How to Take a Road Trip in a Rental Car

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Road trips don’t have to be limited to the distance that you’re able to drive from your home in one weekend. While most of us are limited to weekend travel except for the occasional vacation time, that doesn’t mean road trips are out of the picture. In fact, taking a road trip in a rental car opens up a world of new possibilities. When you don’t have to drive to get to your driving destination, you can start your road trip from virtually anywhere.

The Road to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada on our Rental Car Road Trip
On the road to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada

Finding your Road Trip Starting Point

One of the easiest rental car road trips that you can take is one that departs a major city. Think places like Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Boston. Really, any place with an international airport will do.

Focus first on the amount of time it will take you to fly there, availability of flights, and frequency of flights. The more often a plane lands in your desired destination, the more flexible your trip will be and the more time you’ll have to spend.

The Road to Mount Katahdin in Maine on our rental car road trip
On the road in our Rental car in Maine near Baxter State Park

Some great options for the above listed cities are Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway, a drive to the Grand Canyon, or a drive along the East Coast. Even if you aren’t picking a well known route, like Route 66 or the PCH, for example, you can easily make a fun road trip, filled with delicious diner food and kitschy roadside attractions, from anywhere.

Planning out your Road Trip

For this trip, you’re obviously going to need a car, and this presents an added challenge because you will have to find a car first. We’ll get there in the next section! But if you’re a planner like me, it’s just as important to know where you’re going.

I love using Google Maps for this because they make it so easy to create your own maps, provides directions, and is printer friendly for the low-service areas.

On the road in California on our way to Joshua Tree national Park
On the road in California on our way to Joshua Tree

Another app I often use is Roadtrippers. This is a crowd sourced road trip travel resource that is filled with any and every destination imaginable (seriously, try it. They’ve got it all.) The only note of caution with this resource is it will give you the locations for landmarks on public and private property. Be careful not to trespass!

Getting Your Road Trip Rental Car

If you’re short on time, you can absolutely pick up your car from the airport and begin your drive immediately. My weekend travelers, get a move on! But if you’ve got a little more time to spare, you’ll benefit immensely from getting your car anywhere but the airport. Sometimes, it can be the difference of hundreds of dollars! It pays to check.

Posing with our rental car during a rental car road trip to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada
Jason with our Rental car at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada

I always find myself trusting Enterprise most of all, both because they have great customer service and because they hail from my home of St. Louis and I love supporting companies that support my city. Enterprise has a reputation for being on the higher end of Rental Car companies, they’re by no means a budget rental company, but I’ve found that depending on the destination, the cost isn’t dramatically different.

It is also helpful to book this in advance to help you to find the best rate and to be sure there will be a car waiting for you when you arrive. Leave nothing to chance and you’ll have the most time possible for your trip.

Rental Car Road Trip Itinerary

If you’re dying to take a road trip somewhere you’ve never explored but don’t know where to begin, check out my sample Rental Car Road Trip Itinerary below. Take this trip, or use it to help create your own. Either way, I can’t wait to hear all about your trip!

Rental Car Road Trip Itinerary Free Printable

The above itinerary focuses on a road trip flying out of the Las Vegas airport. If you’re looking for more posts about Las Vegas, check out these other great posts about Sin City:

Three Apps to Make your Next Trip to Las Vegas More Affordable

How to Make a Weekend in Las Vegas Happen! Plus a Free 2-day downloadable Itinerary for Your Next Trip!

If you Can’t Afford to Travel, Travel to Las Vegas


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