Today I’m talking about one of our favorite travel hacks.
Is there anything more heinous than the traditional rental car industry? Between the inflated pricing, the convoluted booking process, and the nightmarish hassle of actually, you know, getting the car itself (have you ever had to stand in a long rental car pickup line with two weary toddlers?), renting a car can be the worst part of traveling.
Unless we are traveling to a big city, we almost always book rental cars. Tyler is far too impatient to rely on Uber, and we like having the freedom to come and go as we please. I’ve also found that renting a car kind of forces us to see and understand the area in a more complete way. And while I think every college student should experience Europe by way of trains and gritty Ryanair flights at least once, I feel like we always get more out of trips when we can move around at our own pace.
Also, when it comes to traveling with babies or kids, renting a car makes life SO much easier. When we took Charlotte to Europe when she was a baby, having our own car made the experience much less stressful than it could have been. With a rental car, you have your own space and don’t have to worry about completely packing everything all the way back up when you travel to a new location–this is crucial when you have a bunch of baby gear in tow. (Btw, there’s a lot more advice where that came from on this list of lifesaving tips for traveling with a baby).
We first discovered Turo, a car-sharing marketplace, a few years ago.
We were flying up to Reno to spend the weekend in Tahoe with my family. Charlotte was 2 and Emmie was 6 months old. We took one look at the sky-high rental car prices and knew we needed to pivot, lol. We decided to use Turo to book a cute Jeep Wrangler for the weekend and had the BEST experience.
Ever since, we’ve exclusively rented Turo cars when we travel. Turo makes renting a car one million times easier than booking with traditional rental agencies. And the prices are often MUCH cheaper, making Turo a no-brainer for the budget-conscious traveler (it’s me).
As a matter of fact, we have actually started renting out one of our own cars with Turo! I am going to save that topic for another blog post.
In today’s post, I’m going to talk about what Turo is and how to use it to book a car for your next trip.
Turo is the largest car-sharing marketplace in the world.
It is kind of like Airbnb but for cars. Turo car owners list their car on Turo’s website, and car renters/travelers use Turo’s website to filter by city, dates, and desired car make/model to reserve a car for their trip.
In addition, Turo provides a cheaper and more convenient alternative to big rental car agencies, allowing travelers to rent vehicles from local owners.
Turo is available in the US, Canada, the UK, and now Australia too!
Turo’s website is intuitive and easy to navigate. So finding and booking a car is fairly straightforward (I’ll walk through the process below).
You can browse through listings and select a car that’s available during your stay based on whatever make and model you prefer–you can also see the car’s rating and reviews which is super helpful.
Once you book your car, you can message the car owner via the app to ask any questions you have and finalize your preferred pickup and drop off location.
The car owner will drop off the car at the pickup location and leave the car keys in a lock box on the window. They might also remotely unlock the car for you instead of using a traditional lock box. The owner will use the app to message you the details of where the car is located (a certain parking spot or whatever) and the code to the lock box if need be.
If you’re flying into the airport, there is nothing more convenient than having your car dropped off for you in the parking lot. Then all you have to do is grab your luggage, walk over to the parking lot, and type in the code to the lock box on your car–SO much easier than using a traditional rental agency, right?
As a renter, you also have the ability to select a car whose owner can drop off anywhere within a certain radius, not just the airport.
We always filter by cars with car seats. Having a car seat all ready to go in our car saves us the hassle of traveling with ours.
Dropping the car off at the end of your trip is just as convenient. You’ll coordinate with the owner to let them know what time you’ll leave the car in the parking lot and just use the lock box to store away the key for them when you do so.
You can cancel your Turo reservation and receive a refund up to 24 hours prior to the booking.
We have always found Turo to be safe and reliable.
Turo offers three tiers of protection plans in case anything happens to the car while you’re renting it–these would kick in after your personal insurance coverage (although personal protection is not required to rent with Turo).
Each car goes through a rigorous vetting process to make sure it meets Turo’s standards for safety, operation, and condition.
On top of that, Turo offers 24/7 roadside assistance and emergency customer support.
And since customers and car owners can use the app to message and communicate prior to and during the booking, your personal cell number and email remain private and secure.
The reviews on each profile are extremely helpful in determining what kind of experience you’re bound to have with a car owner.
Of course, it’s so important to do your own research. But I love that Turo has put systems in place to protect both the customers and car owners.
Turo requires that all customers sign up with their driver’s license and other information prior to requesting to book a car. Turo will assess–and hopefully approve–your profile, and then you’ll be ready to start looking for a car to reserve.
Use the website to narrow down the dates and location you are traveling to. You can also filter by type of vehicle, mileage included (meaning how far you can drive with the car), pick-up and return options, etc.
You can either select a car that allows you to book instantly or request to book with a car owner that will review your profile before accepting the booking (Airbnb does this as well).
At this stage in the process, you’ll need to select your desired pick-up and dropoff location. Some hosts may charge a fee for dropping the vehicle off anywhere outside their home’s location.
You’ll also need to select a Turo protection plan. The protection plan includes liability insurance and sets the level of responsibility for any physical damage to the car. If you choose to decline a plan, you’ll be responsible for the total amassed damage to the vehicle should anything happen to it. While some credit cards provide rental auto insurance as a benefit, this is likely not the case for a peer car sharing service like Turo. It’s worth it to check, but you’ll want to make sure you have your bases covered here before you book. (You can check out this link for more info on how Turo insurance works for guests).
I recommend paying attention to the mileage allowed for the car to make sure that it makes sense for how far/often you’ll be driving on your trip. Definitely take note of this if you are planning any kind of road trip.
Once your booking is complete, you can message the owner with any relevant questions you might have leading up to the trip. The owner will use the app to communicate with you on the day of, letting you know exactly where they left the car and what the code to the lock box is, etc. And then at the end of your trip, you’ll return the car back to the same location (unless otherwise discussed with the owner).
I cannot overstate how much easier this process with Turo is than booking through traditional car rental companies. To wistfully exit the airport and walk straight out to your reserved car is just the *most* convenient and has made traveling (especially with our kids!) so much easier.
More travel tips:
It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?