Stop Riding In Circles With These Top 10 Parking Apps

driving in los angeles parking apps rentavaluecar.com

Los Angeles has been a car-centric place for most of its history. The city is known for its network of huge freeways, and its many wide boulevards. The city’s car culture has been celebrated in pop music since the Beach Boys. Unlike most other big American cities, driving in Los Angeles is the default way to get around. Pedestrians and public transportation are an afterthought.

Los Angeles’ love affair with the auto made rush hour last most of the day. It also produces stunning visuals of endless streams of headlights or taillights for as far as the eye can see at night. One thing it never seemed to produce was a parking shortage. Unlike other big cities, Los Angeles always seemed to accommodate an unlimited number of parked cars. Part of this might be due to the essentially suburban streetscapes in most of the area. The number of high rises in the city is growing, but it’s still mostly spread out. There have always been lots of on and off-street parking available.

Los Angeles Is Growing. Parking Spaces Aren’t

The days of free and easy parking in Los Angeles seem to be drawing to a close, however. The population of the city is booming, and while there was a lot of parking spaces to go around, the supply wasn’t endless. For the first time in recent memory, driving in Los Angeles sometimes involves driving in circles looking for a parking space.

Our company specializes in car rental in Los Angeles. Drivers from out of town often wonder, What time is rush hour in Los Angeles? How do I avoid traffic in Los Angeles? How long does it take to drive across Los Angeles? Increasingly, asking Where do I park? is gaining in popularity. While we’re happy to help, it’s hard to point out available parking spaces in advance. That’s why we’ve come up with this handy list of 10 Parking Apps for your Android smartphone that offer real-time info that ends the worry about finding a prime spot at the curb.

Airport Parking Reservations

For many travelers, parking begins and ends with airports. LAX does have a lot of parking lots, but it can be hard to figure out which one to use, and the cost can be jaw-dropping. People who fly in and out of LAX all the time learn the system after a while, but what about the airports at the other end of your trip? The Airport Parking Reservations app is great for most airports in the US, the UK, and Canada. It can even help you find deals on parking. Reviews of parking garages are useful, too.

Airport Parking Reservations

Best Parking

Best Parking has parking info in more than 100 cities in the United States. To use the app, you can simply type in your existing location or your desired location, and a map with available lots and garages. It’s easy to compare prices and conditions on the app. Many participating parking lots let you make reservations in advance and pay using the app, which is very convenient for travelers who prefer not to carry wads of cash around. The app will also give you turn-by-turn directions from where you are to the parking lot you’ve selected.

Best Parking

Honk

Honk isn’t really a parking app. It specializes in assisting drivers that require roadside assistance or towing. It can hook you up with fuel if you run out, or a wrecker if you get stuck. Drivers who have AAA insurance probably wouldn’t give this app a second look, but it does have a nifty side feature. It also allow you to find and book parking for your car. You can pay for the service right in the app, which is convenient.

Honk

Inrix Park Me

Park Me supplies parking info and related services in more than 500 cities in the US and abroad. It has easy to read maps that have markers for all the parking lots and garages in your selected area. While their real time info is limited to a minority of garages, the info on the app is updated regularly with things like open hours and rates. If you decide on a metered spot on the street, you’ll appreciate the Park Me timer that counts down the minutes until you’re out of time.

Inrix Park Me

Parker

Parker offers a little more functionality than some other apps, but restricts itself to helping you find a parking space. The app tracks GPS coordinates in addition to finding you an open space. This allows the app to remember where you parked your car, with directions back to it from where you’re standing. That’s a definite plus for new visitors to Los Angeles, or any of the other cities the app covers. Parker has a bunch of payment options, including some forms of gift cards, making it even easier to find, park, and pay for a space.

Parker

Bonus: What Driving in Los Angeles Is Like

Parking Panda

Parking Panda services more than 40 cities in the US, including driving in Los Angeles. It’s a straightforward app that helps you find parking near all the major landmarks, and helps you to determine what you’ll pay before you get there. There’s a better selection of in-app payment options than you’ll find in most parking apps. The app also offers 24/7 phone support, a real rarity for apps like these

Parking Panda

Parkopedia

Parkopedia isn’t big — it’s huge! Unlike many of the other apps we’ve mentioned, it’s hard to find a major city in the US or Europe that it doesn’t cover. Parkopedia claims to track over 60 million parking spaces in 8,000 cities and towns all over the world. The app has powerful filters that help you decide where to park based on details like payment options, rates, and availability. Great direction finder, too. Unfortunately, unlike many apps, Parkopedia doesn’t let you pay for parking directly in the browser.

Parkopedia

Spot Hero

Spot Hero helps you find, reserve, and pay for parking in many major cities in the United States. The app only tracks lots, garages, and valet parking services. Spot Hero offers discounted parking in many locations. They buy up unused spaces in bulk and resell them to their app customers. Spot Hero is a favorite with business travelers. The app lets you set up multiple profiles, so you can keep your business expenses separate and easy to track. It even automatically updates some expense account software.

Spot Hero

Park Whiz

Park Whiz started out in NYC, but it’s expanded to many more cities, including Los Angeles. The app specializes in finding longer-term parking rate discounts. It also helps travelers who like to book a space well in advance of their travel dates.

Park Whiz

Parkmobile

If you’re looking for a popular app for parking, Parkmobile fits the bill. It’s got over 13 million users in 350 cities, including Los Angeles. The app makes it easy to find and reserve parking. It also has a built-in timer that reminds you when your parking is about to expire. Parkmobile is another app that helps you to keep your business and personal expenses separate, and it gives you a detailed history that makes it easy to claim business deductions on your expense account or tax forms.

Parkmobile

If you’re in Los Angeles or Pasadena for business or pleasure, long or short term car rental from Value Rental Car is the smart way to get around. Enjoy free pickup and dropoff at LAX, or within 7 miles of their convenient locations. Drivers under 21, debit card and cash customers welcome!

Think Car Subscription Services Can Compete With Monthly Car Rental? Think Again

monthly car rentalThe modern economy spends a lot of time and resources changing the way consumers pay for things. The items and services you buy don’t change that much, but the way you pay for them does. A good example is the ridesharing industry. It’s simply another way to call and pay for a taxi. Ridesharing services immediately seemed superior in service to regular taxis. But it’s important to note that all ridesharing services have always operated at a loss. If you paid for a ride at the rate it really cost, it remains to be seen if you’d think it was superior to the old taxi model. Recently, car manufacturers and middlemen have started to offer auto leases as a service, in the same way the tech industry offers software. However, if you think car subscription services can currently compete with owning leasing, or monthly car rental, you should think again.

How Subscription Pricing Works in Tech Firms

The tech industry is the leader in offering services based on subscriptions. The three main versions of this method of providing services and billing customers are as follows:

SaaS

Software as a service (SaaS), is now the most popular way to use and pay for computer programs. Companies completely skip the need for an IT staff that downloads, installs, updates, and protects computer programs for workers and customers. Most SaaS setups allow everyone to simply use a web browser to log in or otherwise use whatever software the company needs to get the job done. SaaS pay a subscription to have their software needs taken care of from a central location, hosted on a remote server, that anyone can access from the internet. They get to skip all the hardware and software updates needed to keep the system going.

