US road trips: car-hire essentials ( chapter 2 )

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Tips for a U.S. Road Trip
Tips for a U.S. Road Trip

What car do you want to drive on your US road trip? We steer you though car-hire options, the twists and turns of insurance and fees to car pools, and tell you how to to rent your dream-mobile.

>> US road trips: car-hire essentials ( Chapter 1 )

Alternatives to car-hire companies

Driveaways

Driveaways
Driveaways

This is when you agree to transport another person’s car from one destination to another, paying only for fuel along the way. Driveaways aren’t for everyone; they can add hassle if the cars’ owners live far away from the airport, limit you to the most direct routes, and have strict time limits, expecting you to drive 400 miles a day or more. But if money’s tight, and you want to add some excitement to your tour, Driveaways can be brilliant.

Car pools

RideJoy.com and the new iPhone app, iThumb, are two of the more innovative co-operative travel options online, but the best range of real rides and riders is still found on the listings website Craigslist.org. Click on your location, then look under the “Community” heading for the topic, then search under “Rideshare”.

Something Completely Different

You may also want to get a special vehicle for some or all of your trip: a classic Cadillac to cruise around Elvis Presley’s Memphis, for example, a Stars and Stripes Harley-Davidson for that Easy Rider experience. These are all available, for a price: “exotic” or “adrenaline” cars can cost $500 a day or more, and are mainly available in glitzy places such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

a Corvette
a Corvette

And if you really want to dive deep into Route 66 in a little red Corvette, or cruise a Camaro along the Pacific Coast Highway, check out the fine cars available from Blacktop Candy’s a well-regarded tour and car-hire company based in North Carolina.

RVs and camper vans

Cruise America
Cruise America

The biggest RV rental firm is called CruiseAmerica offering vehicles for anywhere between three and seven people. They cost $100 a day, plus 30¢ a mile, and on top of that you need to pay for a campsite (about $50 a night), and fuel (another 30¢ a mile). So for a 1,000-mile, week-long trip from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon and back, expect to pay close to $2,000. If you simply want to camp in comfort at a music festival or the Burning Man festival, RVs are definitely the way to go, and for a smaller, more wallet-friendly RV experience, look into hiring a VW camper van, like the fully-kitted pop-tops available for around $1,000 a week from San Francisco-based California Campers.