The word simple, especially when planning a road trip, doesn’t come up too often. Especially a big road trip like ours across California. And double especially when taking into account fixed dates for locations, times you need to be somewhere, meeting old friends, check-ins, check-outs, ball games and a million other things. This is supposed to be a holiday, remember?! So Simple doesn’t come around that much when you plan a road trip. Neither does quick, unless of course, you are talking about money disappearing into planning said trip! Still, there are certain necessities that need to be in place way in advance, so today we’re going to tell you about everything we learnt on our Hertz road trip across California.
For a good road trip there are 3 main essentials.
- Flights to get somewhere worth roadtripping
- Accommodation along the way
- Finally, and most importantly, your essential roadtrip partner. No, not your significant other, the ride! The Steed! The Tripmobile!
Whatever you call your chosen carriage (ours was called Colin, more on that later…), it’s as big as a decision, in our opinion, as the location you chose. The right car can make, or break, the trip of a lifetime in the blink of an eye. So the company, the vehicle, and the service is absolutely integral to your trip.
Start of the Hertz road trip
When we, (and by that I mean I, the planning MACHINE, not Annie, the filming/editing/social whizz, half the time she doesn’t even know where we’re going!) are setting up our trips, all of the above comes into play, but the 3 key points remain the same. So destination California, TICK. Accommodation, hello Booking.com my old friend, TICK. The vehicle, it is SoCal, and if you’ve read our other pieces on Cali you know there would only one choice for us. Convertible baby! TICK! So let’s get this party started!
Hertz booking process
We’d chosen to go with Hertz for a couple of reasons. Firstly, who hasn’t heard of Hertz? This was a big investment and, (to me) the most important part of the trip. The last thing we wanted was to be let down by unscrupulous internet cowboys. Secondly, we’d used the Hertz Road Trip Planner (https://www.hertz.co.uk/p/american-road-trip-planner) right back at the start of our planning and they know everything there is to know about tripping across the US of A.
Hertz Gold Club
We’d registered for the Hertz Gold Club Rewards programme before we started booking. There’s a whole bunch of perks, but to be honest this was because it was a) FREE! And b) NO PICKUP QUEUES!! More of this to come, but it goes right back to that simple and quick element of a trip.
Back to one of our essential road trip points, vehicle choice! As you’ve probably already seen on our social channels, we went with a Convertible, specifically a Chevrolet Camaro. This is one on many different vehicles in the Hertz fleet, ranging from budget compact options, such as a Chevy Spark or Ford Focus, through to crossovers, people carriers, convertibles, all the way up to the Prestige, Dream and Adrenaline Collections. Fancy a Corvette, Range Rover or Porsche? No problem! Vehicles vary across different countries so check before you book.
Location & Collection
Most international airports have a vehicle rental hub, and at LAX, the Hertz Shuttle Bus service picks up and drops off at every terminal very regularly. Head out of the building, jump on the first bright yellow Hertz bus, and it is 7(ish) minutes to the depot.
We’re getting to Part One of simple and quick. Remember that Hertz Gold Club Rewards programme we signed up for for free during booking? Well, it’s time to collect! Prior to arrival, you’ll receive a unique collection code. As you de-bus at the collection you’ll find an enormous board, kind of like an airport departures board. There it is in black and white (well, black and yellow), right by your collection code is your parking bay number. Walk round the corner, find your number and there it is. Key in the car, ready to depart!
Once you’re loaded up, you head through a manned departure gate (kind of like a toll booth), they check your documents, give you your confirmations and you’re away. On a good day, you could be in, loaded and out in 5 mins flat. Unfortunately, we were slightly delayed by a slight defect with the vehicle, but the on-site staff were quick to assist and off we went.
The road trip car
Our Camaro, whilst an awesome vehicle in many ways, is maybe not perfectly suited to everyone’s road trip life. Having had this model on our previous trip, there were a few quirks we were aware of, so we were prepared, and happy to make the necessary sacrifices. Make sure you do your research and get the appropriate vehicle for your trip. Take into account the distance you’ll be travelling, how much time you’ll spend in the vehicle, fuel costs and MPG, space required for luggage, and any additional needs such as 4WD. This could be essential if you’re heading into specialist terrain like Yosemite in Winter or deep into the desert National Parks. It’s also absolutely essential to name your vehicle, after all, we’re not barbarians! We went with Colin Camero, let us know your choice!
Driving in California
We’ve covered some of the essentials of driving in the USA in this post, and it’s definitely something that takes patience and practice. Make sure you also hire a SatNav with your vehicle or make sure you have ample roaming on your mobile device.
Returning the car
In a ‘skip to the end’ moment, we’ve headed from the urban sprawl of Beachfront Los Angeles, through the desert of Palm Springs, the mountains of the Cuyamaca range to San Diego and along the famed beachfront Pacific Coast Highway, finally returning to the bright lights and dreams of Hollywood.
We’ve seen six-lane highways, traffic jams, winding Malibu roads, the storied legend of Mulholland Drive, the vast expanse of Anza Borrego, the wooded, winding curves of Julian and its pie, the ‘OC’ beaches of Newport and Huntington and finally the OG hippy soaked, palm tree lined Venice and Santa Monica.
We’ve seen the best that Southern California has to offer and now we’re exhausted. The only thing left to do is drop our trusty vehicular companion back to the depot before our flight back to reality.
We’re finally at Part Two of the simple and quick. ‘Turn left onto Airport Boulevard’ from the SatNav and we’re back on the Hertz lot. As we pull into the indicated slot and the attendant scans the window mounted barcode, we’re handed a receipt…..and that’s it! We’re less than 20 yards away from the shuttle that will take us back up to the Terminal building.
Right back to the start and more than ever, I know that this process can make or break a trip, and we’ve had the trip of a lifetime, once again! Thanks to Hertz for helping us see the best of the United States, whilst keeping things simple and quick. What more do you need?!