Houston

Do you need a car in Houston?
Should you rent a car in Houston USA > Houston

Houston Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

What can we really say about Houston, one of the most car-dependent cities on earth? This is a place where nearly 95% of all journeys in the city are taken by car, and anybody who has the option of driving will drive.

Why should you rent a car in Houston?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Houston?

Houston Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

30%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€170

 #202/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €260

178/300

 

Free parking score

Total 739 - of which 599 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

81%

#13/300

 

So it almost goes without saying that a rental car in Houston is an absolute must, and that’s really almost all there is to it!

  • Public transport in Houston is terrible, so you have little choice.
  • The token light rail network is unlikely to take you where you want to go.
  • IT’s virtually impossible to transfer to or from the port of Galveston by public transport.

Why not? Visiting Houston without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Houston public transport quick facts

Train score

 

10%

Water travel score

20%

Overall public transport score

30%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

40%

However, we never want to dismiss a city entirely and say that there is no way to get around without a car, even if you would normally hire one anyway.

So for a start, Houston does have a network of public transport bus routes, including scheduled bus services from both the main Houston Intercontinental International airport as well as the smaller Houston Hobby airport. There is also a token light rail service in Houston. However, this is really largely aimed at commuters, and it doesn’t serve either airport.

  • Taxis are always an option. Ff you have to spend your entire visit using them, this isn’t exactly something we’d refer to as a “no car” option, when it just means somebody else is doing the driving!
  • Trying to get around Houston and the area that surrounds it without a car is by no means impossible. This really will depend on where it is you are trying to get to.
  • You can also transfer by bus towards the state capital San Antonio or towards easy-going Austin, both in around 2 to 3 hours. However, bus services to the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex typically take 5 to 6 hours. There are naturally plenty of short hop flights within Texas, including between Houston and Dallas.

Ratings

Car rental in - Houston Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Houston?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Houston?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Houston?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Houston if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Houston if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Houston if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

9

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Visiting Houston without a car simply isn’t much fun. This great Texan oil city was always built around the car first. Even if Houston’s vast freeways move like treacle at times, they are still the only real way to get around. To appreciate a true feeling of the size and flavours of big open Texas, then you will have to head to the north-west towards the state’s border with New Mexico. This is often easier to do from Dallas.

Therefore, our Houston car advice is very strongly that this is the sort of city where a hire car isn’t just advisory, it’s all but essential.

Would you hire a car in Houston?

Have you driven in Houston? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Houston?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Kauai

Do you need a car in Kauai?

Should you rent a car in Kauai USA > Kauai

Kauai Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Given that there is only really one major road running in a “C” shape around only part of the island of Kauai, we don’t really think that Lihu’e is a sort of destination where a hire car is going to be particularly useful. The island is also small enough that resort transfers can easily be done in a taxi without bringing up an exorbitant bill.

Yet to really appreciate the incredibly rugged interior, you will either need to go on a hiking tour or to take a “Jurassic Park” style helicopter excursion – the latter is the only way to actually see the famous falls which feature in the opening and closing scenes of the film, as it is located on a private estate with no overland access.

There’s just not much point in getting a rental car for any of this, although it might be worth hiring a car for one day when you are here to do the full island tour.

Why should you rent a car in Kauai?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Kauai?

Kauai Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

40%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€230

 #239/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €370

224/300

 

Free parking score

Total 439 - of which 58 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

13%

#269/300

 

Why not? Visiting Kauai without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Kauai public transport quick facts

Train score

 

10%

Water travel score

10%

Overall public transport score

60%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

50%

Ratings

Car rental in - Kauai Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Kauai?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Kauai?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Kauai?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Kauai if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Kauai if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Kauai if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

4

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Would you hire a car in Kauai?

Have you driven in Kauai? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Kauai?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

 

Key West

Should you rent a car in Key West?

Should you rent a car in Key West USA > Key West

Situated right on the western tip of the Florida keys, Key West is literally situated at the end of the road, as far as driving within the United States is concerned. This might make it a natural consideration for being the start or end of some phenomenal road trip, but in reality, the chances are that if you do want to do a driving tour around Florida, you will pick up a rental car in either Miami or Orlando.

Key West Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

So any visitor who is actually flying into Key West itself, or the “Republic of Key West” as some locals prefer it to be known, will no doubt find that there is simply no need at all to have your own rental car for driving around the town, since land here is in such finite supply that everything tends to be pretty close to everything else!

So what about the rest of the Florida Keys, and the amazing driving roads that this part of the world offers, including so many causeways and bridges? Well there is no question that this is all amazing driving territory, but a lot of this can also be visited using scheduled or tour bus services. A rental car might still make a lot of sense for visiting the Florida keys, but why start your journey in Key West, when there is a much wider choice of inbound flights and also a far greater range of rental car options at Miami International airport?

