Renting a car in Spain with

 In Destinations, Europe, Travel Tips

I do not know how to drive a manual transmission vehicle.

There. I’ve said it. You may now mock me endlessly until I am covered in shame. Actually I’m already embarrassed to admit it, but I am from an American generation that saw the decline in learning how to drive a stick shift as more of our parents bought automatics. It was never an issue until my husband and I started renting cars when we traveled abroad. You see, the rest of the world still drives manual vehicles!

When looking for a rental car on our recent trip to Spain, I was annoyed by the user experience on many of the rental car sites. For one thing, I’d never heard of some of the companies. This may not be a problem for some, but I’ve heard horror stories. I also couldn’t easily find a automatic vehicle that I knew I’d be able to drive.

A few sites gave me what I wanted, but turned out to be our best bet when traveling in a seven-passenger vehicle that would carry my precious cargo around southern Spain.

Ford S-Max

Site use is a rental car comparison site. You pop in the dates and number of passengers and they scour more than 50 sites to find you the best prices. You can pick up your car at train stations and airports as well as local offices in larger cities.

My favorite part of the site is that you can designate preferences, like the currency you want to see prices in or if you will need air conditioning. You can filter out automatic or manual cars from the get go. I don’t want to waste my time looking at a car that is in my price range that I can’t drive because it is only available in manual. That is a waste of time, and time is precious.

Vehicle details include the number of adults, children and suitcases that fit in a vehicle, according to ACRISS car classification codes. These estimates are pretty accurate and you should take them seriously. Four adults, two kids and five suitcases will not fit into a two adult, two children, two small suitcases car.

Once you click on a car you want you are taken directly to the car booking site to review more options and extras, including car seats, GPS and insurance. You do not book through


Rental Car Companies searches more than 50 sites, some large, some small, and some you may have never heard of, to find the best rates possible.,,, HolidayAutos,, and are just a few of the companies that searches and finds the best rates on. Although you may not know these companies, most are consolidators that pull cars from Avis, Budget, Enterprise and their international affiliates.


Prices were comparable to other searches I had done directly through rental car agencies like Hertz and Enterprise, and even better than what I had found on In some cases, was able to find cheaper rates with the same companies through a third party site. This is when I knew I was on the right track. never charges you a fee for booking with a company you found through their site.

Ford S-Max


All extras are obtained through the final site you book with, not Once you are on the car hire site, make sure you read the fine print. The biggest question you should have answered is if there is insurance included or will you need/want to get excess insurance to cover your trip. Other options you may want to look at include:

  • GPS
  • Car Seats
  • Additional Driver (extra drivers aren’t always free when abroad)
  • Border crossing charges

How did measure up in Spain?

We were happily surprised by our overall booking experience with It was a fast and easy way to find a rental car within our budget that could fit me, my husband, two car-seat-bound kids and my parents. It was so affordable that we dropped part of our train itinerary because we would save more if we drove.

Our vehicle was sourced through Enterprise/Atesa in Spain. The staff in Sevilla, and again in Madrid where we dropped off the car, was efficient and very easy to communicate with.

The only trouble we had was finding the drop off location in Madrid. Our GPS didn’t quite know how to find it and the sign was extremely small and hard to read. This had more to do with the rail station parking than the car rental company. The rail station needs to make their signs bigger.

I was afraid we would have a monster seven-passenger van, but our Ford S-Max felt very similar to a Honda CRV. I was comfortable driving around the towns of Andalusia and Madrid without fear of taking out homes or walls when squeezing through narrow streets.

Streets of Madrid

The supplied car seats were not quite up to U.S. standards in that they were not five-point harness systems, but I have had a hard time getting a five-point harness car seat when traveling through Europe. The infant seat was still able to be installed rear facing, which was my main concern. Dek’s child seat was a good fit, though he was a bit cramped in the third row. With his toys, though, he was a happy traveler.

Best of all, I didn’t feel like I paid a premium for an automatic vehicle, which I’ve seen on other sites. I am determined to learn how to drive a manual-transmission car, but until then I’m glad to know there is a car rental resource that is easy to use and doesn’t hold my driving handicap against me.

Read more about booking a rental car at home and abroad via our Rental Car page. 

Many thanks to for providing a discount on our rental for the purposes of review. As always my opinions are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know. 

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