Zipcar, Turo, Car2Go: Which Is The Best Carsharing Service?
Travelers today have no shortage of options when it comes to renting a car. In particular, the rise of carsharing services has revolutionized the way people get around.
As of May 2019, carsharing was available in 59 countries, according to an industry analysis by movmi and the Carsharing Association (CSA), with 236 carshare operators in 3,128 cities.
But why choose a carsharing service over a traditional car rental company like Enterprise or Hertz? Pam Cooley, executive director at CSA, says it often boils down to cost: ‘Carsharing is usually cheaper than car rental companies,’ she says. Indeed, by some estimates carsharing prices are about 30 percent lower than car-rental rates.
Still, ‘if you’re a traveler, you have to research what businesses operate at your destination,’ Cooley adds.
To help you narrow down your carsharing options, we’ll look at three of the biggest players in the industry: Zipcar, Turo, and Car2Go. Here’s how these services stack up:
How it works: Zipcar customers pay a monthly membership fee in exchange for a Zipcard, which they scan on a device under. the windshield of their chosen rental vehicle to unlock and lock the car at the start and end of each reservation. Each vehicle has a reserved parking space (called a ‘home location’), where it must be returned with at least one-quarter tank of gas. Members book reservations through Zipcar’s website or mobile app, which they use to locate the rental car.
What it includes: Zipcar covers the cost of gas, insurance, and maintenance. It also offers dedicated parking spots in many areas. All reservations include up to 180 miles of driving per day.
How much it costs: Membership fees start at $7 a month or $70 a year. In return, Zipcar members can rent cars from $7.75 an hour or $69 a day. (Rates vary depending on the type of vehicle.) Each car rental includes a complimentary gas card, so customers pay nothing at the pump to refill their ride.
Where it’s available: Launched in 2000, Zipcar is the largest carsharing service in the world. The company operates in more than 500 cities and towns and on more than 600 college campuses around the world.
Fleet: Zipcar offers members vehicles from more than 60 different makes and models, including Audis, BMWs, Mini Coopers, Prius hybrids, minivans, pickup trucks, and cargo vans.
How it works: Unlike Zipcar, where customers rent vehicles from the company, Turo users rent cars directly from local car owners. The owners have the option to set their own rates, or they can have Turo set their car’s price based on local market data. Customers make reservations through Turo’s website or mobile app, and they set their pickup dates and times to suit their plans. To exchange keys, owners will deliver the car to custom locations around town or nearby airports, or allow travelers to pick up the vehicle at the owner’s chosen location.
What it includes: Depending on the vehicle, insurance is provided to the driver from Turo or the car owner. Car owners choose how many miles or kilometers they want to include per trip; this can be a daily, weekly, or monthly limit. Turo provides 24/7 roadside assistance.
How much it costs: In addition to the car owner’s rental rate, each rental charges a trip fee (that varies depending on the location), a security deposit, and taxes. (Some car owners also charge a delivery fee.) The car owner may also ask the renter to pay for additional post-trip costs, such as cleaning and tolls. Typically, renters pay for their own gas. There is no membership fee for car renters.
Where it’s available: Though Turo operates in a number of cities around the world, its primary marketplaces are in the United States, the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Fleet: Looking for an exotic or luxury vehicle? Although car offerings vary depending on location and availability, Turo makes and models often include Teslas, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Maseratis, and more. Economy cars, SUVs, mini-vans, and pickup trucks are also offered.
More on Carsharing: Getaround Makes the Car Rental Experience Personal
How it works: A German rental car company, car2go’s business model is simple: customers use the service’s mobile app to search for available cars in their area. The vehicles are located on the street or in designated parking lots. Customers access the car using the app (with no reservations required), drive it for however long they want to, and then park it in any approved legal parking spot in the vehicle’s designated home area, such as within a city’s limits—meaning there’s no need to return the car to its original location. (That’s a nice convenience.)
What it includes: Car insurance is provided by car2go. The company also provides roadside assistance around the clock and free parking spaces in certain areas.
