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Discussion Starter #1
So, like many, I'm itching to travel. I'm thinking to do Vegas as a road trip for the July 4 weekend. My first inclination is to rent a car. But then I though I'd see in the EV charging infrastructure has gotten any better.

Slogging my way through the new ABRP UI, it looks like more DCFCs have been added along the route. When I'd looked not all that long ago, my typical 9 1/2 hour drive was estimated to stretch to 14 hours. Now, it's just a bit more than 12. But there are still things I'm wary of.

First, understand that I'm a solo traveler. In recent years, I've made these trips many times, and typically not more then a couple of stop each way. One, halfway, at the Costco in Bakersfield for gas and a bio break. Typically, one more to stretch my legs and get some non-travel food. I say this because I've seen many people talk about their road trips here when they are traveling with families and take the charge time to relax, eat, etc.That's not me.

My concerns are several-fold:
  • I usually make the drive on light traffic days (this time the idea is to drive down on Wednesday and return the following Tuesday), so on many long stretches of freeway, like along I-5, 58 in the Mojave, and I-15, I can set the cruise control at around 83 MPH and then just use the cruise control controls to slow down and speed up the vast majority of the time when I encounter light traffic. This is not good for EV range.
  • There are several long climbs in each direction, mostly, it seems, in areas where EV charging infrastructure is sparse. I worry about what those long, long, long uphills stretches will do to range, and if there will be places to top off.
  • On the return trip, it is not at all unusual to encounter steady headwinds in the high desert, like in the 20-30 MPH range for dozens and dozens of miles, all with no traffic and the cruise control set to giddy up. Even if I fully charge in Barstow, can I make the 130 miles to Bakersfield, especially as I have to climb to Tehachapi along the way? (And there's a reason all those windmills are in that pass.)
  • I read all the posts about the unreliability of EA chargers. Between that and worrying if I arrive at a charging station and the plugs are full, and it's not like charging stations are like gas stations and there's one at every exit, how much should I be concerned about unreliable infrastructure and the need to share what's still pretty limited capacity?
  • Oh yeah, I'm driving through the desert in summer. Even when I had my MINI Roadster, when my philosophy was "if the sun's up, the top's down," there were portions of that trip where top-down driving just got too hot, and I had to pull over, put the top up, and get the A/C going. Open windows will not alleviate stifling, triple-digit heat for hours on end. There will be A/C, and not, by necessity, at the lowest setting. This will also affect range, significantly, I expect.
Is such a trip ready for prime time, or should I just go with my first instinct and rent a car this time around? (Coz I would like to make a go of it in my Bolt if it is not too unreasonable.)
 

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It's doable, but your time and frustration is worth the investment in renting a car. You have an EV. They are fun. You chose one that doesn't use the Super Charger network, like me. But focus on you, have fun, get there and have a great time. Rent a car. When you get back thank me, or post about all those perfectly planned meals you sat for while taking a charge. Take the Bolt and let us know how much fun it was to do that bullshit hold the charger plug up while engaging the session and let us know how many cars passed you along the way. Rent an Arcadia. I did, it has adaptive cruise control that will take you all the way to zero. That **** is awesome.
 

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So, like many, I'm itching to travel. I'm thinking to do Vegas as a road trip for the July 4 weekend. My first inclination is to rent a car. But then I though I'd see in the EV charging infrastructure has gotten any better.

Slogging my way through the new ABRP UI, it looks like more DCFCs have been added along the route. When I'd looked not all that long ago, my typical 9 1/2 hour drive was estimated to stretch to 14 hours. Now, it's just a bit more than 12. But there are still things I'm wary of.

First, understand that I'm a solo traveler. In recent years, I've made these trips many times, and typically not more then a couple of stop each way. One, halfway, at the Costco in Bakersfield for gas and a bio break. Typically, one more to stretch my legs and get some non-travel food. I say this because I've seen many people talk about their road trips here when they are traveling with families and take the charge time to relax, eat, etc.That's not me.
It's been doable for a long time, but given your expectations, I'd suggest taking a plane. If your expectation is pegging it at 83 mph and only making one or two quick stops, no EV will do what you're expecting. Not even close.