If you only intend to see the Florida keys in one direction, then be prepared to pay more for one way car rental fees, although with this being tourist oriented Florida, this isn’t always the case.

Why should you rent a car in Key West?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Key West?

Key West Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

10%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€160

 #189/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €215

143/300

 

Free parking score

Total 179 - of which 51 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

28%

#214/300

 
  • Makes sense as a one way rental back to mainland Florida.
  • Start a mammoth road trip here – but be prepared for hefty fees!
  • It’s always more flexible to appreciate the Florida Keys at your pace, and to be able to make stops, especially at Seven Mile Bridge.
[whynot2 num=”131″]
  • No need for a car in Key West itself – it’s compact and walkable.
  • Limited range of flights to Key West.
  • Generally it makes more sense to fly in to Miami and rent a car there – see our Miami car hire advice.
  • Usually much cheaper to visit Florida Keys in a tour bus, whether one way or return.

Should you rent a car in Key West? Verdict – no

Ratings

Car rental in - Key West Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Key West?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Key West?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Key West?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Key West if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Key West if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Key West if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

2

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Would you hire a car in Key West?

Have you driven in Key West? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Key West?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Knoxville

Should you rent a car in Knoxville?

Should you rent a car in Knoxville USA > Knoxville

Knoxville, Tennessee is the nearest large city to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is one of the world’s most visited scenic areas.

Knoxville Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Why should you rent a car in Knoxville?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Knoxville?

Knoxville Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

10%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€175

 #208/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €240

165/300

 

Free parking score

Total 132 - of which 115 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

87%

#7/300

 

Although a limited number of bus transfers are available from Knoxville, for example to the resorts of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains, the best way to get around this region is almost certainly going to be in a rental car.

Why not? Visiting Knoxville without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Knoxville public transport quick facts

Train score

 

20%

Water travel score

50%

Overall public transport score

20%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

20%

The city of Knoxville itself also has very limited public transportation, so there’s very little reason to suggest not getting a hire car in Knoxville unless you really are happy to do without one and rely on slow local bus connections, or you just want a transfer to a resort and no more.

Should you rent a car in Knoxville? Yes, absolutely!

Ratings

Car rental in - Knoxville Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Knoxville?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Knoxville?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Knoxville?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Knoxville if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Knoxville if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Knoxville if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

10

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Would you hire a car in Knoxville?

Have you driven in Knoxville? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Knoxville?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Kona

Do you need a car in Kona?

Should you rent a car in Kona USA > Kona

Kona Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

The vast majority of tourist resorts on Hawaii Island (aka Big Island) are around Kona, rather than near the administrative centre of Hilo, and Kona is also where the majority of flights to Big Island arrive.

Why should you rent a car in Kona?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Kona?

Kona Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

60%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€270

 #250/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €370

226/300

 

Free parking score

Total 252 - of which 69 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

27%

#217/300

 
  • Big Island, big roads – a hire car gives you the freedom to explore without being tied to a tour schedule.
  • Very poor public transport (transit buses).
  • Buses are easier to use if starting in Hilo, rather than Kona.

Why not? Visiting Kona without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Kona public transport quick facts

Train score

 

20%

Water travel score

00%

Overall public transport score

40%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

90%

  • Despite the spectacular scenery, there is only really one circuit around the island.
  • A rental car could be an expensive option if it is only used for 1-2 days.
  • Plenty of guided tours are available, especially for Volcanoes National Park.

Big Island Hawaii Buses

The bus system on Hawaii Island is the sort of setup that is going to take any visitor a little bit of time to get used to, because routes are divided into different sectors in a circular pattern around the island. This means that longer journeys might need to be broken down into several different stages, rather than the more conventional pattern of major bus routes between cities being fed by more local routes. The buses are organised in a way that makes it possible, for example, to visit Volcanoes National Park in a day trip from Hilo, but not from Kona.

Naturally, it’s also possible to visit Volcanoes National Park as part of some sort of organised trip, but as with any such service, you will be travelling on their terms not yours. Yet of course there’s far more to Hawaii Island than just its most famous attraction, and again, even though this “big” island only has a relatively small number of roads, you can still cover some serious distance in a day, so a rental car is the best way to do it justice.

Given that the main resorts in Kona tend to be reasonably close to the airport, you might want to consider renting a car for a short period, perhaps a day or two, and then using local buses and taxis in resort.

Do you need a car in Kona? Yes!

Ratings

Car rental in - Kona Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Kona?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Kona?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Kona?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Kona if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Kona if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Kona if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

9

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Would you hire a car in Kona?

Have you driven in Kona? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Kona?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Las Vegas

Do you need a car in Las Vegas?

