In the United States and Canada, driving is still the most popular form of
travel. Many Americans and Canadians have never flown, and even fewer
have traveled by railroad or ship.
Car travel has three big advantages over other modes of transportation-
it s convenient, familiar, and cheap. For the price of a one-way airline ticket
between Minneapolis and Milwaukee, you can buy enough gas to drive your
automobile across the country and back. Even if you do fly, you'll probably
want a car when you reach your destination, unless you're staying in the
heart of an urban city like New York. Boston, Chicago, or San Francisco.
When to Rent a Car
Taking your own car becomes less attractive with each additional day of
driving time. If you live in Indianapolis and you're headed for the Col-
orado Rockies, driving will take a day and a half each way-time that
could be spent fishing for trout or spraining your ankle on the ski slopes
If you can afford it, leave your car in the garage and fly to Denver then
rent a car to your destination.
Owners of small cars or older vehicles may want to consider renting
a large sedan or minivan before hauling the spouse and kids on an
extended vacation. Packing a week's worth of vacation gear into the trunk
may be a necessity, not a luxury, and not having to worry about a defunct
water pump in the Nevada desert is worth the price of a rental
Domestic Car Rentals
For rentals in the United States and Canada, it's easy enough to pick up
your local Yellow Pages and call the national toll-free numbers for any
major firm. Avis, Budget, Hertz, National, and other major companies have
branches all over; so do many second-tier firms like Alamo and Enterprise.
If you'd rather not disconnect your modem to make a phone call, try
these Web sites:
Car Rentals Discount
Pick an airport and click the car rental links to check rates or make
reservations. Be sure to read the "Car Rental Tips" and "Rental
FAQs," which can help you avoid mistakes and save money.
Overseas Car Rentals
Many of the companies that rent in the United States and Canada have
agencies in other countries. However, rental rates and legal requirements
may be different in Brussels than they are in Boston, so comparison shop
before you make a reservation.
Can you handle a manual transmission? Automatic transmissions are
usually limited to higher-priced cars outside North America, so you'll save
greatly on rental fees if you're willing to use a shift lever and clutch.
Finally, if you're visiting Europe for a month or more, look into car
leasing and buyback plans.
Major overseas rental firms include:
Don't let the name mislead you: Europcar rents not only in Europe,
but also in Africa, the Mideast, India, and French overseas
Europe by Car
Besides renting and leasing cars, this 45-year-old company will sell
you an International Driving Permit. It has toll-free numbers within
the United States.
Kemwel Holiday Autos
The Wellner family has owned the Kemwel Group since 1908. This
British company offers rentals, leases, and chauffeur-driven cars
around the world.