How much it costs: There are no annual or monthly fees or membership costs. Cars can be rented by the minute, hour, or day. Rates vary depending on the vehicle model, city, and time. To give you a benchmark, though: a one-hour car2go rental in Washington, D.C. starts at $16. Some pickup locations, such as airports, may charge an additional fee. Also, customers are subject to a cleaning fee of $50 for stains, smoke, and pet hair.
Where it’s available: The company operates in major cities in the U.S. and Europe, including New York City, Seattle, London, Rome, and Paris. One big caveat: in October 2019 car2go announced it is pulling out of five North American cities: Austin, TX; Calgary, Alberta; Portland, OR; Denver; and Chicago.
Fleet: The company offers three types of vehicles: a smartcar (a tiny two-seater that’s ideal for squeezing into tight parking spaces), the Mercedes-Benz GLA (a hatchback that offers extra cargo space), and the Mercedes-Benz CLA (a stylish four-seat sedan).
The best carsharing service truly depends on your needs. If you do a lot of traveling and rent cars frequently, paying to be a Zipcar member might make financial sense, since the company offers relatively low rental prices. If you only need a vehicle to get you from point A to point B, car2go is a great option, since you can leave the car wherever you choose. Turo, meanwhile, offers a number of sports cars you can’t find from the other carsharing providers.
How to Save Time and Money on Thanksgiving Travel in 2019
If you’re one of the more than 54 million Americans who are predicted to be traveling over the Thanksgiving 2019 holiday, you already know your journey won’t be as easy as “over the river and through the woods.” But even with long lines at airport security and bumper-to-bumper traffic on major thoroughfares looming ahead, there are a number of data-driven tips that can help you search out deals, avoid the worst crowds, and arrive at your holiday destination with your appetite and enthusiasm intact. Get started soon The good news is it’s not too late to save time and money on Thanksgiving travel. In fact, now through the end of October is the ideal window to research flights. To take some of the uncertainty out of the process, AAA recommends that you consider consulting a travel agent and purchasing trip insurance. If you’re planning to fly for the holiday, the folks at the global travel search engine Skyscanner.com suggest that you set up price alerts now (as in, stop reading this for a second and set up price alerts on your preferred flight booking app), and that you consider price alerts for a range of dates, as prices can be significantly higher or lower as one gets closer to Turkey Day itself. (See “How to Choose the Best Travel Days,” below.) The best time to buy airline tickets “Holiday travelers should make their plans now and begin booking their flights for Thanksgiving and Christmas for the best deals and availability,” says Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. The ideal window for getting reasonable prices (under $500 round-trip for domestic flights, according to AAA) is between 30 and 60 days prior to Thanksgiving. A quick look at the calendar will alert you that the time is literally now: Book by October 27. (AAA makes its predictions and recommendations based on an analysis of flight booking data for domestic US travel for Thanksgiving from 2016 to 2018.) It bears mentioning, however, that AAA predicts that it is possible to nab airfares averaging $482 by waiting until the last minute (in this case, purchasing your ticket seven to 13 days before Thanksgiving, or November 11 to 17). But purchasing at the last minute will always be a game of chance, so be forewarned. “Procrastinating travelers may be able to find last-minute deals on flights close to the holidays, as airlines look to fill their last few remaining seats, but flight availability for these peak travel weeks will be very limited by that time,” says Twidale. How to choose the best travel days Which days you choose to fly will have a major impact on your airfare and your airport experience. Traditionally, the Monday before Thanksgiving is the best day to fly for both airfare (averaging under $500 round-trip this year, according to AAA) and for lighter crowds than later that week. AAA notes that the Sunday before Thanksgiving is the best day for travelers who seek the lightest possible crowds and don’t care about spending a bit more. The biggest airfare savings will be found by flying on Thanksgiving day itself, averaging around $450 round-trip. Those who have flown on major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas often enjoy not only the savings but also the elbow room and festive vibe. The busiest and priciest days to fly are, of course, the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Over the years, research has consistently suggested that if you can delay your return flight until the Monday after Thanksgiving, you’ll save money and airport hassle. (That strategy, of course, is often most practical for retirees or adults traveling without school-age kids.) If you’ve ever wondered how many of your fellow Thanksgiving travelers share your best-day-to-fly preferences, Skyscanner.com recently crunched the numbers on domestic Thanksgiving bookings over the past few years and reports that nearly 60 percent of Americans prefer to fly midweek, departing on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving and returning between Friday and Sunday – that certainly explains the massive airport crowds. Conversely, only 20 percent fly on Thanksgiving itself, and only 10 percent are “week-long travelers” who leave for their Thanksgiving destination on the Saturday or Sunday before the holiday. Secrets to a successful Thanksgiving road trip When it comes to hitting the road for the holiday, the same days that are best – and worst – for flying apply to driving as well. If you can pack up the car and roll out before the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and return the Monday after, you’ll have a relatively relaxing drive. If, like so many of domestic travelers, you can’t avoid driving on Tuesday or Wednesday and returning Saturday or Sunday, consider driving at night or in the very early morning – and let your relatives know that you may need a catnap while they’re watching the Lions' game.