PaaS

Platform as a service (PaaS) is similar to SaaS. But instead of offering access to software, PaaS offers companies a place to create and host their own software. If you have a customized app you want to work on remotely, PaaA is perfect. You can also serve the app to your customers from a PaaS location.

IaaS

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) are simply computer resources managed by others. You pay to have networking, storage, and other computer resources available at all times, with the flexibility to scale up or down at a moment’s notice. You’re not buying software, you’re renting hardware that you can use to host your software and apps.

A traditional car rental company probably uses all three of these “cloud” computing services. They use software programs on SaaS, run apps for reservations and other services on PaaS, and use IaaS infrastructure to host their websites.

Car Subscriptions as a Service

In a way, car subscription services are similar to IaaS deals in the tech sector, with a little SaaS thrown in. You don’t own the car, and you can change it regularly to meet your current needs, just like IaaS. Including insurance and maintenance is like SaaS. You don’t manage the details, you just show up and go.

Car makers don’t have any trouble producing excellent vehicles. Cars have never been safer, more reliable, and more economical on fuel than they are right now. However, carmakers do have trouble selling their products at a price the public can afford. This led to innovations in financing. Loan terms were extended to allow you to pay for more expensive cars over a much longer period. Lease programs were another tactic to offer new cars to consumers who couldn’t afford large down payments, or couldn’t meet other lending standards.

Carmakers are now hoping to use the same subscription service model that tech firms use. They supply you with access to a new car, and take care of insurance, maintenance, and mileage. Some services will let you swap one car for another on a regular basis. These subscription deals may appeal to a new generation of drivers who aren’t used to owning much of anything. They’re accustomed to paying for lots of things like housing, transportation, communication, and entertainment on a subscription basis. Why not cars?

Lots of major manufacturers are testing car subscription services in very limited areas. Most are luxury brands like Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Cadillac, and BMW. Ford also has subscription plans for more affordable cars like Fiestas and Escorts. However, their subscription service is simply a trail in a few locations, and the cars appear to be limited to used cars from lease repatriations.

How Car Subscriptions Work

Different carmakers have different plans. Some plans let you drive a single car for a set period. That’s similar to a leasing deal, but with maintenance and insurance added to your bill. Of course with a lease, you turn in the vehicle at the end of the term, and start looking for another car to lease or purchase. With a car subscription, at the end of your term you would get a replacement vehicle while the payments continued uninterrupted.

Other plans let you swap one type of vehicle for another on a regular basis. So, for instance, you might drive a small compact during the week, but occasionally drive a sports car or an SUV.

So What’s the Catch With Car Subscriptions?

The short answer is cash. Car subscription services are remarkably expensive compared to owning a car, leasing a car, or monthly car rental rates. According to Cars.com, current subscription plans are between 28 and 102 percent more expensive than leasing a car and paying for your own insurance and maintenance. And that’s not all. Most subscription plans charge fees just to join, and they’re pretty steep, ranging from around $500 to $600. For comparison, for the same money as just the fee for joining a subscription service, you can get a monthly car rental deal. Many subscription deals also charge a fee every time you swap cars. That’s not a problem with long term rentals or short term leases.

Who Is the Target Audience?

It’s hard to determine who the industry is targeting with their subscription plans. The plans seem to appeal to people who like to change their cars a lot, and who don’t like to take care of maintenance and insurance. These consumers understand they’re paying more for the ability to change cars more often. For the vast majority of drivers, the service will cost too much, or be too restrictive to be a practical alternative to owning, leasing, or renting a car.

Why Long Term Car Rental Beats Leasing, Buying, and Sharing

long term car lease

In many ways, it’s never been easier to get from point A to point B than it is right now. Air travel is relatively inexpensive. The internet makes it easier to shop for new and used cars. There are tons of travel apps for your smartphone to help you find your way around. Public transportation has improved in many cities over the last few decades. There are more ways to structure a car loan than ever before. All these transportation options can make it hard to decide whether to buy, rent, or own your own car. You may be surprised to find out that the best way to solve your daily transportation problems is long term car rental.

What Is Long Term Car Rental ?

When comparing transportation options, it can be hard to compare apples to apples. If you’ve ever tried to read all the small print on a TV ad for a new car purchase, you know how complicated they make the deals. Car leasing isn’t much better. There are a lot of ways for a car lease to cost more than the bottom line number on the day you get your car. And traditional car rental agencies make you sign long, involved contracts that can shift your pricing from hour to hour if you drive too many miles, need the car for longer periods, and other details.

Long term car rental isn’t like that. Different car rental companies use different numbers, but for the most part, a long term rental is defined as renting a car for at least a month. Long term auto rental isn’t the same as a lease deal, either. Leases are closer to buying a car for a fixed term, and then trading it in when the lease period is up. Car rental can be a rolling long term deal that doesn’t have to end on a specific date.

Can You Rent a Car Long Term?

Many consumers aren’t aware that this kind of rental car deal is even available. While it’s true that many large rental car companies don’t offer long term deals, there are many independent car rental agencies that specialize in renting out cars for long periods. If you shop around a little, it’s easy to find rental deals of all kinds. That includes open-ended deals that are more like rolling auto leases than traditional auto rental deals.

Unfortunately, travel comparison websites don’t usually feature non-standard car rental deals. Their listings are limited to traditional deals from larger rental companies. If you’re in the market for a long term car deal, you’ll do better if you look for small, independent car rental companies in the city you live in, or are traveling to.

Is It Cheaper To Rent a Car Long Term?

Regular auto rental companies don’t really reward customers for renting long term. Most of their business relies on high-dollar, short term rentals. They prefer to keep as many of their cars on hand for customers who only need the car for a short time. That maximizes their revenue per car

Long term auto rental companies are always trying to rent their cars for the longest possible terms. They don’t compete as much in the last-minute, short-term market, and prefer to have a full calendar instead of a full car lot. In order to get the most from their inventory, they offer better terms for longer rental periods.

You can always get a better deal on a longer term with most any car rental company. However, traditional auto rental companies often limit just how long they’re willing to let you drive the car. Long term rental companies are more accommodating. They’ll also let you roll from one long term rental deal right into another. That lets you rent a car indefinitely for all practical purposes. If you think you need a car for a long time, but don’t want to buy one, renting a car for long periods can be the answer.

Can I Lease a Car for Only 6 Months?

Yes and no. It mostly depends on how you define the word “lease.” Today’s car rental and car leasing marketplace use many different terms to refer to driving a car for a defined period, paid for with set, incremental payments. If you’re using the traditional definition of leasing, you’ll have a very hard time finding a six-month lease on a car. Leasing is more of a payment variation on buying a car, not a long term rental situation with rolling terms. While it’s easy to find car leasing deals with terms as short as 2 years, shorter lease deals are very hard to negotiate.

Careful shoppers would do better to search for long term rental deals instead of short term leases. There’s less pressure to sign on for really long periods, and in a pinch, you can usually end a rental arrangement without any sort of penalty.

Long Term Rentals for Business

In the past, business travelers usually flew into a city, rented a car and a hotel room, stayed for a few days or a week, and then left. Ride sharing services have taken the place of a lot of very short term car rental deals, as well as replacing a lot of taxi rides.

