Is it just me, or is it absurdly expensive to rent a car these days? I’ve often found it’s more affordable to fly all the way to Europe where the public transportation and train systems are good than it is for me to fly a few states over and visit a city where I need to rent a car. What gives?
If you’re looking for a great travel destination where a rental car is absolutely not necessary, you may want to think about one of these places:
Being from the United States, I often travel within my own country for mini-getaways. The flight times are shorter than many destinations abroad and even the East coast is a feasible long weekend getaway from where I live on the West coast if I plan my flight times strategically. There are flight deals to be had on airlines such as Southwest, Jet Blue, Spirit and Frontier, but the only problem is that most cities in the United States aren’t really the greatest for public transportation. However, if you stick to New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston, and Chicago, you’ll find the public transportation options not only adequate to get wherever you want to go, but also likely preferable to lugging an expensive rental car around. Viva affordable long weekend!
Side note: While California public transportation isn’t the best, it’s very possible to visit my fine home of San Diego without renting a car. Check out my guide to San Diego’s public transit for some tips and a run-down on how it all works. If you want to visit our neighbors to the North of Los Angeles without a car while you’re here, I suggest taking the train into the city and then using a car service such as Uber or Lyft to get around.
Australia is a big country with a lot of open space, so you’ll likely need a car if you plan on getting out of one of the major cities, but if you stick to big cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, you’ll find that they have fantastic public transit systems that will take you anywhere you want to go. I have yet to visit Melbourne (though I hear their public transit is great). I have visited Sydney, however, and between the buses, trains, the underground, and the harbour ferries, I was able to explore anywhere in Sydney I wanted to go. Highly recommended.
Like Europe, you’ll have no issues getting around in much of Asia without a car unless you want to go out into the countryside. If you plan on visiting Japan (really, all of Japan), you’re good to go with a JR Rail pass and possibly a few subway tickets. Other Asian cities such as Seoul, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Taipei, Shanghai, and Manila have public transit systems that will be more than adequate for getting you wherever you want to go. Plus, if you’re like me you probably find the notion of driving a car in Asia where the road signs are likely written in a manner that will be confusing to we English speakers a little intimidating, you’ll be glad to have a nice public transit system to get you around town.
I was going to list some individual cities until I realized this list could pretty much incorporate all the major cities in Europe. I’ve been to the continent several times and each time I’ve been carless and have had no trouble at all getting around. Europe is a fantastic place for the traveler without a rental car. You’ll really only need one if you decide to head out into the countryside.
So, don’t let the expense of a rental car keep you from traveling. Just get out there and go somewhere that doesn’t require a car. Happy travels!