Rental Car Gotchas

Whether we travel for business or for fun, most of us have rented a vehicle at one point or another (unless you are in a place like Bermuda where there are no car rentals, only scooters).  As we know, rental rates vary significantly between car companies.  Technically there are three major care rental companies, but you have everything from your uber cheap rental to your high-end, luxury rental agencies.  Regardless of which rental agency decide to use, take a moment to learn their terms of use.

Most car rental agencies will give you unlimited mileage for the period of your car rental; however, others offer this perk for an additional cost.  So, you have read the fine details.  Additionally, rental agencies are now offering two rates- Pay Now and Pay Later.  As to be expected, the pay now rate will be cheaper than the pay later rate.  However, if you opt for the cheaper rate, you may be locked into a situation where you cannot get a refund of your money should your plans change or if you find a better deal elsewhere.  Again, know the terms of the deal.

One other gotcha is the return full or pre-pay for gas.  A seasoned veteran who knows their driving habits and patterns is wise enough to have investigated the cost of gas off premise and can determine whether or not it would be more economical to gas up in advance.  In most situations, I have chosen to return full because I know that I rarely end up using half a tank of gas unless I am doing a massive road trip.  Even when doing a massive road trip, I elect to gas up on my own because it typically turns out to be cheaper.  If it more convenient for you pre-pay for gas, make sure that you return the car on fumes to justify the cost that you will pay.

One of last gotchas that is often unavoidable in some markets is the airport rental fees.  If you’ve bothered to look at your bill after renting from an airport counter, you may notice that these fees almost equal half of the total rental rate.  Unless you rent from an offsite location, you have no way of getting around these fees; however, there is a way to make them less painful.  How you say?  Become a member of the rental car agencies loyalty program so that you can get information on discounts and qualify for free rentals?  Not a member of a loyalty program?  Make sure you check online for discount codes from sites like couponcabin and retailmenot.  Every little bit that you save adds up.

Bottom line, make sure that you count all of the costs when renting vehicles and get what you truly need.

Staycation

Are you feeling run down?  Tired of the extended winter that has plagued the east coast for quite a time? Stressed out at work?  Wanna get away, but don’t have the vacation time to plan a trip to an exotic destination away?  Well, how about a “staycation”?  Some people may think this means you simply stay at home, watch old re-runs of your favorite show and eat bon bons.  But, staycations have evolved.  Staycations involve you traveling a short distance away from your current living area, but far enough to get away from the rat race and stress of the environment.

For not so much money and not a lot of planning you can take a weekend trip to a nearby town, stay in a really nice hotel and have great meals at awesome restaurants.  This allows you to recharge your batteries without the stress of planning a major vacation.  You can choose to visit the state beach (if you have a beach), spend the time at a spa, or checkout one of the local resorts.  It does not require a lot of effort to do a Google search for local attractions, parks, and resorts.

So, how do you start?  First, determine how long you wish to spend on your staycation.  Next, determine your budget?  If you need help trimming expenses, consider cashing in some of the point from hotel loyalty programs or your credit cards.  Need more ways to trim?  Look no further than sites like Groupon, Livingsocial, and Travelzoo.  Once you’ve nailed down your budget, determine what you would like to do on your staycation.  Finally, settle on a destination, make your reservation and GO!!

Life is too short to be stressed and not enjoy your time on earth.  While you may not have the time nor unlimited funds for your dream vacation (at this time), you can always allocate funds and make time for a staycation!