Smooth Car Rental And Driving Experience in the US

Preparing to drive for the first time in America was something we could only brace for by watching some youtube videos and hearing stories from others. We knew that we had to get in control of the wheel and understand the driving differences compared to Europe from the start of our trip, as we would be using the car for 12 days on these roads!

Once we made it to Salt Lake City with the Amtrak from Denver, we headed straight with the taxi from the train at 04:00am to the airport to pick up our rental car. We had reserved in advance an SUV type car for under $600.00 for 12 days from the company Avis. Since we wouldn’t need it and technically didn’t even want to try driving it in San Francisco, which was our end destination, so a few days short of our 15 day road trip was best.

*This is part of our US Road Trip Itinerary!

US Road Trip Itinerary 2 weeks - togetherintransit.nl

It was a little hard to choose a rental company since we didn’t really see any big differences between them all. Avis was chosen based on the price of car, including all insurances, extras and the location. You can easily search for reviews on the company but we found only bad reviews get shared, with each review we read completely related to a specific car or personal problem, so it’s hard to base your choice of the reviews alone.

Picking up the documents and some last minute signing allowed us to pick up the car within 10 minutes at the desk (no line of course at 04:30am!). The friendly worker sent us down aisle D of the car park to find our rental car, a white Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.

Filled with adrenaline we were wide awake, filling the car with our bags and adjusting the mirrors and seats. Next step: I had to drive an automatic car for the first time on an already busy motorway in Salt Lake City! Luckily my partner had already some experience with an automatic car, since I had never even sat in one. Though looking back at this moment, it was pretty simple and I was more nervous than I should of been.

Smooth Car Rental and Driving Experience in US - togetherintransit.nlBy 05:00am we were already driving towards our first stop, the Bourneville Salt Flats in Utah. Planning to catch the sunrise we arrived to find that there was racing planned on the salts and we could not drive on them ourselves, however still got to experience it a little on foot. Unfortunately the sun was hidden behind clouds, making the salt flats brighter than the sky, but still impressive to see! We’ve made a separate detailed post about our stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats here!

Driving through the US sure was a new experience for us both, from 6 lane motorways where cars can overtake you on both sides, to dirt tracks so bumpy that you feel like you’re coming out of your seat, to also the longest straight roads we have ever seen. Something we would definitely do again in America.. once we have some more savings!

Smooth Car Rental and Driving Experience in US - togetherintransit.nl

The only thing that didn’t go so well regarding the car was that the insurance paper, which is inside the car that you must be hand over to the police if stopped. Well ours ended up being valid till October 2016 – Almost a year outdated! We noticed this after a few days and had found out that it would be a fine for up to $900.00. But after visiting a local Avis (to try and get the new dated insurance papers) we were assured that if we were stopped and fined, it would be Avis paying the fine and not us as the users. Still, it was a bit worrying when we found out until we knew for sure!

Despite that, we would choose Avis again for another road trip, unless we came across a cheaper one that included all the extras needed.

Smooth Car Rental and Driving Experience in US - togetherintransit.nl

We ended our first day driving to our motel in Cedar City, Here we visited the local Walmart or supermarket to stock up on bottles of water (and some snacks) that we left in the boot of the car. This saved us money and was a good supply when we were out of water while driving in the middle of nowhere.

We both loved driving the different terrains, through storms and wide open landscape where you could see for miles! America was a great place for our 3rd road trip with a car (1st was in England, 2nd in Normandy) and we would most definitely do it again!

Below are some of the awesome photos we took either with the car or driving!

Smooth Car Rental & Driving Experience in US - togetherintransit.nl
In Death Valley
Smooth Car Rental & Driving Experience in US - togetherintransit.nl
Near Vermillion Cliffs, Arizona

Smooth Car Rental & Driving Experience in US - togetherintransit.nl

Smooth Car Rental & Driving Experience in US - togetherintransit.nl
Our unexpected snowy day at June Lake, California
Smooth Car Rental & Driving Experience in US - togetherintransit.nl
Loved driving these long roads! Road to Lake Tahoe, California
Smooth Car Rental & Driving Experience in US - togetherintransit.nl
Arriving in San Francisco by car was a bit of a panic, but this view as you go through the tunnel was an amazing experience!

*We drove the car all the way on this itinerary from Salt Lake City to San Francisco! Check out the route and more blogs from the itinerary page.

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Have you ever driven in America and had some good or bad driving experiences? Share in the comments as we’d love to hear!

68 thoughts on “Smooth Car Rental And Driving Experience in the US

  1. How fun, it’s so interesting to hear about US road trips from a non-American! I’ve driven across the US before, moved from the southwest to the East Coast and it was fun and interesting to see the different landscapes and changes in roads from the wide open to the crazy congested. Happy road tripping!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an American traveling abroad, where we have our own nerves and challenges we face renting a car in Europe or Australia or wherever, I got a good chuckle reading about your experience. Thanks for sharing. A fun read. Glad you enjoyed your time in the USA.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve always loved to do road tripping. I was surprised that Avis didn’t have an up-to-date insurance for the car. The views are really amazing especially those snow-peaked mountains 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s always interesting reading this from the other side of the pond…I’d feel the same way (nervous and a bit panicky) about driving in Europe!! Great tips! Having a car can make things so much more convenient.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve lived in California my whole life and I still hate driving in San Francisco! It’s very interesting to read a non-American perspective on our roads. I was also terrified the first I drove in another country (Ireland), but it sounds like you had fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Woah what an amazing road trip! 😀

    Had you ever driven on the right side before, or was that all new for you as well? We recently has a road trip in NZ, and I was so surprised by how easy (and pleasant) it was to drive there! If you’d like another driving adventure, that was a good’un!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I really understand the nerves. I am from the UK, but still getting used to driving in Canada. I was SOOOO nervous the first time I drove here!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m getting there. We didn’t buy a car, so I am nervous each time we rent one! I think it’ll get better once I’m driving more regularly.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. As an American, I love reading about your experiences in the US! How funny that you were nervous about driving an automatic car… manuals are so much harder!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Glad it all went well. I really don’t think there is much difference in rental car companies in the US, I just going with the one that has the best price.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve used almost every rental car company here in the States for work and personal travel. I am loyal to Enterprise. They have the best and easiest customer service and will price match or beat a cheaper rate if you call. Awesome photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Totally identify with this – it reminds me of the first time I drove in the US too – although I had to content with the steering wheel on the “wrong” side, too! It was super easy in the end though. Sounds like you had a great adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This looks like an incredible road trip! Great advice too. I’ve used Avis before and had no problems, but it’s a bit weird that their insurance was outdated! Road tripping is definitely the best way to do the US, I think, and it looks like you had an amazing time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow, I love the photos! I have never been to Salt Lake City so that seems like a great ride! The furthest I’ve driven is from LA to Las Vegas. I dont think I’m a good road trip buddy because I fall asleep quickly when being in the car for a long time. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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