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When Confucious said “Roads were made for journeys; not destinations” it’s a sure bet he never imagined roads traversed by four wheels and bucket seats. Each year, nearly one half of active American leisure travelers cruise the open road. According to AARP research, 7 in 10 of the US’s 76 million baby boomers say road trips are their favorite way to travel. Road trips introduce adventure at every missed turn, roadside diner or hidden away beach. They allow you to explore historic cities and quaint villages, cultures and coastlines in your way, at your pace.
Before you plan your own road trip this year, you might consider giving the family wheels a break and let a rental car do the heavy lifting. Is your car brand spanking new, already being parked in the last spot in the lot to avoid dings? Taking it to parts unknown for its maiden voyage may make you a little queasy. Likewise, your sweet old ride may not be up to the wear and tear of a long ride, increasing the possibility of a breakdown. Leased cars present their own dilemmas. Before racking up 3,000 miles in a week, you’ll need to remember that every mile counts on your contract, incurring a penalty, of often .30 cents per mile for every one above the yearly amount. That kind of unexpected expense can put a serious dent in the best vacation memory.
Deciding between driving your own car vs a rental vehicle takes some thought. Which one makes more dollars and ‘sense’ will depend on what kind of car you drive, your trip's mileage, tire wear, fuel efficiency, and depreciation that drives down your vehicle’s resale value. Conversely, rental cars are newer, more fuel efficient, reap efficient gas mileage, lower fuel costs, and are well maintained. They also boast perks your older car may not have like satellite radio, back up cameras, GPS and more.
More than 90,000 motorists get stuck, stalled or stranded every day. Even if your own car is well maintained, an unforeseen breakdown, leaves you trying to figure out how to get your car towed and serviced hundreds of miles from home. A blown engine or transmission may leave you stranded while you wait for repairs. If a rental car breaks down, the rental company is only a phone call away and usually provides a replacement car within hours. Vacation saved.
Your choice of vacation will determine your choice of rental from sedans and luxury cars, to a compact, SUV or Minivan. Planning a cross country trip with the grands or a romantic second honeymoon? Your answer may dictate either a loaded mini-van or sweet compact. If your plans include tackling mountainous terrain through the Rocky Mountains, renting a brawny SUV makes more sense than your own subcompact. Driving the Pacific Coast Highway might be a lot more memorable when you take the wheel in a flashy convertible, channeling your inner Thelma and Louise.
Flying may get you from point A to point B but driving takes you to all the stops in between. This year, discover the soul of America on a drive vacation. Explore Maine’s stunning Acadia National Park, the pastel skies of Arizona’s Painted Desert or Florida’s legendary Route 1 to Key West. Buckle up for safety and find convenience in a rental vehicle to help feed your wanderlust.
These articles present general information and are for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal, financial, medical, or other professional advice.