Today’s business traveler is much more likely to spend more time on business trips than in the past. Instead of a hotel room, a rental car, and an expense account for meals, business travelers now enjoy extended stay accommodations, a long term car rental, and a virtual office at a shared workspace. In essence, you’re a short-term resident, not a traveler.

It’s not economical for businesses to buy transportation for their remote workers. Long term leases are too restrictive if business stays are extended or shortened. Ride-hailing services and public transportation are fine for a day or two, but they’re time-wasters, and not very economical or convenient for most people.

Long term car rental is perfect for indefinite business travel. You have the same ease of use and round the clock access to transportation as local workers. You can transport clients and coworkers whenever the need arises. Rolling rental periods make it easy to end the terms of your rental without penalty.

For companies, long term rentals are easier for accounting purposes. Cash flow is maximized, and there are no upfront costs like there are with leases or purchasing a car outright.

Skip the Depreciation

If you buy a new or used car, it begins to depreciate the minute the ink dries on the purchase or lease agreement. Leasing deals bake the depreciation into the monthly payments. Depreciation on a new car is discovered when you try to sell the vehicle when you don’t need it any more. In some cases, depreciation overtakes the auto payments, and you end up having to pay out of pocket to pay off the auto loan.

Depreciation never matters with a long term car rental deal. You pay a weekly, monthly, or multi-month rate, and that’s it. If the car depreciates, it’s not your problem. You can even trade the car in at any time for another one with no penalty.

Rent a Car and Save Money

Ride-sharing is only cheap when compared to traditional taxi rides. It’s useful if you only need an occasional ride somewhere, but it gets very pricey and inconvenient if you need to use it several times a day for longer periods. Car leases are more affordable than buying a car outright, but they have a lot of fine print, and they limit your flexibility to end or extend the lease period. Buying a car is expensive, especially upfront. While the price per mile is much cheaper than ride-sharing or leasing, it limits your ability to get rid of the car when you no longer need it greatly complicates your transportation situation. Smart businesses and consumers use long term car rental to save money, add convenience, and increase their travel options.

If you’re in Los Angeles or Pasadena for business or pleasure, long or short term car rental from Value Rental Car is the smart way to get around. Enjoy free pickup and dropoff at LAX, or within 7 miles of their convenient locations. Drivers under 21, debit card and cash customers welcome!

Why Travelers Love Airport Car Rental

airport car rental

Do you love airport car rental? If you answered yes, you’re in good company. According to a 2018 survey by J.D. Power, airport car rental has higher customer satisfaction scores than any other part of a typical trip. That’s right — people report that they have a better time with airport car rental than when they check into a hotel, book an airline flight, or spend any time in an airport. The reasons for this phenomenon are interesting.

Four Keys To Car Rental Success

J.D.Power ranks customer satisfaction on a scale from 0 to 1000. Satisfaction scores for airport car rental companies are now averaging 830 points. When asked to explain why renting a car at an airport gets higher marks than any other stage of a trip, J.D. Power pointed out four keys to success for car rental companies:

1.Lower Prices

Everyone loves a bargain. Consumers shop around endlessly for deals on hotels, airfare, vacation rentals, meals, and other details. Car rental companies have done a great job of keeping costs low without skimping on service.

Smart travelers often enjoy splurging on one aspect of their travel budget. Some might prefer to stay at a pricier hotel. Others like to eat in better restaurants when they’re traveling for business or pleasure. Money saved on one stage of the travel process allows you to spend more where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck.

In general, travelers see that they’re spending less on car rental than before, and understand that it frees up money to be used elsewhere. Saving money on car rental makes other parts of the trip more enjoyable, too.

2.Better Vehicles

On the whole, rental car companies have a better selection of cars than ever before. The cars aren’t simply newer or more expensive, either. Travelers of all types are able to find the correct vehicle for their needs at a price they can afford. This includes vehicles that were once hard to find, like vans and motor coaches.

In addition to more choices at traditional rental car companies, there are a lot of local car rental businesses that rent good quality used cars. For most travelers, saving a ton of money by renting a “daily driver” type car is a no-brainer. As long as the car is big enough, clean, and in good working order, most consumers are willing to overlook the facts it’s not brand new if they can save some money.

3.The Reservation Process

For a long time, car rental companies had a reputation for being hard to deal with. They were famous for complicated pricing structures and unreliable reservation policies. Frustrations with car rental even turned into situation comedy routines, like this one from Seinfeld:

According to the survey, those days are mostly over. The car rental process is much easier to manage these days. With the rise of the internet, customers could find out more about the deals they were making, and compare prices more easily.

Communication is better in general. Even the smallest independent auto rental agency usually has a full-service, interactive website. Nearly instant communication is possible using phone, fax, email, and various chat apps. Customers can also check online reviews to make a more informed choice.

Automation does help auto rental companies to keep track of their fleet of vehicles and their customers, but travelers mostly still prefer the personal touch. One of the most effective ways for car rental companies to increase customer satisfaction is to have a positive, personal interaction with the customer.

4.Mobile Apps

Smartphones are invaluable when you’re traveling. Making phone calls is only a small slice of their usefulness for a traveler, however. Smartphone apps can handle all sorts of important details of your trip, from making reservations to watching out for traffic jams.

Related: Check out our Ten Must-Have Travel Apps for Carefree Trips

The J.D. Power survey reported that travelers who use travel apps report much higher satisfaction than customers who do not. Using your smartphone for travel is smart!

The Two Big Car Rental Satisfaction Secrets

A spokesman for J.D. Power identified the two points that lead to customer satisfaction. First, customers want to know exactly what it costs to rent a car, and they want that information quick. That might explain why rental car services at the airport are so popular. If the rental counter is inside the terminal, you’re likely to pay more, but at least you can talk to a real person and ask questions.

If the company is located offsite, but offer picks up and drop offs at the airport, you can visit their website to find out what you’re paying before you plunk down your cash. Either way, pricing is transparent and easy to understand.

Secondly, how long it takes to actually get into the car is a big factor. While traditional car rental companies often have car rental counters in most airports, their parking lots can be quite a hike from the terminal. Car rental companies are doing a much better job at ferrying customers to their remote lots than in the past. In addition, many travel services now have remote check-ins, which moves things along. Many independent car rental agencies can’t afford a lot at the airport, but have pickup and drop off service. In some cases, this is even faster than airport counter service.

More Ways To Pay

New payment methods for car rental are growing in popularity. This also could have an effect on customer satisfaction. It used to be nearly impossible to rent a car without using a major credit card with a very high limit. That’s changing rapidly. Many traditional car rental companies now accept additional forms of payment. In addition, there are many smaller, independent car rental agencies that accept non-standard payment methods like debit cards, gift cards, and cash deposits.

See also: How To Rent a Car Without a Credit Card

More Availability

In the recent past, many car rental companies had strict rules for the age of the customer, the type of payment used, credit scores, and other details. This is also changing. Young drivers, consumers with bad or no credit, international travelers, and people with other unusual circumstances can usually find a car rental company that will work with them to get them into a car. This might also be having an effect on customer satisfaction in the auto rental industry. The fastest way to a customer’s heart is to make reasonable adjustments to your rental policies to make sure that if you want to rent a car, you can.

