What is the best form of transportation for long-term stays?
One of the most common questions I get asked is “what should we do about transportation when we travel long term?” The answer may seem like an easy one, and most of the time, I’d suggest renting a car at the airport, but it’s a little more complicated, especially for those on a budget. Aside from taking mass transit and renting a car from a major rental agency, there are a few other options to consider when traveling long term.
Here are some of my suggestions for each trip type:
Big City? Mass Transit: If you are traveling to a city, we recommend getting mass transit passes by the week or by the month. In most countries, public transportation is very affordable especially if you purchase a long term pass.
Tech Forward Small City? Rent or Ride Share: If you are traveling to a small town but it happens to be a tech forward city like San Jose, Marina Del Ray, or Venice beach, you have two options depending on your trip. You can rent a car for convenience if you have free parking, and the rental fees are affordable for long term – this can either be a major rental agency or you can check rates on car sharing platforms like Turo.com. If you don’t plan on driving much every day, and you can walk or bike around locally, another option is to just rent a bicycle for your stay and take Ubers/Lyfts/Taxis when you need a ride.
Rural Area? Rent a Car: If you are traveling to a small town or a rural area in or out of the country, it might be a wise idea to rent a car even if it costs a bit more and save in other budget areas (like flight or accommodations). I have traveled to a few places where I needed a car but didn’t have one and it was always a headache to get around. In this instance, it might be best to go through a major rental company, and potentially call them to see if you can negotiate a good long-term rate.
Did you know there is an Airbnb-style platform for car rentals? There are actually a few new car subleasing platforms in the USA. One of them is called Turo.com, and it allows you to rent cars from local people in any area for short or long-term periods. These cars are insured like any other rental, inspected, and in great shape. We have found that Turo rentals offer better long- term rates and more variety than most traditional rental companies. I’d personally much rather get a new Prius or a 2010 BMW for a month for $500 rather than get a tiny eco car from a rental agency for $1000 a month. One of my favorite aspects of this new market is the ability to negotiate with the owner. With a rental car company, there is little wiggle room on pricing. Sometimes you can knock a dollar or two off your rate, but with Turo.com, you can potentially negotiate a better deal for a long term rental.
If it’s possible and you have the time to enjoy it, taking a road trip can be a wonderful option for a long trip. Having your own car could easily save you over $1,000 on travel costs in just one month when taking into account flight fees, baggage fees and rental car/ride sharing rates. If you are up for the trip and have a travel buddy, and have a car, we definitely recommend driving your own car. It also will give you peace of mind to know you aren’t paying for your car while it just sits in your driveway while you’re traveling. If you don’t plan on taking a road trip, but you still want to cancel out your car bill, you can put your own car up for rent on Turo or Get Around.com and see if you can have a friend manage your car (like a vacation rental!) while you are away to cancel out your expense all together. If your car costs you $500 a month, and your transportation fees while traveling are $1000 for the month, you can rent your car for $50/+day to make $1500 off the car in a month. You could break even, rather than pay $1,500 in car expenses.
The last option is shipping your car to your travel destination. Shipping is great when you’re taking a trip for four months or longer because it could cost you between $400 and $1,000 to ship each way, maybe even more. But if it’s more efficient for you to have your own car and if it’s cost effective in the long run it could be the best option. If you plan to rent a car from a car agency for four months it would cost around $4,000 for that car, while you are still paying car payments, parking and insurance for your car at home, which could be $1,000 or $4,000 depending on your costs, bringing you up to $5K-$8K—or more— in expenses. So either way you look at it, you’ll save big if you either drive or ship your car.
When it comes to choosing transportation, it all comes down to your budget, convenience, and/or how you would like to get around at your destination. Whatever you choose, make sure it is something that will make your trip more enjoyable.