Should you rent a car in Las Vegas USA > Las Vegas

Where can we even start with car-rental advice for the great enigma in the desert that is Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada?

Of all the different travel destinations in the world, Las Vegas is quite possibly the best and the most iconic place from which to start a road trip, especially because you could just randomly spin the compass and basically set off in any direction to the North, South, East or West, and you are sure to see completely amazing landscapes, where ever you go.

Las Vegas Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

If you are coming to Las Vegas to start a road trip, then please see our Las Vegas road trip pages for a few more suggestions on where to start.

However, the chances are that if you’re coming to Las Vegas for the first time and if you are maybe here for long weekend, perhaps a week, and you aren’t sure whether it’s really worth getting a rental car at the airport, then we would definitely say that there is no need to, and certainly not if you are just planning on staying mainly in and around The Strip.

Why should you rent a car in Las Vegas?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Las Vegas?

Las Vegas Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

60%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€175

 #207/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €240

160/300

 

Free parking score

Total 350 - of which 171 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

49%

#125/300

 

A few reasons why you do need to rent a car in Las Vegas

  • Road trips! Las Vegas is the world’s ultimate road trip start point!
  • Driving loops or one way? – there are various easy one way or driving loop options which can be mixed with visiting cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles or Phoenix.
  • Take a road trip to Monument Valley – the ultimate American driving experience (but this really needs a full week from Vegas, and it is well out of the range of even a very long day trip).
  • Drive on across The Rockies towards Denver via Salt Lake City. This loop can also include places like Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park.
  • Outside of town, public transport is terrible. Despite the size of the city, there is no passenger rail service! The railway station closed in 1997!
  • Numerous national parks and other amazing landscapes within a one day excursion from Vegas. You probably have more options from Las Vegas then you would from anywhere else, perhaps apart from Salt Lake City, which is a little bit closer to many of the places of interest in southern Utah.
  • Nearby state parks – for any of the more local landscapes, a Las Vegas rental car is all but a must. These places cannot be visited by scheduled bus, and tour bus options rarely give enough time to see these places properly.

Is it worth it to rent a car in Las Vegas – compared to other destinations?

  • Fuel costs in the city of Las Vegas are on a par with New York. However, from a European perspective, fuel is still extremely cheap.
  • No road tolls in the state of Nevada, or in Arizona and New Mexico. Even if you venture into Colorado (which has modest tolls), or California, which has hefty tolls around urban areas, most of the suggested road trip circuits from Las Vegas will be mainly on toll-free highways.
  • Car rental can be expnesive at times. As a whole, car rental costs in Las Vegas aren’t particularly great value when compared to European countries like Spain, but they are on a par with other destinations in the southern part of the USA. You don’t need a car just to get around The Strip, but when it comes to the scenery outside the city, of course it’s worth getting a rental car in Vegas.
  • You really do need a car in Vegas if you want to do any kind of looping circuit. If you want to visit Las Vegas without hiring a car, you can still see a great deal, but you will generally need to take buses or coach trips that venture out of the city in the morning and return same day. It’svirtually impossible to travel between smaller towns that aren’t on major inter-state highways by bus. This makes Las Vegas car rental good value, almost by default.
  • Unlimited mileage – most Las Vegas car rental deals should come with unlimited mileage – and this will be key for any kind of road trip, because it’s very easy to cover huge distances in a single day here.
  • Free parking – once you are out of the city of Las Vegas, most places you visit on a road trip should provide free parking, and most hotels will include it too. Needless to say, this is a given for any “motels” by major highways. You will still need to pay for parking if you include larger cities like Phoenix or Salt Lake City on your trip, but in all of these locations, there should still be plenty of hotels offering free overnight parking.

A hire car in Las Vegas makes a huge amount of sense the moment you really want to step on the pedals and get out of the city, particularly if you want to see places in your own time and on your own terms. There are various different national parks which are within reach of a day trip from Las Vegas, especially in southern Utah, and further suggestions for some of these can be seen by having a look at our Las Vegas road trip pages and just looking at places which are relatively close by.

By far the most famous landscape attraction that is so often associated with Las Vegas is the Grand Canyon. To do this properly, you will really need to go to the South Rim. Although this can be reached in a 5 to 6 hour drive once you are out of the Las Vegas suburbs, it really isn’t doing it justice to try and do this in a single day. Having said that, mid-week Las Vegas hotel prices are often sufficiently reasonable that you could budget to leave most of your things behind there for one night and then find a cheap motel in northern Arizona, thus allowing for a full day in the Grand Canyon and at least the chance to step down briefly beneath the rim. To spend more time inside the canyon needs a more complex excursion –  please see our Grand Canyon page for more.