6 Affordable Winter Vacations You Need to Book Now
For many travelers winter is prime vacation time. Those extra days off for the holidays mean that you can sneak in a week-long escape. Whether you’re looking for a warm-weather escapade (we’ve got our eye on you, Florida) or a chill Chicago getaway (bundle up!), we’ve got you covered with a few trips that won’t break the bank. But remember, booking your flight and hotel arrangements early will have its benefits on your wallet. Plus, you’ll have more time to look forward to that dreamy winter getaway. And if post-holiday travel sounds like the right fit for your schedule, remember that flights and hotel prices start to drop the second week of January. Chicago, Illinois Chicago may not be your quintessential warm winter getaway, but the food, art and culture scene may sway you to escape there this winter. Plus flights and hotels are extremely inexpensive, for example room rates at the Godfrey Hotel Chicago can be booked for $89 per night from December to February. The best part? They have a rooftop winter wonderland with clear-domed, heated igloos for guests to cozy up and enjoy the fire pit and of course some gooey delicious s’mores. You can’t go to Chicago without checking out the museum scene, catching an architecture tour by boat (don’t worry, you’ll be indoors) or heading to Millennium Park for a legendary snow-dusted selfie at Cloud Gate aka, “The Bean”. There are endless food options, but we’d recommend Publican Quality Meats (a butcher shop, cafe and bakery), Frontera Grill for the best Mexican and Roister, a casual restaurant that’s made its way onto almost every “Best of” list. Lastly, since Chicago is a convention destination, make sure you check out this schedule to avoid higher price tags. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Brazil is an ideal winter escape because their summer is our winter in the states. Bonus: Brazil has waived visa requirements for visiting citizens from the US, making travel to the country easier and more affordable. And while you may think an international destination like this is going to cost big bucks, rooms at the Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort are well under $200 per night. Situated between the chic Barra da Tijuca neighborhood and famed Ipanema Beach, the resort is set above a white-sand beach looking out at the tropical South Atlantic. You may want to lounge out after a busy year, but if you’d like to explore the city there are plenty of exciting options from local souvenir shopping to exploring the street food vendors (try the pão de queijo, aka cheese bread). Sugarloaf Mountain is a popular peak where you can take a cable car ride to catch some epic views. Or take a car for about ten minutes away to explore Copacabana Beach, a famous shoreline dotted with restaurants and bars and some of the best people watching out there. Lake Chelan, Washington Located three hours east of Seattle, Lake Chelan transforms into a snow-covered wonderland with seasonal recreation, award-winning wine country (sign us up), with festival fun and small town charm. Nestled among the snow-capped hilltops of the Northern Cascade Mountains, Lake Chelan celebrates 300 days of sunshine a year, making it a great retreat in the winter. Also, because winter is during the off-season, the area is less expensive. For accommodations, the family owned and operated Campbell’s Resort offers story like lakeside guest rooms for $84 a night. The location is the perfect launch pad for area winter activities, including snow tubing and snowboarding at nearby Echo Valley, wine tasting at over 30 wineries and two fantastic winter festivals – Winterfest in January and Red, Wine and Chocolate in February. Oranjestad, Aruba Aruba’s calling our name! Take a quick and affordable flight to this sunny destination where everyone is welcoming. How can you go wrong with a place that’s dubbed “One Happy Island”? This Caribbean escape is exactly what the doctor ordered. Let’s talk hotels. There are a variety of hotels at all price ranges throughout the isle, so finding reasonable lodging won’t be a problem. Oranjestad is the capital of the city and has a range of hotels close to the airport, but there are different neighborhoods to explore throughout the island. Explore the Natural Pool (formed by rock and volcanic stone) and the Arikok National Park on a UTV or make a day of it and captain your own motor-powered boat on the open sea. Aruba is a big travel destination, so consider booking your trip as early as possible to secure the lowest rates. Waterville Valley, New Hampshire Waterville Valley is a resort community nestled in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest, just two hours north of Boston. The town is the epitome of what you think of