holiday motoring hassles - getting round holiday hassles

holidays can bring their own particular brand of motoring hassles. according to the aa, there are three particular causes of delay and frustration.

1) Locked out in Europe: Alongside overheated engines, punctured tyres and flat batteries, lost keys is one of the most common causes of a breakdown for motoring holidaymakers on the Continent. Sophisticated security systems which require keys with exclusive transponder chips and rolling-coded 'plippers' may be impossible to bypass without the right spare key.

Finding a friend or a relative to get into the car owner's home to retrieve the spare or master key, and then arranging for it to be sent to the right destination, can be an organisational nightmare.

Good advice: Take the spare key on holiday but keep it separate from the main key. Consider having another spare cut and keep it at home. If you have friends or relatives checking the home while you're away, you may wish to let them know where the extra spare is. Alternatively, place the extra spare somewhere safe but accessible - not locked away - where it can be retrieved in an emergency. Never take the master key, usually a different colour to the main keys, on holiday: without it, car dealers are unable to cut and programme a spare. A lost master key may mean the complete replacement of the car's security system, costing hundreds of pounds.

2) No-go glitch at the rental pick-up: Holders of new photo driving licences trying to collect hire cars have been left stranded. Without the "paper counterpart", carried in a pocket-sized plastic folder that attaches to the driving licence, car rental companies are unable to check the hirer's driving record and are likely to refuse to release the vehicle, even if it was booked weeks ahead.

Car hire companies can check driver details, such as convictions and endorsements, by calling the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency during office hours. However, as many car hirers pick up their cars after work or early on the morning of departure, forgetting to take the paper counterpart can result in a disastrous start to the holiday.

Good advice: Keep the credit card-sized photo driving licence together with the paper counterpart and carry them both in your wallet, purse or handbag. UK drivers are not legally required to carry both parts of the new driving licence. Carrying both the photocard and the "counterpart" avoids not only the car rental problem but also having to take them to a police station if stopped by the police.

When hiring cars abroad, drivers who have the old non-photo licence may need to produce an International Drivers Permit, which carries a photograph and translations, before the overseas car hire desk will provide a car. Check with the UK booking agent first. A list of countries with specific driver licence requirements and recommendations is attached.

3) Long-term worries for jet set: Holidaymakers who drive to airports before jetting abroad jeopardise their chances of catching their plane by not planning or pre-booking long-term car parking. Traffic hold-ups, difficulty in finding a space and getting lost driving around the airport are factors during the peak holiday season that may combine to scupper a hassle-free check-in and departure.

Good advice: Use a map to familiarise yourself with the layout of the airport and location of long-term parking. Booking ahead to reserve a place will also save time, money and worry; check costs and availability of buses or other transport to the air terminal. Details of airport car parks that have Secure Car Park status are available by reference to the Internet or your motoring organisation like the AA, RAC and Green Flag.