I absolutely hate having to rent a car when on vacation. Maybe I’m used to the trains of Europe or the public transportation in major US cities but I much prefer being carted around and at a low expense. But sometimes it’s a necessary evil!
We’ve needed a car rental on occasion and I thought I would briefly share what I’ve learned:
1. Rent directly from the airport. Usually this is cheaper than from a location elsewhere.
On our trip to San Francisco, we opted to book one from the airport even though we were already staying in town. It was easy for my husband to go back to the airport (and cheaper since SF has public transportation) while I got us packed up and ready to go.
2. Book ahead. It’s never a good idea to wait until last-minute to book a car as prices only go up and availability only goes down.
3. Use the internet, duh. I don’t have any recommendations one way or the other as to which site to use as they all are similar in comparing prices, but I do recommend booking as a package if you are also booking a hotel or flight. This will help $ave.
4. Sign up for their rewards program. At minimum, this may allow you to pick up the car with shorter lines or even the keys left for you in the car. This makes a big difference when traveling with kids!
5. Book a car seat with kids. If traveling with kids you will need a car seat. Some car rental companies do not offer this, at least not online… and I only book online as I can’t be bothered calling and speaking with someone with current technology the way it is!
6. Ask for directions. I realize this seems silly but somehow I always manage to get lost or turned around leaving car rental places. The GPS does not always “calculate” right away as it’s waiting for better reception, which does not help when exiting a car rental office in a busy area.
7. Take seriously the dent worksheet. Mark up that piece of paper they provide to say what dents or dings existed prior to you driving it.
I’ve rented a car in one place and dropped it off in another and been questioned about certain marks on the car, so avoid the hassle and feeling guilty for something you didn’t do!
Honestly, the only fond memory I have of renting a car was when I was much younger and my stepdad rented a car and received an upgrade. We were in Colorado and went to visit the Coors Brewery. So who wouldn’t love that?
Saving While Traveling