Turo car-rental app gives adventure travelers better rental options

There are many reasons why one might not want to rent a car from a traditional rental car company when traveling. Maybe you’re bringing sports equipment that won’t fit into a standard rental, or you want to blend in with the locals to prevent break-ins, or you might even need AWD to cover some difficult terrain.

These were the factors on my mind when I tried car-sharing app Turo, which allows car owners to rent their personal vehicles to travelers.

I was going to Hawaii with two 9’6″ surfboards that I wanted to fit inside my vehicle (and not have to strap to the roof). I wasn’t interested in driving a car that screamed “out-of-towner” in certain beach lots known for break-ins, and I wanted the option of driving on roads where having all-wheel drive could be helpful.

So, I searched Turo.com. I could search based on vehicle-type (including hybrid/EV), transmission, make, year, color, and features — like bike or ski racks. And I could even add a filter to only see cars available for airport curbside delivery (goodbye rental car shuttles).

I searched for SUVs with airport pickup and chose a Nissan Xterra owned by Virginia. The price was $35/day.

Upon booking, Turo prompted me to send Virginia a message, which I did, and she responded right away. We set a time to meet at my terminal and exchanged phone numbers.

On the day I arrived, Virginia texted me that she had just had a baby and that her cousin would drop off the Xterra. He arrived right on time. We walked around the car to record any damage, he photographed my driver’s license (you can skip this step by downloading the mobile app and uploading this information), gave me the keys and drove off with a friend who had come in a second car. The whole process took less than five minutes.

Find the car that fits your trip. Photo: Gabriela Aoun

Having the Xterra came in handy during my trip. I was able to throw my boards in with no problems, blend in better in beach parking lots, and more confidently navigate some sketchy sections of a sand-covered road.

Blend in better by driving a local’s car. Photo: Gabriela Aoun

When I was finished with the car, it was as simple as texting Virginia to coordinate a meeting time, and dropping the car off right at my departure terminal.

Beyond the practical advantages of having more options in what kind of car you rent, there’s also the fun factor. You’re on vacation, so why not drive a car that makes you feel like you’re on vacation? The diversity of vehicle type ranges from camper conversions to classic pickups to Teslas, and from as inexpensive as $15/day to as much as $900 (for a 1967 Mustang GT Fastback).

Since that first experience, I’ve used Turo two more times. I rented a Subaru Outback when I was driving long distances and wanted good MPG, and I even rented Virginia’s Xterra again when I returned to Hawaii. With curbside delivery and a breadth of vehicle options, Turo has made it difficult for me to imagine driving a traditional rental car again.

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