RedWeek Hacks: Tips For A Rental Car-Free Vacation

published on August 12, 2021 by

With vaccinations on the rise and lockdown restrictions loosening, travel has returned in a big way this summer. Nearly 50 million people went on vacation over the 4th of July weekend this year, a 40 percent jump from last year when the pandemic was in full effect.

But the return of travel brings with it some serious sticker shock: in particular, car rental prices have skyrocketed in 2021. According to newly released data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it was about 88 percent more expensive to rent a car or truck in June 2021 than during the same time last year and 77 percent higher than in June 2019. It’s a classic case of not enough supply and too much demand. When the pandemic was at its full height last year, many major rental car companies sold off their fleets in order to make some quick cash — and they haven’t been able to rebuild them in time for the summer travel season. 

So, what’s the solution for those travelers who don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of money for their rental car? Try skipping rental cars altogether. Check out some budget travel transportation tips that can get you where you want to go without that high price tag. 

Get To Know Public Transportation

Don’t be scared of public transportation. Buses, subways, light rail — these are all your friends. When you’re researching destinations, take some time to learn about the various public transportation options. Most of these options are cheap — sometimes even free. 

For example, in Orlando, LYMMO is a fare-free circulator bus that provides quick and convenient access to downtown restaurants, retail, entertainment, offices and services. Even better? LYMMO is transitioning to an electric fleet, meaning that getting around downtown Orlando will be more eco-friendly. 

Over in Oahu, Hawaii, the bus — known simply as TheBus — has a reputation as one of the most reliable public transportation systems in the U.S., making it simple for the car-less to visit such attractions as the Honolulu Museum of Art, and Iolani Palace.Honolulu’s streets can be very confusing; let someone who knows the way do the driving!  

In Aruba, try the Arubus, providing daily service to and from downtown Oranjestad. It’s one of the best ways to get to Aruba’s legendary beaches, with stops at the family friendly Baby Beach, the popular Palm Beach, and Eagle Beach, one of the top-rated beaches in the world. 

  • Public Transportation Tip: Google Maps is an essential resource when it comes to navigating public transportation in your vacation destination. When you enter your starting point and your desired location and select the public transportation icon, Google will give you all the details you need to get where you’re going. 

Try Some 21st Century Alternatives

In the past decade or so, rideshare apps have exploded. Think of these apps as the 21st century version of a taxi service — customizable and convenient. Lyft and Uber are the most widespread, available in most destinations. However, there are more options to consider! 

Curb is a good one if you’re looking for professionalism; the app only works with officially sanctioned, licensed, and insured drivers. Flywheel has a similar model — and, unlike Lyft, uses standard taxi rates, so you don’t have to worry about price hikes when demand is high. Juno is another good option for the budget-minded. In some cities, they’ll even guarantee that your ride will be cheaper than Lyft. 

Or, take advantage of urban bikeshare programs and explore on two wheels. Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C. features more than 4,000 bikes available at more than 500 stations spread throughout the destination (often located near Metro stations and major bus stops). A three-day pass is just $17. Divvy in Chicago also integrates nicely with public transportation in the city, with many of its 570 stations adjacent to L stations. And Bluebikes in Boston offers close to 2,000 bikes at stations near many popular tourist attractions. 

Choose Walkable (or Bike Friendly) Destinations

Use your own two feet! When choosing your next timeshare resort, keep walkability and bike friendliness in mind. Hilton Head, South Carolina, is great in both of those categories, with more than 60 miles of trails that connect all parts of the island, from the beach to downtown. Also in South Carolina, Charleston has a reputation as one of the most pedestrian friendly cities in the country, with quaint cobblestoned streets waiting to be explored. Lodge Alley Inn is a great Charleston timeshare option, right in the heart of the historic downtown.

Hawaii can be a walkable destination, as well, with many resorts located right near the beach and nearby attractions. Ka‘anapali Beach Club, located on Maui’s western shore, isn’t just steps from the beach; it’s also just minutes from downtown Lahaina, featuring a funky mix of history, restaurants, and fine art galleries. 
Or try San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. Home to the Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, this thriving neighborhood is best experienced on foot. You can walk to Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, the sprawling USS Midway Museum, and the shops and restaurants of Seaport Village. The Gaslamp is also where San Diego goes to party, with the city’s best nightclubs, cocktail lounges, and dance floors.

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