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Where do you leave your car at the start of a tour?

Old 05-23-18, 01:58 PM
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Where do you leave your car at the start of a tour?

I want to drive out to my destination, park my car in a spot and leave it for a few days while I go explore the area. What would be some good places to leave your car unattended for a few days in general? The only safe-ish places I can think of are Amtrak stations, or paying for a campground spot and leaving the car there.

If anybody knows of such places around the Paso Robles/Fort Hunter Liggett area in central California, that would be great too
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Old 05-23-18, 02:19 PM
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I parked in a Walmart parking lot during a three day tour one time. I parked to the side where employees park so it would always be surrounded by at least a few other cars 24/7.
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Old 05-23-18, 02:43 PM
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At the motel to which we'll return at the end of the tour. So far, they've always found a spot for us.
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Old 05-23-18, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
At the motel to which we'll return at the end of the tour. So far, they've always found a spot for us.
+1 We have used this method several times on shorter loop tours. Most motels are accommodating.

We often ride from our home to the Amtrak station 35 miles away, and ride the train to our starting point. We may also fly to the start, and ride home from the airport.

We have also started riding directly from our home.

For a tour we are starting next month we are renting a pickup truck to transport 4 people and 4 boxed bikes to the airport. It beats parking my truck in Portland for 6 weeks. There are numerous ways to get to the start and return from a tour.
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Old 05-23-18, 04:25 PM
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Airport long term parking usually works for me. I would rather pay for the piece of mind and security and know it will be there when I return.
I have also booked the same hotel room for the biginning and end of the trip , and asked if i can park there. Some are fine with it ,some not.
Liam
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Old 05-23-18, 04:59 PM
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Various types of places. Once called the local police station for suggestions and they told me to leave it parked in their lot behind the station. Another town had a municipal lot which allowed long-term parking. I've also sometimes just driven through decent looking neighborhoods and stopped to talk to anyone out mowing their yard - they've usually been fine about us leaving our car in front of their house.
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Old 05-23-18, 06:13 PM
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Warmshowers hosts. I have used a couple and was able also to get a shower before heading back home. Funny the one in Maine I remember dropping the car and sating the night but I don't recall picking up the car.
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Old 05-23-18, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
+1 We have used this method several times on shorter loop tours. Most motels are accommodating.

We often ride from our home to the Amtrak station 35 miles away, and ride the train to our starting point. We may also fly to the start, and ride home from the airport.

We have also started riding directly from our home.

For a tour we are starting next month we are renting a pickup truck to transport 4 people and 4 boxed bikes to the airport. It beats parking my truck in Portland for 6 weeks. There are numerous ways to get to the start and return from a tour.

Places near the airport or in a large city are a problem. They usually charge even if you stay a night. I had the idea of staying a night at one of the airport hotels. Airport is just 20 minutes by car for me but I figured it was an early flight and I would rather put my faith in the hands of the hotel wake-up call (plus my alarm) and the hotel shuttle. Well I guess other people got the same idea so they realized they can make a buck. Parking with room is more than 1.5 times the cost of just parking at a regular lot.
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Old 05-23-18, 06:30 PM
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There is a warmshowers host in Passo Robles and nearby Templeton.
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Old 05-24-18, 04:15 AM
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I mapped out a tour last summer that fell through. Parking was one of the issues. Called Hotels they said no. College residence rented out rooms but would only let me park 24 hours after checkout. Emailed the president of the local cycle club - told me where not to park but no suggestions. Emailed the local Visitors centre - no reply. Current plan for that tour is the hospital.
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Old 05-24-18, 07:37 AM
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In New England there are car commuter carpool lots, often right next to a freeway off ramp.I think they might be $5 a day? Many times my car just stays in my driveway.
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Old 05-24-18, 07:57 AM
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Depends. Seek local knowledge.
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Old 05-24-18, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by liamof View Post
Airport long term parking usually works for me. I would rather pay for the piece of mind and security and know it will be there when I return.
I have also booked the same hotel room for the biginning and end of the trip , and asked if i can park there. Some are fine with it ,some not.
Liam
I've used that option in Texarkana and in Toledo. Texarkana was basically an honor system and only cost less than $5 per day. At Toledo I paid $8 per day which is a bit steep but was still less than the cost of a plane ticket and the extra charge on the bike.

Originally Posted by Soundtallica View Post
I want to drive out to my destination, park my car in a spot and leave it for a few days while I go explore the area. What would be some good places to leave your car unattended for a few days in general? The only safe-ish places I can think of are Amtrak stations, or paying for a campground spot and leaving the car there.

If anybody knows of such places around the Paso Robles/Fort Hunter Liggett area in central California, that would be great too
One of the strategies I've used is taking one-way car rentals. It's expensive but often less than a plane ticket and the $150 (Southwest) charge for a bike. Most airlines charge way more than Southwest does. This works particularly well if you aren't doing a loop tour.