when imagining the setting of an epic ski trip with friends. The good news is that skiing is actually made affordable here. The Waterville Resort has a handful of lodging deals that run throughout the winter, like the “Ski & Stay” package that starts at $98 per night. This deal allows you to mix and match to get the lodging and tickets you need for a perfect ski adventure. The package also includes the Freedom Pass at no extra cost, which includes access to other activities like ice-skating, the White Mountain Athletic Club pools, saunas and hot tubs, indoor tennis and dare I say more? Crystal River, Florida While droves of people flock to Florida in the winter (hello, snowbirds), why not visit a city just off the beaten path this year? Considered to be the “Original Florida,” Crystal River is a coastal city located about 90 minutes from Tampa without the massive crowds. Locals and tourists alike enjoy beach hopping, kayaking and just about any other warm weather activity. Stay at the Plantation hotel for as low as $119 a night. Onsite activities include boating, fishing and golfing. All of these physical activities will probably give you a big appetite, so check out the seafood options at local restaurants, some of it is so fresh that it’s coming right off of the boat!
Read This Before You Renew Your Passport
When's the last time you checked the expiration date on your passport? If it's expired, you'll have to get it renewed before you can take your next international trip. You might even have to renew your passport before your next flight within the US, as some states are no longer accepting driver’s licenses as ID for flying domestically. The change took effect in 2018 when the Department of Homeland Security began implementing REAL ID Act, which will eventually require all states and US territories to adhere to stricter security measures for issuing state licenses. (Congress passed the law in 2005 in an effort to strengthen national security.) That may explain why US passport demand is at an all-time high, with 21,103,475 passports issued last year, up from 5,547,693 in 1996, according to the US Department of State. Despite all the commotion, many US travelers forget to renew their passports, says Arnie Weissmann, editor in chief at Travel Weekly, a newspaper that covers the travel industry. “Like a tetanus shot, a passport lasts 10 years, but there’s no doctor to remind you it’s time to renew,” Weissmann says. (Note: passports for children under 16 are only valid for 5 years.) Here’s everything you need to know about obtaining and renewing a passport. How to get a US passport If you’ve never traveled abroad, there’s a good chance you don’t even have a US passport. The good news is obtaining one is fairly easy. Your first step is to obtain the right passport application forms. You can pick up an application from any US post office, or download the passport application forms online (travel.state.gov) and print them out at home. If you’re printing the forms yourself, the federal government’s US Passport Service Guide says the materials “must be printed in black ink on white paper. The paper must be 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches, with no holes or perforations, at least medium (20 lb.) weight, and with a matte surface. Thermal paper, dye-sublimation paper, special inkjet paper, and other shiny papers are not acceptable.” Forms completed by hand should be filled in using black ink and submitted using only one-sided pages. You’ll also have to provide proof of your American citizenship, in the form of one of these documents: A certified US birth certificate issued by the city, county or state. (Call the government of the state in which you were born to get an official version with a notary's seal.)Records of birth abroad if you were born outside the USNaturalization certificateCertificate of citizenshipIn addition, you must prove your identity by providing any one of the following: Naturalization certificateCertificate of citizenshipA current, valid driver's license, government ID, or Military IDNext, you have to submit a photo with your application. You can get a US passport photo taken at the post office, or snap and print your own photo. Just make sure you’re wearing your normal, everyday clothes (no uniforms) and nothing on your head. You cannot wear glasses, and you must look straight ahead without smiling. The photo must be 2x2 inches. Passport application and execution fees change periodically. At present (October 2019), passports for US adults age 16 and older cost $145. For an extra $60, plus delivery fees, you can get a “rush” passport delivered within 2 to 3 weeks. (Routine processing takes 4 to 6 weeks.) If you’re applying by mail, you must provide a check or money order – credit and debit cards