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Wondering why no rental car in places where it is dificult without car


Aug 14th, 2011, 06:02 PM
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Wondering why no rental car in places where it is dificult without car

Get it why people do not want and are often better without rental car - Boston, NYC - primarily cities with good public transit. But wondering about travelers who really want to do more difficult destinations without a rental car. Is it cost, philosophy, no license, discomfort with driving in unfamiliar places, medical issues?

And wondering about how this went and whether or not so much time was spent making bus/train/camel connections as to be a burden. In my area, thinking of a couple of recent threads on navigating Cape Cod without a car - something that would be challenging and time consuming at its best.

Acknowledging that my curiosity is stronger since I actually like driving, always rent a car, and consider getting lost on vacation almost inevitable. And generally find buses time-consuming and annoying,

Keeping an open mind, however - so if you are a non-car renter when traveling, tell me why and how it worked out.
gail is offline  
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Aug 14th, 2011, 06:32 PM
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I don't understand the problem.

There are cars for rent where there are
people to rent them--including on Cape Cod.

I drive unless I am traveling in a place to which
I can't drive or don't want to drive, and at my
destination I rent a car or take public transport,
whichever seems more appropriate under the

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Aug 14th, 2011, 07:12 PM
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gail, I often wonder about that too, and I look forward to the replies here. I am always in awe when I read bachslunch's trip report. He/she managed to visit plenty of US cities without the use of a rental car.

I personally do not have a problem renting a car when there's a need for it. However, my parents would not do that, nor would I want them to. So, their options are:
1) not go to any places that need a rental car, or
2) join a guided tour, or
3) go w/me or my brother who can drive them around

My sis-in-law does not have a car, and drives rarely. I have no doubt she's a bit apprehensive when it comes to driving, esp in unfamiliar places. So, when she travels, she either only goes to places that have convenient public transit. Or, she visits her friends and have her friends drive her around for sightseeing.
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Aug 14th, 2011, 08:16 PM
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I can understand both types - renters/non-renters. No biggie. But what gets me are the people who "won't rent a car", but then insist on an itinerary only practical by car.

Happens a lot on the Europe forum and on threads about the California coast. Won't rent a car and drive 'on the wrong side of the road', but 'I want to see Skye, and Glencoe in two days'

hey, lady - you need to have a car!

Or, 'I want to see Big Sur, and San Simeon and Morro Bay by public transport." DUH -- can't be done.

Why don't they plan trips that make sense??
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Aug 15th, 2011, 02:32 AM
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I feel necessary to add a disclaimer to my question - I tried to word question in non-judgemental way; it certainly is your right to travel however you want. Just one of my "how others travel" questions, especially since sometimes I get some good tips for my own travels.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 03:23 AM
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Here's a thread that might give you some insight; I've navigated my way around in 40 countries, frequently on my own, without driving, but traveling without a car within much of the US is difficult. I don't drive at all due to a vision issue.

And here is the trip that resulted: http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...stward-who.cfm

I find the negative reactions toward non-drivers (not talking about your post, of course, gail) to be interesting; we certainly are a nation of cars, ever since those "motor tours" of the 1920's.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 04:21 AM
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There are astonishing numbers of people who are (a) terrified in cars or (b) too impatient to spend time on the road when they could fly or take the train. Some of them are close to me.

While I love road trips in the US, I no longer drive in the UK, though I have done so in the past. I find the challenge of planning where I want to go by public transportation to be a lot of fun. One of my most satisfying trips was Edinburgh-Glasgow-Mallaig-Portree-Kyle of Lochalsh-Inverness-Aberdeen-Edinburgh by train, not least because one could have a whisky while watching the scenery go by. But it is also fun to watch one's fellow travelers, sort of like a moving Parisian cafe. I will spare you the stories.

On the other hand, we usually stay with friends in England and Scotland, and they seem as delighted to drive us to local attractions as I am to drive -- yes, drive -- people around Boston and Cambridge or on the back roads of Nantucket, where 4WD is a necessity.

On occasion, we have hired a guide or taken a local tour to e particular places. This is part of the pleasure of the trip, and we certainly see more than traveling on our own with a guidebook.

We will be staying in a Palladian villa in a semi-rural location in the Veneto next month, and I am reluctantly renting a car there because you can't see what we want to see without one, like going to New Mexico.

The only time my wife has ever really enjoyed a car was when a friend in London loaned her his car and driver for the day, and she became one of those ladies you see outside Liberty or Harrods whose driver is there to take her packages and go on to the next emporium painlessly.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 05:52 AM
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Then there are people who travel to Europe and wouldn't think of using rail because they've never been ON a train in their entire life.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 07:15 AM
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"...because they've never been ON a train in their entire life."

