Whether you’re traveling cross-country solo or taking the whole family on a two-week road trip to some mountain retreat, you may be considering your options for transportation. While there are many ways you could go, you’ll have to take the time to consider both the expense and the amount of convenience linked to each form of travel. Planes top out the price spectrum, and even though they’ll get you to your destination faster than any other form of travel, they certainly come with their share of headaches. Plus, if your location is remote you may have to take a bus or rent a car when you arrive at the airport anyway, adding to the major expense and headache. Then there are trains, which are both expensive and slow (although it saves you the trouble of sitting behind a wheel for hours on end). And of course, you always have the option to drive. This is usually the cheapest solution to your transportation needs, but it requires the most time and effort.
However, with most people still trying to outlast the downturn in the economy, cost may be the most pressing concern. Or perhaps you are keen to take a road trip and take the time to enjoy the gorgeous landscape that makes up your homeland. Either way, you may have reason to rent a car rather than taking your own. But is it worth the added expense to rent a car for a long road trip? There are several factors to consider when making this decision.
First of all, you need to think about why you want to rent a car in the first place. If you’re taking your girlfriend down the California coastline, it could be fun to rent a convertible for the week. Or if you’re going on a family road trip you may require a vehicle that is sized to accommodate all of the people and luggage you will pack in. You might need an automobile with four-wheel drive to reach your location. Or perhaps your car is old, run-down, or damaged; in other words, it’s unlikely that it could get you to your destination without breaking down (and it would cost more to fix it than rent a car).
The next obvious consideration is cost. If your need is great enough (your car simply won’t make it, for instance) then it is definitely worth the additional cost, which could be a lot cheaper than flying or taking a train (depending on the duration of your trip and the number of people involved). Keep in mind, though, that it’s not just the cost for the rental (which is determined by the size and type of vehicle you select). You may also have to pony up for insurance (if you don’t have a full-coverage policy) and for long trips you will almost certainly go over on mileage (tacking on a per-mile fee to your tab).
And of course, you will have to pay for gas (and bring the rental back full), which could be more expensive on a vehicle that is larger than yours, gets worse gas mileage, or takes premium fuel. However, since you’re probably not going to spring for a car hire service to drop you off and pick you up, renting a car may be your least expensive option, providing that you really can’t use your own car and you don’t have a friend that can trade you for a few days.
Stephanie Daly is a contributing writer for Hire Cars – car hire Malaga Airport, the best online car rental supplier with over 4,000 locations worldwide.