Saturday, October 21, 2006

Renting Cars on the Hawai'ian Islands

Renting Cars on Hawai’i

We tried three companies while on the islands: Alamo, Thrifty, and Budget.

All three were familiar with hand controls, although none could guarantee providing them; we bring ours anyway, because Craig’s portable set is reliable and familiar, and none had any problems with Craig being our driver (we used to have problems with this occasionally, but no longer come across anyone in the car industry that is unaware of disabled drivers).

The thing to remember with hand controls is the weight of them. Ours break down to pretty small pieces, but they do weigh a few pounds. With 50lbs being the max for airlines these days, and suitcases just getting bigger and sturdier, we had to take ours out of the big case and slide them in the middle of the padded duffel bag.

Of all three, we liked the cars with Thrifty the best, and rented a Dodge Charger through them on Kauai. Our biggest find was that for both of us, convertibles weren’t all they were cracked up to be. The Chrysler Seabring was perhaps the worst car we’ve ever driven, and we returned it the next day: a) with the sun beating down on you under no roof, the AC doesn’t work; b) with 2 longer doors, there’s no car frame for Craig to lean on while breaking his chair down; c) last, you always have to make sure the hand controls fit into the petals nicely, and sometimes we have to return cars for just this reason.

The other two tips we have are gas mileage and internet booking. Something to think about when on the islands, or anywhere that gas is more expensive, is that although perhaps inconvenient for the first trip to the hotel (for space), it made more sense to rent a smaller car, which wound up having a bigger trunk than the Seabring anyway. As for deals, internet booking ALWAYS winds up being cheaper than day-of booking. It's also the best way to guarantee your car type. The early bookings get noted in their computers, and when you wait to book or you wait until arrival, any special choices (hand controls, jeeps, convertibles) are usually sold out by then. And trust us, rent that Dodge Charger at least once, what a muscle car!

Last, we'd like to pass on the best part of Hawai'ian driving: No Road Rage. With Honolulu aside, the island residents have all seem to have adopted one main concept: share the road. We saw a sign on Kauai that said Don't tailgate, Drive the Speedlimit, and Let your neighbor pass on the single-lane bridges (many of them here!). And it wasn't a suggestion. It was plainly a way of life, and completely refreshing. This is one thing we hope never changes here!

Go Anywhere, Do Anything!
Andy & Craig

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