Five Tips to Save Money By Avoiding Renting a Car on Vacation
One of the large costs in any vacation is the cost of renting a car. When you add in all the various taxes, renting a car can easily cost $50 or more per day - and that is even assuming you have a driver license! Why not save money and better explore your destination by taking transit on vacation? Here are some tips.
Rid yourself of the attitude that "Transit Is Not For Me"
When I tell people I am from Los Angeles , the usual response is that "Los Angeles has no transit". Well, in Los Angeles people take more than 500 million annual rides on transit - making it the third largest transit market in the United States after New York and Chicago. Los Angeles certainly has transit, and if "those people" take it then you can as well. I was in downtown San Francisco recently and a couple hailed a taxi to take them to the Giants game even though they were literally steps away from a frequent bus that would have taken them directly to the ballpark - saving them money. Don't be like them - a different kind of "those people". Be a green passenger !
Travel Light and Visit Cities With Good Airport Transit Access
Traveling on transit works better if you are not lugging around huge suitcases. Merely having a carry-on and personal item works better (and will save you baggage fees at the airport). Be sure to visit a city that has an airport with good transit access - the list keeps growing and (in the United States and Canada at least) features Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco (SFO), Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Cleveland, New York (JFK), Philadelphia, Washington (DCA), Baltimore and Boston. All of the above airports feature direct rapid transit access from the airport to the downtown area without the need to transfer. Why spend your hard-earned vacation dollars in a city that does not have very good public transit?
Stay In Downtown Rather Than Airport-Area Hotels
Almost universally downtown areas have better public transit than airport-area hotels or hotels in other parts of the city. In fact, in many cities if you stay near the airport you may be stranded without access to an automobile. Even though downtown hotels tend to cost more, remember that you saved money by not renting a car.
Make Sure to Bring Your Smart Phone and Bookmark the Transit Agency Homepage
Your smart phone is essential, as it allows you to access on-line trip planning software, either Google Transit (navigate to google.com, select maps, type in your origin and destination and click on the bus logo), or the trip planning software found on the transit agency homepage. To locate your transit agency homepage it is usually sufficient to type in [city] bus on Google. For example, I just typed in "Portland bus" and the second result was the Tri-Met (Portland, OR's local bus system) trip planner.
Research Attractions, Restaurants, etc. That Give Discounts to Transit Users
While by no means universal, many attractions, restaurants, and other tourist destinations give discounts to transit users. A great example is the Getty Center, one of the most pre-eminent art museums in Los Angeles and a definite must visit for the architecture alone. The Getty Center charges for parking but not for admission, which means that if you arrive by transit you enter for free! Taking transit to the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles instead of driving earns you a "reward" which could include something like a free game of bowling.
Overall, taking public transit instead of renting a car while on vacation will save you a significant amount of money, which means that you will be able to take additional vacations, which can only be a good thing.