are not accepted. How to renew a US passport You can renew your passport by mail, using form DS-82 and submitting a new 2x2 inch photograph, if your most recent passport meets these five requirements: Is submitted with your applicationIs undamaged (other than normal "wear and tear")Was issued when you were age 16 or olderWas issued within the last 15 yearsWas issued in your current name (or you can document your name change with an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order)If your passport doesn’t meet those criteria, you’ll have to renew by applying in person using form DS-11, and follow the same steps that are required for obtaining a brand new passport (see above). Traveling internationally within the next two weeks? You’ll have to renew your passport at a Passport Acceptance Facility. (You can find the nearest office near you at travel.state.gov.) To avoid waiting in line all day, make an appointment online in advance. Don't dawdle! Your passport doesn’t have to be expired for you to renew it. In fact, some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip, says Tammy Levent, CEO at Elite Travel Management Group. As a result, Levent says the biggest mistake US international travelers can make is waiting until the last minute to renew their passport. Get a passport book – not a card Another common mistake people make, Levent says, is obtaining a passport card instead of a passport book. Passport cards are a lot cheaper – the application and execution fees combined is only $65 for adults 16 and older – but they’re not valid for international air travel; they're only acceptable for land and sea border crossings between the US, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean.
What Happens If You Don’t Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode on A Flight?
It’s not that long ago that airlines stopped telling passengers to keep their mobile phones, tablets, e-readers and other devices turned off throughout the flight. Remember the time in 2011 when Alec Baldwin was kicked off an American Airlines plane after becoming disruptive when a flight attendant told him to stop playing Words with Friends? Airlines take this stuff seriously for a reason.Why do we have to put our phones on flight mode? We’re asked to turn our devices off or to flight mode because of electromagnetic interference from phones, tablets, e-readers, electronic headsets, and more. Since some planes were built before these became a thing, it took a while for the industry to make sure it was entirely safe to use them. These days, you’ll even see iPads and other tablets in the flight deck, which pilots use to store paperwork instead of lugging around big bags with actual paper in. You’ll see flight attendants using tablets and big phones too, either instead of or in addition to those reams and reams of dot-matrix printed paperwork. All those devices have been tested extensively to make sure there’s no interference. But that hasn’t always been the case! In fact, back in 2011, some parts within specific models of flight deck screen on certain Boeing 737 aircraft proved to be susceptible to interference. How’d we find out that specific combination of planes and monitors — and fix it? During the rigorous testing process to enable airlines to offer inflight internet, that’s how. Part of that testing process is creating enough electromagnetic interference to represent an entire cabin full of devices of a variety of sizes, including some that are malfunctioning. Pretty much every airliner-equipment combo operated by a major international airline has now been tested. What happens if I don't put my phone on airplane mode? For years, safety regulators, airlines, aircraft manufacturers and everyone else in the industry has known that there are dozens of devices left out of airplane mode on every flight. In a way, the fact that planes haven’t fallen out of the sky willy-nilly because someone left their Kindle on is the best demonstration that, for the most part, most devices don’t affect most planes. But most isn’t good enough for aviation. Some folks don’t know that their Kindle even has 3G, or that the Bluetooth on their watch/headphones/other device counts as needing to be in airplane mode. Some forget that they’ve packed one of those devices in the overhead bin. Some even blatantly ignore the rules, assuming that their vital email on that BlackBerry isn’t going to make their plane start to plummet. And it probably isn’t. Here’s the thing: aviation doesn’t work on probablys. One of the reasons why aviation is safer than getting in your car, crossing the street, or even just staying at home (more people are casualties of toilet-related incidents than aviation accidents!) is that airlines and their regulators work with an abundance of caution.