Need to do a one way car rental? I just did a 1300 mile road trip and dropped off the rental car without spending one penny more than my original quote. Here's how I did it.
Well, as much as I love Vancouver, BC -- it doesn't love me! Just as I loved New Orleans but it doesn't love me either! So I only get to visit. After the Hurricane -- yeah, the big one, Katrina (I utter that name and I start hearing Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold."
For some reason, that song kept playing in my head as we were making a run for it to Memphis. It is now my "Katrina soundtrack"), I got really sick, and was diagnosed with asthma (who knew?! I was always getting "sick" but had no idea!) and my asthma specialist told me I needed to get out of there, and he told me to go back home to the little Colorado mountain town I grew up in and my asthma would completely "shut off."
Well, while I love my hometown, the gypsies that we are, we asked, "What about Hawaii?" He said, "Absolutely not!" "Hmmm," we said, "What about Vancouver, BC?" He said he didn't know, "maybe" if we lived near the ocean or up in the mountains, "maybe."
Um...no such luck! I tried for six years, and unfortunately, MY overarching story of Vancouver is sick...sick...sick...sick... You get the idea. Such an amazing city, such a beautiful place and, yeah, sick -- trapped indoors sick.
My poor self couldn't handle the constant Northwest wet cold! As hard as I tried, there was no escaping that I was progressively getting worse until my liver began to fail from a lack of oxygen! Okay -- now I'm paying attention! Back home we go!
We're going to keep our place in Vancouver, BC -- we have to be able to come visit. But off I go to set-up "home base" in the Colorado mountains. We'll have to be flitting gypsies from here on out -- flit here, flit there then head home to recover (at least I pray my liver will recover enough to allow me that much).
That means I need a one way car rental! It got a little complicated since I couldn't rent a car in Vancouver that would allow me to do a one way car rental to the States, so I had to take a shuttle to the Bellingham, WA airport to pick up the car, then take it back to Vancouver and pack to leave the next morning.
Since Montrose, Colorado was the nearest airport, I didn't have many options to choose from for a one way car rental. I first searched on Kayak. Hertz came up the winner. So then I went to the Hertz site and snooped around for any more deals I could find before booking my reservation. Now, I admit, as a business traveler, I avoided Hertz because they were pricey relative to my other options in the big cities I visited, but this time, for a one way car rental, they came out way ahead.
I booked their most popular economy car, knowing it would be a squeeze. Ah -- wup, there it is, then popped up an offer to upgrade to a "mid-size" Toyota Corolla for an extra $12. I snapped it up! Well, I know Toyota Corolla's are pretty popular, too, so I figured I may have some more bargains coming once I reached the counter -- because you know I'm always after first class dirt cheap, even with a one way car rental!
Sure enough, I arrived at the counter with my reservation in hand. "Oh," says the girl with caked cleopatra eye makeup, "I'm going to have to put you in a free upgrade -- we have several SUVs to choose from." Without blinking, and ever so cooly, I reply, "No.
I'm going 1300 miles, I'm not paying for gas for an SUV." "Well, how about a Mustang, you'd like a Mustang, right?" Fiddling with something in my purse, I nonchalantly reply, "No.
They're not much better on gas, and their rear wheel drive makes them a smooth, straight stretch only car, I'm not on a smooth, straight stretch road trip here." "Well, the only other car I have for a one way car rental is a full-size Chevy Malibu."
Bingo! But, still with a devil may care air, I reply, "Hmmm. Is it's gas mileage as good as the Toyota Corolla?" Now she's sweating, trying to look it up. Then she goes and asks her boss. She comes back, "It's a four cylinder, so it should be comparable to the Toyota Corolla.
And that's really all I have left." "Well, okay," I say smiling (I'm not trying to make her sweat, just get a first class dirt cheap deal), "If it's all you have."
By now, she knows she has to offer me all the insurance and gas fill-up and kitchen sink to jack up my rate, but she just doesn't have the same zeal and buzzes through it all, as quickly as she can, while I reply "No" to each.
Zing! Keys in hand, I'm almost there, but not quite. What could throw a wrench in this whole one way car rental deal is having any surprises at the other end when I turn in the car. I calmly tell her I have to inspect the car.
She's back to sweating again. She was so hoping she was rid of me and that I wasn't going to bring that up! She reluctantly hands me the inspection form and shows me what damage they've already noted.
But I have to carefully inspect every inch of that first class dirt cheap rental car for myself! Note every blemish that they don't already have down, especially any pits in the windshield.
The last thing I need is for one of those pits to turn into a crack or worse on this 1300-mile journey! I'm covered with my credit card car rental insurance, but I don't want to be bothered with any incidents! The car, this time, checks out.
Whew! I'm on my way with a killer one way car rental deal! Hurray! I feel like the lady in the commercial who jumps in the car and tells her husband to gun it and get out of there before the store tells her they made a mistake on the deal she got! Home, pack, load car, set alarm for 3am, go to bed by 8pm. Brriinnggg - alarm, I'm up, throw on my road clothes, grab my road trip music and I'm off!
Cruisin' -- no one to speak of is even on the road until morning rush hour. I've got a good five hours of just me, the road and my favorite nature show -- night to twilight to morning. It tricks my body into thinking we just started driving when morning comes, so I'm good for another five or so hours of cruisin' after that!
The Gypsy Kings Greatest Hits become the soundtrack for the morning, with amazing gliding spaceship clouds as Washington becomes Oregon. I notice dust storm warning signs and wonder if the dust, the square bookcliffs jutting up from the desert and these astoundingly cream cheese thick alien clouds are connected somehow.
As morning ends I'm ready to slide into afternoon with some cool bossa, so I pop in Da Lata. Amazing! This one takes me all the rest of the way home! Even though I try some Afro Celt and some Miles Davis Kind of Blue, I keep switching back to Da Lata, and finally accept it's place as my "going home" soundtrack.
Even though I've driven 16 hours (admittedly a longer push than I'll usually do in a road trip day, but I'm driven this time to get home, after 14 years of wandering), I'm still so wired when I reach Salt Lake City that I have a hard time sleeping. Wake-up call 4am and bolt.
It's only another five hours and I'm home. My lungs fill with air as I crest onto the mesa heading into Hotchkiss. I just have to stop at Zack's BBQ -- I'm getting enough of his fruit-wood smoked pork ribs, made from scratch (I know because I used to work there) potatoe salad, cole slaw and cornbread (and a piece of homemade cherry pie using local cherries) to last me a couple days so I can just settle in.
Oh my gosh, it all taste as amazing as ever! Driving into my little hometown with some new touches, but so much that is just as I left it, is incredible. I'm home! To top it all off, the next day I return the car at the Montrose airport and walk out with a huge smile holding my receipt for the exact same amount as my original quote I walked in to Hertz with in Bellingham, WA.
And that, folks, is how to do a first class dirt cheap one way car rental!