I recently went on vacation with my wife’s family to Carova Beach in North Carolina. Carova Beach is at the northern most point of the outerbanks up 168. It required 4 wheel drive as the only way to access the houses are by driving on the beach.
We decided to fly to Norfolk and rent a car to drive there. I wanted to make sure I had the best deal so I did what I always do and booked a car with a few different rental companies. For those that don’t know, most rental car companies do not reaquire you to give your credit card information so there is no harm booking at more than one place. I do this as its easier for me to see the final price after they figure in all the extra fees and then I can compare the rates.
To make a long story short, I booked a “CRV” and then called 2 of the 3 locations that I had booked with (Thrifty and Budget). I wanted to make sure the vehicle that I had booked was going to be 4WD as I know that not all CRV/SUVs are 4wd. After calling both companies I was told by one company that they could not guarantee a 4wd vehicle although the CSR said most of their SUVs were 4wd. The other CSR told me that the class of car I had booked would be just fine and that it was a 4wd vehicle that I had booked.
When I arrived in the Norfolk airport I went down to the car rental area and went to the first rental car company that I had booked with that was the least expensive and with the shortest line. I walked up and showed them my reservation and asked to confirm if the car was 4wd. They checked and said “we have no 4wd vehicles”. I wasn’t too worried until I had gone through all 3 car companies along with every other company in the airport…all of which said “we have no 4wd vehicles and you cannot off-road rental cars”. After regrouping and speaking with one of the final rental car companies I had decided I would just take an AWD vehicle so I went back to my first car rental company. Luckily I was waited on by a different employee who looked again and said they did in fact have a 4wd vehicle.
If we ever go to that part of North Carolina again, I’m pretty sure we will just drive from DE and rent a car in this area as I doubt we will have trouble finding one this far away. Most of the employees said that you cannot request a 4wd vehicle in the Norfolk Airport or possibly at any car rental company as they are first come first serve.
This was one of the worst parts of the vacation as it added an extra hour of my time trying to scramble to get a 4wd car….what happened next ate up more time and really got on my nerves. I’ll blog about rental car companies and what a joke their car seat fee is later this week.