••• The International Writers Magazine - Our 20th Year: Renting Cars
10 Facts About Car Rental from a Modern Traveler’s Perspective
An undeniable fact is a final argument in a dispute. But in the context of travel, it is always a matter of taste – someone prefers the mountains and someone prefers cities, what’s there to argue about? On the other hand, the modern world makes it so easy to try something new that habits and tastes can easily be changed. To convince an ardent cosmopolitan to go to Kaikoura or to join a group of friends for a 3-day hike in the Great Smoky Mountains is a feasible task because he/she will probably perform this tourist feat with the usual level of comfort.
One of the factors that had an impact on the travel industry in terms of comfort and flexibility was car rental. The level of service and variety of offers have grown, and that development has been much facilitated by the demand for short-term rental and car-sharing. According to Zion Market Research, car rental will continue growing at around 13% annually between 2019 and 2022. But the reasons why these services have become almost a prerequisite for modern travelers can be explained by the 10 simple facts listed below:
FACT #1: REAL WEEKEND GETAWAY
A perfect weekend getaway is when you escape from your town and fly somewhere in Europe for a couple of days to either wander along the narrow streets of Paris with a baguette in your hands, get carried away into a world of romance in Venice during a gondola ride, or to imagine yourself being a young prospective artist in the heart of Flemish art in Amsterdam. Whichever you choose, a big mistake would be to limit yourself to the city center while so many beautiful sites could be found in the surroundings.
Here are a few examples:
• Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site with exquisite gardens, castles, and vineyards, will take only about two and a half hours to get to from Paris (plus, parking near the castles is free);
• 39 UNESCO World Heritage sites can be found in one town only 75 kilometers from Venice – if you haven’t heard of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas before, then search for it together with Andrea Palladio, a Renaissance architect and one of the most influential figures in the history of Western architecture.
FACT #2: REGIONS AS TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
A travel destination is not always a precise city or country, it may be a bigger place such as a region or special locality if you are traveling by car. A good example is the Balkans. The Balkan Peninsula includes as many as 10 countries and borders 7 seas, and the ancient pristine landscapes of the Balkan Mountains make up a whole mountain system that crosses Bulgaria and part of Serbia. There is no major airport in this area, but you can freely travel there by car.
Another example is the Alps with thousands of kilometers of picturesque roads cutting through mountain passes and valleys, the resorts of Valais and Vaud, and 4 beautiful Western European countries – Austria, Switzerland, France, and Italy. All you need is to rent a car, type the desired destination into Google Maps and hit the road!
FACT #3: SELF-DRIVE TOURS
For experienced eco-tourists and hiking enthusiasts, a special cocktail called “hiking + road trip” might be of interest: many climbs and nature trails with the pre-planned self-drive tours will allow you to see more scenic lands and attractive destinations.
For example, countries like Scotland and Iceland where hiking is actively developing, offer specially designed routes that are configured for this type of travel. A cherry on top: you can get a conceptual playlist for your car-ride that often comes bundled with these unique tours.
FACT #4: COST-EFFICIENCY
The math is simple and here is a great example: a ticket for a direct regular flight, say from Vienna to Innsbruck during ski season will cost 300 euros for two people. And then there is the cost of airport transfers on top of that. This cost is equal to renting a Range Rover Evoque for four days (which would provide an opportunity to visit neighboring resorts). And if you choose a more economical car, the difference could reach up to 40%. In comparison, a one-way train ticket on the same route costs on average 50 to 80 euros per person.
Now double the number of travelers and the difference grows. The fact remains that renting a car is cheaper, especially during the high season.
FACT #5: FREEDOM AND CONVENIENCE
A car not only provides freedom of movement but also freedom for transporting large items. Heavy luggage and sports equipment are accepted by airlines if they don’t exceed the weight limits; however, it is not convenient to travel with any kind of large item if you plan on changing locations during your trip.
The simplest example in favor of this fact will be attested to by cyclists– a bicycle opens up a completely new layer of travel that is not available by car or on foot but there might be several difficulties with extended trips. A rented car can be of great help in terms of covering long distances with all the necessary equipment. When choosing a vehicle, you must pay attention to cars with a roof rack or a trailer hitch (in this case, bikes can be mounted with a towbar rack).
FACT #6: MORE FLEXIBILITY
Spontaneous decisions often lead to unexpected and positive results. Suppose you booked a tour for the evening and the guide fell ill – no problem for an experienced traveler who will immediately find an unusual attraction or a cozy restaurant in a nearby town and get there promptly using any available car rental service. When you have a car at your disposal, it’s much easier to change your plans.
Be mobile and easy-going, because circumstances should not scare away your spirit of adventure!
FACT #7: HIDDEN PLACES WITH NO RISK
Curiosity, fuelled by the desire of finding something interesting in each new journey, can be a great compass in the search for unknown destinations. Going against what the GPS says, adventurers can turn off the highway to follow a local resident (let’s call him Henry) who, hypothetically, is going to the nearest Walmart before going home after a long workday. By following Henry, you could accidentally end up in the middle of a charming uptown that is transmitting a stronger pulse of the city than a clogged and typical center of the metropolis.
Chances are that the majority of New York City’s visitors don’t even consider driving just 60 miles out of the city to see neighboring towns. Meanwhile, a lot of wonderful gems are located within an hour's drive of the Big Apple– the most beautiful example is what can easily be called “the environmental miracle,” a utopian commune consisting of 44 unique houses which were built by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright right after WWII. The area is only accessible by car and it would cost you around 200 euros to get there and back with a taxi or half that using a car rental service. All valuable places are hard to ge tot. To explore them or not - the choice is yours.
FACT #8: TEST-DRIVE
There are many important factors when it comes to choosing a car for everyday use – it must be efficient, comfortable and suitable for everyday driving. For most people, it is a decision requiring contemplation and not everyone can afford to drive an expensive car. Especially difficult choices have to be made by those who dream of becoming the proud owner of a convertible but constant rains or an insufficiently warm climate stop them from buying one. That is why car rental could be an excellent opportunity for driving enthusiasts– from the Fiat 500 to the brisk BMW 2 Series to the growling Ford Mustang, rental providers offer a wide range of car models.
Despite that, the trip itself could be considered a test-drive. Let’s say you’ve been planning to sell your minivan and are hesitant about buying a two-door car or an SUV. Then while traveling, you can easily realize your old dream or decide which car really suits you!
FACT #9: NEW ADVENTURES AND EMOTIONS
Take a wandering serpentine road, cross the longest bridge in Europe, or drive along the edge of an abyss – many beautiful and breathtaking highways are waiting for new visitors.
Note for thrill-seekers: The Atlantic Road, an 8-kilometer highway that connects the islands of southwestern Norway, is known as the “Road to Nowhere.” During storms on the Storseisundet Bridge, cars are covered by flying waves while disappearing off into the horizon – a scary but safe attraction for the brave. The bridge is located in the fjord region, which itself provides an incredibly scenic landscape. You will probably agree that this is a powerful picture and just for the sake of such an adventure, it is 100% worth traveling in Norway with a car!
FACT #10: FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD
If you love road trips but your places of interest are located far away, then renting a car is a perfect solution. Let’s say you want to visit the Baltic states and Nordic countries for vacation but don’t want to drive all across Europe to get there. Here’s a hint: difficult routes turn out to be much easier than you would think.
Here’s how you can do it: buy a ticket to Vilnius, rent a car and drive up through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Return the rented car in Tallinn and get to Helsinki by ferry. Then repeat your driving- tour-feat by crossing the Nordic countries. It’s that easy!
Author: Ksenija Tocilina, PR at Discover Cars
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