Tag: Airport Rental Cars

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I wanted to go ahead and start my series of travel reviews for my recent trip to Mexico. Thus, to start my reflection on my time in Mexico, I felt it only fitting to start with what I would probably consider to be one of the smartest and one of the dumbest decisions we made all trip: renting a car.

Truth be told, when you start to factor in how much it would otherwise cost to get shuttles to two different locations, each upwards of an hour away from prior destination (CUN airport to Playa Del Carmen, Playa Del Carmen to Tulum, Tulum to CUN airport), it really did seem much more cost effective to rent a car. While cars “start” around $20 a day, you really are paying something closer to $60-70 if you, like me, need to drive an automatic, would like to carry additional liability insurance (with no deductible) in case of damage/accident, and also require a GPS because of fear for strength/availability of cell service. There are tons of providers, and I’m not sure any one in particular would be “better” than another. In the interest of disclosure, we went with Tulum Rentals, which is actually just a shell name/site that sits on America Rental Car backbone. The experience was pleasant, and only a minor hassle.

Here are some things I wish I knew ahead of time though:

  • The GPS won’t be of too much use if you don’t know how addresses in foreign countries work and/or are going to locations that can’t be found in the GPS location inventory (this happened to be a bunch of our destinations)
  • The Yucatan coast is actually fairly easily to navigate though, as 307 is a highway that runs all the way down the coast from Cancun to Tulum (and down into Belize actually) and has good signs marking where to turn for certain landmarks (e.g. Tulum Ruins, Cenotes, etc)
  • Speed Limits vary often, sometimes dropping quickly from 100 kmph to 40 kmph ahead of police checkpoints (basically a police shack that doesn’t physically check every car, but usually has officers stationed at it to search any suspect traffic) – this is where I was happy to have looked ahead of time on TripAdvisor and saw a recommendation to have your passenger be the speed limit spy (and this worked very well)
  • One-Way Roads are not marked as clearly as they are in the states, so BE CAREFUL (side note – I was actually pulled over by a motorcycle cop and had to actually talk my way out of a ticket – but that’s a story for another time and another place I think…)
  • Parking can be somewhat stressful, but largely I believe that everyone has better things to do than go around ticketing/towing cars (this was the American side of me getting the better of my fear faculties I suppose); just steer clear of the obviously-marked no parking signs (a circle with a slash through the middle and the letter “E”)
  • You don’t’ need a rear license plate in Mexico (who knew?), but make sure that your rental car company clearly indicates they are only giving you one (front) plate
IMG_0704

No rear plate? No problem?

All in all, I would probably rent a car again. I was extremely nervous ahead of time, horribly stressed during some of my longer trips, but largely got comfortable with it as time went on throughout the trip. For peace of mind, though, it’s probably not THAT much more expensive to just find a reliable shuttle service and leave the driving to the locals. Cabs once you’re in towns are fairly cheap, too, as long as you’re not too far off the beaten path.

More to come as I document more of our trip!

Til Next Time,

Michael

Last week, I had the pleasure of traveling to Phoenix for work and always have a good time there.  It was wildly hot, but definitely worth it.  Just about the only downside I see with any trip to PHX is the inevitable cluster that is the rental car process.

Let me start out by saying I generally have relatively minimal expectations for these types of experiences.  I’m not a very demanding consumer when it comes to the logistics of obtaining a rental and navigating navigating the process at airport XYZ.  I understand that there are many factors that fall outside of their control (land availability/price, volume of transactions, weather, etc), and usually chalk it up as something that will add a 15-20 minute tax on my trip both ways coming and going.

Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix though?  30 minutes.  MINIMUM.  I’ve even had times that it took 1 hour from the moment I got off the highway airport exit returning my car to when I was getting in the security line at the actual airport.  Absolutely nuts!  It’s basically like you pass the airport – “Oh hey, there it is, we’re pretty close!” – and then a calamity of errors and awful processes will make you want to just walk the rest of the way.  The car compound is at least 5 minutes past the airport (if you drive quickly) and only reachable by awful access roads.  Once you’re in line to return your vehicle, every agency I’ve tried has a maximum of two employees working to check cars back in (mind you – there is a constant traffic of about three new cars coming in every couple minutes – you do the math).  After that, you’re at the mercy of the shuttle buses to get back to the airport.  Those things have no predefined schedule but I swear I’ve waited outside in 110 degree heat for at least 20 minutes for a bus.  Last week I saw four Terminal 4 buses come by before I saw one Terminal 3 (of course, my terminal).  Then, it’s 10 minutes back to the airport drop off location because the bus drives 5 miles per hour.

You get the idea.  Listen, I’m no Customer Experience expert by any means.  But I do understand the do’s and don’ts of it.  And the airport rental car process at PHX Sky Harbor is a total mess.  Shame on them.  But, you know what?  They’re the only option.  So I doubt it’s changing any time soon.

Til Next Time,

Michael

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