If your plan is to go beyond your place of accommodation – which it probably will be – you’ll need to consider outside transportation. These are a matter of taste and what is most important to you in the area of convenience and price. You may like having your own car to be able to go where you please when you please, but that can be expensive. Here are some other alternate options.
If you do want to rent a car, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. When procuring a rental car, get the smallest one that your family can fit into comfortably. There’s no need to spend extra money on luxury when an economy car will still get you to where you need to go.
You’ll have to decide on whether or not you want to buy the rental insurance offered by the company. We won’t tell you one way or another because there are advantages and disadvantages either way.
If you are comfortable enough with driving and feel you can be careful enough to avoid any accidents then waive the insurance. You may want to check with your own auto insurance plan before you leave to see if you are covered under that policy while you’re operating a rental car.
However, keep in mind that accidents can and do happen despite our best efforts. Any of you who’ve seen the movie, “Meet The Fockers”, know what I’m talking about!
If you want to take the chance and waive that insurance, remember that any damages to the rental car will come out of your own pocket. Often the cost for this insurance is relatively minimal, so it might be worth the peace of mind.
Rental car agencies vary widely in price and offer a great opportunity for negotiating. You can save hundreds of pounds by checking the various locations in town, because often it is much cheaper to pick up a car away from the airport.
If you work for a company that has a corporate account with a car hire agency, they often honour the discount rates when you travel for leisure as well. Check all discounts offered for AA members, insurance company deals and weekend rentals, etc. They have lots of room to negotiate, so just keep asking what discounts you qualify for.
Look for discounts offered online as well as in magazines or the mail.
When you pick up your vehicle, many companies will upgrade you to a much nicer car for the same rate if you learn to ask with a nice smile. Check out the people behind the counter, and wait for one that appears to be more friendly and easier to work with.
Hotel Courtesy Vehicles
Many hotels do provide courtesy vehicles for their guests to use for transportation when staying at their hotel. This is a great amenity and one that should be used if it is available. Each hotel is different about their policies regarding use of their vehicles, so you should check with the front desk upon check-in to see what the hotels policy is.
Often, you just need to inform the front desk that you’ll need a vehicle to go to, say, a local restaurant, and they will be waiting outside the lobby for you to take you to your destination. At that time, you can probably let the driver know what time you want to be picked up and they will return to bring you back to the hotel.
However, hotel courtesy vehicles ARE NOT taxi cabs. They are a service provided by the hotel for the convenience of their guests, so they should be used wisely lest you make a concierge angry by inviting 15 people you met at a bar to come along for the ride and then asking the van to drop them off in 15 different places!
Other hotels have set times for departure from the hotel and set drop-off points that are pre-determined around the location where you are staying. In this capacity, they almost operate like a bus service. Be there on time and you get a ride – if you’re late, call a cab!
The best part about these courtesy vehicles is that they are free to use as long as you are a guest at the hotel. This certainly is a great way to save money on holiday!
Well, this section is going to be short! You can also utilize the local bus service of the city you are staying in. What’s the advantage? It’s cheap! What’s the disadvantage? It can sometimes be crowded and take time while stopping at every bus stop along the way.
When we were in Las Vegas, we utilized the city bus system and had a very good experience. We weren’t on a strict timetable and if we saw a place we wanted to get off the bus and visit, we could. We purchased a 5 day pass for unlimited bus rides for $10 and got to board and de-board as many times as we wanted.
Sure, we didn’t get downtown right when the light show started, but we were darn close to the beginning and a taxi ride would have cost us way over the $10 we initially spent for our bus passes.
We’ll just come right out and say it – taxicabs are expensive – period! Yet sometimes, they are a necessarily “evil” when you are travelling. If you do have a schedule you are trying to stick to, they can be a lifesaver getting you to the show you have tickets for on time or the restaurant who frowns on people late for their reservations.
The key to taking taxicabs is to tell the driver up front where you are going and ask what the estimated fare will be. If it’s within your budget, hop in! If it’s not, you’ll need to figure out another way to get to your destination. That’s the plain and simple truth!
And cabs are probably most expensive in tropical or luxury locations. We know of one couple on a Hawaiian cruise who got off at one of the islands and caught a taxicab to go parasailing. It ended up costing them a small fortune for a one-way ride only to find out it was too windy to parasail that day and they had to fork-out the same exorbitant fare on the way back to the ship.
Find out in advance and have a backup plan, just in case.
If you’re on an island or in a resort town, you may want to consider bicycles or scooters for your transportation needs. They can often be rented for a small amount of money and you get the satisfaction of getting some exercise along with the local flavour!
And, of course, you can always “hoof it”. However, we recommend this only if your destination is close enough to walk to. In the aforementioned Las Vegas trip, we thought it would be fun to walk The Strip and get a real taste for Vegas. What we didn’t know was that The Strip was well over 5 miles long. By the time we reached the other end, we were all so exhausted; we called a cab and paid the $25 it took to get us back to our hotel.
Alright, you know your destination and have booked your flight. You know which hotel works best for you and have mapped out the different ways to visit the places you want to see. What else needs to be addressed in the budget? Food!