4 reasons you should rent a car on your next vacation

Confession: I’m not a good driver.  Actually, let me rephrase that.  I’m not a confident driver– there’s a difference.  For, while I know all the rules of the road and have a decent amount of technique, as soon as  I get behind the wheel I’m a nervous mess, and when I’m nervous I start second-guessing myself on the road. Then I get all worked up, scared, and end up not wanting to drive at all.

My fear of driving has intensified since I’ve lived overseas in cities like Hong Kong and London, where public transportation is far more zippy, practical, and cost-effective than having a car. As such, I haven’t needed to drive since about 2009, and the longer I go without, the more reticent I am to get behind the wheel.

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Our rental car in Costa Rica

Until now. Our recent trip to Costa Rica, where we were given a vehicle by Carrentals.co.uk to jet around in for the week, has reintroduced me to the beauty of road-tripping.  For years I’ve relied on public transportation to get me from point A to point B on my travels, but I’m realizing that renting a car sometimes makes way more sense.  Here’s why:

It’s faster and more convenient

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Our rental car in Bordeaux, France

When you have your own automobile you can pick up and go when you feel like it— no need to rely on pesky (and sometimes spotty and unpredictable) trains or coaches to get you where you need to be. Unless you’ve opted for the express option, buses and trains stop incessantly to drop off and pick up other passengers, making what may already be a long journey even longer. Having your own vehicle allows you to reach your destination speedily and directly, giving you more time to explore and enjoy (this is particularly important if you have a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time).  It also gives you the flexibility to edit your itinerary at a moment’s notice so you can get the most out of your trip.

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Map-hacking in Bordeaux, France

It allows you to get “off the beaten path”

As much as I dislike the term “off the beaten path” (mostly because of the travel snobbery that often comes with it), renting a car allows you to get off the well-trodden tourist trail and discover corners unknown by the masses.  When we rented a car in Jordan, we were able to dither around in the small towns found between Petra, Wadi Rum, and the capital Amman. While there was nothing particularly noteworthy to be found in these villages, the ability to easily explore them gave us a different perspective on the daily lives of Jordanians outside of the major cities and tourist attractions.  Since we weren’t just limited to seeing “the big stuff”, we were able to get a fuller picture of what the country and its people are about.

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Our rental car in Jordan

It can be cheaper

Travelling in a party of two or more and embarking on a journey that will span far and wide? If so, consider procuring your own chariot for the rest of your trip.  Renting a car for a group can often be more cost-effective than purchasing individual tickets for other forms of ground transportation, even with the cost of gas, car insurance, and tolls. Plus, it’s more fun! Be sure to do the calculations to see if it’s more advantageous for you to have your own car and don’t forget to include the cost of all potential transfers (like those expensive taxi rides to and from the airport). 

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Camel Crossing somewhere between Wadi Musa and Wadi Rum, Jordan

It’s more comfortable

Leg room isn’t an issue when you have your own wheels, nor is blasting your music as you speed down the open road.  Having your own vehicle gives you the freedom to get comfortable, and we can all agree that’s a beautiful thing.

Have you ever used a rental car on your vacation? Would you?

3 Comments

  • I usually rent cars when traveling domestically in the US, but I have not done it overseas yet – I would love too though (as long as they have automatic cars and drive on the right side; I have a fear of stick shift & left-side driving)
    Chanel | Cultural Xplorer recently posted..How to Take an Independent Trip to Cuba as an AmericanMy Profile

  • Kayla Rogers says:

    I love the freedom that renting a car affords you. For me, it is much less stressful to have to deal with one transaction the whole trip (when you rent the car) than forking out cash every time you hop into a new taxi. I’ll have to show my husband this article to convince him that we need a car on our upcoming trip!

  • Cheri says:

    We just rented a car to tour the Big Island-Hawai’i, and it was a must! It was a bit terrifying to trek across extreme gravel and dirt roads (and this was on the main roads!) worrying about potential damage, but all went well. We rented a car in Iceland last year, and it got stuck in spring blizzard storm. But I would definitely rent again: you have to tour the island by car to see it all!

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