked a car a few months ago, the confirmation e-mail didn’t arrive after a fortnight. I phoned the company who said not to worry and that'd I'd be alright. Three weeks later I received a phone call telling me that they could not secure a car for me.

During the exchange I asked the agent why there was a shortage of cars this year; he replied that due to the recession the majority of hire companies did not renew their fleets this year - no new cars were purchased for these fleets which explains the shortage and higher prices.

The shortage will cause a massive headache for plenty of holidaymakers - especially for those heading to private accommodation miles off the beaten track - and it's unlikely to suddenly improve in the next few weeks. You need to be aware that there are reports of longstanding bookings being cancelled days before customers are flying, so it's best to be prepared:

Make a plan B
Take a few minutes to make a back-up plan, regardless of whether you've already have a booking or not. Obvious alternatives include private taxi and shuttle buses operated by the budget airlines, but these can be prohibitively expensive. Another option is to complete part of your journey by public transport - unsuitable for a family, but feasible for a couple or lone traveller. AngloInfo.com has links to most websites detailing public transport options in Spain.

Car-pool with other families
The cars snapped up first are the smallest because they're the cheapest. There's likely to be better availability of people-carriers, but of course the prices increase accordingly. If you're aware of holidaymakers heading to the same resort, consider hiring a larger car together and splitting the costs.

Get in touch with ex-pats
Even if you don't strike it lucky by finding a helpful countryman, you may get clearer advice on transport options in the region of Spain you're heading to. Try posing a question in the British Expat Forums or BritishExpats.com.


  • Pure-Klenz
  • Gerard
    Holaaa sheet!
  • Lumoruk
    What you've said about opting to hire a larger car, they should be giving you the larger car if they have no small cars left. Eurocar did this for me in France.
  • Lumoruk
    I mean for free not at extra cost
  • 5 B.
    [...] you’re feeling smug after reading about those people who went to Spain on holiday with massive problems hiring a car. After all, you’re hiring a car right here in the UK for a classic summer road trip. Well, [...]
  • Calling B.
    [...] in Western Europe isn’t for sissies anymore. Between booking a car for hire in Spain and trying to avoid nightmare mobile phone bills, scaring off a pickpocket or two almost sounds [...]

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