Car Rental Tips: Holiday Travel

Keep these tips in mind when looking for a rental car on your next holiday vacation. See this and other tips on

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—but also the busiest. And for those who have to travel far to visit family and friends, it can be a stressful time. To stay relaxed during your travels, take heed of this advice from Michele Muscarella-Harmon, vice president of airport business development at Alamo and unofficial holiday travel guru.

1. What advice would you give people preparing for holiday travel?

“Preparation is key,” says Muscarella-Harmon. “Renting a car is usually the last thing people think about when planning their travels, but it’s important to book as far in advance as possible. This helps ensure your preferred vehicle is there when you need it.” She also recommends that travelers familiarize themselves with the breakdown of charges before they reach their destination. That way, they will have all the basic information and will be ready to ask questions about the features of their rental car, like keyless entry and SiriusXM satellite radio.

2. What do you tell people traveling with the whole family in tow?

When traveling with the entire family, it’s important to consider the size rental vehicle you’ll need. “Does it have enough capacity to hold the luggage you’re bringing with you or the gifts you’ll be bringing home? It’s really important to think through the planning,” says Muscarella-Harmon. “This is especially true if you plan to add passengers when you get to your destination.” She adds that it’s a good idea to research what may be available at your destination before you travel. “We have car seats available for rent, so you don’t have to bring your own. You can pick one up at your rental location for children of any age, from infants to older kids.”

3. What are some common challenges during the holiday season, and how do they affect travelers?

“Weather can be our enemy,” Muscarella-Harmon says. Her best advice for travelers is to share their flight information when they’re making their rental car reservation online. If you don’t have it when you make your reservation, you can always add it to your reservation later. “This is really helpful. If we know a flight is delayed, we can make accommodations.” Because flight delays and cancellations can increase rental traffic, Alamo plans for these occasions by making sure its branches have plenty of vehicles available.

4. How do you and your team prepare Alamo’s fleet for winter?

“In colder climates, we prepare for the winter season by adding more minivans and SUVs to our lots,” Muscarella-Harmon says. “It’s important to remember that even though we’ll have a larger selection of these types of cars, you’ll definitely want to book as far ahead as you can because many other people will be traveling around the holidays.” At cold-weather locations, Alamo also puts ice scrapers in every car for convenience and safety during travel.

5. How can people alleviate some of the stress associated with holiday travel?

Busy travel times can lead to long lines and tired feet. Muscarella-Harmon advises keeping everyone energized with snacks and plenty of water. “It also helps if kids have a game to play to keep them occupied.” You can always skip longer lines during the busy holiday travel season by using the self-service kiosks to check in at your Alamo rental location. If holiday spending is causing stress, consider becoming an Alamo Insider before your trip. Insiders save 5% on rentals and enjoy exclusive Alamo travel offers. Immediately after you pick up your rental car, Muscarella-Harmon suggests thinking about where you’re going. That way, “you don’t feel flustered while trying to pull up a map on your phone, and you have some idea where you’re headed.” If you need guidance on the road, Alamo also has GPS units available for rent.

Keep these tips in mind as you plan your winter getaway. Following Michele’s expert advice will help you get to and from your holiday destination without the stress. If you have questions about your rental reservation or upcoming holiday travel, call your local Alamo rental location or see our list of FAQs.


Is Alamo open during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak?

Yes. Alamo is an essential services provider that remains open to meet critical transportation and personal mobility needs.

How do I rent a vehicle from Alamo during the COVID-19 outbreak?

You can make reservations via our website or Alamo mobile app. To save time at the rental counter, you can check in online with your driver’s license information and rental confirmation number.

To streamline your rental experience further and enable you to safely practice social distancing when picking up your rental vehicle:

  • You can skip the counter (for select locations) in advance after activating Online Check-In. Then, you can go straight to your car without visiting the counter or kiosk.
  • Another option is Alamo’s Self-Service Kiosk at select locations. All you need to check in is your driver’s license and credit card. When you’re finished, just show your rental agreement and driver’s license at the exit booth before you hit the road.

What steps are being taken to clean the rental cars?

Clean vehicles have always been important to us, but at this moment in time, we know vehicle cleanliness is even more critical. Each rental vehicle is thoroughly cleaned between every rental and backed with the Complete Clean Pledge. This includes washing, vacuuming, general wipe down, and sanitizing with a disinfectant that meets leading heath authority requirements, with particular attention to more than 20-plus high-touch points including:

  • Key / key fob
  • Steering wheel
  • Steering column
  • Seat belts
  • Center console
  • Door interiors
  • Door pockets
  • Interior door handles
  • Exterior door handles
  • Seat pockets / seat surfaces
  • Areas between seats & consoles
  • Areas between seats & doorjambs
  • Cupholders / compartments
  • Instrument panel
  • Accessory panel / touchscreen
  • Rearview mirror / side mirrors
  • Visors / visor mirrors
  • Dashboard / vents
  • Gear stick / gear shift
  • Trunk release
  • Among other high-touch areas

As part of the Complete Clean Pledge, we've also extended our already rigorous cleaning protocols to our shuttles and rental locations.

Read more COVID-19 FAQs.

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