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New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island

Road trip: should you rent a car or take your own?

Are you planning a summer road trip? If so, you’ve probably come face-to-face with the all-important question: should you rent a car or take your own?

Here’s an overview of all the elements you must consider to make an informed decision. Let the road trip planning begin!

Reasons to rent a car

Let’s start with why you might consider renting a car for your next road trip.

1- Take Advantage of a Nearly New Car That’s in Excellent Condition

Have you ever rented a car? If so, you may have noticed that they’re spotless and in great condition. If it’s your first time, prepare to be surprised. In fact, rental cars are almost always clean and mechanically sound. They’re truly a joy to drive!

2- Benefit From More Space

If you have a small car and plan on taking more than two passengers, renting a car may be your best option.

On top of loading more people into the car, you must also consider how much luggage each person will bring. Your car can easily get weighed down with the extra things you need to take on a road trip.

3- Prevent Wear and Tear of Your Vehicle

When you drive a lot, your car suffers the consequences. Consequently, renting a car allows you to avoid wearing out your vehicle and running up the number on the odometer.

By the same token, you can postpone your car’s next oil change if you leave it at home.

The Costs

Whether you decide to rent a car or take your own for your road trip, there are costs you must consider.

1- Insurance

Your own vehicle:

  • Ensure your vehicle is completely insured. This is usually called full-coverage auto insurance.
  • Important: confirm your car insurance is still valid and that you haven’t made any late payments.
  • If you plan on sharing the driving, make sure you add additional drivers to your car insurance policy.

Rented vehicle:

  • Ask the rental company how many drivers can be insured on the car.
  • Call your credit card company and ask if rental car insurance is included in your package. This will determine if you need to add insurance to your rental agreement or if you can save on these fees.


2- Gas

Renting a vehicle makes sense if you’re travelling with a group of people because you can all split the cost of gas. You can rent a roomy vehicle with a fuel-efficient engine without worrying about driving up the rental price.

However, if you rent a car with more cargo space or an efficient engine and only plan on taking two passengers, the rental fees and cost of fuel could quickly add up.

In short, base your transportation budget on the amount of money you’re willing to pay for gas. Depending on your situation, you may be able to save money by renting a car or taking your own.

3- Peak Season vs Offseason

Rental car prices vary depending on the time of year. During the summer, prices usually increase when demand is high. Consequently, it’s a good idea to reserve your car in advance.

Things to Consider When Renting a Car

That’s it! You’ve decided to rent a car for your road trip. Here’s a list of things to do before you leave.

1- Insured Drivers

As mentioned above, it’s important to arrange your insurance before you leave. Make sure to check with the passengers and determine who’d like to drive. If needed, book a car with multi-driver insurance.

2- Rental Company Locations

If your road trip will take you thousands of miles from your starting point, you may have to return the car to a different location.

Choose a car rental company with branches along your route. For example, if you plan to drop off the car in a different city than where you rented it, you must make sure the company has a branch in that location.

It may also be a good idea to choose a company with several physical locations along your route. That way, if you run into a problem, it’ll be easier to contact an official or affiliated dealer.

3- Cargo Space

A bigger car for more passengers is fine. However, you need to make sure it has enough cargo space.

Determine what kind of luggage you’ll be bringing along. For example, suitcases, backpacks, sports gear or camping items. This will help you decide how much cargo space you need.

4- The Type of Vehicle

While preparing for your road trip, map out your route. This will allow you to scout out the roads and avoid bumpy or poorly maintained ones.
For example, if you know your road trip will take you into the mountains or areas with dirt or gravel roads, chances are a sports car won’t cut it.

Conversely, if your road trip takes you through many crowded cities with heavy traffic, renting an all-wheel-drive truck won’t be a fun experience.

Vehicle Maintenance

As you get ready to hit the road on summer vacation with your own vehicle or a rental, here are some recommendations for tools and accessories to bring with you and tasks to do before you leave.

1- Accessories and Tools

  • Cellphone charger
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Battery charging cables
  • First-aid kit
  • Box of tissues


2- Tasks

  • Make sure your driver’s licence is valid for the duration of your trip (e.g., if your birthday is on your vacation).
  • Pin important locations and places you want to visit on your GPS app. Make sure to save hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, gas stations, garages and hospitals.

You must base the decision to rent a car for your road trip on several personal and logistical factors. However, one thing is certain in both cases: you must plan your transportation and outings.