How to Determine if You Should Rent a Car on Your Vacation

We all want to pare down on expenses when we travel. One of the higher ticket items is a car rental. In some destinations, you really can’t do without a vehicle. In others, it really isn’t necessary, in fact, it can be kind of a pain. There are some tried and true ways to determine if you really need a car on your vacation. The following are situations in which you probably don’t need to rent a car.

rent-a-carYou’re Going to an Old City

Long before there were cars, there were two feet. Cities that were built before the Model T are cities that are made for the carless. That includes much of Europe and Asia. A good rule of thumb is the more metropolitan the city, the less you need a car. Think New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris – places that have been epicenters for a long, long time. That said, you wouldn’t want to go to, say, Dallas, without a car, which is a metropolitan area to be sure. Much of western America is car dependent, and that’s because it’s new.

There’s Excellent Public Transportation

Do a little research. Does the city have a well-run bus system that navigates throughout the city? How often does it run? Is it near your hotel? What about a train system? Many cities are partly walkable, but they suffice with taxis and pay-to-ride cars like Uber or Lyft. You may need to do a little planning, but chances are, if those systems look intricate, you can get away without renting a car.

The City is Dense

Grid layouts generally indicate areas of walkability, but a surer bet is the gridless city. People couldn’t walk far enough for a grid to even come into play, so cities that elude the grid are usually car-free. But look more – is the downtown a byproduct, and much of what’s good to see is outside the center? That’s the case with many cities, which serve more as business centers than tourist hubs, so check to see that there’s more to downtown than luncheonettes and skyscrapers. You want things that stay open late and blocks that are flooded with retail. If you can’t tell, Google Maps comes in handy here. Just do a street view of various parts of the city and see what’s around.

luncheonettes-and-skyscrapersWorst case scenario, you rent a car on the days you need it, like for road trips. It’s a good way to keep rental costs down, and you don’t even need to pay for parking.

What’s your rental car rule of thumb?

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How to Determine if You Should Rent a Car on Your Vacation

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