[whynot2 num=”151″]

A few reasons why you might not really “need” a car in Las Vegas (and it might not be worth it at all):

Do I need a car in Las Vegas – local points

  • Downtown, forget it – for anything relating to staying on the strip or downtown, there’s just no need for a Las Vegas rental car – use local public transport or take taxis.
  • Parking – most of the major casinos on the strip now charge for parking. There are various ways to get this “comped”, but it might not be worth the bother if you don’t need a car for the time you spend in the city.
  • Many activities or excursions will include hotel pick up, and then they will take care of all the driving.
  • Local travel distances tend to be short – if you don’t want to use local buses, the taxi (or Uber) fare will be reasonable.
  • Walking Vegas – Las Vegas might not seem like the sort of place to take a walk, but the major resort hotels are all connected to each other by covered walkways or bridges of various kinds.

Las Vegas car hire v other locations

  • Las Vegas car rental prices – if you are most used to hiring a car in Europe, and particularly in countries such as Spain and Croatia, then you can expect to pay considerably more for a one week car hire in Las Vegas, although there is much less seasonal variation here. You canalso expect to pay a lot more if you rent at the last minute – but that can change a great deal according to seasonal demand) – see our general car hire guide.
  • Is it worth it at weekends? Las Vegas is a very popular destination year round, but hotels do tend to fill up even more at weekends. This is probably more pronounced in Vegas than it is in most other cities, because it is so popular for people to come here on short weekend breaks from neighbouring California, and since Vegas sells itself as being a 24 hour party city. Exepct to pay a bit more if you rent a car for the weekend, or if you rent for any longer period that includes a weekend.
  • Partial rental – you may well find that you really don’t need a car in Las Vegas for the time you are in the city, and you might consider ditching the idea of renting one across the weekend. If you then do a shorter 3-4 day road trip during the week, or simply stay in the city but make a few outbound trips, you should get the best value all-round.
  • Compared to the rest of the USA, expect to pay more than you might in Florida, but otherwise about the same as you would in states such as California, again, depending on seasons.

James says - a few trip notes:


To say that you don’t “need” a rental car in Vegas is only really to say so in the strictly functional sense. It’s true – you can see most of the places above if you take an organised tour. You can see a few places by scheduled bus, but you are seriously limited. Whether or not car rental in Vegas is good value becomes irrelevant when there is no passenger rail service running through the town! To say that you shouldn’t hire a car in Vegas because you should spend all your time playing the slots instead would also be a rather bizarre logic (and of course the house is always going to win more from you than the rental company!).

I spent two weeks in Las Vegas in 2004. The city has changed a bit since then, as it always does, but one notable move is that the mega-hotels are now tending to charge for car parking, when they didn’t previously. There has also been a notable improvement in bus service within the city.

Roulette wheel v Wheels on the Road?

First things first, and without pointing out the glaring obvious, Las Vegas is a city that really exists primarily for entertainment, and even if there is a huge amount more to the city than just the casinos, you are simply never going to run out of things to see and do here. A lot of this is also going to include free drinks – alcoholic or otherwise. But however easy going Vegas may seem, please don’t gamble with Nevada’s strict drink driving rules.

If you want to gamble first and see sights later, it’s best just to rent a car for the second part of your trip – if the call of the road can get you away from the tables that is!

On top of all of the activities in and around the city, numerous excursions are offered where the package will include either a tour bus picking up outside your hotel, or some kind of minibus shuttle to an activity location near the city.

Las Vegas is also one of those places where helicopter tours are popular part of the offering, especially scenic helicopter flights which will take you towards the Grand Canyon via the Hoover Dam and then typically back to watch the sun setting over the strip (depending on the season).

Vegas being what it is, public transport is not the same as you’d expect to find in a more traditional North American or European city, but in addition to the high profile (but not always that useful) monorail service, there are numerous express and local buses plying up and down the strip, and taxis are ubiquitous.


Verdict

If you’re coming to Vegas for the first time, and if you aren’t specifically planning a long road trip, then you will get by absolutely fine without renting a car, and taking some excursions outwards by bus or helicopter. Do you need a car in Las Vegas in the strictest sense? To see the city, or to see the landscapes as part of a packaged excursion – certainly not.

Yet the market for car rental in Las Vegas is sufficiently competitive that if you just want to rent a car for a day or two in the city, and then drop it back that evening, or even at the airport on your way out of town, that should still be reasonably possible. The vast size of the major casinos means that each will have at least one car rental facility.

Do you need to rent a car in Las Vegas – just for the city?

Is it worth hiring a car in Las Vegas? To see even just a few of the amazing landscapes that are within a day’s trip, yes, absolutely. It’s just not really worth hiring a car solely for the purpose of driving it around town or nearby – by the time you have factored in parking, it’s much easier to use buses and taxis.

