Over Labor Day weekend, I went to Boston to visit my family and friends, and then on Monday, drove down to Long Island for a wedding.
What We Were Planning On Paying For Travel
We flew in to Boston, so had no car. We were planning on taking a bus to New York for around $30 each, but when I found out that two friends were going to do the same thing, I checked out car rental prices. To my surprise, a one-way car rental from Boston to New York was just $88, including taxes and fees, for a day. We’d have to pay for gas and tolls, so it wouldn’t be cheaper yet, but it would be significantly more convenient and comfortable.
We then thought about how we would get to the airport the next day. Well, a shuttle was going to cost us another $60 to get the the airport for our 7am flight (and would mean leaving at 4am). That didn’t sound very appealing, so having a car looked like a very good option.
Car Rental vs. Buses and Shuttles
Just looking at the price (and leaving out the convenience factors), it would have been $120 for buses for the 4 of us, plus another $60 to get to the airport on Tuesday morning, for a total of $180. OK, well this became a no-brainer fairly quickly. We were only going to be driving around 300 miles, so add in another $50 for a tank of gas and $32 for tolls and we were still on track to save $10. The convenience itself was worth something, but I guess it’s hard to quantify.
But wait, there’s more. The night before we left, on a whim, I looked up prices at the Providence Airport, where my brother was going to be dropped off Monday morning anyway. Turns out, a rental there was just $66, so that’s another $22 added to our savings.
Is It Worth It To Prepay Gas?
We were given the option to either return the car with a full tank of gas or to prepay for a full tank of gas (at a nice discount of almost 50 cents per gallon). While normally I would say returning with a full tank of gas would be the best idea, since we knew we’d be using at least 3/4 of the tank and weren’t going to be excited to fill up the car at 5am, we decided to go with the prepaid option. Plus, we had just saved $22, so decided to roll the dice.
As you can see from the photo above, we got great use out of our gas and were left with about a gallon left in the tank, so when you figure in the discount, we came out even, if not ahead (and saved our time on Tuesday morning).
Renting a car, even for a one-way trip, was far cheaper than I expected. I learned a few things about car rentals (did you know your spouse can drive your rental car, no questions asked?) and saved a whole lot of time and money by investigating our options instead of just assuming that buses were the way to go.