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USA Car Rental Trip: 5 Things You Ought to Know

In Travel by eva.katona@yahoo.comLeave a Comment

This is a collaborative post.

America is a delightfully diverse country. It has so many attractions that you need to spend several years enjoying all its beauty. However, what if you only have a few weeks of vacation, your budget doesn’t allow for domestic flights, but you still want to see as many attractions as possible? The answer is simple: you need to rent a car and go on a road trip!

Rental cars are a convenient and cheap way to travel around the United States. It allows you to independently plan your route, choosing interesting places to visit. You can rent a car in Albany NY to explore the New York state area or pick up a car in Los Angeles to drive to local beaches. 

Wherever you go, your rental car will be the best guide to a vibrant travel experience. Of course, there are several important points to consider when preparing for your trip:

car driving

Where to go?

The ideal option is to travel the whole country from north to south and from west to east, but it’s difficult to implement it. Firstly, such a trip will take a very long time. Secondly, America is populated very unevenly, and centers of civilization with large cities and sights are replaced by hundreds of kilometers of empty roads.

There are several popular road trip routes that require 1-2 weeks:

  • The western USA. Includes Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Grand Canyon).
  • Southeast USA. Includes Miami, Tampa, and Orlando.
  • USA East Coast. Includes Washington DC, New York City, and Philadelphia.

You can also transit across the mainland – from Los Angeles to New York, but such a trip will take much longer if you stop and see at least some sights.

What do you need to rent a car?

In terms of documents, in most cases, you only need a driver’s license and a credit card with a sufficient deposit limit. If your original driver’s license is not in the Latin alphabet, get ready to provide an International Driving Permit. The car rental company may also ask you for your domestic/international passport as another way of photo identification.

In case you’ve booked your rental car online, don’t forget to bring the printed voucher confirming your reservation.

In addition to documents, you also need to comply with the age policy. The minimum age for renting a car throughout the United States is 21. Under 25 drivers are only allowed for small compact or economy car rental. In the states of Michigan and New York, under 21 drivers are allowed, with a minimum rental age of 18.

car travel map

Where to pick up a rental car?

The most convenient place to pick up a car is the airport, but usually, it’s more expensive than booking a car at a nearby city point. Shuttle buses run from the airports to the parking lot, so you can get a car immediately upon arrival.

Registration of a pre-booked car will take not more than 10 minutes. Then you can fully devote yourself to your trip. You have access to cars of almost any class and configuration, from a sports car to a 7-seater family minivan, but on one condition – if you are already 25 years old.

What to bring with you?

A credit card is a must-have for traveling to the United States. You can pay for almost everything with it, from gasoline at the gas station to food in the supermarket. However, if you are going to travel to deserted places, then $200-300 in small bills will come in handy.

You will have to pay regularly for parking and toll roads. We also recommend bringing a navigator with you. Of course, the employees of the car rental company will offer it to you on the counter, or you can take it as an additional option when booking a car.

What else do you need to know?

  • Parking lots are paid almost everywhere, even at hotels. For example, in a 3-star hotel in Los Angeles, you will pay an additional $50-60 per day for parking. Also be prepared that parking in the city center, on the observation deck, or at almost any museum is also paid for. The minimum amount is $3, but usually, you have to count on $9-15.
  • There are many toll roads and bridges in the USA. As a rule, your rental car is equipped with automatic toll payment. If not, choose Cash only traffic lanes when entering paid sections. 
  • The prices in American fast food and cafes and restaurants are very different. McDonald’s, Taco Bell, In-N-Out Burger will offer lunch for two for about $15-20 dollars, while in almost any restaurant in a large city you will have to pay $70-80. The most budget-friendly option is to buy food in a supermarket and eat in the car or at recreation areas along the road.

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