You can also check for long term parking deals at an airport near your start. Some of the commercial places here in Denver run promotions. Outlying parking at DIA costs $8 per day but we recently found a deal for $5 per day which adds up over time.
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Old 05-24-18, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
One of the strategies I've used is taking one-way car rentals.
+1. Done so a half dozen times for non-loop tours. I have found that Avis seems to have a lot of one-way destinations, including airport drop-offs where you might not expect. Did Avis to both the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport (OH) and Erie International (PA).
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Old 05-24-18, 12:22 PM
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Sold it.
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Old 05-24-18, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
One of the strategies I've used is taking one-way car rentals. It's expensive but often less than a plane ticket and the $150 (Southwest) charge for a bike.
It's frequently possible to avoid the extra one-way dropoff charge by renting at one airport and returning at another. E.g. there's an annual bike rally in Paso Robles, Ca and we have a tour of a few days down the coast to get there but aren't as thrilled about riding back into the prevailing wind. Very costly to rent a car in Paso Robles and return it in the SF Bay area but if one of us rides down to the SLO airport and picks up a car there it can be returned to any of the three major SF-area airports with no extra one-way charge. Just last week I did something similar in Michigan - picked up a rental car at the Midland/Saginaw airport (MBS) and returned it at Detroit (DTW) with no extra charge.
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Old 05-24-18, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
It's frequently possible to avoid the extra one-way dropoff charge by renting at one airport and returning at another. E.g. there's an annual bike rally in Paso Robles, Ca and we have a tour of a few days down the coast to get there but aren't as thrilled about riding back into the prevailing wind. Very costly to rent a car in Paso Robles and return it in the SF Bay area but if one of us rides down to the SLO airport and picks up a car there it can be returned to any of the three major SF-area airports with no extra one-way charge. Just last week I did something similar in Michigan - picked up a rental car at the Midland/Saginaw airport (MBS) and returned it at Detroit (DTW) with no extra charge.
With the exception of the waived one-way fee after 9-11, I've never found that to be the case. I've picked the cars up at airports and returned them to airports but the one-way charge has always applied. I haven't tried it within a state but I've done it many times from state to state and it's always been expensive. Avis, for example, charges $35 for your scenario. But if I want to go from Denver to Detroit, it would cost me $225 per day. Still cheaper than a plane ticket and bicycle luggage charge but not all that cheap.

Avis has a one-way airport rental program that gets you from an airport to downtown and is meant to be used to avoid a taxi but that's not the same as a long distance one-way.
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Old 05-24-18, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
With the exception of the waived one-way fee after 9-11, I've never found that to be the case. I've picked the cars up at airports and returned them to airports but the one-way charge has always applied. I haven't tried it within a state but I've done it many times from state to state and it's always been expensive. Avis, for example, charges $35 for your scenario. But if I want to go from Denver to Detroit, it would cost me $225 per day. Still cheaper than a plane ticket and bicycle luggage charge but not all that cheap.

Avis has a one-way airport rental program that gets you from an airport to downtown and is meant to be used to avoid a taxi but that's not the same as a long distance one-way.
Don't know why our experience has been so different. Have used rental cars several times to return from the Great Western Rally in Paso Robles by riding down to SLO so we never had a drop-off charge. And, as stated, didn't have a drop-off charge last week when renting in Midland, MI and returning to Detroit (airport - airport). Charge for the rental was $29. Just checked rates if I had chosen to drive all the way back from Midland and return to Oakland airport. Obviously a longer duration trip and it came to about $230 renting airport-airport with no drop-off charge, but over $1000 if picking it up at the downtown Midland office (about 10 miles from the airport) and returning to Oakland airport with the difference due to the large drop-off charge.
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Old 05-25-18, 06:29 AM
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Did a loop tour in April. Called a motel at the start point and asked about leaving my vehicle for 5 days. He said I could and he'd give me the "discount" rate for parking at $15 a day. I called another motel and they had no problem with me leaving my vehicle. Guess which one I stayed at the first night?

Just remember to get the name of the person who agrees to let you park.
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Old 05-25-18, 06:42 AM
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We usually ask at the police station or state parks and normally there is a lot that we can park in. The only time that we were turned down was a town in Mississippi when we were riding part of the Natchez Trace. The police officer said there was no lot that was safe to leave a car in, but he sent us to a private self-storage business that let charged us to park in a fenced area. Once we were touring western Michigan and were instructed to park in a large parking lot next to the lake shore. When we returned the following weekend, a large 3 on 3 basketball tournament was scheduled for the lot. Our van was surrounded by basketball goals. We got back just before the van was going to be towed.
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Old 05-25-18, 07:04 AM
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For OS travels we normally give ourselves a few days to recover from jetlag where we fly in to and stay somewhere reasonable so we can do some sightseeing. It gives me a chance to put the tandem together and we leave our bags there and book another couple of days at the same hotel so we can pack the tandem before we fly out.
For local tips we will catch a train to the start and either ride home or to a train station somewhere convenient.
Works for us
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Old 05-25-18, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
Don't know why our experience has been so different. Have used rental cars several times to return from the Great Western Rally in Paso Robles by riding down to SLO so we never had a drop-off charge. And, as stated, didn't have a drop-off charge last week when renting in Midland, MI and returning to Detroit (airport - airport). Charge for the rental was $29. Just checked rates if I had chosen to drive all the way back from Midland and return to Oakland airport. Obviously a longer duration trip and it came to about $230 renting airport-airport with no drop-off charge, but over $1000 if picking it up at the downtown Midland office (about 10 miles from the airport) and returning to Oakland airport with the difference due to the large drop-off charge.
I would call the $230 for 24 hours a large drop-off charge. I suspect that the $1000 charge is due to the differences in who owns the rental office. The rental desk at the airport is usually owned by the rental company while the satellite offices are owned by franchises. I ran across that problem before. The franchises don't want to give up their cars to the company lot and the company lot doesn't want their cars going to the franchises. They have to transport the cars back and forth and would rather not so they deincentivize you by charging a huge fee, especially if you are taking the car from state to state.

