Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

How to get a minivan for a full size car price in Denver

How to get a minivan for a full size car price in Denver

Aug 18th, 2012, 04:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 321
How to get a minivan for a full size car price in Denver

We (2 adults, 2 teens) have two rental car reservations with Alamo for our 17 day trip from Denver airport....

full size car (Chevy Impala) for $350
Dodge Grand Caravan mini-van for $614

The $350 price is SO amazing that we really want to make it work, but the trunk is not going to be big enough to hold our luggage, cooler, groceries, etc. (We experimented packing our Hyundai Sonata trunk today which is pretty much the same size.)

The $614 price is actually really good too for a minivan, but the $264 difference could buy us a lot of food. Or gas. Or spectacular horseback riding at a ranch.

Is there any chance we could take our $350 full-size reservation to the counter, and be upgraded to a minivan? Maybe even for an extra $100? If they don't offer an upgrade, could we whip out our van reservation and go with that instead? They would probably see both reservations in the system when they pulled up the car one, though, right?

We also have a Thrifty minivan reserved for $586 but spouse doesn't drive for free like with Alamo. It's not crucial that I be able to drive also, but the $28 difference there seems negligible.
4sharie is offline  
Aug 18th, 2012, 04:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,841
Who knows. You all "can" fit in the car. All you have to do is ask and then opt for whatever.
Gretchen is offline  
Aug 18th, 2012, 05:16 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
IMHO when you walk in and they see 2 reservations they're going to ask which you want. If you make them pull out the sedan, try to pack the whole thing and then make them pull out the other car - I doubt they will be so enthused with you they will give you the mini-van for the same price.

You are also assuming they will have both vehicles - which they may not. What if they only have a sedan? That's what you reserved and you have no complaint.

I would reserve what you really need and stop playing games.
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 18th, 2012, 05:29 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 26,390
Can you cut down on the amount of stuff you're taking?

Do you need a cooler?

What size suitcases are you bringing?
LSky is offline  
Aug 18th, 2012, 05:51 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,065
I would say that UNLESS they are out of full size and OFFER you a minivan you won't get upgraded to one without paying a minivan price or close to it. Minivans a re a special animal with a lot of rent a car companies - Budget, I believe makes you pay a deposit to reserve one.

Also, it's no guarantee as far as I know that you will get the exact car you say - usually a class of cars could be several different makes. Fr ex the Impala has a HUGE Trunk compared to a car like the Camry, which are both considered full size.

I'd cut down on stuff if you can,or else pay for the minivan. Or you could TRY when you get there , "We reserved both cars but we have more stuff than we thought we would. Can we get a break on the minivan?:"
mztery is offline  
Aug 18th, 2012, 06:07 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
Cars are expensive to rent at the Denver airport and I actually think you got a great rate on both cars

Sign up for the special deals offered by the car rental agencies. I got an especially good rate at the last minute from Budget at the Denver airport. Make sure you sign up as a preferred member of whatever rental agency you are using. The Budget preferred renters have a separate pickup area and there is no waiting in line.

When you arrive and they pull up both your reservations, I cannot imagine that they would give you the minivan for the same price as the sedan. Have you thought about bringing one of the canvas car top carriers?

That is a fabulous rate for the sedan. Are you using a special discount code? I would rent that car unless you are bringing golf clubs. I would have everyone pack their clothing in a duffle or an unstructured suitcase like the ebags weekender. You would easily fit 4 of those in the trunk of a sedan along with a cooler. I would think you could get 4 regular carryons in the trunk.

I actually have been upgraded to a minivan from a sedan, but that trip I actually had 2 sedans reserved and they asked if we would take the minivan. It worked for us with 6 adults--and that was a big savings
LindainOhio is offline  
Aug 18th, 2012, 07:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 321
Stuff: yes, we have lots. With 4 of us, we'll have 4 carry-on sized bags, 4 personal sized bags (camera gear, laptop, etc) and one extra suitcase (clothing layers, tripod, hiking boots, a few specialty needs from home). And yes, we'll need a cooler and room for groceries once we get there.

Price: yes, they are both great rates! I've been checking prices on Expedia about 5-10 times a day, every day, for about 4 months. Most days nothing moves, but every 2-3 weeks something will drop for few hours, sometimes even a day. Alamo offers an additional 10% off for being an "Alamo Insider" so between the stalking and the extra 10%, we've scored deals!

But when the sedan dropped to $350 (I did have it for $395) DH really freaked out. I feel like we need the van (not just to hold the stuff, but for comfort and accessibility to the cooler and to organize an overnight bag each day en route) but he feels the $350 is too good to pass up.

Unstructured suitcases!! That would help! ...but we only have one duffel type bag. When we take driving vacations from home we can stuff our trunk pretty good with XL ziploc bags, but flying this trip is a whole different animal.

nytraveler, I agree... I so don't want to play games! So draining emotionally and takes time! We were hoping to just go to the Alamo kiosk and be on our way. Stopping at the counter would add lots of time.

Thanks to you all for helping me think through this!