I can make the trip in 12 hours in my Bolt EV (barring traffic), and I can tell you how I would make the trip. But my recommendation is based on having a hard stop at 10% over the posted speed limit (not your preference of 20% over the posted speed limit) and adjusting my driving based on current conditions. My trip would be:
  • Start in SF, and drive 185 miles to Coalinga (hopefully the Harris Ranch EA charger would be up by then, but it's not likely)
  • Charge for 30 to 35 minutes (40 to 45 minutes if I'm using the 125 A ChargePoints on the other side of the freeway)... up to at least 60% battery
  • Drive 100 miles to the Bakersfield Plaza Electrify America
  • Charge for about 15 to 20 minutes... up to maybe 50% battery
  • Drive 65 miles to the Mojave Electrify America
  • Charge for 35 to 40 minutes.... up to 65-70% battery
  • Drive for 130 miles to Baker EVgo
  • Charge for about 30 to 35 minutes... up to 60-65% battery
  • Drive the rest of the way to Las Vegas
I'd budget about 12 hours for the trip, but I'd expect it to be a bit less.

My concerns are several-fold:
  • I usually make the drive on light traffic days (this time the idea is to drive down on Wednesday and return the following Tuesday), so on many long stretches of freeway, like along I-5, 58 in the Mojave, and I-15, I can set the cruise control at around 83 MPH and then just use the cruise control controls to slow down and speed up the vast majority of the time when I encounter light traffic. This is not good for EV range.
It's not good for a number of reasons, but yes, it will also likely require you to make adjustments to how you travel, including how long you stop to charge. Ironically, driving that speed will actually reduce your trip times, even in an EV, but it might make the trip seem longer to you because you will have to make additional charging stops for longer (and my math from above probably won't work for you).

  • There are several long climbs in each direction, mostly, it seems, in areas where EV charging infrastructure is sparse. I worry about what those long, long, long uphills stretches will do to range, and if there will be places to top off.
The grades you encounter along the way aren't that big of a deal. After getting up to Mojave, you're basically at a net zero/negative elevation gain for the rest of the trip. Driving to Baker is downhill. Yes, you have to get over a grade to get into Las Vegas, but none of those hills really affect the Bolt EV much.

  • On the return trip, it is not at all unusual to encounter steady headwinds in the high desert, like in the 20-30 MPH range for dozens and dozens of miles, all with no traffic and the cruise control set to giddy up. Even if I fully charge in Barstow, can I make the 130 miles to Bakersfield, especially as I have to climb to Tehachapi along the way? (And there's a reason all those windmills are in that pass.)
That is what I was referring to when I said that I adjust based on the conditions. I don't typically adjust my driving speeds; however, I do adjust my stops and time stopped charging. Because it's net negative elevation going from Barstow to Bakersfield, you'd likely need no more than 50-60% battery to make the trip. The Mojave Electrify America is halfway between, so you have that as a fallback, but even given fast driving and poor conditions, 70% battery should be more than enough.

  • I read all the posts about the unreliability of EA chargers. Between that and worrying if I arrive at a charging station and the plugs are full, and it's not like charging stations are like gas stations and there's one at every exit, how much should I be concerned about unreliable infrastructure and the need to share what's still pretty limited capacity?
I would recommend not worrying at all. Simply be aware that the fast charging infrastructure isn't as redundant as the gasoline infrastructure. Have membership accounts in order for each type of charger you intend to use, and call their customer service if necessary. Also, be aware of how your car handles heavier, liquid-cooled charging cables, as that is a common issue for Bolt EVs.

As for sharing the infrastructure, you stated that you travel during off-peak times. I'd be surprised if you encountered anyone, and all of the charging sites I listed above have a minimum of three to four chargers per site.