And that's because there's a huge portion of the United States that does not have access to train service. There are a lot of NYers who have never driven in their lives - and wouldn't consider renting a car and driving it on vacation.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 10:57 AM
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That would be me who has been suggesting ways that some recent Cape Cod visitors who prefer being car-less might vacation there without a car. I'm suggesting such things because it can indeed be done. There are Plymouth and Brockton buses, Peter Pan/Bonanza buses, and Cape Cod Regional Transit buses available for those who want to use them; they're reasonably convenient and I can speak from personal experience on this. I haven't found it hard to see most of the Cape this way, though there are a few areas where you do have to have a car, most notably Route 6A from Sagamore to West Dennis (except for a short stretch in Barnstable) and many of the Cape Cod National Seashore beaches. There's no question both these parts of the Cape are among its highlights, but one can always rent a car for one day to explore here -- and I've actually done so. Regrettably, you can't see attractions like the Cape Cod Museum of Art or Scargo Tower or the Edmund Gorey House otherwise.

Why don't I like to rent cars? There are several reasons:

-I'm not physically able to drive a car for long periods of time.

-I find the costs prohibitive for rental, gas, insurance, and garaging and prefer to spend my vacation money on other things. Public transport is normally a lot cheaper to use.

-I often find car rental companies to be less than honest folks to deal with. In particular, mysterious extra fees have been known to appear after the fact on car rentals I've done in past despite having done nothing to warrant a charge, and it's hell to try and get such things rectified.

-it can be nerve-wracking to drive a car I'm not familiar with.

-I think it's more environmentally friendly to take a bus or train that's going to make the trip somewhere whether I'm on it or not rather than burn the gas to drive myself.

-there are times when I have taken public transportation somewhere at a later point after having driven there previously -- and I often find the amount of time between the two approaches to be negligible when both options are available.

-I enjoy doing the research on things like bus and train schedules to plot out how and when to get somewhere. Maybe this is not everyone's idea of a fun challenge, but I genuinely enjoy it. It's especially fun to do this in places where people insist you "have to have a car," like Miami or Memphis or Indianapolis. As long as it's not dangerous to take public transportation in a particular city, I don't see why one can't do so. I'm also someone who likes seeing how well "perceived wisdom" stands up to scrutiny, and not just on the subject of travel. Sure, if you want to see all the well-spread-out sights in San Jose, CA, in one day, renting a car is the only way to go -- but the supposed utter need for renting a car for many trips I have taken just isn't there. And again, I know because I've done so. It just takes a little planning.

-I believe that taking public transportation encourages cities and towns to continue its use. I've even been known to call up visitor centers in cities that don't have this option (like Frankfort KY and certain Cape Cod towns) and complain vociferously to them about it.

-there have been exceptions, but generally I've found I don't mind riding buses or trains. Some people do mind it, of course.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 11:57 AM
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I'm one of those who discouraged you from going to Yellowstone without a car or tour. I guess I thought about it after.

Now I'll have to go back and read your report.

When we travel in europe we never rent a car. I don't drive a stick shift and don't want to have my car broken into. Also, many places have very narrow streets and are a challenge to navigate.

We always travel by train and a little by bus when necessary.

But that's me.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 12:11 PM
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I like driving in Europe. I like the flexibility it offers. I do a combo of trains and rental cars.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 01:57 PM
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Re getting to San Simeon via public transportation. I did a quick Google search under "san simeon via public transportation" and discovered that if you're based in San Luis Obispo you can get there via what appears to be a new RTA city bus route #15. It also heads to Morro Bay along the way. Here's a link:


and the general transit website is:


San Luis Obispo itself is reachable via commercial flight or Amtrak.

Not sure if Big Sur is possible this way -- I'd have to research it further. Looking at a map and description of the region, I've got doubts.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 02:07 PM
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One if the inspirational things about the Fodor's boards is reading about the ways people overcome limitations and travel anyway. I used to read threads asking how best to see the museums and monuments in DC without too much walking, and think "it can't really be done," b/c I have always walked all over in that city; but I have learned that indeed it can. Same thing with seeing Big Sur without renting a car; I can't imagine it, but there is probably a way. And if one enjoys the challenges of planning public transportation jaunts, so much the better. The different styles of travel represented here are always enlightening.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 02:44 PM
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I like to see cities the way that locals do. If they take a subway or a bus, I'm all for that. If cars are the overwhelmingly popular mode of transportation I'm OK with that too. I think you have to be flexible.

One thing that I have learned is it often makes more sense to rent a car when you have a family. When it was just my husband and I public transporation was almost always cheaper. Now that there are four of us, a car usually wins.
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