(next stop, Expedia to check van prices! haha)
4sharie is offline  
Aug 18th, 2012, 08:19 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,906
"And yes, we'll need a cooler and room for groceries once we get there. "

But, once you get there you won't have the luggage in the car - it will be in the room/cabin/whatever. Get a collapsible cooler. I have two - they work just as well as a rigid one. They are heavy/padded/insulated fabric and fold flat.

This isn't mine - but gives you an idea http://www.overstock.com/Luggage-Bag...adtype=pla&kw=

And are you sure you need an additional full sized suitcase?
janisj is online now  
Aug 18th, 2012, 09:37 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 321
By "once we get there" I mean out West in general, not to a specific location. We land in Denver and then stop off in Casper, WY to get food/supplies at Target, Sam's, and Walmart, and continue on to Cody, WY for our first night.

The first 9 nights of our trip we'll be in 8 different hotels/cabins/rooms so we'll never get to fully unpack. I'm hoping to do the opposite of what you suggest actually... leave the luggage in the car (or van?!) and just take overnight bags in each place.

I have considered trying to leave the extra bag at home (even though we upgraded our AmEx card so we can check a few bags), but I would just need to buy the stuff once we got there. ...like the collapsible cooler (check!) If we get the car, I figure the cooler could go between the kids on the floor at least.

Great thinking though! (aren't you the packing teacher?
4sharie is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 03:38 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,525
Pack the layers and the boots and the few special items in the cooler.

cdnyul is online now  
Aug 19th, 2012, 05:00 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Well, if you're not planning to pull an "oh, my gosh, it doesn't all fit" ploy at the rental office - how are you thinking to get the minivan for half the price???? They're not just going to hand it over - esp at the ariport when they have a large number of renters going in and out
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 05:20 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 16,380
You can probably get a terrific price in exchange for a bit of inconvenience; just don't get the car at the airport location. Rent from the nearest non-airport site. (Different agency, of course.)
sylvia3 is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 06:30 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,106
That's not realistic. The Denver airport is something like 30 or 40 miles from Denver, which s why car rentas there are so expensive. The cst to get everyone and all this stuff into the city will more than erase any savings. Plus, these are very good prices. Did you price an SUV? That can often be cheaper than a minivan.

But the obvious answer here is to take much less with you. Take the gear you really need but cut bulky clothing in half and simply do laundry. And bite the bullet and make more stops for groceries.
doug_stallings is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 07:14 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 16,380
"The cst to get everyone and all this stuff into the city"

So send the driver (1 hour roundtrip, plus rental office time), while everyone else collects baggage, has a meal. (IF the costs are a bargain. I've had visitors do this when airport rental costs were crazy.)

I agree that the ~$36(?) per day for a minivan seems unusually low for an airport rental.
sylvia3 is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 07:22 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,113
I agree with Doug - More stops for groceries.
What vehicle are you driving to the airport to fly to Denver?
Carry along a collapsable cooler and a few blue ice pre-frozen.
Limit the amount you take with you to the airport to 160 lb.
Buy anything you need along the road between the Denver airport and your vacation spot.
tomfuller is online now  
Aug 19th, 2012, 09:01 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,065
DO NOT LEAVE ALL YOUR BAGS IN THE CAR overnight!!! Really, really not a good idea. Take less and bring it into the room with you.
mztery is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 10:39 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,841
We have left things in cars and vans many times at motels, and especially in remote areas. The car has an alarm. For the most part those bags will be in the trunk I imagine. I wouldn't do it at a big city motel, but sometimes we have just had to.
Gretchen is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 11:05 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 26,390
It looks like you've done enough traveling to figure out that you need these things, even if some of us don't see it.

Bottom line, you have to go with what you feel you need and pay for it. Rent the vehical you feel you're going to need just to be certain.

You don't want to be at the airport car rental sorting through stuff that won't fit because you wanted to save some money. What if you have to leave stuff? That's not going to save money.

Having someone go into town to rent a car and bring it back? Well as Doug points out, it's a long way into town from the airport. Seems the cab ride was around 80 bucks.
LSky is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 11:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,443
$264 may be enough to buy a nice meal, but it will also be just enough to buy you seven days of daily comfort and a relief from the current stress you are experiencing.
You are going to spend a huge amount of time in this vehicle over your vacation. if a mini van is what you need, pay the price.

Keep in mind that mini-vans often sell out, especially in places like colorado. there may not be any if you try to upgrade when you arrive.

Also, all your "stuff" is visible in a van. I don't care what the odds are for getting a break-in. If it happens to YOU, you are really going to wish you'd spent an extra what --4 minutes?-- carrying it into your hotel.
lcuy is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 12:20 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,113
Can you give us more detail on your itinerary? Fly to Denver - then where? How many days will you be driving more than 5 miles out of your 17 days? Would a 1 or 2 day rental of the larger vehicle and a 7 day rental of a mid -size car work?
Do you have a refrigerator and cooking privileges where you are staying? How close is the grocery store?
tomfuller is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:00 PM.