On cars

broken car
Having the right car, or any car for that matter, is probably the most important part of a successful road trip. In fact, without a car, the road trip can’t really happen, because Greyhound busses just aren’t that fun (they can be, just not in the same way).

Anne and I live in New York City, where, like 42 percent of our neighbors, we don’t own a car. This makes roadtripping a challenge. We’re going to rent one. It’s expensive, but I think it’s worth it. Here are our reasons:

Our first thought was to buy an old Mercedes or Volvo station wagon, or perhaps a big conversion van and sell it on the other end. But, while it would save us a bunch of money, our big fear would be to be driving through the middle of nowhere, on the edge of a cliff, with no gas station within 50 miles, when the engine drops out of the bottom of the rust-bucket heap we could afford and be left stranded with no ride, and no way to fix it. Or we could get it to a shop and have them tell us they couldn’t fix it or two weeks, and there goes our entire trip. Plus getting insurance and registration for a month is a pain in the rear.

So basically, we decided against that. Then we thought about driveaways. A driveaway, in case you don’t know, is a service whereby one person wants to transport their car from one place to another, but doesn’t want to drive it. So this company finds people who want to drive for them. It’s great, it’s cheap, but it’s also not quite structured enough (because the availability and locations are varied), and requires a somewhat more-rapid-than-we-want-to-go pace (across the country in 6 days!!! No way.). So that’s out (though with a reminder for the future).

That leaves either borrowing a car, or renting one. We don’t know anyone who would be willing to lend us his or her car on the East Coast and then allow us to leave it on the street in San Francisco, so renting it is.

Renting, however, is expensive. I’ve been searching the web, mostly via carrentals.com which is pretty cool, because it allows me to look at a whole city, rather than requiring me to search by individual location (though it doesn’t include Hertz in the search). I’ve found some good deals, but it’s still quite a bit. Once you get over the price, then comes the type of car to drive. Anne and I want, of course, to drive a Prius or Prius-like automobile, but I fear we’ll have to get over our eco-guilt, because they are pretty hard to come by. So do we want a mini-van (too suburban)? A convertible (too expensive, leaks)? A Hyundai (umm, a Hyundai?)? This is something we’ll have to work out.

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~ by neoney on June 25, 2007.

2 Responses to “On cars”

  1. Have you checked out rentawreck.com? They don’t rent wrecks, but cars that aren’t brand new fancy-shmancy schtuff. I did a little prelim. search for you and it would be like $600 for three weeks’ rental of a Ford Contour-type (mid-sized) car.

    I didn’t find info about returning at different destinations other than original rental place, but you could try giving them a call perhaps?

    I’d say the absolute smallest car to get would be mid-sized like a Jetta, Impala, Contour. Shoot for Camry, Passat, etc. Something larger will be worth it. From experience, having a larger car is nice when you are living out of it for several weeks. 🙂

  2. Yeah, I checked Rent-a-Wreck. Their locations are all franchises, so the cars belong to each place and we therefore can’t go one way with them.

    I actually found a price on a Camry for about $1000, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do it, since there’s a chance we won’t be going to Washington, DC anymore. But yes, I’m willing to pay another $100 or so for a larger car. Or a Prius.

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