For more information about airport car rental in Los Angeles, contact Value Rental Car. They have convenient locations near LAX, and in Pasadena. 

6 Big Reasons To Rent a Car When You’re on Vacation

renting a car in los angeles

Choosing the right kind of transportation is one of the most important ways to make a vacation more enjoyable. It’s common to obsess about where you’re going, the hotels you’ll stay at, the restaurants you’ll eat in, and numerous other details. That’s because everyone wants their vacation to be memorable. However, even the smartest travelers often overlook the most fundamental detail of their trip: How are you going to get from point A to Point B once you arrive at your vacation destination? While it’s often possible to get around using public transit, ride-hailing apps, cabs, and shuttle buses, smart travelers rent a car when they’re on vacation. Here are six big reasons why renting a car for a vacation is the smart move:

You’ll Save Time

save time by renting a car in los angeles

Your airline has a schedule. Hotels have check in and check out times. Your vacation has a start and end date. You use these times to plan your whole vacation, and each individual day of your vacation. For the most part, you can rely on these times and dates without exception. That’s not true with many forms of ground transportation.

Public transportation has their own schedule. That schedule is unlikely to be based on your convenience. If you’re relying on buses, trams, trains, or subways to get around, you might find you spend as much time waiting around as getting around. And when that waiting is over, you’ll still be traveling slowly. Public transportation rarely offers the direct route to where you’re going. That means lots of intermediate stops and transfers.

No Waiting Around

renting a car in los angeles instead of subway

Cab rides and car hailing services are more flexible than subway schedules, but you’ll still spend plenty of time waiting for someone to come and pick you up. Taxi services are notorious for making potential customers wait around. Trying to hail a cab in the street is even more unreliable. Ride-hailing apps have put a lot of pressure on cab companies, but this hasn’t really helped the riding public. There are fewer “gypsy” cabs than ever, and finding one in a hurry can be a frustrating chore.

Ride-hailing apps promised an improvement over regular cab services, but they’re iffy when you’re in a hurry in an unfamiliar place. Busy travel times make private car services nearly unavailable at certain hours. Surge pricing can make you blow your ground transportation budget in one shot, because you don’t know the price until you really need a ride.

If you rent a car, it’s always outside your hotel, waiting to go wherever you want, whenever you want to go.If you’re going on a vacation to a destination like Disneyland, you’ll wait in plenty of lines. It’s silly to rely on public transportation that adds more lines to your days off. Renting a car in Los Angeles and driving to and from Disney is the smart way to get there and back.

You Can Really Go Exploring

go exploring by renting a car in los angeles

If you’re on public transportation, you can’t tell the driver to go down a side street. Buses, trams, trolleys, and subways go where they go, and can’t go anywhere else. Ride hailing apps won’t help you much, either. You have to have a destination specified to get a ride, and the driver won’t be able to accommodate much in the way of detours. And riding around in a cab with the meter running isn’t anyone’s idea of relaxation.

The best vacations have a sense of adventure thrown in. It’s fun to poke around a city to really get a sense of what like is like. If your trip is limited to your hotel, public transportation, and pre-planned destinations, it can feel really artificial. One city looks much like any other from inside an hotel room or inside a cab. Renting a car and exploring is a great way to make a humdrum vacation into something more memorable.

Save On Group Transportation

save money on group fares by renting a car in los angeles

If you’re a business traveler, you’re almost always traveling alone. You’re on a mission, and you’re unlikely to take many detours. Airline, ground transfer, hotel, meeting room, ground transport, and back to the airline. Vacationers have different needs. One of the most fundamental differences is how many people are involved.

If you’re bringing another person with you on vacation, or an entire family or other large group, your itinerary and transportation needs change dramatically. Most ride sharing services severely limit the number of people who can share a car ride, and cabs aren’t much better. Public transportation costs for groups can really add up, too. If you’re traveling in a group, renting a car can end up being a lot cheaper than public transportation or taxi service, and lots more convenient.

Comfort and Safety

stay safe by renting a car in los angeles

Piloting your own car around a city is infinitely more comfortable than riding on public transportation.  Traveling with children on a subway can be nerve-wracking, and it could spoil an otherwise pleasant trip. If you have your own rental car, everyone can ride in comfort, and you can choose what radio station you listen to. You can snack as you drive, and little ones can amuse themselves with smartphones and tablets.

It’s a lot safer to rent a car, too, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar place. Thieves target travelers on subway platforms and at other transportation hubs. If you miss a connection, you could find yourself on a lonely platform in a dangerous neighborhood. Having a rental car makes it easy to get to and from your destinations at any time of the day or night. It’s also safer for you, your family, and your belongings. You can lock all your doors with a touch of a button.

Stop Lugging Your Luggage Around

rent a car in los angeles to safely carry luggage

It cost money to take an extra piece of luggage with you onto a plane. The cost and annoyance of luggage doesn’t stop there. It can be a real hassle to lug your luggage with you everywhere you go when you’re on vacation. Wrangling your luggage onto public transportation can be a nightmare. Taxis have limited room for your stuff, and ride-hailing services really don’t like to handle any bags.

If you rent a car while you’re on vacation, you can take all or part of your luggage along while you travel from place to place. You’ll never have to leave one member of your party alone to “guard” your luggage while you make other arrangements. Bus stations, train stations, and other forms of public transportation have luggage checks, but they’re expensive, and not always convenient or reliable. If you have a rental car, you can lock up your valuables in the trunk and be sure you’ll find them when you get back. You’ll also enjoy a more carefree vacation if you’re not constantly worrying about your bags.

6 big reasons to rent a car when you're on vacation rentavaluecar.com

Renting a car in Los Angeles or Pasadena?

If you’re vacationing anywhere in the Los Angeles or Pasadena area, make your trip carefree with a car rental from Value Rental Car. You’ll save money, time, and aggravation!

How To Find Great Value Car Rental Services in Europe

value car rental europe

Smart consumers know that value for your dollar is more important than low prices. It doesn’t matter how low the price is if the product isn’t what you expected. This is especially true for car rental. A few online comparison websites dominate car rental, hotel booking, and other travel services. Unfortunately, these big booking apps don’t have anything to do with actually renting cars to customers. They simply act as middlemen. This creates an incentive for car rental companies to bid against each other to seem lower than the others. But the lowest price rarely means that you’ll get great value car rental for your money. This is especially true if you’re trying to rent a car for a European trip.

Renting a Car in Europe Is Different

If you’re used to arranging transportation and lodging in the United States, you might be surprised the first time you try to book the same services in Europe. While the same travel apps might work on your phone, the information you get might not result in the same level of service you receive in the US. And while many of the countries in Europe are part of the E.U., that doesn’t mean that the rules of the road, or local laws about driving or renting a car will be the same from country to country.

Driver’s Licenses for Car Rental

In most European countries, an American or Canadian driver’s license is all you need to rent a car and drive it. However, you should consider your driver’s license as a sort of add-on to your main form of identification, your passport. While that’s all you need in most places, it’s still smart to get an International Driving Permit as well.

