Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Mexico & Central America (
-   -   Car rental versus Driver (

Luckybee May 2nd, 2004 02:37 PM

Car rental versus Driver
My other half and I are tearing our hair out(and he hasnt much left :) trying to decide whether to rent a car or take private transfers. I expect our itineray to be something close to this. Fly into San Jose(arrival at 12:40 pm)then directly to Manuel Antonio 7 days, Villa Caletas 2 days, Arenal 2 days, 4 seasons 4 days, and Paradisus 5 days then back to San Jose for overnight leaving the next morning. We're travelling in Feb which is dry season(from reading these bds its the only time id even consider driving :)..we're considering either private transfers to and from our various locations or alternatively renting a vehicle in San Jose and keeping it till we get to 4 seasons(or drop it at Liberia on our way since we expect to only R and R at both 4 Seasons and Paradisus) then fly back from Tamarindo. Im nervous about the driving option. Hubby of course says Im paranoid(but he'd even rent in Iraq if that were possible:)...just how "bad" are the roads? much concern do we have to have re:the vehicle ie: do we have to worry about where we park her when there's nothing in it?(is vehicle theft as opposed to theft from vehicles prevalent?)Ive worked out the costs and both scenarios are pretty darn close cost wise so thats not a real issue(even allowing for the taxi fares in the various locations if we use the driver option) What are the pitfalls of both scenario's? upsides of both?...we've always rented wherever we've travelled to but the only bad roads we've ever contended with were on Kangaroo Isl in Australia and call it a hunch , I have a feeling CR's roads are going to be a whole lot worse :)Thanks all

glover May 2nd, 2004 03:53 PM

The driving is not as bad as it is made out to be. If you generally like driving on vacation - by all means do it. Gives you most flexibility. We drove from San Jose to Monteverde and then to Arenal and back. The road to Monteverde is infamous -- because it's not paved and has (really) big rocks in in it. Still it was quite doable (just took awhile) and an adventure. Think all roads on your itinerary are paved. There are potholes. So you're always watching for them and going round them. But other than right around San Jose there's not much traffic anyway. And from the sound of it it IS important not to tempt petty crime by leaving things in your locked car. (But then we make it a habit not to do that here in the US either. You'll probably enjoy the drive I expect.

shillmac May 2nd, 2004 04:22 PM

I agree with Glover. We have always rented and have had a great time traveling around the country--it's an adventure! Although there are some potholes, as Glover pointed out, some of the roads are amazingly good. Particulary those of the northwest Pacific, like between Four Seasons and Paradisus. I believe the worst you will encounter in your itinerary will be from Arenal to Liberia en route to FS. But they are nothing to prevent you from renting. We do like the flexibility. As you mentioned, you can always drop the car off in Liberia and fly back to San Jose. Cost a little more, but looking at your itinerary money doesn't look like that much of an object. . .:)

Others will tell you much prefer a driver. But we kind of like it to be just the two of us enjoying the drive together. All of your routes will be easy ones. As for theft, Glover's advice was right on. We have never had a single problem following the simple guidelines he mentioned. Some rental companies include a locking device (very easy to use) that you can put on the gear shift while the car is parked and locked. I believe Dollar did this and encouraged us to use it. But the other 5 times we have rented, we didn't have that, and still no problem.

I will be interested to hear your comparison of Four Seasons and Paradisus, so I am hoping you will post a trip report when you return.
Have a great trip, and happy planning!

RufusTFirefly May 3rd, 2004 05:39 AM

It depends on your personality and tolerance for inconvenience. We don't like driving anywhere, anytime, so we normally avoid driving on vacation. We hired drivers in CR and are happy we did. Others like to drive. There's no right way or wrong way to do it. We had no trouble going where we wanted when we wanted to, and the drivers stopped to let us take photos, look at shops, etc.

ewesthoff May 3rd, 2004 08:26 AM

I will have to agree with all who have posted, it is a personal choice based on convenience and comfortability, but as for me, I drove in CR and wouldn't of had it any other way. We rented a 4x4 pickup, but any 4x4 would do. Cars can be a little to risky if you plan on taking any of the back hill roads. The major roads do have some potholes, but are much like any country paved road in the US. My suggestion is this: if you like to have things planned and like schedules, a driver is probably your best bet, but if you like to get away on a whim without having to check with anyone, rent the car. Either way, have a great trip. My other suggestion is to make sure that you get out of San Jose as soon as possible if you plan on renting a car and driving to MA. It gets dark around 6PM and the roads leading into Quepos and MA are dark .

lvk May 11th, 2004 03:48 AM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:56 AM.