Destinations Travel Tips

9 Reasons to Rent a Car at Your Destination

9 Reasons to Rent a Car at Your Destination

If you’re going on a road trip, usually you take your own car, but what about the times when your road trip is in another part of the country or another country altogether? Mark and I take road trips in many places, but sometimes we have to fly to get there first. So a lot of the times we end up renting a car.

Renting a car when you travel isn’t always the first choice, depending on your destination. Sometimes riding the train, the subway, the bus, or just walking is more preferred. But there are times when renting a car might be a better choice depending on where you go. Renting a car can be a good idea even if for only a day in order to see something you wouldn’t otherwise. Here are a few reasons why you might want to rent a car when you travel.

1. Flexibility and owning control. You’re in control of literally everything if you rent a car. You won’t have to rely on bus and train timetables, and you won’t have to wait for taxis. You won’t have to worry about the tour bus leaving you while you’re on the toilet. You can sleep in! You can stay out late! You can be your own boss. You don’t have to rely on anyone else at all. You can be as spontaneous or as deliberate as you want. It’s all up to you! (Throughout our road trip in Oregon, we had a flexible plan on what we wanted to see and do – but since we had a car, we could change things up. We ended up needing the flexibility a lot, so we’re so glad we rented!)

2. Some destinations are only attainable by car. Because of this, you’ll be able to see much more while driving than by traveling in another way. And you won’t have to be mad about missing that one place that you really wanted to see because you didn’t have a car to get there! (We visit a lot of national parks, and most of these are only accessible by car. You definitely can’t walk from a city to a national park! And sometimes, even tour buses aren’t allowed in certain areas of the park. On our last trip to the Grand Canyon, buses weren’t allowed on a particular road, but our car could go wherever we wanted.)

3. Your pick of accommodations. You’ll have your pick of places to stay, rather than having to pick accommodations close to the airport, close to the train station, or close to the city center. This will make your trip cheaper, of course, because of all the options, but also make it easier to choose your accommodations based on your desires instead of what’s merely convenient.

4. Get everywhere faster. If you rent a car rather than taking a train, bus, or tour, typically you’ll get everywhere a whole lot faster. The benefit to this is that you’ll get to see more and do more because your time allotted for transportation will lessen drastically. (When I lived in Hawaii, I took the bus everywhere. The ride from my bus stop to a nearby waterfall hike took 2 hours, even though it was only about 10 miles away, because of all the stops and having to rely on the timetable. But when Mark visited, we rented a car and drove to North Shore in less than 2 hours, getting to see several beaches, completing a waterfall hike, and even stopping for meals and to visit friends, all in one day.)

5. Road-side attractions. One of the best things about driving is getting to see fun, beautiful, or even weird things along the way. I love getting to stop just because I see something interesting. I would never be able to do that on a train or bus! (Without a car I would have never seen the Fremont Troll in Seattle or see the historic Hoover Dam. We love stopping at every viewpoint in a pretty area, or stopping after seeing billboard after billboard of the “largest ball of twine in America”.)

6. Food. You can stop as many times as you want and wherever you want to buy snacks or to eat a meal. You can also pack as much food as you want and not have to worry about having the space to keep it. (I mean, I just love having enough food to eat all the time, don’t you?! 🙂 We usually end up buying a disposable cooler to keep food fresh along the way.)

7. You do you. In a car, you don’t have to worry about anyone else. You don’t have to be polite and you can listen to your music as loud as you want. You can play a trivia game with your road buddies. Or listen to a book. You can just be yourself. And you can enjoy the alone time, because you’re likely traveling either to or from a place that’s packed with people. (If you’re like me, you need time to wind down from being with tons of people. I NEED my alone time.)

8. Pack heavy for a change. You can bring a huge suitcase and a purse or camera bag per person. You’ll have room to put a cooler in the car. Want to bring a pillow and blanket? Do it. (This is great when we go camping. Camping gear plus all of our clothes and food? Thank GOD we have a car to fit it all in.)

9. Driving a new car is fun. This is my husband’s addition to this post. When I asked him why it’s fun to rent a car while traveling, this was his answer, verbatim. Haha! I guess it’s true for some people, right? Is driving a new car fun for you?

Of course other modes of transportation are probably more reasonable depending on your destination. We took the rail around Europe most of the time, but when we wanted to explore the hills of Tuscany, we rented a car for the day. When we were in Orlando to visit Harry Potter World, there was no need for a car. But there was a free day on which we wanted to go to a beach (we were in Florida, after all). So we rented a car just for the day. We wouldn’t have been able to see the beach otherwise. It’s easy to get around on the bus in Hawaii, but sometimes you just want something faster in order to see and do more.

Renting a car is easier than you think, and can be cheap, even in a different country than your own. If you book early, know what you need, know what your insurance covers, follow the company’s rules and suggestions (like filling up the tank before you return), and compare rates, renting a car can even be cheaper than other options. Other countries might require a collateral (like cash) that they’ll give back when you return the car, as well as require a certain credit card for payment.

What are some reasons you have enjoyed renting a car when you travel?

This post was brought to you in collaboration with site supporters of Let Birds Fly.