Getting an International Driving Permit (IDP) is a lot easier than its official name suggests. All an IDP represents is an accurate translation of your driver’s license into the format that’s familiar overseas. If you’re a member of AAA, you can go to one of their many offices with two passport-sized photos and they’ll make you an IDP for as low as $20. Even though it’s easy to get an IDP, it’s a serious form of identification while traveling. The document is ultimately regulated by the US State Department. In many ways, it’s a much better form of identification than a state-issued driver’s license when you’re abroad.

Where an IDP Is Required

It can be difficult to nail down exactly where you need an IDP  to drive in Europe. There is all sorts of conflicting advice on the Internet. This advice is often made even more confusing by language barriers during translation. It’s true that you may never be asked for a copy of your IDP while renting a car or driving in Europe. That doesn’t mean you might not need it in a pinch. Some countries technically require that you carry one, even though no one seems to ask for one for day-to-day transactions. These include many Eastern European countries like Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also a few large western European countries like Spain. If you’re involved in a car accident, for instance, and you don’t have one, you might have a very hard time with the local police.

Different Countries, Different Rules

Americans travel freely from state to state, and for the most part, you can expect the same kinds of laws and customs wherever you go. While the European Union is similar, the individual countries in it are still very different, and it can be disorienting to travel from one to the next.

For instance, finding a great value car rental in one country doesn’t mean it’s a great value everywhere. If you pick up a rental car in one country, you might find that it’s nearly impossible to drop it off in another country. It doesn’t matter that the car rental company is the same in both places. Local laws apply.

Daily Rental Is More Than Just an Expression

In general, car rental contracts are charged in 24-hour periods. In Europe, the times for pickup and dropoff are closely measured. If you’re only a few minutes late, you might find yourself paying for a whole day anyway.

To guard against extra charges, never schedule your pickup any earlier than you really need it. That way, you’ll enjoy a later drop off time to go with your later pick up time. Some European car rental companies allow you to drop off your car after hours. They have a drop box for car keys for your convenience. However, be careful how this service is set up. In some places, you won’t get credit for dropping off your rental car until the business opens up in the morning and processes your return.

It’s Cheaper Away From Major Travel Hubs

If you’re trying to get value car rental for your money, avoid renting at airports and other major travel hubs. It’s cheaper to rent from car rental company locations in smaller cities and towns. Public transit is much better in Europe than in most parts of America. That makes it possible to take a bus or train from the airport to your destination, then rent a car there.

Be aware, however, that European businesses are much less likely to be open late or available seven days a week. In some countries, businesses are closed for long periods at midday. It can be hard to find open businesses on weekends as well. Many countries celebrate holidays you’ve never heard of, so it pays to phone ahead and ask.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

In America, it’s considered an upgrade to get a bigger, fancier car for the same rate as an economy model. That’s not always true when renting a car in Europe. European roads, especially in old cities, can be very narrow. Parking is almost always harder than in the states. It can be nearly impossible to find inexpensive parking in a city center for a full-sized sedan.

Can You Drive a Stick Shift Rental Car?

Americans might also be surprised to find out how many European rental cars come with a stick shift. Fuel is more expensive in Europe, and stick shift cars get better mileage, which makes them more common overseas. If you’re not able to drive a stick shift, make sure you specify an automatic when you’re making your reservation. Automatics aren’t “automatic” over there.

One more thing about driving a stick shift. Even if you’re able to drive stick, you might find it nearly impossible in countries like Great Britain where the driver sits on the right-hand side of the car, and operates the shift with the left hand.

Fees Can Take a Big Bite

In some ways, European car rental has more options than in the United States. It’s possible to customize your rental arrangements more closely than with American car rental contracts. There are more types of cars, and more ways to pay. However, this versatility can come at a price. European car rental companies rely on fees to keep their contracts profitable than in the United States. Not all of those fees will be obvious.

To avoid big surprises, it’s smart to plan ahead. Getting true value car rental in Europe is easiest if you specify the details of your trip well in advance. Planning ahead means fewer surprises. Fewer surprises means fewer add-ons and fees that make the costs pile up. One more thing: it’s smart to pay for your car rental before you make your trip. You can avoid paying poor currency conversion rates when you try to change your American dollars for foreign currency on the spot.

(For more information, check out the Value Rental Car Pinterest page for Car Rental in Other Countries)

Remember, for the ultimate in convenience for car rental in the Los Angeles and Pasadena area, rely on Value Rental Car for the best rates on the best cars.

How To Get the Best Deals When You Rent a Car!

deals on rent a car in pasadena ca

Consumers rent a car for many different reasons. If your daily driver is in the shop for repairs that take more than a few hours, a rental car can avoid a major inconvenience. If your regular car is a compact, you can rent a larger car or van when you have a big crowd to transport. Business travelers love to rent a car for convenience and security. Vacationers like the freedom that a rental car affords. Because of all the benefits of renting a car, pretty much everyone does at one time or another. However, if you only rent cars infrequently, the number of rental car offers can seem pretty bewildering. We’ve compiled a list of handy tips to make it easier to shop for a great price on a car rental.

Beware Price Comparison Websites

Consumers mostly rely on internet searches to find deals on most everything from everyday shopping to vacation getaways. It’s also a popular way to search for car rental deals. Price-conscious shoppers are often surprised to find out that the best deals don’t always appear on price comparison websites.

You Don’t Reserve a Car. You Reserve a Rate

The real problem you’ll face if you deal only with price comparison websites is that they don’t actually have anything to do with renting cars. A price comparison and booking app on your phone is simply a go-between for car rental companies and potential customers. Even though it can appear that you’re dealing with an online company when you’re making your reservations, eventually you have to directly deal with the actual rental car agency, and the price, fees, rules, and even the availability of a car might not match what was understood when you made your reservations online.

It’s especially dangerous to rely on internet go-between apps for car rental when you’re far away from home, and you’re depending on the agency to honor the deal an internet aggregator quoted. Some travelers arrive at the rental counter only to find out that only the rate was guaranteed. There was no guarantee that a car would be available to take advantage of that rate, however. (Related: read our previous advice on what to do when your hotel, auto rental company, airline overbooks).

Ask About Car Rental Fees

Price comparison apps and websites basically spit out a number when you search for car rentals. That number is often massaged to make it appear as low as possible. The car rental companies advertise the lowest rates they have, but they count on upselling and add-on fees to make money.

Smart price shoppers inquire about additional fees and needed services before plunking down their credit cards on an auto rental. Many car rental companies charge hefty premiums for young drivers. They also charge more for multiple drivers, necessary insurance, and even filling up the gas tank when you return the car. It’s important to find out an accurate rate for all the services you require on a car rental to make an informed choice. Fee structures at the major car rental agencies make that very difficult on price comparison websites.

This video clip from the Today show has a good rundown on assorted car rental fees:

Try Independent Rent a Car Companies

Price comparison websites might seem like they’re cutting edge, but in many ways they’re stuck in the past. They usually only feature a few of the largest car rental agencies in the country. Just a few years ago, there really weren’t that many companies for car rentals. In the last two decades, the number has exploded. If you rely only on price comparison apps to find car rental companies, you’re probably missing out on the large majority of choices.

For example, if you want to rent a car in Pasadena CA, or anywhere in greater Los Angeles, the most recent US Census survey found 163 car rental establishments to choose from. That’s an astonishing amount of choice for consumers. Only a small fraction of these car rental companies can be found on the largest online aggregators.

