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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    1

    Default Renting a Car for a Road Trip

    I'm probably going to be smacked on the wrist by a moderator, since I can't seem to find a topic on this and there probably is one, but here it goes.

    We live in New England.
    We always drive to Florida to visit some of our family, since we have a kid and pets that must travel with.
    Our cars usually suffice, but this year we want to bring Grandma, making even my Matrix a tight squeeze.

    We want to rent a mini-van, but have seen many websites and warnings that say that rental car companies either don't let you rent for out of state trips, or that they charge surcharges specifically for doing so.

    Since you all seem to be experienced road trippers: what exactly is the deal with renting for out of state trips and which companies are the best about doing so with?
    Enterprise in our area will only let us take the car as far as Virginia, so they're out.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, since I asked my mom without researching and my husband doesn't want to deal with a disappointed mother-in-law.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,951

    Default Shop Around

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    No smack on the wrist necessary, rental car policies can be really confusing and even with the same franchise they can be different from location to location.

    Sorry to say, because of this, there really are not good, hard and fast rules. The only real way to know who will let you take their cars where is by calling around.

    However, since this will be a round trip, I don't think it should be that difficult for you to find someone who will have what you are looking for at a reasonable price. Enterprise really focuses their business on local rentals, and often they don't do one ways at all, so their geographic limiations aren't a shock to me. But try Budget, Dollar, Hertz, Avis, or any of the other major companies in your area, I'd think someone will be able to help you out.

    If that doesn't work, look at see if there are some smaller, indepedant local car rental companies. Typically those places have fewer restrictions and could be another option.

    Good Luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,503

    Default You (usually) get what you pay for

    Quote Originally Posted by diamond_j View Post
    We want to rent a mini-van, but have seen many websites and warnings that say that rental car companies either don't let you rent for out of state trips, or that they charge surcharges specifically for doing so.
    Virtually all rental cars in America are equipped with GPS transponder chips and so rental car operators have the option of always knowing where customers take their rental cars. In my experience, (and I have plenty of multi-state rental car experience) the larger (and sometimes more expensive) nationally-based firms (who primarily cater to business travelers) will wink at those specificed surcharges and you will not be charged. If you make a point of declaring that you are going to be crossing state lines -- they are pleased to take some more money. As Michael stated, since this a round trip -- you should be fine.

    This is NOT the case if you use Enterprise or any of the other so-called discounted companies -- their business model is based upon finding a way to charge a fee for every possible element of the equation.

    If you do cross state lines -- technically, legally and etc. you could be in violation of the terms of the rental agreement, and are subject to surcharges and other forms of wrist-slapping. So, you have to decide how much risk you are willing to accept.

    A certain Forum member has never seen a state line surcharge and has made a fair number of such crossings in the last decade or two.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 11-24-2006 at 11:10 AM. Reason: darned typos

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    7,954

    Default Mountains and Molehills

    I had a quick look, using the "Travel Reservations" Tab at the top of this page and following the links to do a car rental search. I entered Boston as my starting and ending destination, gave it two random weeks in the Spring and asked it to find me a mini van. I got 8 companies willing to rent me one. I did not look at all of them - just the cheapest couple. But the cost was reasonable, I thought, around $325/wk (+ about $100 in taxes and surcharges). There were no mileage restrictions and no meaningful geographic restrictions. The cars could be taken anywhere in the continental US and even into Canada as long as you didn't go west of Toronto. (I wonder what edge of the Earth is there?) In fact, the only thing I'd warn you about is to be careful because some companies do occasionally impose mileage limits if you rent a car in your own hometown. Other than that, read the fine print but you should be fine. Taxes and surcharges are getting out of hand, but that is largely due to localities trying to tax 'outsiders' and not the fault of the rental companies.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 11-24-2006 at 10:51 AM. Reason: Clarification on cost

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,687

    Default Once

    At this point, I have only rented a car once, and that was for a trip from Massachusetts to Florida, over five years ago.

    That time, I used an Alamo location in Connecticut, and I expressly declared from the outset where I was going to be traveling to, since I wanted to make sure their unlimited mileage meant just that. They had no problem with that, and when I returned with a few thousand miles on the car at the end of a week, I did not see an additional surcharge.

    In fact, they did not have the class of car I requested available the day of pick up, and I was upgraded to the next class for no additional charge. All in all, I had a very good experience with them (though I really wished they had cleaned that footprint off of the ceiling of the car before I got in...)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,503

    Default Don't forget THE guidebook!

    Quote Originally Posted by diamond_j View Post
    We always drive to Florida to visit some of our family, since we have a kid and pets that must travel with.
    Even experienced I-95 travelers like yourselves might be suprised by the wealth of info and side trip suggestions that the authors pack into their annual guide to I-95 travel. I review their annual editions and each year, I learn something new too!

    Mark

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