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Most people learn to drive at some point in their lives. Driving gives you a great sense of freedom and allows you to get to places that you could only have imagined before. However, for many owning a vehicle just isn’t practical and it isn’t used regularly enough to make it cost effective. In this case, access to a vehicle you can use when you need to, such as for a vacation or business trip, is a must. Alternatively, you may have a vehicle, but it is not practical to take it on vacation with you because you need to fly or the cost is just too expensive, in which case you need access to a vehicle when you arrive at your destination. In both scenarios, ride sharing and car rental are possible answers.

Long gone are the days when ride sharing simply meant grabbing a lift from a friend. Ride sharing is big business with companies like Lyft and Uber connecting passengers and drivers across the United States and beyond. Convenience and cost are two of the main reasons people give for ride sharing. But, how does ride sharing compare with renting a car, especially if you need to get to several different places over the course of a few days? Is it even possible to compare them given everyone’s experience will be different? By looking at five key factors we can get a better understanding of both and consider which is preferable.

Related Post: How to Road Trip On a Budget

Considering Costs

The costs of hiring a car can soon mount up. There is the actual rental cost, extras if you choose them, and rental insurance. On top of this, there are gas costs, parking charges, and tolls to consider. Some of these costs you can reduce or limit by choosing your rental car carefully and limiting the extras that you agree to. Don’t upgrade the car unless you really want or need to and get them to explain exactly why you need whatever other extras you are being offered. Other costs like gas and parking charges are necessary and the cost depends on where you buy your gas, how many miles you are doing, the terrain you are driving through, and where you are parking.

At first glance, the cost of car sharing seems much simpler and much cheaper. When car sharing, you simply pay for the journey you take. The price is agreed beforehand and there are few, if any, financial surprises along the way. However, the costs can soon mount up for car sharing depending on the number of journeys you need to take and the length of those journeys.

When it comes to costs, forward planning is the answer to deciding what is best for you. Check out local car rentals, read the small print, and don’t forget about gas and parking. Similarly, with car shares, check rates for your destination of the company’s website. Don’t forget to account for per minute and per mile charges, as well as minimum fares and higher rates and prime times. This will give you a much clearer picture which is the best option for your needs.

Homing in On the Hassle

Your choice is not just about cost, it is also about the hassle that surrounds any journey. Minimizing hassle is an important step in a positive and calm journey. For many people just talking about renting a car is enough to raise the hassle and consequently their stress levels. Even if you complete the process online, you still need to make endless decisions about the vehicle, extras, insurances, and such like. Then there is providing relevant documentation and the constant worry of damaging the vehicle and needing to pay extra or deal with insurers.

In comparison, car sharing seems hassle free. You simply book the ride, undertake your journey, then pay on arrival. When you need to travel again you repeat the process. But it starts becoming more fraught when there are no rides available, when you don’t get on with the driver, or are unhappy with how they drive.

Which is better in terms of hassle depends greatly on what you find stressful. If forms, choices, and pushy salespeople are enough to raise your blood pressure, then maybe renting is not for you. However, if waiting around and uncertainty are issues, then renting a car that you have complete control over might be for the best.

Divining Your Destination

Depending on your destination, both car sharing and renting can be fraught with difficulties. Traffic, accessibility, and the lack of car sharing opportunities can all cause problems. If you are renting a car, then it is important that you know the rules of the road in the place you are going. Of course, if you are only traveling locally that shouldn’t be an issue. But if you are traveling to a different state, Canada, or Europe and then hiring a car, you could find some major difference. For example, it is illegal to run out of gas in Germany and in the UK, you drive on the opposite side of the road to the US.

The biggest worry you face with car sharing is whether it is actually available at your destination. Uber is not available in many European cities and doesn’t operate in less developed countries. Coverage may also be different in different States within the US.

Getting to know your destination is a definite step you need to take before deciding whether to rent or car share.

Dealing with Dangers

Do you feel confident behind the wheel? Can you deal with places that are unfamiliar? How do you cope when the traffic is heavier than you are used? Are you confident driving at night or in low light? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself before you rent a car. If you drive regularly or are confident in your abilities, then great, renting is for you.

If however, you are less sure of your driving, especially in new places, then car sharing may be better. However, that does not mean that car sharing is danger free. Accidents do happen and there is always some amount of risk. However, car riding sharing companies do carry insurance for such instances. With car sharing, you are getting into a car with a complete stranger. Despite background checks and customer ratings, some incidents do occur, and you need to be aware of this, if remote, possibility.

It is important to weigh up the dangers of both approaches and decide which carries the lesser risk for you.

The Freedom Factor

Renting a car gives you much greater freedom to go where you want when you want. Once you pick up the vehicle it is yours for the entire rental period. If you suddenly fancy a moonlight drive, great, it’s all yours.

If you are ride sharing, then your freedom is much more limited. You are reliant on the availability of others. If no one is out, you could miss out on the journey of a lifetime or many of the sights in the place you are visiting.

Decide how much freedom you want during the period that you would be renting or sharing. Does this match your chosen form of transport?

Ride Sharing vs Renting a Car – The Bottom Line

There is no single right or wrong answer when it comes to ride sharing vs car rental. Much depends on your preferences and whether you are traveling alone or with others. If there are several of you, then renting is generally the best option. Seating in ride shares are often limited to two people and get more expensive if you need more space. However, if you plan on only making a few journeys within the period you would rent for, then ride sharing can be much more cost effective.

The answer to ride sharing vs renting a car is to do decide what it is you need, do your homework, and choose the method that best suits your needs, your budget, and your destination.

Sources:

  1. How to Rent a Car – WikiHow
  2. Carpool – Wikipedia

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