Rental car or public transport in Alaska

One of dilemmas we face every time travel knocks on our door is whether we should rent a car or succumb to local public transport along with Uber, Lyft, and taxicabs. In most cases, necessity of transportation doesn’t raise any questions. Its type and availability, however, can greatly interfere with your travel plans. Moreover, money plays not the last role in choosing between these two: rental car or public transport. To make your life easier, I’ve shared some of the tips and tricks that work for us. Hopefully will do the same for you.

Rental Car or Public Transport

When deciding on the type of conveyance, the single most important guidance should come from your travel destination. Duration of the stay is the second thing to consider. These two combined can easily make or spoil your experience when traveling domestically or abroad. So…

1. Rental car is a must if you plan to drive long distances or undertake mini road trips at your new destinations. For instance, before our trips to Alaska and Kauai, Hawaii, we knew that staying at one place near our hotels wouldn’t satisfy us as much as crossing hundreds of miles in order to explore more and connect with these places on a deeper level. Thus, the dilemma of rental car or public transport disappeared before we even board planes to each of these destination.

Road tripping on Kauai, Hawaii

Road tripping on Kauai, Hawaii

2. Uber has become a great alternative to a rental car. It also works best for people who due to some circumstances avoid using public transport during their travels. However, despite convenience and popularity of this type of transit, there are still many cities and countries that favor their rental cars and taxis and stay away from the influence of Uber overpowering the roads. Preparing for our long weekend getaway to Vancouver, Canada, I was taken aback to find out that no ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft were allowed in the city.

3. You preference of a rental car or public transport also depends on the duration of the stay. On short trips, you might be greatly pressed by time and desire to see as much as possible of your travel destination. Forget about luxury of wasting the precious time waiting for a local bus or train. The rental car is your best friend in such situations.

4. But when it comes to longer trips, you might want to reconsider your decision and use public transport instead. The time is on your side. You can always go back and see what you missed the day before. Taking it slowly and completely immersing in a new place with its unique customs and traditions is easier to achieve while sitting on a bus, striking casual conversation with locals, and observing streets and people from a slowly moving public transportation.

Exploring London with a double-decker bus

Exploring London with a double-decker bus

Pros of the Rental Car

1. The rental car gives you freedom to choose where and when to go.

2. Renting the car might get significantly cheaper compare to the taxis and in some cases public transport, especially if you plan to drive a lot and long distances.

3. The rental time helps with time management and puts you back in charge of your own time. No more missed flights because the bus was late or the taxi didn’t showed up.

4. Renting the car becomes your priority when traveling with children to destinations with cold weather or a lot of precipitation. You always want to keep your kids warm and safely. When the frosty weather or pouring rain become unbearable for your little companions, you can instantly retreat to the warmth of your rental car.

Road trip in Alaska

Rain and road trip in Alaska

Cons of the Rental Car

1. The cost of the rental car can get very high. With the regular daily rate combined with extra charges such as fees for additional drivers, insurance, car seat (for travelers with children), it might round up to a pretty high number.

2. With the rental car, parking arouses some problem, especially if you travel to big cities like New York City, Chicago or Washington, D.C.

3. Hotels might charge extra parking fees. Make sure to check if they provide complimentary parking before making your reservation.

Rental car is not cheap

Rental car is not cheap

Pros of Public Transport

1. Money saving is bigger with public transportation. Instead of paying for the rental car, you can use your extra dollars to buy another divine pizza in Italy or additional jar of signature maple syrup in Canada.

2. Riding local transportation enables you to explore the new place from inside. Besides giving you ample opportunities to connect with locals, it teaches you about their unique customs and lifestyles.

3. Public transport increases mobility for those who can’t and don’t want to drive.

4. There is no need to worry about finding a parking space.

Testing public transportation in London

Testing public transportation in London

Cons of Public Transport

1. Public transport can become your biggest drainage of time. It proceeds through the streets slower than other vehicles. What worse, at times, it takes forever for the next bus or train to arrive.

2. Fixed schedule of public transport prevents you from witnessing that 6 a.m. sunrise when the earliest bus arrives there only at 7:30am.

3. Sometimes public transport gets too crowded. Overlapping aisles bags, noisy people might not align with a picture of your perfect trip.

Final Argument

The rental car or public transport is simply a matter of choice. One can thrive and have the best travel adventures starting at the door of any public vehicle. The other is more inclined to flexibility that only driving a car can give. In either case, it makes sense to consider location, availability of public services, and weather conditions before adhering to one of these types of transportation.

Road tripping in California

Rental car or public transport is a matter of choice