Alaska - car rental help (and any other tips?)
Hello. We're planning a trip this summer, and we've pretty much settled on Alaska. Our travel dates are very flexible, and we'll most likely do it in July for the long days and nice weather, but we're also thinking about September for a change to see the Northern Lights, but we're a little nervous about the weather. We've hemmed and hawwed about how we're going to get there and back, and I'd love to drive from CT to Alaska, but given that we're looking at a two week time span, I don't think we'd get to see as much as we want to. Our other option was to fly into Seattle and rent a car, because Seattle flights are cheaper, but we ran into problems trying to find a rental car company that would let us drive into Canada and back. So I think we finally settled on flying into Anchorage and renting a car and exploring on our own.
We're doing this on a shoe-string budget, and other than the flight, the rental car prices are the next huge amount. We've scoured the major sites, but I'd love if anyone here had any better suggestions for renting a car for 12-14 day journey. Obviously we'd need to have unlimited mileage. We would absolutely love a Jeep Wrangler, but I can't even find a major company that rents a small 4x4 other than for day adventures, never mind extended trips. We'd love a 4x4 in general, but I think we may have to settle on an economy car and maybe try to find day rental places. Any suggestions for finding the best deal for renting a car? Is buying a car (~$1000) and registering it there and driving it back to CT an option at all? We're both over 25, but that's about all we've got going for us.
We're planning on doing some rudimentary planning beforehand, but whenever we do a road trip we've had the best luck with just having some ideas in our minds of what we'd like to do, and then just figuring it out there. We'll be doing camping/sleeping in the car as much as possible. We'd like to try to avoid as much civilization as possible and see lots of nature and scenery. That said, any other suggestions?
Also, like I said, right now we're focusing on Alaska, but we're not entirely opposed to switching it to someplace else. If you have any other suggestions for gorgeous scenery and isolation, have at. We did 3800 miles in the southwest last year and had an amazing time, btw.
Try the Locals
Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!
Some years ago I rented a car from a local firm in Anchorage, U-Save. I did not deal with them directly but rather through a booking agent. They were a little bit harder to deal with than one of the majors, but that may be because I arrived in town by train rather than at the airport. But the car, once we had it, was the equivalent of what you'd get from any one, I've also had a good experience with renting from a local company in Hawaii. So you might try to give them a call, as well as Arctic, Anchorage and Rent Rite and see if you can get a better deal from one of the locals. There is no need to rent a Jeep or any other 4x4. There is no need to go off-road in Alaska to see wilderness, and most rental contracts expressly forbid such activity in any event. Get a car you'll be comfortable in and don't waste money on a macho image you don't need and can't use. Buying a car and driving it back to CT is simply not an option. Cars in Alaska are probably ridden hard and put away wet (and you thought winters in Connecticut were bad) plus you'd be wasting more than half your available time driving home and most of what would be left looking for a car and having it checked out. Given your desire to see nature, I have two suggestions. Head south to Seward and take one of the small boats out into Resurrection Bay, and head north to Denali making sure to spend some time in Talkeetna.
I agree with Buck that renting a four wheel drive would be an unneeded and fairly pointless use of money, since you can take a rental car off road regardless.
I also agree that purchasing a car just doesn't make sense with the time you have. You'd spend at least 1-2 days of your trip looking for and then buying a car, and then about 10 more days just to drive it back home. That's only going to leave you a couple days tops to actually explore Alaska! Its going to be impossible to find a car that would be roadworthy for the trip back to CT for $1000 anyway, especially one with 4 wheel drive.
In 2004 I rented a car from Budget in Seattle, and drove it to Seward in Alaska, to Fairbanks, down the Alcan and through the Rockies and back to Seattle via Kamloops and Vancouver.
Originally Posted by CTStalker
I specifically mentioned that I wished to go into Canada, and was told that so long as I did not cross the Mexican border, they were not at all worried where I went.
Four weeks with unlimited mileage... I did 6400 miles and it cost around US$650 total. And they did not even charge me any extra for the little accident I had.
Lifey suggests you check with them
p.s. I ordered the smallest vehicle, knowing full well, that with the fuel prices at a premium at the time, most folk wanted small cars, and I would be upgraded, which I was, at no extra cost. Drove a Camry. I booked on the internet.
Last edited by Lifemagician; 03-09-2009 at 05:26 AM.
Reason: add extra info
I agree with both Buck and Midwest Michael that you would be better off renting a car. As LifeMagician pointed out, there is usually no problem (with the major car rental brands, at least) about taking a rental car into Canada; as long as you're bringing it back to the states.
Also, a rental car will be a lot cheaper in Seattle than it would be in Alaska. Just try to get a rate with unlimited mileage. One other thing you might want to check as far as lowering your rate, is using a car rental discount code, if you qualify. There are hundreds of membership programs and professional associations that offer discount codes to their members.
Last edited by Midwest Michael; 03-09-2009 at 06:30 AM.
Reason: Sorry, New members may not post off site links
Weather- July can be rainy and cloudy. September is beautiful and clear. However our weather has, for the last few years, been unpredictable so it's anybodies guess what the weather will be. We don't see a lot of northern lights in September however. In a typical year, whatever that is, September has highs in the 60-70’s and lows in the 30-40’s. A bit lower up north be Denali. There is likely to be snow in the mountains.
There are plenty of car rental places in Anch. just like any other city. There are plenty of crappy $1000 cars here that wouldn't make it to the lower 48.
I'm unclear. Why would you rent a car in Seattle to drive to Ak if you only have two weeks or so. That will not save $$$. It will take at least 2 days ( okay maybe 24-36 hours or so going straight through) of hard driving to get to ak from seattle. Unless you have weeks and want to see the ALCAN, flying to Anch. is the best way to go. It is a lot of gas to get from seattle to ak. What do you want to do and see??? What kind of trip are you thinking of???
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