Photo by Sandy Horvath-Dori (with changes made) used under the creative commons license.

Diagon Alley - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Quinn and Mozart at Shoal Creek - Austin, TX

You Might Also Like

  • Notorious Spinks
    March 4, 2015 at 1:10 am

    I love being able to drive the newest and shinier car. Of course I don’t have to worry about putting miles on my car either. 🙂

    • Bailey K.
      March 4, 2015 at 4:45 am

      Yes, that’s a good point!

  • Life as a Convert
    February 27, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    The last time I travelled a great distance (flying!) we rented a car and it was great. I liked the convenience of doing what we wanted to do.

    • Bailey K.
      February 28, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      Yes, it can be very convenient!

  • Tami
    February 27, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I prefer to travel by car. Renting is less wear and tear on your own vehicle, too which makes me happy.

    • Bailey K.
      February 28, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      Good point!

  • lauren
    February 27, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Great tips! This is why most time we drive to where we are going instead of flying because no matter where we are we are most likely going to need a car anyway.

    • Bailey K.
      February 28, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      We like to road trip, too, but sometimes the places we want to see are just too far away! Plus, overseas travel is kinda hard to road trip to. 😉

  • Angela Christoper
    February 27, 2015 at 5:39 am

    Yes sometimes were my husband would rent a car to our travel. Its really nice, because we didn’t had a lot of travels.

  • Sam
    February 27, 2015 at 12:07 am

    Thanks for the list of tips. I agree it can offer a lot of flexibility and options to rent a car at the destination.

    • Bailey K.
      February 27, 2015 at 12:35 am

      Very true.

  • vidya sudarsan
    February 26, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Excellent points! We always rent a car for road trips.

    • Bailey K.
      February 27, 2015 at 12:35 am

      Yep, they are quite necessary for road trips!

  • Stephen
    February 26, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    I am an avid traveller and I completly agree with all your points here 🙂

    • Bailey K.
      February 27, 2015 at 12:34 am

      Awesome, thanks! 🙂

  • Echo
    February 26, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    I completely agree. I love having my own car when I travel. I can’t stand relying on other people or other schedules, lol!

    • Bailey K.
      February 27, 2015 at 12:34 am

      I’m okay doing both, but when I want to see something that other transportation won’t go to, or if I have a limited time in the area, a car is the way to go for me!

  • Local Adventurer
    February 26, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    these are all great points and i do love the flexibility of having a car.. but i think we’ve rarely rented just bc we end up just driving the distance even if it’s cross country! 🙂

    • Bailey K.
      February 26, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      We do that sometimes. But Texas is just too big to do it too much! 🙂 And sometimes we like to rent when we go overseas.

  • Dogvills
    February 26, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    We do rent a car on destination. It is easier to visit the city and we don’t over use our own car

    • Bailey K.
      February 26, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      Nice to see that it works for you!

  • Jeanae
    February 26, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    I definitely agree that you can experience more, and enjoy the new location on your own time, if you rent a car. We tend to do so whenever we travel.

    • Bailey K.
      February 26, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      Yes, we do about half the time when we travel. It just depends on where we go!

  • susan quackenbushq
    February 26, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    We are going to visit Nashville in the Spring and will rent a car to get around. Thank you for sharing

    • Bailey K.
      February 26, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      Have fun in Nashville!

  • Alli
    February 26, 2015 at 6:42 am

    It all depends on the location. When we fly anywhere in the US, we always rent a car. When we fly to another country, it all depends on the area. We rented a car in another country once and I prayed every time we got in that car to go somewhere. 🙂 In that particular city, no one obeys traffic rules. 🙂

    • Bailey K.
      February 26, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Yes, in some places the driving is particularly scary!

  • Penny Struebig
    February 26, 2015 at 6:14 am

    On out last trip to Charleston, we rented a car for just part of our stay. On the day we had the car, we visited the attractions that were too far for us to walk to from our hotel. The money we saved on cab fares more than paid for the rental fee of the car.

    • Bailey K.
      February 26, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      Yes! That’s exactly what we did when we were in DC. Thanks for your input!

  • Mary O'Malley
    February 26, 2015 at 3:08 am

    I liked when I was younger and we would rent cars because it was a new experience. Something we had never been in before, and some of them were really nice rides.

    • Bailey K.
      February 26, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      Kinda like my husband, in that he enjoys driving new cars. 🙂

  • Angelic Sinova
    February 26, 2015 at 12:27 am

    We always rent cars when we travel because we don’t like to have to relay on public transpiration especially in a city that is new to us! Having a car is great because you can just hop in and go at your leisure <3

    • Bailey K.
      February 26, 2015 at 1:53 am

      Very true. Although I’m one that really, really enjoys public transportation, especially in cities. But I know that in many cases cars can be preferable. For me, it’s when we get out of the city. 🙂

  • Melissa D
    February 25, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Love this post! We have two young children, so our car is still necessary for travel. (So much gear!!) When we went to Disneyland, we were able to fly and rent a car on the other end, which was a lifesaver for exploring all over L.A. (even if we did get lost a few times).

    • Bailey K.
      February 25, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      Yes, I don’t know any other way to see LA if you have kids in tow!