The question I’m often asked is, “Is it cheaper to rent a car or take public transportation?” That’s a loaded question since there are so many variables to consider.
The first point I take into consideration is the location: United States or Canada it’s rental car all the way. When traveling solo, often public transportation is the way to go. If one doesn’t like the solitude of the open road, public transportation does afford one with the opportunity to meet fellow travelers. We’ve rented cars all over the world: Romania, Turkey, Ireland, England, Italy, Portugal, Madeira, Guatemala, Mexico, Jordan,Jamaica, Spain, France, Azores, Puerto Rico, Poland, Lithuania, Costa Rica, Bahamas, Belgium, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, and Iceland. It is obvious that we are most comfortable renting in Europe and in Latin America. There are some places where I just would not drive. For example, Mexico City, China, India, Russia (too many close calls when I was there as a passenger) or countries where Sharia Law is in place. One of my biggest concerns about renting in a foreign country is the alcohol laws. I like a few drinks with my meals, but if I’m driving in a foreign country, one drink is too many. I often wonder what the jail sentence is for having one drink in some countries. Drinking and driving is never a good idea and doing so in a foreign country could result in harsher penalties than we have in the USA. If you must drink, do NOT rent cars. One more piece of advice is to always pay for the insurance. I use my American Express card when I rent. It includes a wonderful policy (Premium Car Rental Protection) that costs only $24 for the entire rental period.
Below is my list of pros and cons for each experience. Let me know if I missed anything and what your preference is.