Getting Around

Do we drive or do we fly? If we fly, how do we get around while we’re there? If we drive, how long is it going to take?

Any time we travel anywhere, we go through this process. Kelly and I write out the costs, calculate the travel time and spend mind boggling hours trying to figure out the ‘best’ scenario. Frankly? It’s a pain in the….

Road trip

This summer’s trip was no different than any other. We ditched the driving option pretty quickly. The idea of spending 26 hours in the car just to get to Moab held absolutely no appeal. Two years ago, we made the drive from Ohio to Denver and, even though Iowa and Nebraska are great states with great people, watching cornfields gets boring fast.

That left us with the fly in and rent a car option.

Choices, choices

Typically, we rent from a traditional car agency at or near the airport. But there is a new option out there – Turo.

If you’re not familiar with this trend in ‘car-sharing’, you rent directly from the owner of the vehicle. USA Today describes Turo as “like Airbnb but for real people’s cars.” And like Airbnb, the initial suspicion that many consumers felt about ‘sharing’ services is wearing off.

What is Turo?

According to the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco-based Turo has 10 million members and nearly 400,000 listed vehicles. Owners can rent out their cars online or set up a profile on the Turo app. Unbelievably, Turo is available in 49 states and most major cities, giving travelers a huge number of options.

Pros & Cons

Turo also allows you to search by type of vehicle. My preference was a Subaru Outback. Subarus are generally not found at typical car rental agencies, probably because the average renter is looking for a sedan model. In fact, 46% of all Chevrolet Cruze vehicles made are sold to car rental agencies. Given the mountains we were looking to cover, however, a sedan just wasn’t going to cut it. We needed 4-wheel drive.

Turo in the Denver area had a number of Subaru Outbacks available. I own a Subaru Outback and am extremely comfortable driving it. Knowing my wife and were going to be driving over 2000 miles in 10 days, it made sense to drive a car we are both very familiar with.

Turo prices are competitive with car rental agencies.  In fact, the price of a Turo rental can run you anywhere from 25-50% cheaper than the typical rental – even after taxes.

But watch your mileage. Miles allowed are determined by the owner of the car, along with cost per mile you will pay over the daily allowance. If you are planning to drive long distances, those mileage charges can add up.

Huge bonus? With Turo, you can pick up the car in a predetermined location or the owner will meet you – even at the airport. No more dragging your luggage onto an airport shuttle, just to stand in an endless car rental line.  

All seemed good so far, but when I asked my insurance company about coverage, they told me I needed to purchase coverage through Turo.  Even though there are insurance options clearly listed on their website, I did not bother to get a price. The process just seemed more complicated than I wanted to deal with.

Not for this trip, though

At the end of all my searching we decided not to use Turo for three reasons.  

  1. Having to purchase insurance was an additional complication I did not want to deal with.  Our coverage with State Farm includes car rentals – but not Turo – and it didn’t make sense to add onto our charges.
  2. We were concerned about what would happen if we got into an accident while we were out of the area. Our trip covered 3 states, and the possibility of hitting a large animal (have you seen the size of a bison?) was real. It just seemed messy, dealing with Turo and then the owner of the vehicle from hundreds of miles away. 
  3. We were going to exceed the mileage allowance – big time. By the end of our trip, we had clocked almost 2,100 miles. Here’s how that might have played out:

If our allowable mileage for a 10-day rental had been 1,450 – which represents the average 1000 miles/week + 150 miles/day for our next three rental days, as allowed by most owners – we would have exceeded our mileage by approximately 650. 

Although some owners might elect to offer unlimited mileage as an ‘extra’, costs for that service vary from owner to owner, so I can’t tell you what we might have paid for that option. Without this option, however, Turo indicates that ‘fees can range from $0.01 to $3.00 per additional mile’. 

Assuming we had a generous host who charged $.50/additional mile, we would have had to cough up $325 more in fees.

For us, the unlimited mileage on our rental saved us some cash.

But for the next one? Maybe….

Would I use Turo? Yes. But not for an adventure vacation covering multiple states. Turo is better suited for travel in or near the city you pick up or if you want a niche car not available at a traditional car rental company. Porsche or Tesla anyone?

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