Is it Better to Buy or Rent a Car While on Vacation?

While taking an extra-long vacation the question may arise of whether or not it’s worth the trouble to rent a car. The other options are typically public transportation like busses and trains, or private cars like taxis. 

However, renting a car for a month-long vacation could get pricey, and public transportation denies the freedom of setting a custom schedule. Taxis also get expensive as they add up. There is a third option, and it may make more sense than the others, which is buying a used car. 

The complications of renting a car

Avis car rental lot in New York
Avis Car Rental Lot in New York | Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Renting a car from an agency, like Avis or Enterprise, comes with a host of headaches. On vacation, the last thing anyone needs is more headaches. There are various fees, and the car must be returned by a certain time. Travelers must set aside a couple of hours of their final day to return a car to its rental agency. 

In some countries, breaking a traffic law means the police request a renter’s information from the rental agency. The agency then charges the renter a fee for providing that information. Costs for the car itself can be extravagant as well. A car big enough for four people, plus their luggage from Avis for a month in Barcelona would cost $4,500. 

Why buying a car on vacation is a viable option

used car for sale in san francisco
Used Car for Sale in San Francisco | Getty Images

Depending on where the vacation is, buying a car is not only a viable option, but is worth considering. Buying a used car grants total freedom, and while there may be some extra leg work with getting insurance and paperwork all settled, it might take the same amount of time as it would renting a car. 

France even sanctions buying a new car for $30 per day and at the end of the term they buy it back, to sell to a rental agency, according to Adventurism.tv. If going the used car route, at the end of the trip the car can be donated or sold. There are some interesting prospects for used cars in foreign countries.

Some countries require citizenship or residency to buy a car, but if in the U.K, it’s possible to buy a car and insure it without residency. From there, it’s possible to stow the car on a ferry over to France and drive around the continent. Finding a car for sale isn’t difficult either. The Facebook marketplace has several choices for as little as 1,000 euros. It can be difficult to buy a car in a foreign country and drive it on the street legally, but certainly, there are options.

Buying a car while on vacation only makes sense if the trip lasts for a month or longer. It can be cheaper than going through a rental agency. Some rental agencies won’t report damage to a car if it’s been in an accident. It will continue renting it out to customers, hiding the damage behind some bodywork. Whatever the case may be while traveling, know there are options other than renting.

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