When traveling, I will almost always use public transportation to navigate the city. I find it to be cheaper and more efficient, however, that isn’t always the case. In a previous post, I go over the pros and cons of both public transportation and renting a car.
Knowing when you should rent a car is key. Like I said, there are certain situations and circumstances where it wouldn’t be smart to rent a car.
There are many benefits to rental cars that you just won’t get by using public transportation.
More Versatility. The great thing with rental cars is how versatile they are. The options you have when choosing a rental car are vast, with 12 different types of vehicles you can choose from. This makes it great no matter what kind of group you have. Whether it’s just you, or you’re traveling with your entire family.
Perfect for Groups. Rental cars are most useful when you have multiple people with you. Let’s say you are traveling with the family. You aren’t going to want to take your whole family on train after train, or bus after bus if you don’t have to. Having a car to pile into so you can drive to restaurants, or stores, or anything really, is incredibly worth the money. Especially in the United States, where they do public parking very well, but public transportation not so much.
Opens Up Your Options. Probably the biggest benefit for rental cars is how many options you have, not in terms of types of cars, but in terms of things you can do. Want to go visit that state park three hours away? No problem. Want to go to the convenient store at three in the morning? It’s got you covered.
These are the flagship reasons people use rental cars. According to Statista, just shy of 35 million people in the United States use rental cars in a year, generating $21.7 billion dollars. These numbers are only going up year after year. Rental cars a huge industry, and for good reason.
There are a few situations where I would absolutely go for a rental car over using public transportation.
Visiting a Small City. If I were going to be visiting a small city, there is most likely not going to be very accessible public transportation. On top of this, small towns typically don’t have Uber or Lyft, or if they do, they are few and far between.
Recently, I went on a trip back home to my small town in Upstate New York. Luckily, my family had a car I was able to borrow, if not, renting a car would have been my go to. One night, I did have to use Uber considering I was going to be drinking and wasn’t able to drive. Coming from a big city, there is always an Uber within five minutes of you. However, in my little town, the Uber took about 8 minutes to get to us. This was after a couple minutes of just trying to find an available driver.
On the way home that night, it was even more difficult to find an Uber, and this was on a major holiday when there is usually plenty of Ubers. It took over five minutes just for someone to show up on the map. Then another 15 minutes for them to drive across town to pick us up. We were very thankful that they went out of their way for us like that.
You Have a Large Group. The great benefit of traveling in a group, is that you can all split the bill. With rental cars averaging around $50 per day, having a few people pick up the slack makes getting a rental car a very affordable option.
It also makes it a whole lot more organized. Most of the trips I went on, we used public transportation like trains and buses. However, on a couple trips, we did get a rental car. This made our lives a lot more comfortable, and a whole lot easier. Not having to worry about buying train tickets, not knowing how much it was going to cost until you got to the ticket kiosk, and not having to worry about sleeping through your stop were just a couple benefits.
You Plan on Exploring. Our main reason for getting a rental car was to explore not only the city we were visiting, but to also go to surrounding cities and national parks. Long haul train tickets get expensive fast, and it’s not like you can split that bill. Each person has to shell out the cash to cover themselves. That’s why we would get a rental car.
One example being when we went to Croatia. Once we realized Plitvice National Park wasn’t too far, about three hours, from us, we decided that getting a rental car was our only option.
Considering there were five of us, the rental car we got was pretty cheap once split up between us. We only needed it for one day as well.
You Don’t Like Public Transportation. Some people just don’t feel comfortable using public transportation. Whether it’s buses, trains, taxis, whatever; getting a rental car can significantly decrease the stress a person has.
I completely get it, I’m not a huge people person, and a lot of debauchery happens on those subways and buses. Spending some extra money to get a rental car may be worth the money just to reduce that stress. You are on vacation anyway, you shouldn’t be stressed.
Generally, rental cars are going to be more expensive than public transportation. Considering you can get a week pass for unlimited rides on trains and buses for around $80, while a week of rental cars can run you hundreds of dollars; rental cars are sometimes cheaper.
Splitting it with a Group. One instance where it can be cheaper is when you are traveling with a group. Let’s say you have five people, all splitting the bill. For five days, which is what a public transportation pass is good for in most cases, will costs you $250. Split between the five of you, you can expect to only pay $50 a piece, whereas the public transportation piece will cost you $80 each.
Avoiding Long Train Rides. There were many times where we wanted to go to a city a few hours away, just to realize that tickets can be over a hundred dollars each round trip.
Instead of doing all that, you can spend less than half of what you would on train tickets by getting a rental car. That’s traveling alone, if you have a group, you’ll end up paying a fraction of the cost of a train ticket is.
Not Having to Use Uber. Uber costs can add up quick as well, with averages of $1 per minute, at least in my experience. These rates go up if you plan on using Uber during big events or holidays. So if the area you are visiting doesn’t have the best system of public transportation, you’ll either have to Uber or drive to wherever you want to get to. And Uber adds up quick. A 20 minute drive both ways alone will cost you about what it would for renting a car for a day.
If you plan on going to visit a lot of places, get the rental car.
Knowing when to rent a car can go a long way in not only making your life easier, but also saving you money. Especially when you have a large group of people willing to split it, it can be very affordable to rent a car for a few days to explore the surrounding areas.
Subscribe below to never miss a post! Trust me, you won’t want to miss it.
Also, check out our blog for more amazing posts like this one!
Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.