Some vacations just need the freedom and flexibility a rental car can give you! Whether you plan it from the beginning or decide last minute, we’ve got a few tips to make the most of renting a car.

Evaluate your need
Research your destination or check with your hotel concierge if you’re unsure what options you have. You should also consider parking fees. While some hotels offer free parking others do not and those fees alone in big cities can be very high per day. It may not worth paying for a rental plus parking. Save yourself some money by researching before you leave.

Where to find the best deal
The best way to grab a deal is to search major online booking engines and aggregator websites, like Kayak and Travelocity. Independent Traveler has some great tips on finding a deal, including checking with your frequent flyer and credit card programs you’re already enrolled in.

USA Today also recommends rolling your car rental into a vacation package. Some airlines offer deals that include a flight, car rental and sometimes a hotel. The savings could be significant.

Upgrades and insurance options
The best way to get an upgrade is to book the least expensive option first. The cheapest option is always the first to sell out, leaving the company no choice but to upgrade you. It also helps to be loyal to one company. If you join a car-rental company’s membership program, you can usually earn special offers for upgrades.

Some rental companies will offer added insurance for an extra $15-$30 a day, but check with your own insurance company first before committing to this charge. Your current policy may already cover you when renting a car. Esurance has some great tips for determining whether or not you should pay for additional rental car coverage.

Have you rented a car recently during a vacation? Share your best tips with us on Facebook or Twitter.