Mobility has always been a major consideration when I travel and it’s never been a problem for me whenever I go to Sydney. My mom would always lend me her car for the duration of the trip, provided that it is only within the Sydney metro and nearby locations. If ever I need to go out of town she usually joins me, so car hire in Australia has never been an option before.
Kinda reminds me when she gave me my first pushbike, I am not to go farther than the street where we lived! But bikes and cars have wheels and those round things tend to just keep rolling on and on and my wandering nature has a natural aversion to hitting on the brakes. My mom has gotten smarter though and she started accounting for the mileage used, especially when it’s the Mini Cooper or the Range Rover, and I’d be so lucky to even drive the new Peugeot 206cc convertible out of the garage.
I need to have options for my February trip to Sydney. Sure, Australia has one of the most organized public transport systems but I’ve never been any good at following timetables, determining which train or bus to take, or getting off at the right stop. Luckily, hiring in Australia is also one of the most advanced in the world that one is only limited by the sophistication he wants to experience.
I only need the car for my out of town trip since my mom is lending me one of hers for the Sydney metro trips, which means I can do the flea market runs, café and food about town hops, and limited great outdoor adventures in beaches, and national parks at no additional cost. So I only need a car for that out-of-town drive to Gold Coast, since it kinda feels funny still traveling with your mom at the age of 43, plus the fact that she turns into a human GPS that I could never turn off!
I am no stranger to car rentals, having lived there for more than 12 years I have hired utility vehicles (utes as we call it fondly) for those do-it-yourself house moving events, and the usual sedans for formal events like weddings. But back then the Internet was still in its infancy and I would still let my fingers do the walking on the trusty yellow pages and newspaper ads…shopping for good rates and the best deals in town. Now, I am surprised at how it has become even easier to find the right car to hire.
Exploring the web for car hire in Australia I shopped for the right one. The most obvious site to go to are comparison sites where I was given choices on the type of cars available for the inclusive dates and purpose of the travel. My itinerary is to drive from Sydney to North Stradbroke Island in Queensland, stay there for a couple of days, then to Gold Coast where I will drop off the car at the airport to take a flight back to Sydney. I also want to drive in style so I eliminated compact and economy cars from my choices, leaving me with a four-wheel drive, a luxury sedan, a sports car, a mini elite, and a few full-sized sedans. Don’t worry if you are not familiar with these categories because there are specific car models identified per category.
The trip to North Stradbroke Island would take me about 14 hours so I need to consider the comfort of the ride and leg room for power naps. I like driving with the radio in full blast as it plays the best of the Carpenters (NOT!), preferably with an iPod dock so I don’t have to bring CD’s or search through radio stations. The car has to be powerful enough to overtake with ease but should be easy to handle in all terrains, although I am not expecting to go off-road driving. The deal should give me value like unlimited mileage or best price for mileage, insurance, reasonable excess in case of accidents, road support, and other extras.
It’s a toss up between the RAV4 and the Audi A4 Sedan. Initial price comparison of total rental cost gives a AUD54.00 difference
with the RAV4 fetching at AUD 580.00 and the Audi A4 at AUD 635.00. The comparison site however provides more information than just the rental cost. Upon closer examination the Audi has limited free mileage, additional charges for usage of GPS, a higher excess rate, and additional airport charges. The choice will now depend on my financial resources and competing experience items like food and drinks, accommodation, souvenirs, a dive maybe and other incidentals. And with all my travels the Excel spreadsheet is invaluable in planning and estimating how much cash I can dispense, there will be some tradeoffs.
So off to the bank I go, which is also done through the Internet, to make sense of my finances before I make a decision on which car to hire. The good thing is I am now armed with information to base my decision on, thanks to the wonderful wide world of the web!