Public transportation is certainly a money saver when it's available, but there are times when your preferred destination requires an actual automobile. Follow these savvy rental tips to get the best deal possible.
Taxes: International taxes on rental cars can be steep. Do your homework to determine the best rental car deals for your destination. Autofrance.net for instance, offers unlimited mileage with no international taxes added on to the bill, provided the customer books the rental while they are still in the United States and is not a citizen of the European Union.
Deals: In high-traffic cities, those who don't mind driving a virtual billboard on wheels can typically save several hundred dollars on their overall bill. In Atlanta, for example, Budget Rent a Car is now offering reduced-rate rentals on vehicles wrapped with product ads. My husband and I also receive discounts through our warehouse club membership, and his college alumni association.
When it comes to searching out extra discounts, Cheryl MacDonald (www.whatboundariestravel.com) advocates going directly to the rental company's website. National retailers often have a separate web page for hot deals, as well as special discount codes embedded in various places throughout the site. According to MacDonald, it's worth your time to do this even if you've already booked your rental car. She recently found a better deal on the same website after making rental arrangements. The extra $129 she saved by rebooking can be rechanneled to other vacation activities.
Alternatives: Bypassing national chains altogether can also get you the price you're looking for. Getaround.com, a peer-to-peer car rental marketplace, allows people to rent vehicles from personal owners for a fraction of the cost. Customers can access their rental vehicles through a secure smart phone application and obtain the key left inside by the owner. In certain countries, you may find even greater savings by renting the services of an individual driver with his or her own vehicle. Tim Leffel, author of "Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune," puts this tip to work by checking with tourism bureaus for referrals. It's a strategy that not only saves you money, but grants you access to inside knowledge about the local area.
Theriault is the best-selling co-author of the book "10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget," and founder of TrekHound.com, a website for independent travelers. She also founded TheLessonMachine.com, a website for teachers.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun