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LAX April 12-13 days car rental

LAX April 12-13 days car rental

Old Nov 14, 16, 4:33 am
  #1  
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LAX April 12-13 days car rental

Dear all,

We will be visiting the states in april next year for about 13 days. In and out via LAX. We are looking to rent a car for about 11-12 days of this trip. (as obviously we won't rent for the days we spend in Los Angeles).

I'm looking for general advice and price advice for this period. Any help is welcome.

We are travelling with 4 ppl (one 1yr old), so I guess we probably best go for a small SUV. Regarding navigation, I'm thinking of using Co-pilot on the phone.

Besides general advice and price sweet points, I'm also wondering what best to do... we will probably visit Los Angeles at the end of the trip but we arrive on a Sunday. Is it best to sleep and get your car at LAX on the Monday to drive out (direction Yosemite) or get the car immediately and drive to e.g. Pasadena to have lighter traffic on said Monday. (current arrival time is 16:03 but this can still change + immigration obviously)

I welcome all advice given.

Kind Regards
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Old Nov 14, 16, 8:17 am
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Los Angeles is THE metropolis where having a car at your disposal is definitely more of a necessity than a liability.
Get the car when you land and drop it off at the airport right before departure, unless you are planning to stay at an airport area hotel with shuttle service and/or high parking fees.

Public transportation in LA - despite making slow progress with metro expanding - is still very under-developed compared to other cities of that size in the developed world and largely relies on very slow buses. And Uber/Lyft/taxis can get pricey rather quickly due to the distances one needs to travel over the hugely spread-out area. You do not save any money by not renting the car for the duration of your trip but will add a good deal of inconvenience.

If you want to go to Yosemite in April, keep in mind that due to elevation and depending on weather you might encounter road closures and snow (check before you set out: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/april.htm).
Definitely get an SUV, preferably one with AWD. The "midsize SUV" class with all the major rental companies usually has a lot of options. The ecoboost Ford Escapes with their turbocharged engines are nicely suited for mountain driving.

Traffic on the 405 North getting out of the city on a Sunday afternoon should be manageable. It takes about five hours to get to Yosemite from LAX.
I assume you're not a frequent traveler to the US and GE or the like, and seeing you'll be travelling with a small child who may not be used to intercontinental flights at all, have been on a plane in economy for 12+ hours and endured the immigration experience (which may mean standing in lines for an hour and longer), I would get the car and spend the first night somewhere nearby - e.g. one of the beach communities like Santa Monica/Venice/Marina del Rey/Manhattan Beach instead of adding five-plus hours in a car to an already long day.

A quick check on the 'net showed a two-week midsize SUV rental to come in around EUR 450. Make sure that rates include a zero-deductible, no-hassle insurance package. No need to book now, I`m pretty sure prices will come down between then and now (I'm there two weeks in April myself every year and historically paid much less)

Phone navigation works well, but beware of data roaming charges. Check what options your contract has for the US - it may be cheapest to buy a package from your provider.
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Old Nov 14, 16, 8:38 am
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Thanks @bomburg.

It's the first time US.. but not the first time intercontinental. We're flying direct from DUS so that is an advantage. Also.. I agree.. driving out after a long flight is not ideal.. Hence my suggestion to drive to pasadena to sleep as it seems easier to continue from there on Monday then the beach towns... as I read that LA traffic is kinda like hell on earth. Would you agree to that?

I know tiago pass (or what is the name) will be closed and we have to approach from Merced. (or Fresno)

Bit of a bummer that we can't do without car in LA though. All hotels show steep parking fees.

Co-Pilot doesn't need data connection.. it downloads the maps.
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Old Nov 15, 16, 4:45 am
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First time in the US means you can't use the kiosks at immigration and have to use the visitor lines and get processed manually. The good thing is that at the time the AB flight lands (I presume that's what you'll be on) there's not much else going on at TBIT so lines should be manageable.
(speaking of AB - if you want a modicum of comfort, pay for XL seats. Legroom on their A330s is very tight otherwise with only 76cm/30 inches. I avoid them now that even as top tier status member there's an extra charge for these seats, and the small discount one gets doesn't even convey to any other members of the booking).

LA traffic is maddening, yes. Especially during peak hours, but generally all the time except late at night. First time I drove from LAX to Irvine it took me two-and-a-half hours, when I did the same thing at three in the morning it took less than 30 minutes. I have a friend who got so sick of traffic that she now uses public transportation to commute to work although that takes two times as long as driving even with the gridlock factored in.
The 405 freeway rightfully deserves its reputation as worlds largest parking lot . And you will be right in the thick of it on Monday morning if you don't start out prior to 6:30 at the very latest.
Plan on taking about two hours from landing until you sit in your car. LAX doesn't have in-terminal rental cars or a consolidated rental car facility but relies on company-specific shuttle buses circling the terminals. Not the most convenient thing especially with kids and baggage. Also, lines at the counters can be very long. Use a company you have signed up for the skip-the-counter-program.
Also, California has very strict child car seat laws. Starting Jan1, 2017, children under 2 must ride in a rear-facing car seat. If you bring your own seat, be aware that not all vehicles will have isofix mounting points. The US mostly uses a different standard, and your seat may not fit.

