When you travel solo, the expenses have a habit of creeping up. Out of all the expenses though, rental cars seem to be the ones that can break your bank.
But I have never actually had to deal with the ridiculous charges just because I had no one to split them with.
Is this because I’ve been super lucky? Or do I cheat the system?
No, I’m just really cheap when it comes to paying for transportation, so I find ways around it. When I travel, I want to spend my money on experiences, so I have no problem spending on excursions like skydiving or scuba diving.
But as for the rest? I try to make it as cheap as possible, especially rental car expenses, because they can be an unpleasant situation. I have heard of people dropping almost $600 a week for rental cars.
So, I use public transportation when the city has an efficient enough system and I have heard of people getting around by just hitchhiking. But there are some places where renting a car is an absolute must.
The good news is if you have to rent a car, chances are other travelers have to do the same thing.
1. SO AN AMAZING WAY TO SAVE MONEY IS JUST TO RIDE ALONG WITH THE TRAVELERS YOU MEET.
I discovered this method by accident, actually.
When I went to Big Island, Hawaii, a rental car was crucial. But every day when I was about to go rent a car; someone would invite me to tag along on their adventure in the car they already rented.
These adventures were things I was going to do anyways, and I loved the people I met, so it worked out amazingly well. I kept thinking ‘okay, I’ll just ride along with this person today and rent a car tomorrow.’
But then it kept happening for three days straight. I realized people were more than happy to just let me go with them. They invited me because they enjoyed my company, and it wasn’t really affecting them, because they were going to the destination with or without me.
Regardless of this, I of course pitched in some money, but this was nothing compared to how much I would have spent on a rental car. And you may think I just got lucky, because I met awesome people who drove me around, but this happens all the time, because the travel community is usually full of open, friendly people who just enjoy making new friends.
On the fourth day though, I realized I needed a car for at least a day or two just to knock out some of the stuff on my personal to-do list.
2. SO THE NEXT THING I DID WAS FIND SOMEONE TO SPLIT THE PRICE OF A RENTAL CAR WITH.
I went around the hostel and talked to travelers to see if there was anyone in a similar situation. Sure enough, I met a guy who was staying on the island for the same period of time and needed to rent a car.
So we split the price of a rental car and got to go everywhere we wanted to.
New people arrive at hostels on a daily basis, so the chance of finding people to split the cost with is actually higher than you think. As a solo traveler, though, giving up some freedom to compromise with another traveler can be difficult.
What my new friend and I did was make a list of the places we both wanted to go to and sort them by “must-sees” and “maybes.”
We respected each other’s “must-sees” and made a point to visit them all. As for the maybes, we just compromised until we figured out which destinations were worth going to. It worked out for the most part, but there were still a few problems.
The way to make sure you don’t run into any is just to figure out if you can travel with them for the short amount of time.
To figure this out, you should:
· Have a few conversations with them beforehand to make sure they’re the type of traveler you can deal with. For me, I can only travel with people who are chill and laid back in their personality, but still crave adventure. So figure out your ideal travel partner.
· Then, make sure you guys have similar goals. Make sure you want to go to similar places and do similar activities.
· Finally, agree on a system or schedule before you get the actual car. Who is going to drive? Who will get the car when or will you guys just ride with each other? Who will actually rent the car? This will make things go a lot smoother.
· If you later realize you cannot stand the person, but also can’t afford a car for yourself, you can take turns using the car. Use it every other day or if schedules are tight, use it for half the day, or at different hours.
If you’re under the age of 25, rental car expenses are even more of an unpleasant situation. In this case, if you’re splitting a car with someone, finding someone who is 25 or older will make things a lot easier.
IF YOU CAN’T FIND SOMEONE OLDER TO SPLIT THE CAR WITH YOU, THERE’S STILL A CHANCE THAT YOU CAN ASK AN OLDER PERSON TO RENT THE CAR FOR YOU.
This is a bit of a stretch though, because if anything goes wrong, the person who rented the car for you is screwed. And you must take this seriously, because if they actually agree to do this, you have to make sure you drive perfectly the whole time.
If they find out that you’re a really safe driver and a genuinely nice person who isn’t trying to screw them over though, it might just work.
I would never just straight up ask a person I just met though. They need to be able to trust you first. So get to know them first, and show them that you’re a good, responsible person that is just ridiculously broke.
I actually met someone who became good friends with a 26 year old who then helped him out by renting the car for him. Before that instance, I would have never thought to take this route, but it seemed to work out quite well for them.
If you don’t feel comfortable with this though, feel free to only do it if you are truly responsible and if you use this as a last resort.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS, YOU CAN STILL RENT A CAR BY YOURSELF FOR A REASONABLE PRICE.
What you can do is first research online for cheap rental cars. Each city has different rental car places, so I can’t necessarily recommend one for you.
But in addition to looking up the different prices online, I also ask other travelers once I get to my hostel which car rental place they recommended, whether I’m splitting the cost with someone or not.
I typically get really great advice about discounts, awesome companies I didn’t even know about, and just all around better options.
That’s why I always suggest talking to other travelers before renting a car.
If you land at your destination by plane, it might be really tempting to go ahead and rent a car at the airport.
But this might be a bad move, because you won’t be able to ask other travelers around first. You might also be super tired from traveling, preventing you from making a financially responsible decision.
So just ask around, follow the other steps, and you won’t have to curse at the sky the next time you have to rent a car.
Post by Angella Grey, the marketing manager at The Vacation Rentals Experts – an online and offline digital marketing agency that creates marketing solutions for vacation rentals, holiday homes and brands.
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