Ultimately, should you hire a car in Las Vegas? If you are here with a proper road trip, then you really don’t need our advice, but a car can still be extremely useful for making multiple trips out of the city in different directions.

Do you need a car in Las Vegas? So if you need us to give you a heads or tails coin flip between getting a Las Vegas rental car or not bothering, we’d say this one is just going to come down on the side of “yes”. But only just – we promise to give a yes/no answer on every city, so there you have it!

Ratings

Car rental in - Las Vegas Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Las Vegas?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Las Vegas?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Las Vegas?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Las Vegas if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Las Vegas if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Las Vegas if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

7

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Would you hire a car in Las Vegas?

Have you driven in Las Vegas? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Las Vegas?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Los Angeles

Should you rent a car in Los Angeles?

Should you rent a car in Los Angeles USA > Los Angeles

Los Angeles is known to many people as one of America’s great car cities, although this is not always the same thing as being completely car dependent, a label that would be far more easily applied to any of the Sunbelt cities like Phoenix or Houston.

Los Angeles Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Why should you rent a car in Los Angeles?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

30%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€140

 #164/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €230

153/300

 

Free parking score

Total 1391 - of which 663 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

48%

#133/300

 

  1. City of cities — when you visit Los Angeles, you really aren’t just visiting one city. The greater Los Angeles area is actually made up of no less than 83 separate incorporated cities, although a city in the American sense can be a great deal smaller than the British definition. Naturally, with so many different constituent parts, Los Angeles often viewed as somewhere that has no distinct centre. Whilst that notion can easily be challenged, the fact that there are so many different places to visit, with no one place dominating, has made it much harder to plan and build a workable public transport system….
  2. Los Angeles Metro — normally, we would list a metro system as a reason not to get a hire car, but in Los Angeles, it is the other way around. Plagued by years of legal challenges over rights of way, the Los Angeles Metro still only has four route lines, despite serving a city region with a population well over 10,000,000. Whilst this sort of system might be adequate for a city around one 10th of the size of Los Angeles, it only has limited use in a city like LA. Although the metro is supplemented by buses, journeys that might take a few minutes in cities like New York or London can take the best part of an hour in LA.
  3. Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Mulholland drive — there aren’t many suburban roads that become the subject of films, but Mulholland drive is one of many fascinating places to visit which are connected to the Hollywood film industry. Whilst you get to Hollywood itself without needing a car, to appreciate this area properly, you will either have to take a prepackaged guided tour or travel around in your own car. If you are independent minded, the choice here is obvious.
  4. Pacific Coast Highway — the Pacific coast highway, and especially the stretch between Los Angeles and San Francisco, is rated as one of the most scenic drives in the USA, if not the world. Allow several days to do this properly.
  5. Desert drives — head beyond the San Gabriel Mountains which overlook Los Angeles, and you will hit the Mojave Desert. From here you can continue onwards towards death Valley and Las Vegas. Make sure you are well stocked up with water and other reserve supplies!
  6. Grand Canyon — head east out of Los Angeles and into Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon via Flagstaff. Please see our Phoenix and Las Vegas car hire advice pages for more suggestions about visiting the Grand Canyon and other scenic areas in Utah and Arizona.
  7. One way Los Angeles car rental — depending on who you hire your car from, you should be able to arrange a one-way deal, with San Francisco and Las Vegas being the most obvious options. As there are usually plenty of drivers who want to make the same trip but in the opposite direction, you should usually be able to arrange a one-way rental to either of these cities without paying any extra charges. The same should also apply to San Diego or Phoenix, but you can expect one-way drop-off fees to be applied to anywhere beyond this, as there is much less two-way traffic outside this area. You should also be able to arrange open jaw flights from Europe, providing you stick within the same airline Alliance group. For example, an outbound flight to Los Angeles with Air New Zealand (Star Alliance) could easily be combined with a return trip home from San Francisco with United (also Star Alliance). However, the only airline offering flights to Phoenix from Europe is British Airways (OneWorld; from Heathrow), so you would either need to return back with British Airways or their OneWorld partners American Airlines, or you would need to take a connecting flight. Of course, if you are visiting Los Angeles from elsewhere within the USA, taking two separate one-way flights with a low-cost airline like Jet blue, virgin America or Southwest Airlines should not be a problem.
  8. Triangle drive — if the open jaw option doesn’t suit, you could easily pick up a hire car in Los Angeles and travel in a triangle, for example out towards Las Vegas and then back via San Francisco.

