go car free course

Lesson 20

Driving Is Fun Again: The Joy of Rental Car Weekends

If car sharing is not available in your area or does not fit your needs, occasionally renting a car is a convenient alternative. As discussed in the previous lesson, there are certain tasks that are best accomplished by driving a motor vehicle.

These include moving heavy loads, traveling beyond the reach of public transit, and going on road trips. Renting a car may also be worthwhile when you have friends or family coming in from out of town and you’ll need to chauffeur them around.

Weekend Rentals

I recommend renting cars on the weekend for a couple of reasons. First, weekend rentals are usually cheaper. Enterprise RentACar used to have a weekend special, but that stopped during the pandemic.

The lower weekend rates usually do not include unlimited mileage or out-of-state travel. But they allow plenty of mileage for running errands and visiting people.

Here’s an insider’s tip: pick up the car on Saturday morning and return it first thing Monday morning. That way you get practically the whole weekend with the car but you pay for only two days.

The second reason I suggest renting a car on the weekend is that you can get more done – assuming Saturday and Sunday are your days off work.

My wife and I save up our car errands over a period of weeks, then rent a car and get them all done in a single weekend. Along with making trips to the shopping center, the home improvement store, and fun activities with our children, we’ll also plan visits with friends who live out in the suburbs or other distant areas.

Car Free Success Story:

When I need a car, I rent one. I always get a new car, and when I turn it back in, that’s it! No more worries about insurance, maintenance, etc. Truly a great short-term relationship.

Garrick S., 43

Electrical Engineer, Santa Barbara, CA

Planning Is Important

The best way to make the most of your rental car weekends is to plan them well in advance. I find it helpful to keep a running list of everything I want to accomplish the next time I rent a car.

Then a few days before the rental car weekend, I’ll create a rough itinerary so I can maximize my efficiency in the forty-eight hours I have the car. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in two days with a little preplanning and organization.

It’s also a good idea to schedule your rental car weekends to coincide with events on your social calendar. For example, if you know you’ll have to drive to a friend’s graduation ceremony in early May, plan that as your rental car weekend. That way you can get all your shopping and errands done on Saturday and go to the graduation on Sunday.

Here is a list of things to consider putting on your to-do list for every rental car weekend:


  • Bulk shopping at Sam’s Club or Costco
  • Shopping for large home improvement items or furniture (rent a truck or van)
  • Moving anything large or heavy
  • Making merchandise returns
  • Taking something to be repaired
  • Visiting friends or relatives
  • Shopping at specialty stores that can’t be reached by bicycle or transit
  • Shopping for clothing that you must try on for proper fit
Renting a car with Enterprise graphic

Pick Enterprise

I recommend Enterprise Rent-a-Car (Enterprise.com) for several reasons. First, their business model is quite different from the other big rental car companies. Enterprise has mastered the neighborhood model, which means they have locations all over town. I think they have about 50 locations just in Los Angeles County and 7,600 locations worldwide. In contrast, the other large rental car companies focus primarily on airport and downtown locations.

Second, their customer service is excellent. They’re obsessed with making sure every customer is completely satisfied.

Third, they take care of their frequent customers, often providing free upgrades and special deals, like unlimited mileage. They also send out email specials with coupons that offer their best rates.

And most importantly, they actually pick you up and drop you off at no extra charge. This is a tremendous convenience for anyone living car free.

Car Free Success Story:

On occasion when I need a car, I walk two blocks to Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Having a car rental location in my neighborhood provides a safety net for those unforeseen emergencies or weekend trips. An Enterprise employee even drives me to work on Monday morning after I return the car.

Julie B., 40

Regional Marketing Specialist, Salt Lake City, UT

Use the Right Credit Card

Some credit cards offer a collision damage waiver program. This feature means the credit-card company provides insurance coverage for any damage done to a rental car. If you pay for the rental with a credit card that offers a CDW program you can decline the rental car company’s very expensive collision insurance.

Contact your credit card provider or review your credit card agreement to see if you have this coverage. It can save you between ten and twenty dollars a day when renting a car. Caution: make sure you read the fine print so you know exactly what’s covered and what isn’t. Most credit cards will not cover pickup trucks.

Car Free Success Story:

We do rent a car on Thanksgiving so we can hit both families’ turkey dinners on the same day. We rent a car on some out-of-town vacations, too. The most recent rental was seven months ago – we rented a cargo van so we could pick up a couch in Wisconsin that I bought on eBay.

Rochelle C., 38

Scientific Copy Editor, Chicago, IL

In your first few months of living car free, you may find yourself renting a car once a month. But as you become more experienced at living without a car you’ll find other ways to do the things that you used to accomplish by driving.

So you’ll rely on renting cars less and less. Eventually, renting a car once every few months will be plenty. Many car free people never rent cars. But in the beginning, renting is a great way to ease the transition to a car free lifestyle.

Lesson 21 is titled Go on a Ride-Along: Friends, Relatives, and Coworkers

When you go car free you’ll spend more time with friends and family, sometimes by sharing rides and carpooling or going on trips together. But there are a few rules to make sure no one feels taken advantage of. Lesson 21 will explain.

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