Petrol pumpHas the price of fuel peaked? Will it keep going up and up or have we seen the worst? Either way, fuel is still much more expensive than a year ago so Avis offers our UK renters three options when it comes to refuelling the car:

When you start your rental, the tank is full and you can return it in the same condition. In this case, there are no additional charges.

You might prefer to pay in advance for a full tank of fuel, because you know that you’re not going to have time to fill up when you return the car and you want to avoid any last minute hassles. This is our Fuel Up Front Option and the price is based on the average at the nearest petrol stations at the Avis location. The cost of a full tank of fuel is added to the final rental charge. However, if you bring the car back full after taking Fuel Up Front, we’ll refund any fuel charges.

You might choose the easiest option of all – simply handing the car back and letting us refuel for you. There is no doubt this is the most stress-free way of doing things and we are happy to oblige. However, check at the rental station for the price of fuel as we charge for the fuel, plus the labour involved and the lost rental time.

These options should be explained to you at the rental counter by the rental agent when you are collecting your car. Alternatively, you can see this information on the counter displays at all of our UK locations.

For further details, you can visit the fuel options page on www.avis.co.uk website or ask at the rental desk.

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My colleague Barry went to the British International Motor Show on Wednesday. He tells me it was a great day with almost too many high points to write about. However, he summarized his highlights and thoughts for me which I have listed below:

- Honda’s ‘Dreamscape’ show – this is the British Motor Show’s ‘must-see’ event in my opinion, experience Honda’s history in a fun and exhilarating manner. Lots of stunts, comedy and burning of rubber! Check out the special appearance by ‘Asimo’ the humanoid robot.
- Renault – they displayed the Megane and Laguna Coupe concepts. If either get near production in their current state, they will be very nice cars! The gullwing doors on the Laguna concept and the split lifting doors on the Megane (as seen on Top Gear) are interesting features but unlikely to make it to production models. (note from me: I did read recently on another blog which quoted Renault as saying that 80% of the Megane concept design will be transferred to the new generation Megane).
- Vauxhall Insignia – the Vectra replacement has come a long way from it’s predecessor in terms of looks and quality feel.
- Ford – the new Fiesta, Focus RS and Kuga models all made an appearance and impressing.
- Peugeot – the 308 RCZ looks slightly Audi TT-esque but very desirable all the same – is this a change in direction for Peugeot? The Le Mans car looked very impressive, illustrating Peugeots racing pedigree.
- Environmentally friendly cars – most manufacturers displayed eco-models/concepts whether it be dual-fuel, hybrids, biofuels, electric, etc.
- Lack of wing mirrors on many concept cars which have been replaced by rear-facing cameras. Is this a sign of things to come? I would people like to see this on production models.
- Cars from the past – supercar enclosure (Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari Dino, Aston Martin DB4, Porsche 911, Jaguar XJ220, Ford GT, etc.) and Model T Ford
- For fans of Top Gear there was the 3 police cars created in a recent episode on display!

So have you got any thoughts on this? Is there anything noted above that you’re particularly excited about? And if you’ve been to the show then please let us know what are your highlights!

PS – In addition to Barry’ highlights you can view a selection of his photos on our new Flickr photo gallery by clicking on the thumbnails below:

[flickr]set:72157606366290488[/flickr]

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Eureka Skytower in MelbourneG’day all,

Just back from the most fantastic trip to Australia. And why did I go there in winter? My sister decided to marry her Aussie fiancée there, in July, in Victoria! So we flew with Cathay Pacific and sampled both the new and old configuration seating much debated on Flyertalk forums. We stayed in the Mantra on Exhibition in Melbourne and had a great trip up the 88th floor on the Eureka Skytower for the most amazing views across the city. My sister lives next to the famed Queen Victoria Market where much shopping was done and we had a trip out to the Yarra valley, spending lots of money in the Oakridge Winery. The actual wedding was held in a town called Kyneton on the Macedon ranges, and the reception held at another winery (bit of a family theme) in Kyneton Ridge Estate – great food and of course lovely wine :). If you are ever down that way I highly recommend Isabella at Kyneton, an unmanned B&B in which you can rent rooms or the whole house, and it really is a home from home.

