Travel Dilemma: Rental Car or Public Transport

One of dilemmas we face every time travel knocks on our doors is whether we should use rental 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 me. I hope they will do the same for you and help you choose between rental car and public transport for your next travel adventure.

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 when choosing between rental car or public transport. These two combined can easily make or spoil your experience when traveling domestically or abroad.

When to Use Rental Car and Public Transport

1. Choose rental car over public transport when driving long distances

Rental car is a must if you plan to drive long distances or take mini road trips from your new destinations. For instance, before our trips to Alaska and Kauai we knew that staying in 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 vs. public transport disappeared before we even boarded our planes to each of these destination.

Rental car and public transport - Roads and Destinations,
Rental car or public transport: Road-tripping in Hawaii

2. Uber as a great alternative to a rental car

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 Uber services. Preparing for our long weekend getaway in Vancouver, I was taken aback to find out that no ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft were allowed in the city.

3. Your choice between rental car and public transport depends on the durations of your trip

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

4. Use public transport for longer trips

But when it comes to longer trips, you 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 conversations with locals, and observing streets and people from a slowly moving public transportation.

London - Roads and Destinations,
Rental car or public transport: Exploring London with a double-decker bus

Pros of Rental Car

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

2. Renting a car can be significantly cheaper compared to the taxis and in some cases public transport, especially if you plan to drive longer distances.

3. The rental car 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. The rental car, not public transport, 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 retreat to the warmth of your rental car.

Rental car and public transport - Roads and Destinations,
Rental car and public transport: Road-tripping in Alaska in the rain

Cons of Rental Car

1. 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 the travelers with children), it can 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. Some hotels charge extra parking fees. Make sure to check if they provide complimentary parking before making your reservation.

Rental car and public transport - Roads and Destinations,
Rental car and public transport: Renting a car is not cheap

Pros of Public Transport

1. You save more money when using public transportation. Instead of paying for the rental car, you can use 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 your new place like a local. Moreover, you get ample opportunities to connect with the locals and learn 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 spot.

Rental car and public transport - Roads and Destinations,
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’s 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 your picture of a perfect trip.

Final Argument

Renting a car or using public transport is simply a matter of choice. One can have the best travel adventures when taking public transport everywhere he or she goes.  The other is more inclined to flexibility that only driving a car can give. Either way, it makes sense to consider your location, availability of public services, and weather conditions before adhering to one of these types of transportation.

California - Roads and Destinations,

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