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With the current rental car shortage driving prices way up, Turo offers a cheaper way to rent vehicles directly from their owners. Here’s what it’s like to use.

My review of Turo



Owen Burke/Business Insider


Having lived in a camper van in a past life, I’m all too eager to jump at the chance to relive it whenever I can. So when Turo’s team wrote and asked if I’d like to try out a vintage VW camper van, I didn’t hesitate to take them up on it. Off I went to Seattle.

The owner arranged to pick me up with Gretel (the stunningly pristine specimen of an automobile you see above) so I could prove my capabilities with a manual transmission. Fair enough: I certainly wouldn’t entrust a classic vehicle to someone without vetting their driving skills first, either.

Granted, this is a special occurrence, and so long as you’re not renting a classic vehicle with a manual transmission, you probably won’t be put to the test. It should go without saying that no one ought to rent (or drive) a vehicle outside of their comfort capabilities.

After passing my short road test, I was free roam wherever I pleased (within reason) at the helm of Gretel for a week. I did, however, have a 1,500-mile limit, and would incur further charges if I surpassed it (0.75/mile). I ended up driving a couple of hundred miles over, which was a fee of about $150 more. Over the course of a week, getting to drive the Lost Coast of Northern California and sleep in the Redwood Forest though? Worth it.

The van also came stocked with everything I needed, from a sleeping bag, pillows, blankets, and sheets, down to a coffee pot, oatmeal, coffee, and kitchen cloths. 

I dare you to try to find a hotel room on a cliff above the Pacific for less than $200 a night. You might luck out, but add the cost of a car rental to that. (Keep in mind that a Honda Accord will not exactly get you here.)

When you return someone’s pride-and-joy-on-wheels (keep in mind that old VW Vanagons are collectors’ items), they’re probably going to go over the thing with a fine-toothed comb. The owner of this particular vehicle did just that, and while I was embarrassed by the moderate disarray of things, he in turn told me I was the cleanest renter yet. Owners can potentially put up a fuss (just like with Airbnb), but the best course of action is to be considerate, courteous, and clean up after yourself. They expect to have to clean a little, but as with any rental or hospitality experience, there’s no need to go all Motley Crew on the poor set of wheels. If you do, there’s a good chance you’ll end up paying for it.

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