If the idea of paying $800 to rent a car without a navigation system for a weeklong vacation doesn’t sound like a bargain, welcome to the club! Renting cars is a chore, and a confusing labyrinth of nonsensical fees, overpriced gas, and insurance that isn’t technically insurance. No matter how little you manage to pay for that PT cruiser that smells like something unfamiliar (and not good) you’re left with the overwhelming feeling that no matter how good a deal you managed to get, you could have done better.
Every March, I make a weeklong pilgrimage to Florida. (Don’t judge me. I do it for the shells.) And every year—every, single, year—I decide this will be the year I will beat the car rental system. This will be the year I drive away from the airport in a car I don’t hate, after paying a rate I don’t mind.
I am an eternally optimistic traveler.