On Your Dream Trip? You Don’t Need a Rental Car

Photo (cc) by sillygwailo

You’ve flown to your dream vacation spot. Now, how do you get from Point A to Point B without paying expensive taxi fares or outrageous rental car fees?

Over the years, I’ve picked up some tricks for keeping this particular line item under tight control. Here are some valuable resources for local travel information and alternatives to high-priced ground transportation.

Public transportation

You can easily save money by doing what the locals do — taking the city bus or subway. For intercity transportation, consider the bus or the train. In many cities, the bus and train stations are centrally located downtown, perhaps within easy walking distance of your hotel.

There’s likely a handy app to learn more about public transportation at your destination. City-Go-Round has assembled a myriad of helpful ones all in one place. Options include apps for the New York City subway, the Washington state ferry system, the Halifax, Nova Scotia, metro, rail travel in the United Kingdom, and many, many more.

Water taxis and trolleys

Venice, Italy, is famous for its gondolas. But water taxis are likely more common than you think. So are trolleys, particularly those that cater to visitors.

Use your favorite search engine to look for water taxis and trolleys in your destination. We quickly found water taxis in cities like Chicago, San Diego, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Orlando, as well as in multiple international destinations. The locations with trolleys even include smaller cities like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

The website of the tourism office of your destination city will let you know quickly about the availability of river buses, water taxis and trolleys. For example, the tourist website for Daytona Beach, Fla., has information about a beachside trolley that costs only $1.25 per adult.

Car sharing

There’s no law that says you need to book a vehicle through a big national chain. If you need a car for some side trips, you might be better off with a short-term rental. Some possibilities:

  • Getaround.com offers peer-to-peer car rentals in several U.S. cities, including Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Ore., and Austin, Texas. Rates start at less than $10 per hour, including insurance.
  • Car-sharing service Zipcar is available in more U.S. cities, as well as some cities in Canada, Great Britain and Spain.
  • Services like DriveNow and Car2Go let you leave the car at your destination instead of having to take it back. Both are available in some U.S. and European cities.
  • Locally based car-sharing services may be available. This is where using a search engine may help.

Bicycle sharing

Hugely popular in Europe, bike sharing is starting to make its mark in the U.S. Travelers can pick up a short-term bike rental at one station and check it back in at a separate station near their desired attraction. Prices vary depending on the city.

While bike-sharing programs sell annual memberships, many also offer short-term commitments that would work well for tourists. For instance, bike sharing in Montreal costs $7 for 24 hours of access, with additional fees for more than 30-minute trips.

This resource from Bikes Belong provides links to American cities that have taken the shared-bike plunge, including Denver, Miami and New York City. The Bike-sharing Blog also has a lot of useful information.

Walking

Some destinations are remarkably walkable. Cities where I have found plenty to see within walking distance of my hotel include Florence and Venice in Italy; Key West, Fla.; and Cuzco, Peru.

How do you determine whether your destination is easily walkable and safe for pedestrians?

  • Guide books. Good travel guides provide detailed information about public transportation and walkability. Lonely Planet tends to have exceptionally informative city center maps, and is my personal go-to choice for indie getaways.
  • Walk Score. This site scores the walkability of cities around the world and provides other essential information, like the location of nearby grocery stores, restaurants, cultural sites and much more. It also has a free app.

Another useful tip

If you must rent a car, a travel agent might have inside knowledge about deals and about the overseas car rental companies that are most transparent about taxes and fees.

A close friend of mine recently booked a rental car for a month to visit her mother and help during a surgical recovery period. By going through her local AAA agent, she scored a price of $200 with unlimited mileage. A definite deal in anyone’s book.

The cost of getting from place to place on vacation is nearly impossible to eliminate entirely. However, with the savvy implementation of a few of these strategies, it is possible to greatly reduce the overall cost.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station
The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station

Beware these cash-guzzling missteps when you stop at any gas station.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

How to Fix 6 Common Retirement Mistakes
How to Fix 6 Common Retirement Mistakes

Here’s how to strengthen your nest egg before or even during your golden years so these missteps don’t ruin your retirement.

How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases
How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases

Stop getting sucked into paying a premium when good alternatives are available at huge savings.

13 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less
13 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less

Before shelling out for more expensive options, check out this diverse list.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
New Retirement Bill Would Help Savers of All Ages
New Retirement Bill Would Help Savers of All Ages

With bipartisan support, this bill could help millions of workers and retirees boost or conserve their retirement savings.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

3 Colors That Can Ruin Your Car’s Resale Value
3 Colors That Can Ruin Your Car’s Resale Value

Select the wrong color for your next car, and it could depreciate twice as fast as others.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

9 of the Best Things to Do When You Retire
9 of the Best Things to Do When You Retire

You’ve waited all your life for this moment. Make the most of your retirement.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Never Buy These 10 Things on Amazon
Never Buy These 10 Things on Amazon

Just because you can purchase something on Amazon doesn’t mean that you should.

7 Everyday Items About to Get More Expensive
7 Everyday Items About to Get More Expensive

Prices hikes are on the way for some essential goods.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at Target
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at Target

No store can specialize in everything. For some purchases, it’s smart to shop elsewhere.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

8 Things You Should Be Buying at Thrift Stores
8 Things You Should Be Buying at Thrift Stores

For one expert, these secondhand bargains stand out from the rest.

20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees
20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees

Retirees can dial back the intensity of work while continuing to bring in a paycheck.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

8 Types of Companies That Check Your Credit Report
8 Types of Companies That Check Your Credit Report

Federal law lets these entities peek at your credit — regardless of whether you’re borrowing money.

11 Foods That Can Keep for Years
11 Foods That Can Keep for Years

These are some of the longest-lasting groceries you can buy.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

Selling Your Stuff? Don’t Fall for These 5 Negotiating Tricks
Selling Your Stuff? Don’t Fall for These 5 Negotiating Tricks

Don’t let buyers fleece you — whether you’re selling via a yard sale or Facebook Marketplace.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.