Braving the rental car in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City, Utah / part of Braving the rental car in Salt Lake City, Utah via FunkyJunkInteriors.net
“Seriously. I’m gonna need a car… ”

Before my Salt Lake City trip, I knew without a doubt that I’d be tagging on two extra days to take in a little of the surrounding area once the SNAP conference was over. But that meant one thing.

I’d have to rent a scary rental car.  

If you’re puzzled with that statement, that means either –  #1: someone’s always rented and drove the rental car FOR you, or #2: you haven’t needed to bother with a rental car because you’ve had other transportation to get you around. Or you are quite simply the bravest person I know.

Up until this trip, I was both those things. But I vowed to change that. I needed to rent a car all by myself.

I quizzed those living in SLC. “Is it hard to drive around? Do the roads look like ribbons on the top of a present?! (Or worse…) If I miss a turn off, will I end up in the next state?!!

That’s really my #1 fear. That there will be no way to turn back for 7 hours.

After I found out I’d be frequenting a grid road system and that it was dead easy, I pulled the trigger on a little economy number.

I even had the nerve to ‘bid’ for it online before I left. And I got it! Cool. Proud day indeed until all the BIG taxes added up, easily doubling the cost. Sheesh. #learningcurve

Temple Square, Salt Lake City Utah / Braving the rental car in Salt Lake City, Utah via FunkyJunkInteriors.net
( Temple Square, Salt Lake City )

But I did not purchase their insurance. I had quizzed my local agent about being fully covered before I left under my own plan, with a cute little wallet card to prove it.

Once arriving to SLC, I found the car booth we’ll just call “X.” Proudly showing my bid ticket, they started pelting me with all kinds of warnings and scary doom and gloom stuff.

In other words, if I didn’t purchase their insurance, I was on my own and out of luck should ANYTHING happen. Much like stranded on a deserted island with no wifi. Very, VERY bad.

Me all chipper and bursting with knowledge having done all my homework.. “Oh that! My insurance agent said I was fully covered. Here’s my card, and the number is on the back so you can call them.”

“We don’t call that. We don’t care whether you are insured elsewhere or not. I’ve given you our options. You choose no so you’re on your own.”

This was not a happy day kinda thing to say. Especially for the paranoid rental car newbie. So I turned off the sunbeam for a spell and bit… which was my first mistake.

“How about I call my agent to make SURE I’m covered for ALL THOSE THINGS you listed? (there were LOTS, with hefty rates per day on each item.)

“You can do whatever you want. Here are your keys. NEXT!”

Not comforted. Freaking out, I shuffled my oversized luggage mountain to the side, and called my local insurance place. At home. IN CANADA. They ensured me I was good to go, but I asked if she’d speak to Ms. X anyway.

Can you BELIEVE I did this?!?! I did.

Near Great Salt Lake, Utah / Braving the rental car in Salt Lake City, Utah via FunkyJunkInteriors.net
And they spoke. But “X” revealed nothing. It was a waste of time.

The phone was handed back to me. It was my choice at this point.

And then…

“Ma’am? (that would be to me) DON’T forget to fill it up with gas. You chose NOT to pay for the full tank so if you are at the very least bit empty, you WILL pay ______. (what sounded like a million dollars a gallon. It was outrageous.)

And then I got rained on one last time.

“Would you like to upgrade the radio to a _______ (whaat?) ?”

nooo….

“Would you like to upgrade the wheels?”

No.

“Steering wheel?”

Yeah, right. No.

“Do you want seats in your car? It’s an option.”

NO!!! No seats!

I kid, but it was getting a little out of hand.

Salt Lake City Utah main drag / Braving the rental car in Salt Lake City, Utah via FunkyJunkInteriors.net
(Lovely downtown Salt Lake City, doesn’t this look SCARY? eyeroll…)

And then my internal small town girl alarm went off. Why did I rent a car? Why am I not home petting my cats in my safe little bubble at home while eating popcorn in bed in front of a girlie Netflix movie? Picking up (dragging) my bags, I set out to find my severely under insured car. (with no seats)

There it was. Cute and sleek and black! My little black (scary) bullet was waiting for it’s new adventure. 

Staring at the remote with a gazillion new buttons, I made it jerk and moan and beep and strobe light and popped the trunk plus. And then I got it open.

Nice! It was really nice! Very cute! I was trying to make friends but it was a forced relationship at this point. 

And then I noticed it had seats! And I didn’t tell.

I loaded it up, fiddled with some weird cover that covers the luggage, (what IS THAT thing, a luggage blanket??) finally yanking it out and sticking it in the back seat and turned the thing on. Plugging in my GPS, the satellite wouldn’t connect. Hmm…

I walked outside the parkade but it wouldn’t respond. Remembering I’d had this issue before, I waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

I gave up. I went to my iPhone, threw on the google map, (so glad I sprung for a US package. I am amazing) set up the address to my destination, vowing to give the GPS a chance to wake up once I drove for a bit.

So off I drove, getting use to the touchy brakes. And then I tried out the lights and the wipers went off. In which I couldn’t turn off. Whatever. And then the voices fired up…

Lady iphone / “Turn right on 47298467249287498. Take a deep breath, let it out, sip your cold coffee with both hands on the wheel, check your makeup, (I had cried it all off at this point) then turn left.”

Man GPS / “Turn right. Then turn left.” 

So vision this if you will. I’m crusing down the highway at grandma speed, the back wipers won’t shut off, and I have Ms. iPhone (in high detail) and Mr. GPS (very vague) both arguing different things in unison. In a new town. In a different country. Beautiful.

And magically, I finally found my destination. Funny how that always works itself out.

I parked that thing, and stared at it. Daunting. Absolutely daunting. I went into my hotel room to hide from it for the rest of the conference.

( conference conference conference conference )

The last day of the conference, I recieved a FB message. Virginia from Fynes Designs, also of Oh Canada asked if I wanted to do anything the next day, as she wasn’t flying out until 10pm. Why yes, I did. I had planned to take in the town or Park City with ‘the car’… so I messaged her to join me.

:D

Park City, Utah  / Braving the rental car in Salt Lake City, Utah via FunkyJunkInteriors.net

( We made it to Park City, Utah!)

So we set out the next day. And what a blessing this turned out to be! Although she claims to be as directionally challenged as me, she was able to help out. She didn’t even laugh too hard at my double GPS system… much.

(MUCH more on our trip to come!)

For the next two days, I finally made friends with my little black bullet. The brakes got strangely unsticky (heh) and it took me to places that made my jaw drop! Which I’ll be showing you next!

So, my point for all this needless rambling?

This rental car hurdle was serious business for me. It was a painful one to jump. But I KNEW I had to do it. I did not want to be at a taxi or bus’ mercy until the end of time.

And I mean, when I glance back at the amazing photos captured, every hardship was so worth it.

I’m deadly serious here. If you have directional challenges, please go straight to Costco and get a GPS and go rent a car in a new town. Free yourself! It’s like free falling off a cliff!

Point is, every single time I’ve had to climb a hill, I’ve always reached a higher plateau, and more became of it because of it. Braving the rental car in Salt Lake City with the arguing GPSs was worth every little bit of anxiety. Because now I know better. 

I’m going to be jumping yet again this summer and again in the fall. And it shouldn’t be any issue now, because I’m officially a pro world traveller car rental kinda girl!

And if you believe that, I have 2 arguing GPS systems for sale…

Visit the entire Salt Lake City adventure HERE

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  1. OMG I was laughing SO HARD!!!!
    As a Salt Lake native, my initial thought in reading your title was….really? How Hard can it BE! get on i15 heading south til you see Thanksgiving Point. BUUUUUTTTTT you made me laugh out loud! My favorite pic was the one on South Temple-(Downtown Salt Lake). Not a soul in sight…no cars…no trains….great downtown huh?!
    Great article! And PS those rental car agents were jerks!
    Glad you enjoyed my little piece of the world!
    Ash@sn4g
    http://www.shabbynot4gotten.com

  2. Isn’t it funny how we all have our different strengths and weaknesses? You do lots of things that I find intimidating – and you’re so successful at this blogging thing… and it’s something small (small for me! we are all different!) like renting a car that truly tests you.
    Here’s to being brave! Go, Donna!!
    -b.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. I have never booked a plane ticket or even bought a movie ticket on-line so you are not the only one who is easily intimidated by new things. I laughed and learned from your post. Thanks so much.

  4. Proud of you. Yet another way for you to continue your journey of self sufficiency. Glad to hear you are traveling even more this year! It wasn’t so hard to rent a car, now was it? You can do anything, you just don’t know it yet. Ann

  5. As I was driving down the road on May 8, my 64th. birthday, to be with my mother, who turned 88 on Mother’s Day this year, I was thinking about a lot of things…how grateful I am for the independence she instilled in me since it was a year on May 6 my husband passed away. I’ve never doubted I could go on without him, but also felt good I’d made it this far through lots of unexpected issues this past year…like the $500 car brake repair I had to make a decision on the day before I left. As for renting a car, I’ve gone through the entire scenario you did and learned a few things…ask for a different car if you don’t feel comfortable with the one they give you, take pics of the car before you drive it off the rental lot, and be prepared to pay double the price you “think” you’ve rented the car for. Happy future travels…in a rental car!

    • GREAT tips! You really have to go through the experience to truly understand all the tricks of the trade (and what they try and sell you). I love your idea of taking pics of the car before. Never thought to do that. Next time for sure!

  6. Amazing. I have never thought about anyone not ever renting a car or going to another city and actually staying in a hotel. I won’t fly anymore because I do not want to be one of the TSA pawns. I can remember hauling horses across states to go to rodeos and the such. Guess I thought that everyone does it in one form or another. Never thought about anyone not being secure in doing such things. Am so glad that you have conquered this and you are on your way to exciting adventures.

  7. I’m SOOO glad you were brave enough to get the rental car, I actually had no idea you had so much trouble airport side! Thanks for the shout-out, my last day in SLC would have been terrible without you. You photos are stunning, they might make an appearance in my scrapbook!

  8. as someone who has used rental cars for some time, I was amazed at your experience. Glad everything turned out alright for you. We only use one rental company and have never had a problem. No added taxes or fees! Not pushy with their insurance either. They pick you up and are very good. Once we traveled by train and the train was late by 3 hrs. The rental company was there when we arrived just like clock work.
    Hope you continue to enjoy the freedom!

  9. Brava that you went for the gold and tried something totally out of your realm of comfort. I may not be directionally challenged but you do so many things in the blogging world that I am completely petrified of. Thank you for sharing your experience and success. SLC looks like a beautiful city to visit.

  10. Oh, how I wish I’d known you were in my neck of the woods! I would have gladly picked you up at the airport and deposited you at your conference. And then come back to take you to George’s and Park City. Really — you probably could have asked any of the Utah bloggers and they would have done the same thing. It’s a pretty friendly area here. Zions is gorgeous and there is a lot to see without it being super strenuous, but it is a drive from SLC. You could do Zions, Arches, Bryce, and Moab if you had 3 to 5 days. Lots to see and do!