Renting a car instead of driving your own car for long drives?

This is not specifically a WDW question. We’re thinking of spending next Thanksgiving in DC. It’s a shame we’ve never taken the kids there (and, added bonus, I won’t have to see DMIL on Thanksgiving!).

It’s about a 425 mile drive from the Boston area to DC. I’ve heard of some people renting cars for long trips. The car that we’d take is the Toyota Sienna (DS15 and DD10 need to be in separate rows for rides longer than 1 hour or we’d end up leaving them both at a rest area in New Jersey). We’ve taken longer car trips but now the van has 100,000-plus miles on it and is less reliable than it was 10 years ago. So, I’m wondering, should I rent a car?

Why do people rent if they own a car? Is it more economical than putting miles on your own car? Are there other reasons?


I rented a car last summer to travel from mid-Hudson valley NY to Raleigh, NC & back.

I did it for two reasons: less wear & tear on my car and more space for 3 kids. Putting them in one row would not have worked for such a long drive.

It cost a little more than driving my own car, but it was worth it. :wink:

We usually rent to save mileage on our car when we take trips longer than about an hour. Cost is a bit higher than driving our own but we think it’s worth it to rent.

A little off, but I’d suggest the train for a trip to dc. You don’t need or want a car in dc and the train is reliable and comfortable.

@danadanes I did consider the train. But the Acela (6.5 hours) costs way more than flying. The regular Amtrack – over $1,000 less expensive than the Acela – is still a 7.5 hour trip. Is the advantage of taking the train as simple as somebody else doing the driving?

You can probably fly into National with JetBlue for not much more than the train and you’ll get there in under 1.5 hours.

It would really depend on the age of the vehicle. If you have a newer vehicle, especially if you have warranty, then no way. Renting a vehicle is typically quite a bit more money than driving your own. Plus, if someone dings your car (or you ding it) while your gone, then it’s YOUR choice if you want to repair that damage or not. If you’re driving a rental vehicle - you have no say in any damage. ANYTHING happens, it’s your responsibility/your insurance claim, and not fixing it is not an option. Really, in the grand scheme of things, 1000 miles of highway driving is next to nothing for wear and tear on your car. You’ll put more wear and tear on it driving around home in a month. If you’re really worried, take it to your mechanic and have him do a good inspection on it before you leave to see if he sees anything that might pop up. Get the oil, fuel and air filters changed before you go.

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Trains are pretty fun!
Also, no parking fees. Most hotels will charge 20/25 per day.

There’s a reason why the government allows 57.5 cents as a reimbursement rate. Every mile you drive adds up and adds wear and tear. I say if the miles you plan on driving times 57.5 is more than the rental cost + gas, then rent

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Also, the metro is super-easy to use, clean and we felt safe. We’ve been to DC 4 or 5 times; stay in Maryland; take the train into the city, and use the metro pass to tour.

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Any suggestion on staying in Bethesda vs. Silver Spring? I’m using the Unofficial Guide to DC. Lots of info about hotels but not much discussion of those two towns.

We usually stay in Silver Springs with relatives. The metro stop is close by with easy parking. I’m thinking that it was (is) approximately 45 minutes. But, I’m sorry, I cannot remember if that was only the train ride or leaving their house and arriving in DC. Either way we always enjoy the ride in.