So despite the relatively mild Aussie winter, we decided it would be a shame to go all that way and not visit tropical North Queensland, so we flew to Cairns after the wedding and stayed in the lovely town of Port Douglas at some great self catering apartments called Regal on Macrossan. A must do is the trip to Kuranda via the Scenic Railway and return via the famous Sky rail – a fabulous trip by steam train up breathtaking gorges and down again over the rainforest in a cable car, amazing! The other highlight of my trip to Queensland was a helicopter ride over the great Barrier Reef and Daintree rainforest, Sky Safaris being my second personal recommendation to you. They fly a small helicopter (max 3 passengers) and a personalised and tailored tour. Or you could do what my insane sister did and jump out of a plane – not my cup of tea, but hey she survived it!

But the most exciting part of all being on the other side of the planet, was checking to make sure that it’s true that water does spiral down the plughole in the opposite direction!… and yes it does :)

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I just thought I’d let everyone know that Darren, on his Travel Rants blog, has launched a series of “top tips” blog posts by gathering tips from various other bloggers on different aspects of travel. So far this series includes the following:

- Tips for making memories of your holiday
- Travel tips to help backpackers travel smarter
- Relax and unwind with these air travel tips
- Smarter money and stress saving holiday tips
- Travel tips to become a better, safer traveller

Given that we are hitting peak travel season my top tip is to get all the tips you can get!

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I just thought I would let you know that the British International Motor Show kicks off at the ExCel London on the 24th of July, running on to August 3rd. Tickets are £10 for an adult weekday ticket or £14 for an adult weekend ticket while prices for children vary dependent on age (with under 5′s going free). Tickets are available from the www.britishmotorshow.co.uk website.

There are some cool things going on which you should aim to book your free slot for on arrival. These include the Land Rover Ultimate Experience, the Mazda Zoom Zoom Challenge and the Honda Dreamscape, where I believe some stunt-work will be put on show in a live action arena.

The Sunday Times have also picked out their stars to look out for. These include the Land Rover LRX, Saab 9-X Biohybrid concept, the Peugeot 308 RCZ, the Morgan LIFEcar and the Vauxhall Insignia (which will be replacing the Vectra).

A couple of my colleagues will be attending the show so we’ll report back in a couple of weeks. If you’re going then feel free to report back any highlights. In the meantime, let us know if you’ve got any tips on what to look out for at this year’s show.

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m4s0n501

I’ve never really watched Fifth Gear but I was bored on Saturday and happened to catch a repeat on Dave. I was surprised to find that it was quite informative (although it will never beat the pure entertainment that is Top Gear!). Anyway, this episode featured a reconstruction of the horrifying pile up that occurred on the M42 in 1997. To follow on from my post about driving responsibly and safely a week or so ago, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing this footage with you. The 160 vehicle pile up, caused by excessive speeds in conditions of dense, sporadic fog, was responsible for 3 deaths and over 20 other people were seriously injured. The heat from the vehicles on fire were reported to be so intense that the road melted.

It may feel like you’re having to slow to unneccessarily low speeds when the warning signs flash and speed restrictions are set but these restrictions are put in place for a reason. This pile-up could have been avoided if many of the drivers involved were not maintaining their 70mph+ driving speed as, with only 50 metre visibility, this is a dangerously fast speed. As a result, over 28 drivers were prosecuted, mainly of dangerous driving, with one driver being sentenced to prison. The question to ask ourselves is would we have been one of these 28? Would we take the 30mph restriction seriously when, as far as we are concerned, the fog around us in intermittent and the traffic on the road is not particularly bad? Or would we feel that the 30mph is over-precautious and that we are not willing to compromise on the time taken to get to our destination. If you are honest with yourself and think this could be you then watch this footage. But I warn you, even as a reconstruction it is not for the faint-hearted!

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MiamiWith so much to do, Florida is a hugely popular holiday destination. You could easily spend a couple of weeks in Orlando alone, getting lost in the many theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.