Why not? Visiting Los Angeles without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Los Angeles public transport quick facts

Train score

 

30%

Water travel score

20%

Overall public transport score

60%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

30%

  1. City attractions — despite being such a sprawling mess, Los Angeles is still home to a vast array of cultural attractions, where we hope you would spend as much time inside as you would getting there! The most famous single attraction is the huge Getty Museum complex, where many people spend a whole day inside.
  2. Hollywood and tours — although, as we say above, a hire car is going to give you the flexibility of touring around the various Hollywood related attractions at your own pace, if you want to hear all the gossip, then a guided tour is a much better option. There are three main types of places of interest, which often overlap with each other — the studios themselves, locations which have been used in Hollywood blockbusters, and the mansions of the stars.
  3. Traffic — public transport in Los Angeles may leave a lot to be desired, but it is still vastly superior to what you will find in cities like Dallas or Atlanta. If you try to drive around Los Angeles, you can expect to spend a lot of time sitting in stationary or very slow moving traffic. It is estimated that the average Los Angeles resident spends upwards of four hours each day in traffic. If you hire a car in Los Angeles, you are only contributing to this problem, yet alternatives are still available. For the uninitiated, travelling around Los Angeles by public transport will take a bit of planning, but this can be made a lot easier by downloading or acquiring a printed copy of the relevant public transport maps.
  4. Pacific Coast by rail — whilst the Pacific coast highway makes for a great drive, this route can also be taken by train, both as an amazing trip in its own right, and also as a way of reaching San Francisco. A slightly faster route exists via Bakersfield and Emeryville, but this is nothing like as scenic.
  5. Multiple city by air, rail or coach. Whilst the car is good for accessing scenic areas outside Los Angeles, you could just as easily spend a few days in the city of Angels and then head off to some of the other major cities in California or nearby states. Travelling by train, you can also head down to San Diego, or across into Arizona. The closest the train will take you to Phoenix is Maricopa, from where onward buses are available. You can also alight at Flagstaff for coach transfers towards the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
  6. Disneyland California — why not visit the original Disneyland, which is in this city of Anaheim? Plenty of public transport options are available for getting here, and this is one of many places where there really isn’t much point in having a hire car, as it is only going to spend all day in the parking lot. Other Californian theme parks include the six flags in Santa Clarita, or Legoland in Carlsbad, which is between Los Angeles and San Diego.
  7. Channel islands National Park — when Americans refer to Jersey, we know that they don’t mean the island of Jersey, and any mention of the Channel Islands in California is going to about the beautiful islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Anacapa. As there are no major roads on these islands, there is no point in having a car to visit them. The fairies are available to each of these islands from Port Hueneme.

Ratings

Car rental in - Los Angeles Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Los Angeles?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Los Angeles?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Los Angeles?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Los Angeles if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Los Angeles if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Los Angeles if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

6

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Should I hire a car in Los Angeles, and contribute to the local traffic and smog problems? That’s a bit of a philosophical question, but one which is worth considering in a city that is so wedded to the car. If you can go through the list above, and see what you want to see, then why hire a car? But if you want to see more places beyond the city, then you might be placing severe limitations on your trip. Do you need to hire a car in Los Angeles? Not in the absolute sense – there’s more than enough to see without a car in LA, but you just aren’t going to get the same range of places that you might get to see with one.

If you are planning your visit to Los Angeles for the first time, it is easy to automatically assume that a hire car is essential. We certainly don’t think that is the case — there are numerous options for getting around Los Angeles without a car, but having one will undoubtedly give you a great many more options.

Would you hire a car in Los Angeles?

Have you driven in Los Angeles? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Los Angeles?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Memphis

Do you need a car in Memphis?

Should you rent a car in Memphis USA > Memphis

Memphis Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings
rEASONABLE

Why should you rent a car in Memphis?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Memphis?

Memphis Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

60%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€180

 #218/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €250

173/300

 

Free parking score

Total 150 - of which 107 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

71%

#46/300

 
  • Generally, a rental car is useful outside the city.
  • Public transport options are limited.

Why not? Visiting Memphis without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Memphis public transport quick facts

Train score

 

40%

Water travel score

20%

Overall public transport score

60%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

70%

  • Reasonable selection of public transit, especially local buses.
  • You can easily get to and from the main points of interest, especially along the river banks, and of course to Graceland, by bus.

Ratings

Car rental in - Memphis Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Memphis?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Memphis?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Memphis?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Memphis if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Memphis if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Memphis if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

6

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Generally, we think that Memphis is the sort of place where there are just enough options for getting around the city without a hire car, that you can probably manage it. Although there is ample car parking at Graceland, you can also get there it from the downtown area in about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on traffic. Historic downtown Memphis is certainly walkable, and although fixed rail services are pretty limited, buses are adequate.

The more scenic parts of Tennessee tend to be further to the east. Given the air service in Memphis has been so heavily downgraded, you’re unlikely to fly here to then carry on, for example to the great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s much better to head to Knoxville in the first place, or if you are travelling from further afield, to head to Atlanta and pick up a hire car there.

