Glass Creatures

Ground Transportation: Local & Long Distance

The Ultimate Guide To Cheap Travel, Part 3

auto driveaway

If your trip will be one-way, auto driveaway may be the answer. Some auto transport companies use outside drivers to get cars from one point to another cheaply. The companies screen drivers with good records over the age of 21.

If you meet the requirements, you get a vehicle, a generous miles allowance and plenty of delivery time, all at no charge to you. A deposit is required (usually around $300), which is refunded when you turn in the car. Find out in advance what your liability would be should you have a fender bender.

Look in your yellow pages under "drive-away companies". Also check out the websites below. Be sure to directly contact the offices nearest you for information on currently available cars:

Auto Driveaway Co.
Auto Driveaway-Truckaway

rental cars

For rental cars, the easiest way to find low rates is to use the Orbot at Orbitz. Check to see if weekly rates are lower than renting for a few days. You can also make your reservations online using their system.

Be forewarned, however, that what seems like a bargain can end up costing you. If possible, avoid airport rental agency locations, which tack on all kinds of extra charges. It's also a good idea to call the company you're considering and ask them the following questions, where pertinent:

"If I drive outside of my state or region, do I still get free unlimited miles?"

"Do you have locations in the states in which I'll be traveling?"

"Do you provide roadside assistance, if needed?" (Most auto club memberships provide assistance to members, even when they're driving a rental vehicle.)

"If the car develops a problem that can't be fixed quickly, will you provide me with another car?"

"I'll be driving in snow and ice conditions. Are snow or all-weather tires provided? Are tire chains provided?"

"Do your cars have cruise control?" (Cruise control can make a big difference in comfort during long trips and can lessen your chances of getting a speeding ticket.)

"Do your cars have a satellite radio or a CD player?"

In our test, Budget and Hertz had the best overall responses.

You'll also want to familiarize yourself with car rental insurance coverages and waivers. You may have already paid for this coverage elsewhere, so don't pay twice if you don't have to.

If you're a fan of environmentally-friendly vehicles, be sure to see if EV Rental Cars has a location near you. Their rates are very competitive.

auto clubs

If you'll be traveling using your own vehicle, an auto club membership is a must. These auto clubs offer plenty of perks, including discounts on car rentals, lodging and cruises. Memberships are even available with RV towing, if needed.

Better World Club
AAA

rv rentals

If you want the utmost in travel flexibility, RV rentals can be surprisingly cheap, especially since you won't need a hotel. Cruise America is the top company in this market.

Other RV rental companies

motorcycle rentals

Motorcycle rentals aren't always cost effective, but bargains can be found. This is not a travel option inexperienced riders should choose. Typically, you'll be asked to provide your own safety gear. As a side note, fans of energy-efficient vehicles like Smart Cars can rent one to test drive at select motorcycle rental locations:

Cruise America Motorcyle Rentals
Harleys.com
Harleys4Rent
RideTheWorld

buses, local & long distance

Traveling by bus takes longer than many methods, but the incredible savings can make the extra time worth it. Furthermore, stopovers are permitted for unrestricted fares (let the driver know!). This is a good choice if you plan to sightsee along the way!

rail: trains, subways, metro, tube

Let's not forget other mass transit options. In addition to buses, you can find U.S. subway, rail and ferry schedules & routes at Ground Hop.

For worldwide subway system details, try Metrobits World Metro Database.

For Canadian transit systems, see the All Time List Of Canadian Transit Systems.

If you'll be making more than one trip by rail, consider getting a rail pass:

For US & Canadian citizens:

North American Rail Pass - Amtrak
North America Rail Pass - VIA Rail Canada

For others wanting to see the USA and Canada:

Rail Pass USA - Amtrak
General Sales Agents - VIA Rail Canada

And, of course, if you'll be traveling in Europe, a rail pass is a great investment:

Rick Steve's 2002 Guide To European Rail Passes
Eurail