There’s something romantic about road trips, what with hours silently spent enjoying the ever-changing landscape, your significant other beside you. I love taking drives along lonely roads where the possibility of an unknown destination lies around every bend. I’ve taken many road trips in the past, but my time on the long stretches of road here in British Columbia, Canada, has made me fall madly in love with road trips all over again.
You might think not owning a car is a colossal mistake in Canada, a country with such endless beauty just dying to be explored by anyone who visits. However, ever since arriving here in August 2015, we’ve explored British Columbia without ever owning a car.
Zipcar: Our Gateway To British Columbia And Beyond
After arriving in Vancouver, one of the first memberships we signed up for was Zipcar, a car sharing company where you can rent cars by the hour or by day. After researching car rental companies, we found that booking a Zipcar was the same price or even cheaper than booking a car with a rental company. On top of that, Zipcar offers several perks: gas is included in the price, as well as 200km/day mileage and insurance. If you want a damage fee waiver, you pay an extra fee once a year.
Renting a car is easy: you reserve the vehicle you want online (and there are plenty of options to choose from), head to your car at the start time, unlock the doors with your Zip Card, and off you go on your adventure! No more waiting around at a rental company and filling in papers before you can set off.
On our first trip, we zipped to Whistler, a town home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America. We drove along the stunning Sea To Sky Highway, passing coastal mountains and various tourist attractions along the way.
Plenty of road trips followed that one, from day trips to Eagle Provincial Park and Golden Ears Provincial Park to multiple-day trips to Pemberton, Washington State, US, Vancouver Island and Okanagan.
Our last trip to Okanagan took us from rainforest terrain to Canada’s only desert where we visited a variety of wineries and sampled delicious BC wines. Flying to Penticton was also an option, but that would have meant missing the stunning landscapes on the way to Okanagan.
and have driven over 3,726 km
You can rent a Zipcar at any time of day, so we usually leave at the crack of dawn to maximise the time spent at our final destination(s). While most rental companies only open at 9 or 10am and close at 6 or 7pm, we can jump in our Zipcar at 2 am and return the car by 12 am. Need a bit more time? No problem! Just text how much time you need past your reservation, then relax and watch that stunning sunset you’d otherwise have missed. This is one of the reasons why I love Zipcar and its flexibility.
Apart from being able to rent a car any time of the day, you can also pick up a Zipcar from anywhere in Vancouver. Zipcar has cars parked around the city, with more than three hubs near our flat. The nearest is only a block away, which makes loading and unloading suitcases effortless, and saves us having to walk far to the rental car. Check this map to find Zipcars near you. Zipcar is currently available in selected cities in the US, Canada, UK, Spain, France, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Turkey.
Choosing Your Car
There are a variety of cars to choose from, but we usually pick our car based on where we’re heading. We love trying out different cars but we still have our favourite models, which we keep coming back to.
For day trips near Vancouver, we opt for a Golf or Elantra. For longer, multiple-day trips, we prefer to drive SUVs, such as the Hyundai Tucson or Santa Fe. These come in handy for mountainous terrain and winter weather. In fact, the fleet even changes to all-weather tyres in October, which was important to us on our snowy trip to Pemberton in January.
With our living so close to the US border, we were bound to visit Washington State at some point. Luckily, you can drive your Zipcar into the US without any problems. Our three-day trip through the state turned out to be one of my favourites, and it just wouldn’t have been the same without Zipcar.
We were able to leave Vancouver early and arrive at the US border by 6am, giving us ample time to cross the border and arrive in Seattle in time for breakfast.
Why We Love Zipcar
For the past 3 years, we’ve rented cars around Europe and North America and we found that Zipcar stands out from the traditional car rental companies. The flexibility to rent a car whenever you want from any spot in the city you are in, makes Zipcar our go to company to rent from.
Initial application fee: $25 once-off fee
- Occasional driving plan: $70 per year -> There’s currently a $35 per year deal
- Monthly driving plan: $7 per month
- Extra value plan: $50 per month and used as driving credit. After driving credit has been used up, you switch to pay-as-you-go
Hourly rate cheapest car: $7.75 per hour
Daily rate cheapest car: $76 per day
Insurance: comes with membership
Damage fee waiver: $75 per year
Cost once you go over the 200km per day: $0.30 per km