Memphis car hire verdict = no.

Would you hire a car in Memphis?

Have you driven in Memphis? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Memphis?
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Miami

Should you rent a car in Miami USA > Miami

Do I need a car in Miami? Miami is the real Florida, a simmering melting pot of cultures that is a complete contrast to the theme park land of Orlando. These different cultures have created many cities within the city, so what is the best way to get around and experience this richness?

Miami Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Why should you rent a car in Miami?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Miami?

Miami Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

60%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€140

 #159/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €215

142/300

 

Free parking score

Total 979 - of which 258 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

26%

#223/300

 
  • City of cities: Miami has more foreign born residents than any other city in the USA. There are so many different nationalities represented within the immigrant groups who have settled here. Most famous amongst the different Miami communities is Little Havana, but there are many others. A car will give you the flexibility to drive around all these different areas.
  • Be Flashy. If there is one place in the world where you really want to show off in a snazzy performance car, Miami is as good as anywhere.
  • Did somebody say walk? In Miami? Do they not know how hot and sticky it is? However, the real problem with walking in Miami isn’t actually the climate, but the sheer unpleasantness of walking alongside 6 lane highways, and waiting in the heat to cross giant concrete junctions. It’s no surprise that the default option is to rent a car in Miami!
  • Sprawl.Whereas some cities on the US east coast have central areas which are quite compact — for example Boston, Miami is certainly not one of them. Nor will you necessarily be rushing to head into downtown Miami, which is predominantly a business district. The geography of Miami is much more dispersed, and this really tips the scales in favour of having a rental car, even if you aren’t planning on leaving town. If you are visiting people, or businesses, then Miami is a city of sprawl, even by US standards. Over half of the population of the Miami metropolitan area do not live in incorporated cities, and walkable neighbourhoods are rare.
  • Cruise. If you are in Miami because you are using the cruise terminal and you have a few days before your flight home, why stay restricted to slow public transport? You’ve been stuck on a boat at 25 knots all week (or fortnight), only a car can give you freedom to see the best the area has to offer.
  • Public transport isn’t “nice”: Although we want to be as unbiased as possible at Carornocar, we are still ‘driven’ (if that is the best word) by Architecture, and this gives us a bias towards public transport, as stations can often be very impressive buildings, whereas freeways and car parks rarely are. Yet, Miami somehow manages to reverse this notion – the new Miami Central Station is one of the most monstrous carbuncles to be built anywhere in the world, yet Miami has so many spectacular road bridges. Putting the buildings to one side (transport is there to get you from A to B), its location says it all – the so-called ‘centre’, sorry ‘center’ of Miami is actually just next to the airport. This might well be the geographical centre of the Miami area, but the metro (Metrorail) and suburban (Tri-Rail) rail links will just connect you to more sprawl and the barren business district, not to Miami Beach, where the major resort hotels are.
  • Vistas: Roads in Miami are in stark contrast to the roads in Orlando. Around Orlando, you can drive on mile on mile of flat concrete peppered with suburban sprawl. Miami is a city of waterways. Now it would be a stretch to compare ultramodern Miami with classical Venice, but Miami is still a city of bridges and sweeping vistas dotted with lush palm trees. If you are unfortunate enough to be travelling around the city by bus, you will find yourself wanting to get off and take pictures, and then realising that you might have to wait another half an hour until the next bus comes along.
  • Miami Mansions: Miami will tempt you to drive around some of its plusher neighbourhoods, where you’ll see all manner of villas of different architectural styles. Again, a car is a must.
  • Beaches: With a hire car, you can drive up the coast to Fort Lauderdale, or just get away from the bustle of the city itself and visit some less crowded beaches – but you might have to drive for a while to find them!

Beyond Miami

  • Florida Keys. This isn’t just about driving around Miami, where alternative options are available, as mentioned below. A drive down through the Florida Keys is an absolute must, and you really need a car to have the flexibility to do this at your own pace. The numerous bridges that connect the islands that make up the Keys provide an endless rotation of natural and man-made wonders, with the world-famous 7 Mile Bridge being the highlight. For this reason alone, our recommendation is to rent a a car in Miami, even when we don’t think it’s an essential for Orlando.
  • Everglades: A car is a must to visit the Florida Everglades, unless you would rather go on a packaged tour.
  • Tampa and Orlando? There are no big theme parks in Miami, so a rental car is also good for heading north west to the Tampa Bay area (for Busch Gardens), or north to Orlando – but both of these are relatively long drives – 4 1/2 hours or 4 hours respectively. You might find it easier to catch a local flight to enjoy a multi-city stay including either of these two locations – see our Orlando page for more about car hire there.