Traffic hint: As a traveling family, you can use the HOV or carpool lane(s), which is mostly the leftmost lane blocked off and reserved for vehicles with more than two passengers. The 405 has those on its complete length, and using them will save you from the worst.

If the most convenient starting point to get to Yosemite is your goal, get to the north end of the LA metro area on Sunday, and stay around San Fernando. Pasadena has much more traffic, even on Sunday night, and you'll have to traverse densely populated areas where everyone is going to work on Monday morning going north from there. Also, getting to Pasadena Sunday evening also is not easy. I spent an hour sitting on 110 to visit a friend living there on a Sunday evening recently....

And there's a ton of hotels with no parking fees. If you want to stay in Pasadena, the Howard Johnson there will get you a suite with free parking for about $120.

BTW, I'd have posted this in the California or Los Angeles destination forum instead of the rental car forum. You'd definitely get more input there.
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Old Nov 16, 16, 10:19 am
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I'll move this to the LA forum when I'm on my laptop.

Regarding cars: they typically have zero cancellation/change fees. If that's the case, book ASAP and watch weekly. If the price drops, rebook. If the price goes up, you're already locked in!
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Old Nov 16, 16, 11:25 am
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Be sure to check autoslash.com for prices. You can book elsewhere, then give your rental number to autoslash who will monitor and offer you rebooking if a lower price is found.
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Old Nov 16, 16, 1:18 pm
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While Autoslash has very good rates, it is geared at US consumers - their rates typically do not include CDW/LDW or SLI insurance, and one needs to buy that coverage at the rental car companies' inflated prices.
I would never recommend a foreigner without US auto insurance (or a premium credit card providing primary coverage, those are very rare outside of the US, though) to rent a car in the US without a fully comprehensive, zero-deductible, no-hassle insurance package.
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Old Nov 16, 16, 3:17 pm
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Originally Posted by bhomburg View Post
While Autoslash has very good rates, it is geared at US consumers - their rates typically do not include CDW/LDW or SLI insurance, and one needs to buy that coverage at the rental car companies' inflated prices.
I would never recommend a foreigner without US auto insurance (or a premium credit card providing primary coverage, those are very rare outside of the US, though) to rent a car in the US without a fully comprehensive, zero-deductible, no-hassle insurance package.
That's a very helpful post and more knowledgeable than mine. Thank you.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 1:39 am
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@bhomburg : Thank you for the helpfull information. What is the law concerning 7 yrs old? Any hotel tips for San Fernando area then. I must say if find US hotel prices quite high in comparison with Europe. You guessed right about AB...

@IAHtraveler: I would appreciate the move if the other forum might be more helpfull.

I've looked into autoslash.. but indeed the insurance question is a major hassle.
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Old Nov 17, 16, 1:43 am
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Concerning the car rental itself.. would it be worthwhile to rent in San Fernando area then? (probably not as it's 30 min drive for lax and 2h+ on public transport lol)
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Old Nov 17, 16, 8:01 pm
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The CHP has California child restraint laws in a nutshell: https://www.chp.ca.gov/programs-serv...d-safety-seats

I find tripadvisors' map view very helpful for this kind of planning. Put in location, dates and number of people on tripadvisor, then go to map view. Gives a nice overview over options in the area with prices and reviews. The Good Nite Inn Sylmar seems to get good reviews and is just 60 dollars.

Renting from an off-airport location doesn't really make sense for you there. You save a bit of money (no airport taxes/fees) but will more than offset that with the cost of getting there. Also, those normally are franchises with limited opening hours and a more limited selection of cars.
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Old Nov 18, 16, 11:10 am
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I'd run your reservation dates through vroom vroom vroom.
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Old Nov 20, 16, 1:14 pm
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How strict are they on the booster seat for the 7yrs old?

Cos renting two child seats does drive up the cost. I guess for the booster it might be cheaper to actually go buy one locally. ( I really don't see us taking ours on the plane... )
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Old Nov 20, 16, 4:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Koja78 View Post
How strict are they on the booster seat for the 7yrs old?

Cos renting two child seats does drive up the cost. I guess for the booster it might be cheaper to actually go buy one locally. ( I really don't see us taking ours on the plane... )
How lucky do you feel?

If caught, the minimum fine for a first time violation of not properly restraining a child under 16 is $475 (source).
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Old Nov 21, 16, 12:45 am
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Originally Posted by TWA884 View Post
How lucky do you feel?

If caught, the minimum fine for a first time violation of not properly restraining a child under 16 is $475 (source).
euh ok.. better not take the chance.
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