  • Oh yeah, I'm driving through the desert in summer. Even when I had my MINI Roadster, when my philosophy was "if the sun's up, the top's down," there were portions of that trip where top-down driving just got too hot, and I had to pull over, put the top up, and get the A/C going. Open windows will not alleviate stifling, triple-digit heat for hours on end. There will be A/C, and not, by necessity, at the lowest setting. This will also affect range, significantly, I expect.
Actually, AC will have very little impact on your overall driving range. Going freeway speeds, it's likely to be less than 5% of your total energy consumption. In other words, if it takes you 100 kWh to go 300 miles, less than 5 kWh would be due to running the AC.

Is such a trip ready for prime time, or should I just go with my first instinct and rent a car this time around? (Coz I would like to make a go of it in my Bolt if it is not too unreasonable.)
That is for you to decide. All I can tell you is that no current EV will let you drive the trip in the way you typically drive it a gas car. The Bolt EV will add about 2.5 hours to the trip (about 12 hours). That will always be the case for the Bolt EV. Other EVs might cut that time down to as little as 10.5 hours. Maybe. But that's about the best you're going to do. If that's "prime time" for you, then sure. If not, as I said above, just buy a plane ticket. They're cheap right now.
 

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That is for you to decide. All I can tell you is that no current EV will let you drive the trip in the way you typically drive it a gas car. The Bolt EV will add about 2.5 hours to the trip (about 12 hours). That will always be the case for the Bolt EV. Other EVs might cut that time down to as little as 10.5 hours. Maybe. But that's about the best you're going to do. If that's "prime time" for you, then sure. If not, as I said above, just buy a plane ticket. They're cheap right now.
You've obviously got more experience on these sorts of trips than most of us, but for 570 miles, I don't see why driving time need be 9 1/2 hours - that's an average of 60 mph and absent heavy traffic, most of the route people will be going much faster than that.

If you average 72mph, that cuts the driving time to 8 hours. Figure on 3 mi/kWh at that's ~200kWh (to end with a 10kWh buffer), over which you'd want to charge ~150kWh during the trip. So 3 hours of charging if you can arrange things optimally, or a bit more if not. Seems like you end up well under 12 hours total.

The Model 3 of course could do this much quicker. 150kWh is definitely under 1h30 of charging.
 

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You've obviously got more experience on these sorts of trips than most of us, but for 570 miles, I don't see why driving time need be 9 1/2 hours - that's an average of 60 mph and absent heavy traffic, most of the route people will be going much faster than that.

If you average 72mph, that cuts the driving time to 8 hours. Figure on 3 mi/kWh at that's ~200kWh (to end with a 10kWh buffer), over which you'd want to charge ~150kWh during the trip. So 3 hours of charging if you can arrange things optimally, or a bit more if not. Seems like you end up well under 12 hours total.

The Model 3 of course could do this much quicker. 150kWh is definitely under 1h30 of charging.
The driving time according to Google Maps (which assumes no stops) was about 9 hours 15 minutes when I checked, but you're right, it looks like that was accounting for the traffic at that time. According to Google, without traffic, it's listed as 8 hours 45 minutes of pure driving time.

My understanding is that the OP was asking about 9.5 hours of total trip time including stops. Even one quick gas stop adds about 15 minutes to the trip, which would bring the total to 9 hours. By driving as much as 20% over the posted speed limit, the OP is likely shaving about 30 minutes of driving time off the total, which helps compensate for two quick gas, bio, and snack stops as well as any traffic or slowdowns they might encounter.

If driving at 70 mph average speed (which is harder than it sounds), EVs like the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model 3 LR could reasonably make this trip in under 10 hours, depending on a number of factors. When I drove 621 miles in the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV with an average driving speed of 68 mph, it took me less than 12 hours. This trip should be as little as 11 hours in the 2020 Bolt EV, but again, it depends on a number of factors.

My main point is that no EV currently available will make the trip according to the OP's stated preferences, and it's unclear what "too unreasonable" means. Will a third charging stop be unreasonable? What about one of the charging stops taking 30 minutes?

All I can tell the OP is that the trip is possible in the Bolt EV and has been for some time now. Whether taking 11 hours with 4 charging stops is reasonable is up to them. If their main concerns about it being "unreasonable" are having to slow down, not use the AC, and not be able to access an available charger, then I don't think it's unreasonable. If adding an hour to an hour and a half to an ICE car's trip time is "unreasonable," then yes, it would be unreasonable.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You've obviously got more experience on these sorts of trips than most of us, but for 570 miles, I don't see why driving time need be 9 1/2 hours - that's an average of 60 mph and absent heavy traffic, most of the route people will be going much faster than that.

If you average 72mph, that cuts the driving time to 8 hours. Figure on 3 mi/kWh at that's ~200kWh (to end with a 10kWh buffer), over which you'd want to charge ~150kWh during the trip. So 3 hours of charging if you can arrange things optimally, or a bit more if not. Seems like you end up well under 12 hours total.

The Model 3 of course could do this much quicker. 150kWh is definitely under 1h30 of charging.
Well, from SF down to Gilroy, I'm typically doing around 70 down 280 and 101. Sometimes there are slowdowns, but I try to leave early to avoid as much rush hour traffic as possible. 152 east from Gilroy has several miles of 2-lane roadway and some traffic lights, around 45 MPH for that stretch, and then it's hard to to more than 60 MPH over the mountains before you can open it up a bit to I-5. I-5 on a weekday I can open it up, but even then there are the random slowdowns for passing semis. The fastest way into Bakersfield turns out to be not 46, not 58, but farther down via Stockdale Highway. I can typically make 280 miles to the Costco there in 4 1/2 hours. Even that is 2-lane for more than halfway. Once outside of Bakersfield, 70 is a comfortable speed until the mountains, then I find it best to cut back with all the twists and turns. Hit a semi passing on an uphill and all bets are off. Past the pass east of Tehachapi, it's wide open straight roads to Barstow. The same is mostly true for I-15. Still, the 280 miles from Barstow to Vegas usually takes 4 1/2 to 5 hours (sometimes I stop to grab some quick food).

In truth, along I-5 and I-15, can and SUV traffic does move. It is not uncommon to be passed by those vehicles going faster than the 83 I have set in my cruise control. But as major truck corridors at all hours of the day and night, truck traffic can create bottlenecks at random and unexpected times.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It's been doable for a long time, but given your expectations, I'd suggest taking a plane. If your expectation is pegging it at 83 mph and only making one or two quick stops, no EV will do what you're expecting. Not even close.

I can make the trip in 12 hours in my Bolt EV (barring traffic), and I can tell you how I would make the trip. But my recommendation is based on having a hard stop at 10% over the posted speed limit (not your preference of 20% over the posted speed limit) and adjusting my driving based on current conditions. My trip would be:
  • Start in SF, and drive 185 miles to Coalinga (hopefully the Harris Ranch EA charger would be up by then, but it's not likely)
  • Charge for 30 to 35 minutes (40 to 45 minutes if I'm using the 125 A ChargePoints on the other side of the freeway)... up to at least 60% battery
  • Drive 100 miles to the Bakersfield Plaza Electrify America
  • Charge for about 15 to 20 minutes... up to maybe 50% battery
  • Drive 65 miles to the Mojave Electrify America
  • Charge for 35 to 40 minutes.... up to 65-70% battery
  • Drive for 130 miles to Baker EVgo
  • Charge for about 30 to 35 minutes... up to 60-65% battery
  • Drive the rest of the way to Las Vegas
I'd budget about 12 hours for the trip, but I'd expect it to be a bit less.

It's not good for a number of reasons, but yes, it will also likely require you to make adjustments to how you travel, including how long you stop to charge. Ironically, driving that speed will actually reduce your trip times, even in an EV, but it might make the trip seem longer to you because you will have to make additional charging stops for longer (and my math from above probably won't work for you).

The grades you encounter along the way aren't that big of a deal. After getting up to Mojave, you're basically at a net zero/negative elevation gain for the rest of the trip. Driving to Baker is downhill. Yes, you have to get over a grade to get into Las Vegas, but none of those hills really affect the Bolt EV much.

That is what I was referring to when I said that I adjust based on the conditions. I don't typically adjust my driving speeds; however, I do adjust my stops and time stopped charging. Because it's net negative elevation going from Barstow to Bakersfield, you'd likely need no more than 50-60% battery to make the trip. The Mojave Electrify America is halfway between, so you have that as a fallback, but even given fast driving and poor conditions, 70% battery should be more than enough.

I would recommend not worrying at all. Simply be aware that the fast charging infrastructure isn't as redundant as the gasoline infrastructure. Have membership accounts in order for each type of charger you intend to use, and call their customer service if necessary. Also, be aware of how your car handles heavier, liquid-cooled charging cables, as that is a common issue for Bolt EVs.

As for sharing the infrastructure, you stated that you travel during off-peak times. I'd be surprised if you encountered anyone, and all of the charging sites I listed above have a minimum of three to four chargers per site.

Actually, AC will have very little impact on your overall driving range. Going freeway speeds, it's likely to be less than 5% of your total energy consumption. In other words, if it takes you 100 kWh to go 300 miles, less than 5 kWh would be due to running the AC.



That is for you to decide. All I can tell you is that no current EV will let you drive the trip in the way you typically drive it a gas car. The Bolt EV will add about 2.5 hours to the trip (about 12 hours). That will always be the case for the Bolt EV. Other EVs might cut that time down to as little as 10.5 hours. Maybe. But that's about the best you're going to do. If that's "prime time" for you, then sure. If not, as I said above, just buy a plane ticket. They're cheap right now.
Thanks NC, that is some really great insight. (I don't want to take a plane though, like I have in recent trips, because a rental car there (I play at poker rooms all over the valley, not just on the Strip) is 3x the airfare, thanks to all the airport taxes and fees.)

The irony of all this is you reminded me of what I learned long ago when I owned my first hybrid, the original Honda Insight. It replaced my first Bay Area car, a '93 Honda Civic hatchback, which for years I thought little of doing 80 MPH on Bay Area freeways (traffic and conditions permitting, of course). The Insight, of course, gave me immediate feedback about my gas consumption, and by lowering the cruise speed I tried to maintain on the freeways (all other tings remaining equal), I found that trying to maintain 75 in stead of 80 gave me a 2-3 MPG increase, and 70 instead of 75 meant another 2-3 MPG. (I kept a log where I tracked all of my car costs, including when I fueled up, so I had long-term data.) More important, perceptually, those incremental decreases didn't seem to make a difference in the time it took to travel.

To be fair, 70 MPH vs 80 MPH over nearly 600 miles is nearly an hour. But you really made me reconsider: I already do 70-72 around here, so setting cruise control to 75 instead of 83 probably shouldn't make a perceptual difference. (Except I'll be passed my A LOT more cars. Big whoop.)

To be fair, though, on the vary rare occasions when I've fired up the A/C, and not anywhere close to high, I've noticed the GOM takes an immediate approximately 10% hit. That's what concerned me, especially when I was going to be in areas where the charging infrastructure is sparse.

Still, it suggests I can do this. I'm probably looking at a 12+ hour trip. I just wish I could plug in max speed and wind and other factors in ABRP like I used to.
 

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Thanks NC, that is some really great insight. (I don't want to take a plane though, like I have in recent trips, because a rental car there (I play at poker rooms all over the valley, not just on the Strip) is 3x the airfare, thanks to all the airport taxes and fees.)

The irony of all this is you reminded me of what I learned long ago when I owned my first hybrid, the original Honda Insight. It replaced my first Bay Area car, a '93 Honda Civic hatchback, which for years I thought little of doing 80 MPH on Bay Area freeways (traffic and conditions permitting, of course). The Insight, of course, gave me immediate feedback about my gas consumption, and by lowering the cruise speed I tried to maintain on the freeways (all other tings remaining equal), I found that trying to maintain 75 in stead of 80 gave me a 2-3 MPG increase, and 70 instead of 75 meant another 2-3 MPG. (I kept a log where I tracked all of my car costs, including when I fueled up, so I had long-term data.) More important, perceptually, those incremental decreases didn't seem to make a difference in the time it took to travel.

To be fair, 70 MPH vs 80 MPH over nearly 600 miles is nearly an hour. But you really made me reconsider: I already do 70-72 around here, so setting cruise control to 75 instead of 83 probably shouldn't make a perceptual difference. (Except I'll be passed my A LOT more cars. Big whoop.)

To be fair, though, on the vary rare occasions when I've fired up the A/C, and not anywhere close to high, I've noticed the GOM takes an immediate approximately 10% hit. That's what concerned me, especially when I was going to be in areas where the charging infrastructure is sparse.

Still, it suggests I can do this. I'm probably looking at a 12+ hour trip. I just wish I could plug in max speed and wind and other factors in ABRP like I used to.
You're welcome. On I-5, I'm typically setting the cruise control at 75 to 77 mph. Yes, I get passed A LOT by cars going faster enough than me that it's a bit uncomfortable. Last trip down I-5, I had to accelerate to 90 mph to avoid getting pinched between a car in the left lane that was shadowing my blind spot and a large SUV that was merging onto the freeway. Both cars passed me by 10+ mph before I had the chance to start slowing down again.

The biggest impact to your trip would be that you won't be able to drive all the way to Bakersfield as your first stop. You'll need to stop at least once for probably 30 minutes along the way. I'm pretty comfortable doing a first leg of ~200 miles in the Bolt EV on a full battery at average freeway speeds of ~70 mph, but that's the upper limit. It will take about 30 minutes on a >50 kW charger to add another 100 miles. The Electrify America at Panoche Shell (about 150 miles out) might be the best first stop for you: PlugShare - Find Electric Vehicle Charging Locations Near You

The Stockdale Highway might be the fastest place to cross, but you're going to need to charge again in Bakersfield before heading into the mountains anyway. The Electrify America at the Bakersfield Plaza (taking Highway 58 across) is one option: PlugShare - Find Electric Vehicle Charging Locations Near You

The other option is the Electrify America at the Countryside Market, which would allow you to take Highway 119 across: PlugShare - Find Electric Vehicle Charging Locations Near You

The latter stop would be my suggestion because it doesn't require you to charge up as high or for as long at the Shell Electrify America, but in either case, Bakersfield would be another 30+ minute stop for you. You could spend longer charging up enough to make it to Barstow, but I'd recommend cutting that time down and only charging up enough to make it to the Mojave Electrify America (which is 60 to 80 miles out): PlugShare - Find Electric Vehicle Charging Locations Near You

Mojave is not a great stop due to the lack of amenities, so you could either do a quick 15 to 20 minute top up to get to Barstow (this would add another stop) or you could charge up to 65-70% (probably 45 minutes) and make it all the way to Baker.

There are three public charging sites in Baker, and charging up for ~30 minutes at any of them should be enough to get you into Vegas just fine.
 

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^Can't beat that horse's mouth advice right there.

I will back what ZZ said.. not to mention the 4 huge marshmellow donuts on an Acadia. 65 person or 85mph person don't matter, its going to be way nicer than on the skinny Bolt sidewalls.

I don't know about you guys but daily drive I know exactly where all the ruts holes bumps and uneven pavement is at to avoid such. Roadtrip.. you're not going to avoid them all.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It's doable, but your time and frustration is worth the investment in renting a car. You have an EV. They are fun. You chose one that doesn't use the Super Charger network, like me. But focus on you, have fun, get there and have a great time. Rent a car. When you get back thank me, or post about all those perfectly planned meals you sat for while taking a charge. Take the Bolt and let us know how much fun it was to do that bullshit hold the charger plug up while engaging the session and let us know how many cars passed you along the way. Rent an Arcadia. I did, it has adaptive cruise control that will take you all the way to zero. That **** is awesome.
Renting a car is an option. Cheapest rentals around here are mostly monster trucks or SUVs though, which are clearly sub-optimal for a road trip, around $250 total, with smaller cars $300+ for the week.

The reliability of the charging infrastructure is a concern. Locally, I've had issues with ChargePoint, EvGo and Volta stations at times. It is annoying locally, but unacceptable on a road trip.
 

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@twriter I did a road trip with an Acadia, it was awesome. Really solidified how important adaptive cruise control is for me. I will never own another vehicle that doesn't have it. Listening GMC/GM???
 

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Thanks NC, that is some really great insight. (I don't want to take a plane though, like I have in recent trips, because a rental car there (I play at poker rooms all over the valley, not just on the Strip) is 3x the airfare, thanks to all the airport taxes and fees.)
Folks, a trick about renting a car when you fly : NEVER rent at the airport. There are many additional costs when renting at the airport, and not just the extra taxes and fees (which are pretty big). But the business pays more for rent and expenses at the airport, and passes it on to you (just like food at the airport).

So my trick is : I jump in one of the courtesy (free) shuttles to a local hotel, then call enterprise for a car (they do free pick up and drop off, but NOT from the airport). I figured this out when I did Miami and the Keys about 15 years ago. I was flying in very late so I booked a hotel in Miami. I was shocked when I started doing research and saw that a car rental for the 8 days I was there was almost ONE THIRD the cost simply by renting off-airport ! The difference in price more than paid for a night in a 4* hotel in Miami, AND dinner at the hotel restaurant (which turned out to cost more than the room, honestly).
 
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Discussion Starter #13
Folks, a trick about renting a car when you fly : NEVER rent at the airport. There are many additional costs when renting at the airport, and not just the extra taxes and fees (which are pretty big). But the business pays more for rent and expenses at the airport, and passes it on to you (just like food at the airport).

So my trick is : I jump in one of the courtesy (free) shuttles to a local hotel, then call enterprise for a car (they do free pick up and drop off, but NOT from the airport). I figured this out when I did Miami and the Keys about 15 years ago. I was flying in very late so I booked a hotel in Miami. I was shocked when I started doing research and saw that a car rental for the 8 days I was there was almost ONE THIRD the cost simply by renting off-airport ! The difference in price more than paid for a night in a 4* hotel in Miami, AND dinner at the hotel restaurant (which turned out to cost more than the room, honestly).
This is so true. However, this is not always an option. Off airport rental car locations--and I've noticed that many rental companies are permanently closing random off-airport locations, almost certainly as a result of the current pandemic--limit their hours, typically to business hours or a bit more. Sometimes you can wrangle a workaround, like you did, and like I did on my last trip home, when I arrived in BOS after midnight and was able to rent from Enterprise at a hotel location for far less that if I'd rented from the airport--and a night at the near-airport 4* hotel was less than $100 for the night.

But a use case where this fails is short trips to Vegas. I'd be flying late evening. I also don't stay at Strip hotels anymore, thanks to the ripoff fees that are often more than the room rates, and I'm often staying, either with friends, Airbnbs, or off-Strip hotels, that are nowhere near off-airport rental car locations. Such places also don't have hotel shuttles.

Interestingly, when I was looking at rental cars for this potential Vegas trip, I was finding some SFO-based offers that were less than local office rates. Like with airfares, they go up and down daily. Yet even with the ridiculous taxes and fees the levy at the airport, they were amazingly cheaper overall. But in most cases, if you can find off airport and can make it work, highly recommended.
 
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