[whynot city=”Miami”]

  • Elevation: Miami may have a terrible transport system, but the Metrorail is at least elevated. Better still, the MetroMover in the downtown area is one of the world’s few elevated city centre transport systems, and the skyscrapers in Miami are a wonderful mix of looking up to glass and concrete reflecting a clear blue sky, and looking down at verdant landscaping. However, this won’t take you anywhere near the hotel resorts on Miami beach!
  • Deco bikes – who could think of a cooler name for the community bikes program(me) which operates on Miami Beach. Unfortunately, the scheme hasn’t extended beyond this area, so you will still need either a hire car or to use public transit.
  • Who cares about the local attitude? You’re here to enjoy your Miami holiday on your terms.
  • Boats: To enjoy views of some of Miami’s most upmarket homes, you will need to take to the water. This is best done on a tour boat, and you will be picked up from your hotel anyway, so no car needed.
  • Be lazy: Miami is a city of lazing around cabanas and then going to sizzling late-night parties. We don’t all have to turn up like the celebrities in programmes like CSI Miami, a taxi will do perfectly well.
  • Fly or Drive? If you do intend to travel between Orlando and Miami, regular coach services are available, but you can also fly. Miami to Orlando flights are very frequent and incredibly cheap.
  • Everglades? Swamps? Doesn’t that mean alligators? Maybe somebody else can drive!
  • Crime: Much as though we prefer to think of ‘Miami Nice’, the city does still have a reputation for the vice, and this includes car crime.

Beyond Miami without a car

  • Coaches and Trains: You can, of course, visit the Florida Keys by coach, but bear in mind that scheduled bus services heading for Key West are there to provide transportation, so you will miss many of the best photo opportunities. Other bus and coach services are available to nearby cities, and Tri-rail provides service to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
  • Tours: Miami has a varied network of tour providers who will show you the best the city has to offer, without needing to use a rental car. Excursions are available to the Everglades, and even as far as the Disney resorts in Orlando.

James says - a few trip notes:


  • We know that the USA has a big car culture. On arriving at Miami airport, I asked about a bus into central Miami, and was told that they did not exist. This was not the case, but it does show the attitude people have here. Now some people don’t care what others think — and as it turned out, the bus appeared to be full of airport workers. There were also a couple of Scandinavians who couldn’t care less about how they got around. On its own, the attitude really isn’t an issue, but to actually get to South Beach, a transfer had to be made at a busy highway intersection, and this was certainly not pleasant.After a day of enjoying the Miami beach boardwalk at a leisurely pace, a car was hired to enjoy the Florida Keys, as mentioned above.

Do I need a car in Miami? – The Verdict:

There might not be a strict need to rent a car in Miami, if you just want to hang around Miami beach. There is no need for a car in Miami just for enjoying the lounge life. However, if you really want to see south Florida properly, then a visit to the Florida Keys  is well and truly essential. So is a trip into the Everglades National Park. On top of this, if you rent a car in Miami, you are also going to have much easier access to the wealth of diverse neighbourhoods that make up this city. 

VERDICT – YES (and a strong one!)

Ratings

Car rental in - Miami Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Miami?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Miami?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Miami?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Miami if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Miami if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Miami if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

10

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Would you hire a car in Miami?

Have you driven in Miami? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Miami?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Nashville

Do you need a car in Nashville?

Should you rent a car in Nashville USA > Nashville

Nashville prides itself as being “Music City USA”, and with the focus being on Country and Western, there’s no shortage of live music available, and needless to say, if you are just sticking around the city centre, then local buses and taxis are fine.

Nashville Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Nashville also has a commuter rail service under the banner of “STAR” (South Tennessee Area Railway), although at present there is just one line. Although this route also includes a stop at the world-famous Opryland live music resort, it’s probably easier to get there by bus or taxi.

Why should you rent a car in Nashville?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Nashville?

Nashville Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

60%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€170

 #199/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €260

176/300

 

Free parking score

Total 631 - of which 291 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

46%

#138/300

 
  • Yet Nashville is really about a lot more than just the music, and it’s an obvious place to start a road trip heading east into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (see also Knoxville).
  • Nashville also sits at the north-eastern end of one of America’s great driving roads – the Natchez Trace Parkway, and although there are also cycling trails along some sections of the old route, this is still really driving country.
  • To visit the Jack Daniels Distillery and Tour, you will need to drive for around two hours south of Nashville.

[whynot city=”Nashville”]

  • A car isn’t needed if you are just staying within the city of Nashville.

Do you need a car in Nashville? Nashville car hire verdict – yes, almost certainly useful.

Ratings

Car rental in - Nashville Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Nashville?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Nashville?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Nashville?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Nashville if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Nashville if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Nashville if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

9

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Would you hire a car in Nashville?

Have you driven in Nashville? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Nashville?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below: