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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 19th, 2012, 12:22 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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that was my point lcuy - if they get a van it's not like having a trunk.
mztery is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 12:51 PM
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nytraveler, not so much a game to play, but rather a chance to take. We’ve been offered upgrades several times with no asking on our part (convertible in San Fran... awesome!), so I know upgrades are sometimes given. IF available. And sometimes they were willing when we did ask, but not available. I’m just trying to sort out if it’s worth the chance this time.

The off-site prices were no better. I know we have fantastic prices. It’s just a matter of which to choose and if the cost difference can be made up elsewhere in the budget. I only glanced at SUV prices but they seemed about the same as a van (and less MPG).

Tom, we’re driving our Durango SUV to our airport, so plenty of room there.

More stops for groceries... great idea if Yellowstone and Tetons had a Super-Target (and I’m glad they don’t! )

Take less stuff. Yeah, well... haha! I guess we’re creatures of comfort and I hate to be cold, so no flip flops this trip but hiking boots, jackets, gloves. We’re only taking 3 days worth of clothes (and those awesome Purex laundry sheets someone suggested in another thread!). Then there’s the 2 (maybe 3?) cameras, lenses, tripod. Kids need the laptop for school. We need flashlights for hikes after dusk (and bed bug searches). A powerstrip for all the phone/camera/laptop chargers. A sound machine for white noise so we can sleep. We normally can do all this in our 4 carry-on bags but with this trip being colder and longer, a few extra things were necessary.

lcuy, I think you’ve hit it. Except it’s not seven days, but seventeen! There’s a nice price on comfort. I’ve wanted a van from the beginning knowing this is a long trip, but this trip budget started adding up really quick and our finances changed a bit so we’re trying to see where to cut back. It’s all a matter of choice. We’re begrudgingly paying $295 for a lakeside room in the Tetons (justifying it by the kitchenette we’ll have for meals) but then the next 2 nights making up for it by only paying $90 for a house in Panguitch near Bryce.

I should have stopped checking car prices once I got a good one on the van! Then the temptation for a $350 sedan wouldn’t be so... well, tempting.

I would never leave valuables in the car overnight, but I guess the risk of a break-in is still there even if it is just luggage with clothes.
4sharie is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 01:02 PM
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Soft duffles for the clothes, let the kids put their feet on them and/or use as pillows or in between?
Put a teen on the roof, a la Mitt?
sylvia3 is online now  
Aug 19th, 2012, 01:10 PM
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I don't know where you live, but for a seventeen day trip I would just drive the comfortable Durango and not worry about whether you get what you want.
There are nice 12 volt coolers which work quite well.
For a trip to Yellowstone/Tetons I would also price flying to SLC and renting the larger vehicle there.
tomfuller is online now  
Aug 19th, 2012, 01:13 PM
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Tom, in 17 days we’ll be driving 3300 miles, so we’ll be doing LOTS of driving, with 2 all-day drives. The first day we’re just going to get enough groceries for snacks and a few meals for the first 3 days, then we’ll have another grocery stop in Salt Lake City on the way to Panguitch to get us through the next 5 days til we have civilization again in Breckenridge. Our stops are basically Yellowstone, Tetons, Bryce, Grand Canyon, Moab, Breckenridge. This late in the game I don’t think we could get better prices if we split up our rental.

TEEN ON THE ROOF!! That's it! Soft duffels are probably about the only hope we have.
4sharie is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 02:41 PM
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You know, is your Durango really that much bigger than a regular sedan in useable space--although I know you can pile it higher in the back.
you need to be SURE you are getting a truly FULL size sedan. I begin to think that the person who suggested that the $264 was worth it for the spread out has a good point. We took a 6 week trip west with 3 kids, did some camping and did some pretty close planning. One thing was, everyone packed in soft duffels, and they "compressed" as clothes got worn, and the laundry bag got larger. If you could put a couple of kids' soft duffels in a HUGE duffel (which we use for ski trips), you can cut down on amount checked.
This sounds like such a great trip. I think I'm gonna come down on the side of the van--let everyone have some space. If you divide that amount by 17, it ain't much.
Our trip was really memorable. Yours will be also.
Gretchen is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 04:09 PM
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Hi, 4sharie,
a couple of thoughts:
1. We just got some amazing prices using the Entertainment Book Coupon AND going through the Entertainment Book Website to book a week for a Dodge Grand Caravan for $300. Since we'd rented a previous Budget Rental on our same trip, they even knocked it down to $270. This was in Washington DC last month. Try that.

2. If you can rent for a week and not be penalized for turning a vehicle in early, that may be better than by the day.

3. When we went to Colorado in 2008, we went during the Democratic National Convention and vans were $750 so we ended up renting at the airport at Colorado Springs. We were told that normally they would cost much less. I know that was four years ago now, but I can't help thinking you need to keep calling and looking for a coupon.

I would not try to do it upon arrival though, for all the reasons cited above! And with many hours of driving, your family will be more comfortable in a van. (Yes take your stuff in at night.)

By the way, if you do rent the Grand Caravan, don't think the headlights are on just because the dash lights up at night. It was a great vehicle for us, but that was very misleading.
5alive is online now  
Aug 19th, 2012, 04:17 PM
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Yes - but if you don;t reserve a minivan - what if you get there and they don't have one at all?
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 19th, 2012, 07:51 PM
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Thanks for the extra tips and thoughts. Yes, I think we're going to have to decide before we get there.

6 weeks...ahhh, nice! I've dreamed of a 3-4 week trip, but finances and patience have limited us to 2 1/2.
4sharie is offline  
Aug 20th, 2012, 05:22 AM
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What's more likely is that if you have reserved a minivan and one isn't available, you'll be offered a full-size SUV, which generally costs more.

The reason you are offered "upgrades" isn't really because you're being upgraded and offered a benefit by the car-rental company. It's because they don't have sufficient stock of certain vehicles and have to offer something to you.

I used to rent often from a very busy Hertz outlet in North White Plains. I'd always reserve an economy car, but by the time I got there, they'd almost certainly be out, and I'd be offered an "upgrade" to some monstrosity like a Lincoln Town Car. I'd usually settle for a compact SUV, but I'd still suffer from the poor gas mileage. Let's just say that the "upgrade" was never to a Prius.

Minivans are often in short supply, so I won't be surprised if you are offered something else, but you're probably not going to be offered a minivan from a full-size car at any price. You're more likely going to be offered some larger gas-guzzling vehicle. But in this case, it seems to me that's what you might actually want since it offers so much more interior and storage space. So I'd definitely reserve the minivan in this case.

As you and lots of others have pointed out, your prices are about 50% less than any other regular prices I've seen quoted for these dates. So good luck.
doug_stallings is offline  
Aug 20th, 2012, 08:04 AM
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Yeah, the more I think about this upgrade thing, the more I realize I AM playing a game... THEIR game. So they're out of the vehicle someone has reserved (but they don't tell you that). They ask you if you want to pay $20/day to upgrade to something larger. You decline and say you'll stick with what you have reserved, and then they GIVE it to you anyway. You come away feeling like you just scored when really you were just played.

Yes, I'm tempted to play their game, but in this case we're going to play the "better safe than sorry game" and keep the minivan rental. If we check-in online (something new to us), skip the counter and go straight to the vehicle, shouldn't there be a van??
4sharie is offline  
Aug 20th, 2012, 09:51 AM
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No, there's still no absolute guarantee even if you check in online.

The car rental company may literally be out of vans for the day. That often happens if someone is late returning or decides to keep it for an extra day or week. And of course the companies overbook on the assumption that some people don't ever arrive or never cancel a reservation even when they have no intention of using it, as you had suggested you might do with the full-size car reservation.
doug_stallings is offline  
Aug 20th, 2012, 11:23 AM
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Has anyone here ever been offered a mini-van as an upgrade? In all my years, i have never been given that option, no matter how few cars they have. The one time we reserved a minivan (in Vegas for a 4 week road trip) we had to wait about two hours till someone returned one.

Another time, I was in San Diego, and a family of 5 that had reserved a minivan was told they were out of them. The clerk wanted to give them a big Luxury sedan. He kept saying, "this is a really special car, you'll love it". They kept arguing that they had reserved the minivan two months in advance, and that they were going to be camping. They refused the sedan. Eventually the agent called around and found another office that had a minivan for them.
lcuy is offline  
Aug 20th, 2012, 04:20 PM
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There is never a guarantee of any specific vehicle unless you pay a lot extra for a specialty car (as in renting a sports car etc from a specialty company).

I have arrived late at night and been offered - granted at the price I reserved - all sorts of monstrosities from a gigantic station wagon to a huge SUV to a tiny box on roller skates (Ford Focal??). Once I ended up with a Mustang convertible - and was that car a dog. The 3rd day the hand brake got stuck and it took 2 bellman from the hotel pushing together to disengage it. (I was ready to call a cab to the airport - and just tell Hertz to go get their stupid car at the hotel.)

Even if you ask for what you want - you may get something else. Better to arrive early in the day and at a large airport - where they will have more cars.
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 20th, 2012, 07:57 PM
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I've been stuck with SUVs when I wanted a compact. I can't stand driving SUVs they're embarrassing.
LSky is offline  
Aug 20th, 2012, 10:39 PM
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Take this opportunity to show your kids how DOWNSIZING YOUR LIFE can pay off big-time (horseback riding! yeah!)

The trip sounds A W F U L ! All that stuff in and out and out and in of 8 different hotels in 9 days. I don't know what you can lose but LOSE it. Everybody goes every-other-day without underwear, how's that for a start? Two mini coolers down at foot-level instead of a full size cooler?

Does a mini-van really have all that much more room for luggage? I mean, without stacking it all on the unused seats where everyone walking by your parked van can see that it's a goldmine? I think I'd rather have everything hidden away in a trunk.

But anyway, the minivan is only $15 a day more...and can't you just hear yourselves saying "boy am I glad we sprung for the van!" like twice a day every day? Find some other way to save 15 bucks a day like no stopping at Starbucks or whatever.
tracys2cents is offline  
Aug 21st, 2012, 05:34 AM
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I'm going to go back to your extra bag. Make that a duffel--when your hiking shoes are on you, it gets smaller. Use it's interior space for your dirty laundry, and if you have used duffels for everyone, they get smaller--the extra bag does grow, BUT things compress in duffels. Believe me, it really works for a long car trip like this.
The duffels we have come to love are the ones with the drop bottom. We used it on a trip to France--we could put some "good clothes" we needed for a reception there and they stayed in good shape/pressed, and undisturbed by getting into the top daily. Another packing hint is to put socks/underwear in net bags to keep them together and separate. I have even used produce (onion) bags (new and clean, thank you) for this.
But truth be told, everyone should be able to pack their stuff, including boots in their own duffel.
As for everyone worrying about getting stolen out of the car, when you go to a sightseeing place for the day en route, your stuff is in the car. Yes, theft happens, but locks on the car can be a great deterrent, along with the alarm system.
I don't know the gender or size of the teens, but a bit of personal space is a good thing for them usually!! LOL
Gretchen is offline  
Aug 21st, 2012, 11:48 AM
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If the Op is going to start hoping for an upgrade with an alarm, she's never going to get a vehicle!
lcuy is offline  
Aug 21st, 2012, 12:31 PM
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Haha lcuy!! I'm going to reply more later. Just been out running errands for 2 days.
4sharie is offline  
Aug 21st, 2012, 01:38 PM
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I am not asking her to do that. I pretty much assume most cars have them now. You must have had some bad experiences with thefts from cars! LOL
I have driven in the west a good bit with a car full of 'stuff" that is impossible to unpack overnight--and no alarm. We have camped (as the OP says they are going to do--at least in a cabin) and left things in the car. We have left things in our car in the middle of French towns.
I HAVE had things stolen from my car in my driveway, because it wasn't locked.
Gretchen is offline  

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