US Census rent a car in pasadena ca or los angeles

Avoid a Rush

Many hotel and airline booking aggregators specialize in last-minute deals on travel. If you’re willing to travel on a moment’s notice, many carriers and lodging chains will offer you great rates to fill a room or plane seat that would otherwise go empty. That approach doesn’t work well for car rental, however.

Car rental companies give the best rates to customers who book ahead, and who rent for the longest terms. They try to balance the number of cars they have with the number of renters they expect to serve. That’s not a recipe for great rates or even availability when you try to rent a car at the last minute. Shop ahead to get the best rates.

Check Your Insurance Carefully

Most drivers who own their own car have a lot of automobile insurance. That insurance usually covers the drive when they rent a car for business or pleasure. There are also a handful of other ways to cover your liability when you drive a rental car. Some credit cards have insurance benefits attached to their terms that also apply to car rental. As an added bonus, you may also qualify for some discounts depending on which card you use.

These types of insurance benefits should be considered carefully when you rent a car, minivan, or truck. While it’s always good to qualify for coverage at no extra cost, you need to make sure that your insurance is comprehensive enough to cover your potential liability. This is especially true if you rent a car in another country, where the terms of your policies might become murky. When in doubt, it’s easy and free to contact your insurance company and ask for guidance.

Don’t Rent More Car Than You Need

When you’re checking your insurance for renting a car, make sure you accurately identify the type of car you’ll be renting. Sometimes it’s fun to splurge on an exotic car rental, or more convenient to rent a bigger car or truck than you regularly drive. However, you may be in for a nasty surprise when you find out that the liability limits you’re paying for on your tiny subcompact don’t measure up to the potential losses when you wreck a rented sports car.

In every case, you’ll save the most money when you rent only as much car as you need. The rates for simple, small cars are lower, and you’ll avoid a lot of added fees.

Rent A Car in Pasadena CA, and Los Angeles

Rely on Value Rental Car for great prices and service for car rental in Pasadena CA and Los Angeles. Free pickup and drop off service within 7 miles of their locations, including LAX airport!

Ten Must-Have Travel Apps for Carefree Trips

android and apple apps for car hire and travelVacations should be fun. Family gatherings should be about reconnecting with loved ones. Business travel should be efficient and financially rewarding, for your company if not for you in particular. Unfortunately, trips of all kinds can turn into stressful situations in a heartbeat if they’re poorly planned. And even the best planning won’t be enough if your flight is cancelled or your hotel is overbooked. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. The modern traveler has a supercomputer in their pocket. Smartphones can help you do a whole lot more than call home or pass the time in the airport with games or videos. Travel apps for your smartphone make it easy to plan your whole trip, from tracking flights to arranging for car hire. They can also help you deal with unexpected hiccups on the fly.

Value Rental Car has assembled a selection of ten must-have travel apps that will make your next trip less stressful. Don’t leave home without them!

Google Trips

We’ll start with Google Trips, and for good reason. If you only have one travel app, this one should be it. Google trips isn’t really a single travel app. It’s more of a Swiss army knife for travel. It’s as close to a personal assistant for your travel plans as you’ll find for your smartphone.

Google trips is great for consolidating all your various hotel reservations, car hire info, airline flight details, and other tour details. Google Trips is totally plugged in with other Google services, to it’s easy to grab details from Gmail accounts and maps and keep them in one place. One nice detail about the app: you can save your information right to your smartphone, so you can retrieve it even if you’re unable to connect to WiFi.

Google Trips for Android

Google Trips for iOS

Waze

Nothing knocks the fun out of vacations like sitting in traffic. Traffic jams can also turn a lucrative business trip into an expensive waste of time if you can’t get to an important meeting. That’s why the Waze app is invaluable for every kind of traveler. After you’ve taken care of car hire, getting maps and directions to your destinations is only half the battle. Waze is great for up to date travel information that includes things like construction zones, speed traps, and plain old heavy traffic alerts. If it will keep you from reaching your destination on time, Waze will probably know about it.

In addition to regular alerts, Waze can also map alternate routes, find inexpensive gasoline stations, and calculate arrival times for you.

Waze for Android

Waze for iOS

Lounge Buddy/Priority Pass

Let’s face it: no matter how well you plan, travel can be stressful. The secret to smart travel is to take every opportunity to relax along the way. The LoungeBuddy and Priority Pass apps are a great way to turn dreary layovers in airports into restful breaks from planes, trains, and automobiles.

Getting access to airport lounges doesn’t have to be expensive. Many frequent flyer programs and credit card rewards programs include them as extras. Even if you don’t automatically qualify, it’s usually inexpensive to buy a single day pass (see our rundown of ways to win at airport layovers for more info). LoungeBuddy and Priority Pass check if you’re already qualified, and they offer up a list of available lounges and prices if you’re not.

Priority Pass on Android

LoungeBuddy on iOS

Accuweather

Small details can make a big difference to your trip. There’s no more important detail than weather. It’s important to be able to see weather anywhere on the globe where you might be traveling, including real-time summaries and radar maps. Accuweather has a great interface, and their forecasts can be personalized right down to a GPS location, with up-to-the-minute weather forecasts. Their long term forecasts also make packing the right clothing easier.

Accuweather for Android

Accuweather for iOS

WiFi Map

Reliable WiFi is indispensable for business travelers. It’s pretty handy for vacationers, too. Many data plans will empty out your wallet if you incur roaming charges, and it can be hard to know how much money you’ve spent until it’s too late to do much about it. WiFi Map is a simple app that sniffs out all the local WiFi hotpspots, and it collates all the available login details for each in one place. Users of the app can report their experience with any particular hotspot, making it easier to find reliable, safe, high-speed connections when you’re away from home.

WiFi Map for Android

WiFi Map for iOS

Encrypt.me

Speaking of WiFi, security is always a concern whenever you use an unfamiliar hotspot. Public WiFi is convenient, but it’s not always safe. That’s why a tool like Encrypt.me comes in handy. This app isn’t free, but it’s well worth the money if it keeps you from having sensitive personal and financial info exposed at a public hotspot. The app encrypts all your data on the fly, and sends it via a virtual private network for the ultimate in privacy and security.

Encrypt.me for Android

Encrypt.me for iOS

Roomer Travel

You might think you can do without an app for finding accommodations if you’ve already got a hotel or rental lined up. But what happens if your booking falls through? Airlines aren’t the only businesses that overbook. If your plans for a room don’t work out at the last minute, you’ll need help and you’ll need it fast. The Roomer app specializes in finding last-minute deals on hotel rooms and similar places to stay. The app also helps if you have reservations and have to cancel. You can use it to sell your stay to another user, and save money and aggravation on cancellation fees.

Roomer for Android

Roomer for iOS

XE Currency

XE Currency is a simple app that can save you a lot of arithmetic. It allows you to keep track of any number of currencies, and it has up-to-the-minute exchange rates as long as you’re online. You can also use the app when you’re offline. The app has an old-school interface, which makes it easy to use in a hurry when you’re settling a bar tab or a hotel bill.

