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Self-Guided Tour or Rental Car When Traveling

Skip the tour guide, rent a car

When you travel, do you mostly assume a car rental isn't needed and that you'll see everything on walking tours and hop-on-hop-off buses? While many destinations are better seen without getting behind the wheel, there are so many destinations I would have regretted not having a rental car. 

What to do? Travel tips ...What to do? Travel tips ...Many of my clients will say, "We're just going to take the bus and do some city sightseeing tours and don't want to waste money on a car rental." What they don't realize is that spending a little extra money on a rental car will not only give them the freedom to explore beyond what the tour companies can offer - AND it they'll also save money on food and attractions by getting them out of the tourist zones.

Here are a couple of my favorite destinations that I strongly recommend a rental car for exploring - even if it's just for part of your trip.

Oahu, Hawaii

spectacular coastal views!spectacular coastal views!This is by far the most overlooked destination for many of my clients. Waikiki, Honolulu being a large city does not even begin to express true Hawaiian culture and often leaves a bad taste for first time visitors. To really see and experience the amazing Hawaiian culture you need to leave Honolulu and visit the beautiful island of Oahu. If you're planning a trip to Hawaii (no matter which island) you'll want to budget for a car rental to truly embrace the peace and tranquility the islands have to offer - and explore at your own pace. 

Reasons to enjoy self-guided tours in Hawaii

  • Explore places you wouldn't otherwise be able to (hiking trails, secluded beaches, road side vendors).
  • Cost effective when compared with tour prices (example for a family of 4: Hanauma Bay Tour - 3hrs $75 vs DIY - unlimited time $16).
  • Privacy to explore and enjoy what you want at your own pace.
  • Discover amazing local restaurants, food carts & farmers markets.

Never been to Hawaii? Read about my Oahu Adventures as well as a Kids Look on Oahu.

San Francisco, California

sightseeing tours in San Franciscosightseeing tours in San FranciscoWhat an amazing city. With so much so see and do within the city limits and easily assessable by a fantastic transit system, there's still so much to see beyond the city limits. Because the city offers so much, opt for a car rental for a day or two rather than your whole vacation.   

Reasons to enjoy self-guided tours in San Francisco  

  • Drive out to wine country and experience the world famous wines of Napa Valley and Sonoma.
  • Take the 49 Mile Scenic Drive which takes you through the brief history of San Francisco.
  • Hit the Coast Hwy for a beautiful drive enjoying unique and charming coastal towns along the way.

Don't rely on just the touristy things you read online, step out of your comfort zone and ask locals for their recommendations. You'll be surprised at how much fun you'll have and the amazing places you'll be able to experience on you own.

How do you handle the rental car issue when you're traveling? Do you work with a travel agent to get insider tips before you travel? Tell us in the comments! Find us on Twitter or Facebook and let's start talking!

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I agree that using a car rental in place of a bus service, you can enjoy your vacation nicely. On a paid bus tour, you only get to visit at selected places and stop/eat at only a few. With your own car(rented) you can stop and eat wherever you want.

Yep, It really does all depend on the destination. I went on holiday to the south of France a few years ago and held off on renting a car. Id say we probably missed out on seeing 4 or 5 places because of it as time runs out all too quick. On the other hand of course there are numerous places to holiday where a car is completely unnecessary. I lived in San Fran for a year and never experienced wine country. I need to go back...

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