Canada is prime road-trip territory: a vast country tied together with long ribbons of scenic highway.
But the great irony of car rentals in Canada is that the more likely you are to actually require the use of a vehicle, the less likely you will be to find a cheap rental–or any rental at all.
If your travels are confined to major metropolitan centres, spare yourself the headache and expense of travelling by car and rely instead of taxis, transit and your own two feet.
However, when you want to explore further afield–a day trip to Whistler from Vancouver, for example, or to Peggy’s Cove from Halifax–it makes sense to rent a car and you’re sure to find a suitable ride quickly and at a competitive price. (You can compare rental options here.)
The challenge comes when you find yourself in more remote locations. If you’ve arrived by air, you may be able to rent a car at the airport –as long as you reserved in advance and are prepared to pay a premium for the privilege.
If you’re headed anywhere outside of a big city, do yourself the favour of a little advance planning; the business of renting a car should not be an afterthought.
When renting a car in Canada:
- Expect to pay a significant premium if you are under 25. The charge differs from company to company, so be sure to compare prices.
- Disclose in advance if you plan to take the car across the border to the United States. Your insurance may be void otherwise.
- Be prepared to pay a premium for a one-way rental, or when returning to the car to any location other that the one at which it was rented.
- Present a valid driver’s license from your home country. If it is not written using the Latin (aka, Roman) alphabet, be prepared to also present an International Driver’s License.
- Ensure you have appropriate insurance. Check with your own auto insurer and credit card company before leaving home about any coverage that might be extended to your car rental. You may not require the expensive additional insurance offered by the rental companies.
- Always top off the fuel yourself before returning the car; the refuelling fees charged by rental companies are ridiculously high.
- Thoroughly inspect the car before you leave the lot. If damage isn’t noted in advance, you may be held responsible for even minor problems (such as a chipped windshield) that occurred previously.
- Consult an atlas or Google Maps before you leave home. Remember that Canada is a huge country. You cannot drive to Banff from Toronto for a weekend getaway. Plan at least a week to drive coast-to-coast–and that’s assuming you don’t want to stop for food or photos.
>>Planning a road-trip in Canada? Click here to find cheap car rentals.