XE Currency for Android

XE Currency for iOS

Translate

Google Translate is another free, essential app to include in your travel arsenal. It allows you to type in or dictate a word or phrase, and have it presented to you in over 100 different languages. It will even pronounce the word or phrase for you if you want. The app has recently been expanded to include translation of signage simply by using your cameraphone to take a picture of the text. The app even works when you’re offline, but the suite of services it provides is limited.

Google Translate for Android

Google Translate for iOS

WhatsApp

It’s not always possible to make voice calls when you’re on the road. Even if you can, it can be hard to determine if you’re going to pay a substantial roaming charge. It’s almost always easier to find a WiFi signal than a rock-solid cell signal, so it’s smart to have a messaging app like WhatsApp installed on your phone. WhatsApp is a lot more than a texting app. It allows you to send photos, recorded voice messages, and even make video calls without incurring roaming charges.

WhatsApp for Android

WhatsApp for iOS

Related: How to move apps to an SD card to save space on your Android phone:

10 Best Travel Apps from car hire rentavaluecar.com

Remember, for the ultimate in convenience in car hire in the Los Angeles and Pasadena area, rely on Value Rental Car for the best rates on the best cars.

Insider’s Guide for Layovers at LAX Airport

lax layover renting a car value rental carLos Angeles is one of the most interesting cities on Earth. It has a great climate, great beaches, and stunning scenery. It’s also home to fascinating industries like movies, television, and music recording. If you’re in Los Angeles for a day or a lifetime, it’s easy to find something interesting to do. But what if you’re stuck in the airport? Never fear. There is lots to do inside the LAX airport, and it’s centrally located in Los Angeles. That puts it within a short distance of all kinds of attractions and amenities. Depending on the length of your layover at LAX, turning a delay into a vacation is as easy as renting a car and poking around the area.

If you find yourself with some time to kill at LAX, or you’re planning ahead for a substantial layover, here’s a handy guide to what to go and what to do:

What’s LAX Like?

Los Angeles is a big, sprawling city. It’s only natural that it would have a big, spread-out airport. LAX is certainly that. Not only is LAX big, it’s also not really a single airport. It has eight different numbered terminals, plus the main terminal, and they’re not all connected together. The level of amenities varies a great deal between terminals. This disconnection is an artifact of the way LAX has evolved over the years. In the past, it was no big deal to walk out of one terminal and catch another flight at another terminal, or visit restaurants or shops.

TSA security makes that difficult now. In order to exit some terminals and enter others, you’ll have to submit to security procedures all over again. That can make it tough to plan excursions between terminals while keeping track of time. The amount of time spent in security lines can vary a great deal.

The good news is that LAX understands that passengers need to be able to circulate freely after they’ve cleared security, and are working feverishly to connect the terminals on the “airside.” The largest terminal, the Tom Bradley International Terminal, is where most international passengers end up during layovers. There’s a lot of amenities inside the TBIT, so it’s possible to amuse yourself for a few hours or a long day. Terminals 4 through 8 are now connected airside, so you can move freely between them to find things to do. If you’re in any of the other terminals, you’ll probably need to go through security additional times if you want something substantial to eat, something interesting to occupy your time, or want to go shopping.

Between Terminals

Whichever terminal you end up in, you’ll probably have to plan ahead to amuse yourself, and you’ll have to be ready to walk long distances to visit other terminals. LAX has a free Airline Connections shuttle that stops in front of every terminal. If you’d rather walk, be aware that the distance between any two terminals can range up to a mile. It’s smart to check the maps of the airport to see how far you have to walk before setting out.

What To Do With Your Luggage

On-site luggage storage can be a problem at LAX. There are companies that offer curbside pickup, storage, and retrieval, but a regular traveler’s luggage might cost $100 for a single day. Yikes.

If your layover in Los Angeles is at least a day, there are several ways to ditch your luggage without emptying your wallet.

Hotels

If you’re staying at a nearby hotel, their day rates might might be competitive with luggage service, and you can take a shower and rest as well as store your luggage. Many local hotels have shuttle services that save steps and money. The Hyatt Regency, the Courtyard Los Angeles, and the Sheraton Gateway are all located within a 2-minute shuttle ride of the main terminal. For a lengthy layover, renting a car and traveling a few more miles will save you a lot of money. There are hundreds of hotels and motels in the immediate area at every price level. You can search for hotels near LAX on TripAdvisor to compare prices and service levels.

Early Check-In

If your layover is simply to wait for a connecting flight, you may be able to check your bags in early. There’s a limit to how far in advance you can check in, but it might be enough time to allow you to enjoy a meal or some shopping without dragging your bags around with you. You can find out more about early check in offers here.

Renting a Car

If you’re staying for a few days, renting a car and locking your luggage in the trunk is a great way to keep dibs on it without lugging it around. There are many car rental agencies inside the terminals. Renting a car from a nearby agency that picks up and drops off at the terminal will save you money, though.

Shopping Inside LAX

The Great Hall of the Tom Bradley terminal has a fantastic shopping mall in it. It’s more like an inside shopping street than a run-of-the-mill airline mall. There’s lots of duty free offerings, and the retail boutiques include some really high-end names. like Bvlgari, Hugo Boss, Hermes, Gucci, Burberry, and others. Most of the other terminals have at least one or two interesting shops, but for the most part, you’ll have to settle for the usual newsstand shopping experience. The company that operates LAX has a list of shopping outlets here.

Dining Inside LAX

Los Angeles has a fantastic foodie culture. LAX features a growing number of first-rate eateries, plus more economical choices for travelers on a budget. The Tom Bradley terminal has upscale dining to go with its fancy shopping selection. Terminals 4 through 8 are now connected on the airside, and between them they have a great selection of food choices for leisurely dining or a quick bite. Terminals 4 and 5 have more affordable, but still adventurous choices. Eater Los Angeles has a current list of eateries at LAX here.

Airport Lounges

If traveling by air is getting the better of you, an airport lounge can turn a layover into a mini-vacation. There are many airport lounges at LAX. Your preferred airline or credit card provider might entitle you to free admission to an airport lounge. Many of the lounges will also let you purchase admission for a single day if you don’t qualify as a frequent flier. Almost every terminal has at least one lounge, and many have several. There’s a great rundown of LAX airport lounges on LoungeBuddy.

The amenities at the lounges at LAX vary a bit. One thin you won’t find is sleeping facilities. It’s fairly hard to catch a nap at LAX. The regular concourses are loud, and the airport has constant construction noise to deal with.

If an airport lounge isn’t enough to chill you out, LAX also has a few spas onsite. There’s a big one in the Tom Bradley terminal, and smaller locations scattered around where you can get a quick massage.

Day Trips

If you have a full day to kill, there’s no reason to spend all your time inside the airport. Public transportation in Los Angeles isn’t great, but renting a car at LAX is easy and economical.

Beaches

There are many beaches located only a short drive from LAX, and most beaches in the LA area have nearby boardwalks and shopping strands to make a side trip enjoyable.

Golf

The Westchester Golf Course is located just north of LAX. It’s a public, 18-hole course that’s fairly affordable for an urban setting. They’re used to serving LAX customers, and have a good supply of clubs for rent, including premium clubs.

Local Tours

If you’ve got at least 4 hours to kill, the Starline Hop On Hop Off Tour of LA is a fun way to see the sights. The service has several different routes depending on your interests. If you have a full day, the trip through Hollywood is lots of fun.