But perhaps Florida is popular because there is so much to explore beyond the cartoon characters (as exciting as it is to meet your childhood hero) and stomach-churning rollercoasters. Cue blatant Avis bias, but I think Florida is definitely one of those places were you really need to rent a car to get the most of it (time and budget permitting). Florida is probably the biggest car hire market in the States so their are plenty of convenient locations with Avis particularly well represented in Orlando and Miami (including the airports). And from my experience, car hire in Florida is not particularly expensive and, as all Avis rentals in the US include no excess with a free additional driver for the named renter’s spouse, it can represent great value. All in all, with the exchange still holding well it’s a great time to check Florida out (and the rest of the US in fact).

I was going to write a few suggestions about where to explore in Florida (with places such as the Florida Keys, the Kennedy Space Center and the Everglades immediately springing to mind) but I reminded myself that it has been a few years since I’ve been there and perhaps I wouldn’t be able to do the area justice. So this is where you come in! If you have been to Florida, it would be great if you share your ideas and suggestions about where to explore on your holiday there. Which areas should holidaymakers be prioritising? Do you have a suggested itinerary? Are there any spectacular scenic drives or hidden gems? Or perhaps you have some tips for getting round all the theme parks with your sanity in check! I look forward to reading your suggestions!

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What a weekend for sport. On Sunday, Nadal won the Wimbledon men’s championship in a five set thriller, giving Spain another sporting hero to celebrate after the country’s much deserved win at Euro 2008. Meanwhile, in the women’s championship, the Williams’ sisters put paid to any conspiracy theories in what was a well-contested women’s final. And the Tour de France kicked off in Brest where we will be supporting our Avis-sponsored Team Barloworld!

But for me the weekend’s highlight was Lewis Hamilton’s win at the British Grand Prix. Yes he is overly hyped by the press but it was great to see a Brit win at Silverstone, particularly as it was so skillfully done on a very wet and tricky track. We are proud to be the official car rental partner to Silverstone (you may have seen the Avis cars zipping around if you were there) so a few of the team were there to watch this great occasion – even if it was a little rainy. Let us know if you were there too. What was the atmosphere like? Were you glad to see Hamilton win? Or do you even care? And, the most important question, which celebrities did you spot?!

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Open RoadMy colleague Nicola sent me this story by Fleet News about Britain’s most dangerous roads. The report by EuroRAP claims that 30% of primary roads are unsafe with the eight mile stretch of the A537 between Buxton and Macclesfield identified as the most dangerous road in Britain.

While the commentary highlights the need for better road design and more adequate safety measures, for me it serves an important reminder that we all need to ensure that we drive on the road safely and responsibly. Of all the websites that offer advice, the best one I found for road safety tips was the Devon and Cornwall Safety Camera Partnership website. I don’t want to sound like a preacher but I think tip 12 is particularly important: “Be an ambassador for driving within the legal speed limits – if you comply the chances are that the driver behind you will too”. I often see drivers on the M25 treating other drivers like an obstacle course or talking on the mobile while they are driving. But this sort of behaviour puts lives at risk. Please take the responsibility of driving seriously!

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Woodland areaOn the BBC website this week, I saw a story about how, in a climate of rising taxes and high fuel prices, fleet managers and employers are embracing lower emission cars to save costs. Specifically, they are looking for cars that emit less than 160 grammes per kilometre of CO2.

Car manufacturers are understandably under pressure to reduce the carbon missions produced by their cars. By having a fleet which is generally less than 7 months old we are seeing the benefit of this as, with every cycle of new cars we get, the average CO2 output of ours is becoming smaller. Now, virtually all of our small cars and a high percentage of our medium size cars fall within this category. Even some of our large cars come in surprisingly eco-friendly, such as:

- Ford Focus Estate – 119g-159g per km of CO2 (Depending on engine)
- Renault Laguna Estate – 133g-159g per km of CO2 (Depending on engine)

and the real surprise:

- BMW 320 Automatic 2.0 Diesel – Only 144g per km of CO2

Due to the tax and fuel savings it is understandable that fleet managers are turning to lower emission cars. But what about the environmental impact? There seems to be increasing social pressures to purchase more eco-friendly products but do you actually feel the need to be more environmentally responsible? Does the carbon output of a car determine which car category you book or even which car hire company you choose to rent with. I’d be interested to know your thoughts using the poll below:

[poll=11]

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