Vacationing With Extended Family: Rent Two Cars Or A Van?

It’s a little early, but we’re planning a family vacation that is about nine months out.  We’ll be vacationing with my parents which is great because there are a lot of advantages to vacationing with extended family.

Since we are going to be staying in a condominium, we know that we’ll need our own transportation, but the question is – should we each rent a car (my family of five and my parents) or should we rent a van together?

Advantages of Renting a Van When Vacationing With Extended Family

  1. Rental cost.  Depending on your destination, you may be able to rent a van for less than the cost of two cars.  In our case, the price is actually about the exact same.  A van costs the same as two cars for a day.
  2. Parking cost.  If you plan to head to any theme parks or any destinations where you might have to pay for parking, you will be better off renting a van.  It is not unusual to pay $10 – $15 to park a car for the day downtown, at the zoo, or at a theme park.  Splitting the parking cost works to everyone’s advantage.
  3. Reduces the ‘extra costs’.  If you typically pay for extra vehicle insurance, you can dramatically reduce your cost by paying the excess insurance fees on only one vehicle.  Also, if you plan to rent a GPS, you only need one if you share a vehicle.
  4. Extra family time.  Doing a lot of driving means you’ll be missing out on family time.  Instead, if you share a vehicle, you can still spend time as you are driving from place to place.
  5. Share the driving responsibilities.  Again, the importance of shared driving responsibilities will depend on how much you plan to drive.  However, it is always nice to have extra drivers to share the responsibility.  Remember, most car rental locations will charge you extra for each additional driver you add to your rental.
  6. Split the gas.  While a van will take more gas than a car, a van will not take more gasoline than two rental cars.  If you split the cost of the gasoline, both families will come away with more savings.

Disadvantages of Rending a Van When Vacationing With Extended Family

  1. Loss of flexibility.  If you each have your own vehicle you can make separate plans for a day or two.  Unfortunately, both families cannot make separate plans if you share a van.
  2. Loss of privacy.  Some families might think it is too much to share an accommodation and also the vehicle.  Some families simply prefer to have their own sacred space.
  3. Airport arrival and departure times.  Sharing a vehicle means both parties should be arriving and departing close to each other.  Otherwise, someone may be forced to wait at the airport for a long time.

In our case, we will likely be renting a van together for our vacation.  The advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages.

Would you rather rent two cars or a van when traveling with extended family?  Any advantages or disadvantages that I missed?

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