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.