Travels Hacks Renting a Car rentavaluecar.com

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Insider’s Guide To Driving in Los Angeles

los angeles freeway cheapest monthly car rentalIf you’re planning on staying in Los Angeles for more than a day or two, it’s smart to rent a car to get around. Los Angeles has always been a car-centric place. Public transit is spotty compared to other big cities like New York. Driving in Los Angeles is slightly more complicated than simply looking for the cheapest monthly car rental you can find and turning on your GPS. If you’ve never driven in Los Angeles before, you’ll soon find out that drivers do things a little differently here compared to the rest of the country.

Because of the sunny weather and the big highways, many drivers find that it’s simpler to make your way around Los Angeles than it is in almost any other major American city. However, it still pays to understand the city’s neighborhoods, traffic patterns, and local traffic laws and driving customs. We’ve assembled an insider’s guide to driving in Los Angeles to make it easier!

What To Call It

Los Angeles is a big city. It has a definable vibe, and that vibe is based in large part on the automobile. Drivers in Los Angeles have their own particular vocabulary for most everything that has to do with getting around in a car. You’ll have fewer problems getting from point A to point B in Los Angeles if you know some driving terms that are peculiar to the Los Angeles area:

Los Angeles Has Freeways, Not Highways

Get used to every big road being called a freeway. You’ll almost never hear a Los Angeles driver referring to anything as a highway, an interstate, or a state route. If you want to sound like you belong in Los Angeles, call everything with guard rails a freeway.

Los Angeles freeways all have names. For instance, the 405 freeway is called the San Diego Freeway. The Golden State Freeway is the 5 freeway anywhere north of Downtown L.A. It’s not really necessary to learn all the freeway names, however. Los Angeles drivers don’t use freeway names very often. They simply refer to roads by their number, preceded by “The.” If you ask for directions in Los Angeles, you’ll most likely hear something like, “Take The 405 to The 10.”

Even the road signs are set up for following freeways by number. Road names are mostly absent from freeway signage. Most simply list the freeway number and the compass direction. Some add the largest city or neighborhood for each direction. For example, if you’re looking for signs for the Santa Monica Freeway, you might miss your turn. Look for “The 10,” and you’ll be fine.

Telling Surface Streets From Service Streets

It can be easy to be confused by the difference between the terms “surface streets” and “service streets” when you’re getting directions in Los Angeles.

Surface Streets in Los Angeles

You’ll hear the term surface street a lot when you’re driving in Los Angeles. For the most part, locals refer to any street that isn’t a freeway as a surface street. If it’s not a limited access road, it’s a surface street. Los Angeles is an enormous grid of surface streets that’s crisscrossed by big, limited access freeways.

Service Streets in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the city of boulevards. In general, a boulevard is a wide, multi-lane road, often with a median strip. Boulevards can also have lanes that run parallel to the main road. These lanes are called service streets, and are usually separated from the main boulevard by a grassy island. If you’re trying to visit an address on a boulevard that has a service street, you’ll have to make a turn before you reach your destination, or turn around shortly after.

Luckily, service streets don’t usually have a different name than the boulevard they serve. The signage will read the same as the main road. If you’re from a crowded eastern city, you’ll appreciate how much easier it can be to drive slowly along a service street to find a street address. It makes finding a parking space, easier, too.

There Are Cities Inside The City of Los Angeles

You can drive at full speed for more than an hour and never leave Los Angeles. It’s a big city, and really spread out. However, it’s also possible to pass through four different cities in about ten miles of road. Cities like Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are completely encircled by the City of Los Angeles.

All these smaller cities inside of Los Angeles makes the city much more vibrant and interesting. They can pose problems for out-of-town drivers, however. Street names can change when you enter a new city. Sometimes a street name changes when you enter a city, and changes back when you reach the other border.

Sometimes streets just end when they reach a notable destination like a park, a lake, or an airport. The road may begin again on the other side of the obstacle, but they’re disconnected.

Beware Familiar Street Names in Unfamiliar Places

If you’re stuck in traffic, it can be tempting to see a familiar street name on a sign, and take the exit thinking you can go the rest of the way on surface streets. Be careful. Many smaller cities inside of Los Angeles have roads with the same names as other local cities, but that are completely unrelated to roads with the same name elsewhere.

cheapest monthly car rental driving los angelesHow Los Angeles Natives Drive

Driving in Los Angeles isn’t much different than anywhere else in the US. There are some laws and habits you might not be aware of, however. Here’s a short list of traffic rules for L.A

DUI

Law enforcement is very strict for driving under the influence. The legal limit for blood alcohol is 0.08%, and sobriety checkpoints are common. You can still be charged with driving under the influence for even lower levels if you exhibit other signs of intoxication. If you’re out for a big bash in Los Angeles with a bunch of friends, it’s smart to rent a party bus or use limousine service to avoid trouble with a DUI.

Carpool Lanes

Los Angeles was a pioneer in the use of carpool lanes. On L.A. freeways, they’re called High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, or simply HOVs. You can recognize HOV lanes by they diamond painted on the road surface. You’ll have to be vigilant about what constitutes a HOV lane. Some require only two occupants, others are reserved for three or more.

If you’re visiting from other parts of California that have HOV lanes that are only restricted during rush hour, don’t forget that in LA, carpool lane rules apply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Some motorcycles and low emission vehicles are eligible to ride in the HOV lane at any time, so don’t get confused if you see a car in the HOV lane with just a driver.

Cell Phone Etiquette

It’s legal to talk on your cell phone while you’re driving. You must use a hands-free device, though. If you’re spotted holding a smartphone to your ear while driving, you can expect a hefty ticket. Texting is specifically banned, including reading texts. You shouldn’t use the GPS in your handheld phone while driving, either. Even the cheapest monthly car rental deals are available with dedicated GPS now, and it’s smart to use one.

Leaving Children in the Car

It gets hot in Southern California. It’s not smart to leave a small child in an unattended car even for short periods, and it’s also against the law. Children under the age of six can’t be left in a car alone, and a child must be at least twelve to look after another child in a parked car. It’s also illegal to leave pets unattended in parked cars. One more thing about kids and cars: it’s against the law to smoke if you have a child in the car.

Traffic Is a Fact of Life in LA

If you’re new to Los Angeles, you might be astonished by the number of cars on the road, and the number of roads for cars to be on. LA natives are accustomed to heavy traffic, and have smart strategies for avoiding freeways during rush hours. There are plenty of major surface streets that can look like parking lots for long stretches during commuting hours. If you have a traffic app like Waze,  Google Maps, or Mapquest, you’ll be able to avoid many traffic tie-ups. You’d do well to ask LA natives for advice on the best times to travel, too.

If you’re more old school, you can tune in t KNX-AM 1070. They feature traffic reports six times an hour, all day and night. You can also dial 511 on your phone for an instant traffic report, but remember to use hands free mode on your phone.

If you’d like to get a real feeling of what it’s like to drive in downtown Los Angeles, check out this video:

Remember, for the cheapest monthly car rental in greater Los Angeles, contact Value Rental Car, with convenient locations in Los Angeles and Pasadena.

Insider's Guide To Los Angeles Freeway Names from rentavaluecar.com

Photos courtesy of the The Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division