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Most travelers, particularly those who like to travel like a local, prefer to use public transport when moving from one place to another. It’s cheap, usually reliable, and an easy way to get from A to B.

However, hiring a car on vacation can make a lot of sense, and, after-all, who doesn’t love a good road trip!

The thought of driving in a new country can definitely be overwhelming. But thousands of travelers opt for car rentals on vacations, and having your own vehicle can open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Granted, some destinations are more suited to having a car than others, for instance LA is a city where it really pays to hire a car, where-as if you’re visiting New York you probably won’t need one. But going through this list will help you decide whether your next vacation could benefit from a car rental.

Good things to take with you include a GPS with a backup camera, and an epic playlist (keeping in mind that the radio may be in another language).

7 Reasons to Rent a Car on Vacation


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No other mode of transportation allows for the convenience and freedom that your own car does. Self drive offers 100% flexibility, and complete freedom of movement.

You don’t have to stick to timetables or schedules, and you can change your plans as you go along. After-all, spontaneous detours make for the most memorable parts of a vacation!

Every minute of the day counts when you’re visiting a new destinations, and when you only have a limited number of days, it’s not exactly ideal to spend hours on buses and trains. Public transport can often take double the time to get somewhere because of the many stops and transfers.

Having your own car means you can plan your days around your own routine; you can get up early to get to an attraction ahead of the tour buses, you can pull over to the side of the road for viewpoints, you can take unscheduled toilet stops. You also don’t have to wait an hour if the train or bus doesn’t come.

If you find that your itinerary is shaping up to include a lot of transfers and public transport, you may find that it’s far more convenient to rent a car.

Cost Effective

Pexels Money

Public transport is the cheapest way to get around most cities, but for the level of convenience and freedom it gives you, renting a car is incredibly cheap.

Most countries around the world offer car rentals for as little as $35 a day, which is usually well below what you would pay for a taxi or joining a bus tour for the day. Often renting a car from the airport can save you money right off the bat if you had planned to hail a cab.

Of course, when calculating your costs, make sure you remember to budget for things like petrol, insurance, and parking. In concrete jungles like New York, parking can often cost more than the car can.

Regarding petrol, you may want to splurge on your vacation rental car, but do you really require that V8 truck? If you want to save money, then consider going for smaller and more eco-friendly models. Map out your distances and estimate how much gas you’ll need. This will help you choose a car consumes fuel within your budget.

So, when planning your vacation, cost out how much you would be spending on cabs, transfers, and day tours you could otherwise do yourself if you had a car handy. And compare that to the cost of a car rental.

If you’re traveling solo, maybe it works out being more cost effective to use the buses and trains. But if you’re traveling as a couple, or a family, a car can really start to save you money. Tour buses charge per person, but it doesn’t cost anything extra to rent a car with 4 people.


Car hire drive travel RF

Your own vehicle offers a level of comfort that most public transportation alternatives don’t provide. You get to spread out as much as you want to, have easy access to your things, and can control who you’re sharing your personal space with.

They may sound like small considerations, but just having control over things like the air conditioner and radio can make a massive difference to the comfort of a trip. If you’ve ever been on a bus with no air conditioning, or a train with broken windows you’ll understand!

Comfort is also in the ability to keep your space clean, and simple pleasures like being able to pull over if you need to stop for food, air, or the bathroom. Renting a car wins in every scenario when it comes to comparing levels of comfort.

Mental comfort is just as important as physical comfort though, so you want to make sure that you actually feel confident about driving in another country before you decide to hire a car. If you suffer from anxiety when driving, or think you’ll feel unsettled or tense behind the wheel of a rental, you need to consider this too.

Discover New Destinations

Car hire travel RF

Most destinations are actually a lot more than what’s within their city limits, where-ever you are in the world, you’ll probably find that you’re within driving distance from some pretty incredible surrounds.

Driving allows you to widen the scope of the places you’re actually able to see. For instance, if you’re traveling in LA, a car means you can incorporate a road trip to other iconic cities like San Diego, or decide you want to drive out to Yosemite National Park.

You’re not stuck within the limits of one area or region, and don’t have to limit your itinerary to attractions that are along public transport routes. You can explore off the beaten path, and discover really authentic parts to a location that other travelers don’t generally get the chance to see.

Know The Restrictions

When weighing up whether to choose a car rental, it’s important to understand if there are any restrictions involved. These may vary from company to company, so it’s always a good idea to read the fine print before you make a booking.

Common restrictions across many car rental companies are who can drive the vehicle, and the distance / mileage you’re allowed to cover. Even if your company has no limitation on the mileage, you may not be allowed to drive outside the state, or country.

So, for instance, if you’re renting a car in LA for the sole purpose of driving down to Mexico, keep in mind that most car rentals won’t let you do it. Understanding the restrictions placed on car rentals in your destination could be a big factor in whether or not it’s worth renting one.

The type of transportation you choose can make or break a vacation. So instead of relying on public transportation that can limit your destinations, it’s wise to rent your own car. That way, you get to explore more places and travel like a local.


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. I experienced this in New Zealand last year. So much fun to see new spots if you are willing to rent a car and enjoy the ride.

    • I’m so excited about renting a car and heading around New Zealand Ryan – such an incredible country to explore, I can’t wait!! Glad you had a fabulous time :)

  2. This is some useful advice. I rented a car on a road trip to Nevada with my husband, it was so much fun.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Natalie, Nevada is such a cool place for a roadtrip – so much off the beaten path gems to drive out to and explore :) Happy travels!

  3. Great Post! I would like to add some more reasons to rent a car on vacation such like…

    – When you get a car rental you can have everything in your way whenever and however you want it.
    – You can choose your own budget and the best model and size to suit your requirements.
    – With a rented car you have the ability to travel & explore all the amazing sights & attractions at your own pace.
    – Hiring a car can work out a lot cheaper than using other forms of transport, when the cost is shared.
    – You can take photographs as per your choice by stopping your rental car

    • Thanks Tofik, so glad you enjoyed the post, I totally agree with all your points – overall it’s a pretty good idea – we rent cars as much as possible when we travel, it makes the experience so much more enjoyable and easy :)

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