That said, it is nice that the cost within a state is relatively cheap. It would work particularly well in California or Texas given their size.
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Old 05-25-18, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I would call the $230 for 24 hours a large drop-off charge.
The $230 was for driving all the way from Midland, MI airport to the Oakland, CA airport, a distance of over 2400 miles. If anyone did that in under 24 hours I'd think the speeding ticket charges would add up to far more than the rental charge. So no, the rental fee I looked up was not just for a single day (as I said before "a longer duration trip" and the charge did not include anything extra for a drop-off charge, unlike the quote from downtown Midland to the Oakland airport which did have a very large drop-off charge itemized.
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Old 05-25-18, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
The $230 was for driving all the way from Midland, MI airport to the Oakland, CA airport, a distance of over 2400 miles. If anyone did that in under 24 hours I'd think the speeding ticket charges would add up to far more than the rental charge. So no, the rental fee I looked up was not just for a single day (as I said before "a longer duration trip" and the charge did not include anything extra for a drop-off charge, unlike the quote from downtown Midland to the Oakland airport which did have a very large drop-off charge itemized.
When I put in MBS to OAK from 6/28/18 to 6/31/18 into the Avis website, I get a cost of $678 or $226 per day for an economy sized car. When I put in a return to Oakland Downtown, OK8 which is the downtown rental agency, I get the same $678 price quoted. A local rental for the same time period and same car is $78 (pick up and return at MBS). A MBS to DTW rental from Avis is $87. I also put in a pick up at San Francisco SFO with a drop off at San Luis Obispo County Airport, SBP for the same time period and the cost is $352 vs $126 for a local rental.

From what I can see there is a one-way charge built into the price.

I haven't checked all the rental companies but that is in keeping with my experiences with National and Enterprise over the years.

And I'll agree that doing 2400 miles in 24 hours is next to impossible. It's damned difficult to do 1200 miles in one day...I've done it several times and and it's never easy.
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Old 05-25-18, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
When I put in MBS to OAK from 6/28/18 to 6/31/18 into the Avis website, I get a cost of $678 or $226 per day for an economy sized car. When I put in a return to Oakland Downtown, OK8 which is the downtown rental agency, I get the same $678 price quoted. A local rental for the same time period and same car is $78 (pick up and return at MBS). A MBS to DTW rental from Avis is $87. I also put in a pick up at San Francisco SFO with a drop off at San Luis Obispo County Airport, SBP for the same time period and the cost is $352 vs $126 for a local rental.

From what I can see there is a one-way charge built into the price.

I haven't checked all the rental companies but that is in keeping with my experiences with National and Enterprise over the years.

And I'll agree that doing 2400 miles in 24 hours is next to impossible. It's damned difficult to do 1200 miles in one day...I've done it several times and and it's never easy.
Sorry you're getting so much higher rental estimates, but, as I said before, I have no idea why you seem to be overcharged and can only report on my own experiences. Still have the copy of my Avis rental from MBS to DTW from a few days ago and it gives the following charges:
Daily rate: $22.99
AARP disc.: - $2.30
facility chrg.: $2.75
license recoup: $0.84
energy recov. fee $0.60
Concess. Rec. fee$2.07
MI sales tax: $1.62
Total: $28.57 (this is also the amount that appears on my credit card statement, plus about $11 for a gas purchase in Detroit just before returning the car)
Note the absence of any drop-off charge for returning the car to the Detroit airport after picking it up at the Midland airport. The quoted charges I gave before for a Midland MBS to OAK rental were from Expedia which looks at assorted rental companies and I'm not sure which particular one came out cheapest. The quote from downtown Midland did explicitly list a drop-off charge of about $800 while the one from MBS airport showed no such charge. Pretty good return for making the 10-mile ride out to the airport.

My advice to anyone else considering using a one-way car rental is to check doing it on an airport - airport basis if that's feasible since my experience has been that this frequently avoids the large drop-off charges you get if renting from or returning to a downtown location. No guarantee that it will always save you money on a one-way rental but it may well do so unless you happen to be cyccommute.
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