Road Tripping Through North America With Zipcar

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.

Road to Hope from Lillooet
The road to Hope from Lillooet on one of our first multi day road trips with Zipcar

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

Zipcar Logo

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.

Road in Okanagan

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.

Zipcar on the Sea to Sky Highway
The Sea to Sky Highway offers stunning views all the way from Vancouver to Whistler. Perfect for a trip with Zipcar

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.

Trip to Okanagan with Zipcar
Our trip to Okanagan was one of our favourite road trips so far.

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.

During the past year, we’ve been on 15 zip trips
and have driven over 3,726 km

Amazing Flexibility

Road trip to Pemberton
Being able to rent the car at any time of the day is important to us. On our trip to Pemberton we left Vancouver when the city was still asleep. We arrived in Pemberton around 9am which meant we had a full day to explore the area and Joffre Lakes.

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.

Zipcar map

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

Hyundai Tucson in Okanagan
We love driving the Hyundai Tucson, here in Osoyoos, Okanagan.

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.

Trip to Pemberton
Snowy Pemberton posed no problems for our Zipcar

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.

Driving Abroad

Hurricane Ridge, Washington State
View of Hurricane Ridge in Washington State. We embarked on a 3 day road trip around the US state with our Zipcar.
Driving in the US with Zipcar
Driving in the US with Zipcar
On our way to Hurricane Ridge in the US
On our way to Hurricane Ridge in the US

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

Rest stop in Okanagan
Having a break on the side of the road in Okanagan

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.

Osoyoos, Okanagan
Thanks to Zipcar, we’ve been able to explore British Columbia and beyond

More Info

Zipcar Rates

Initial application fee: $25 once-off fee
Membership 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
Gas: free
Insurance: comes with membership
Damage fee waiver: $75 per year
Cost once you go over the 200km per day: $0.30 per km

We were offered a complimentary trip with Zipcar on our Okanagan trip, however we have been using Zipcar on many trips throughout the year. All opinions are my own and you will always read my genuine thoughts and experiences.

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Lies

Lies

Hi! I'm a Belgian travel blogger currently living in Vancouver, Canada after living in the UK for 7 years. I have a keen interest in responsible travel, volunteering and archaeology and I'm always on the lookout for new adventures around the world!

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6 thoughts on “Road Tripping Through North America With Zipcar”

  1. This was such a comprehensive guide! I love how much information you put in there – especially if you’re new to using zipcar. I remember analysing a case study on the company at university but have never actually used them. It sounds like a great option, though.

    1. Thank you Annemarie 🙂 It has made our lives so much easier since moving to Vancouver!

  2. Lots of information here I have often thought of using something like Zip car but haven’t because I felt that the costs far outweighed the benefits not to mention in reality rental cars are cheaper when worked out over the long haul. However, I did not know the information you provided, like the car comes with gas and of course the lovely advantage of being able to pick one up at anytime you want that far outweighs rental cars.

    1. We also thought renting a car was cheaper, but when we calculated the cost of our 3 day Washington trip, it turned out renting from a rental company was only a fraction cheaper than Zipcar, but Zipcar won because, like you said, the convenience of being able to pick up your car whenever you want, fuel included and we have car insurance through Zipcar as well. We wouldn’t have been able to leave at 4am with a rental car, unless we picked up the rental car the day before, and pay for parking somewhere.

  3. It sounds interesting. Your shared information is helpful. I always like reading it.

  4. You really made that car look good! Great photos of your beautiful surroundings too.

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