Why You Should Rent a Car for Vacation

Put those road trip miles on a rental instead of your car.

Car driving on road with mountains and sky in the background iStock

Bracing yourself for miles of wear and tear on the family car while on vacation this summer? Maybe it’s time to switch things up. Here are five reasons to leave your own car at home and rent a vehicle for vacation this year:

Your car may deserve a little vacation, too. Prolonged driving takes a toll on our favorite mode of transportation, and maintaining a car is expensive: According to the 2021 AAA “Your Driving Costs” study, the average annual cost of owning and operating a new vehicle is $9,666, or $805.50 per month.

When you rent a car for vacation, you log those hefty vacation miles on the rental, rather than your own car. And that may mean you can put off trading in your car for another year or two.

If weaving through big-city streets is part of your epic summer adventure, the family minivan—while perfect for trips to soccer practice, school and work—might not be the best car. When you use a rental vehicle for vacation, you can get a smaller ride that’s still big enough for the family and luggage, yet gives you more maneuverability and fuel-efficient gas mileage.

If you’re taking a long sightseeing vacation or driving cross country, you may want more legroom or even a few extra seats so the kids can spread out. A bigger rental, like a large SUV, provides the extra space that your usual vehicle doesn’t.   

Legroom is one of the most complicated measurements that goes into designing a vehicle, so make sure you do a “test sit” before deciding on what to rent for a long drive.  

If you’re in the market for a car or truck, renting a vacation car can be the perfect way for the family to test a new ride. You can get input from your crew and give the vehicle a much more thorough test drive than you’d get at a car dealership.

Maybe you’re considering an electric vehicle (EV) for your next purchase. Companies like Hertz have EVs in their rental car fleets. Ask about driving range (average number of miles you can go on a charge) and remember that an EV won’t be stopping at gas stations, so plot out the location of charging stations—there are 5,700 public charging stations in the United States. You can use your AAA Mobile app to find one on your route.  

(Read more in “8 Reasons Why AAA Mobile Is Your Go-To Road Trip App.")  

If it’s a long drive to your vacation destination, you may want to save time by flying—and then rent a car when you arrive. Given the true cost of driving your car long distances (including high gas prices), this option may be more affordable than you think.  

New cars use microchips to operate features like driver-assistance controls, window motors, navigation systems and more. Unfortunately, as you may have heard, there’s currently a global chip shortage that has disrupted auto production. Fewer cars produced means more competition for what’s available—and more chances for unwelcome surprises—even when you’re only looking for a roundtrip or one-way rental. 

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