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Hire car driving on unpaved roads

Inverness, United...
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Hire car driving on unpaved roads

We are planning a holiday partly driving in Vermont and New Hampshire this October to see fall colours and then going on to other visits. We fly to Toronto but hope to fly on to Montreal, hire a car there and drop it off at Toronto after two weeks. Canadian Affair offers car hire through National, which offers no-cost one way rental. Good! However their terms state, at one point "Driving on roads that are not government maintained voids the contract..." and at another point: "Driving on unpaved roads voids Loss Damage Waiver coverage".

So, what's really the situation here? Are most dirt roads in Vermont "government maintained" (ie "public roads" I guess)? Do people think there is a problem with driving a hire car on them? What is people's experience of this?

Thanks.

NewEngland
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1. Re: Hire car driving on unpaved roads

Vermont, New Hampshire and Canada are full of paved roads, even unpaved roads, when you stumble on to them, are safe this time of year, mud season is long gone. If a road is not maintained , there is usually a sign making you aware of this.

On another thought, if you haven't make lodging reservations yet, you should do so as soon as possible. Fall is the busiest season and weekend reservations are already getting scarce. Do you have any itinerary in mind?

Chester, Vermont
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for Chester, Ludlow, Vermont
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2. Re: Hire car driving on unpaved roads

Most dirt roads are government maintained. You should have no problems with navigating in a rental car during a "normal" fall foliage driving trip. Dirt roads are really only difficult to drive in a rental (none 4 wheel drive) during spring when the melted snow turns many to mud. In normal October weather you'll have no problems. Some of the quiet dirt roads afford the best and most unspoilt foliage views. You did mention you were "planning" have you booked accommodation yet? October is the busiest time of year and many lodging establishments fill up months in advance.

Inverness, United...
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3. Re: Hire car driving on unpaved roads

(By the way this is the first time I have ever posted a query on any forum about anything, so please be patient if I get it all wrong!)

Thanks for the replies, which I will find useful in terms of confidence about driving on dirt roads.

However perhaps I didn't frame the question quite right. What I was trying to get at was not so much how driveable the dirt roads are but whether car hire companies (National in particular because they are the ones I am likely to hire from) are going to pull the insurance plug if I drive on government maintained dirt roads. Their terms and conditions are equivocal (see my first post). Ok, I can ask them but I suspect I'll get a very conservative answer from some call centre operator unwilling to risk a helpful answer. Instead I just wondered what people's experience of this was.

Thanks for the advice too about booking accommodation. In fact I've found that not too difficult, even in these past few days, although I can see it's filling up and I've certainly heard that it gets very busy. Though a bit last minute, this holiday has something of the "trip of a lifetime" about it, so I hope the fall colours come up to expectation. We will be in New England from October 8th.

Southern VT
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for Vermont
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4. Re: Hire car driving on unpaved roads

It is very easy to avoid dirt roads and still see the foliage! Dirt roads tend to be off the beaten track somewhat. By taking main roads and talking w/ the locals you should have no trouble at all avoiding them.

By the way, in case you have not read through previous posts on this subject, early to mid October is best in VT and NH. If it's later than that you may have to head a little further south to catch the foliage. Enjoy!

NewEngland
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5. Re: Hire car driving on unpaved roads

Does the car company somehow know when the tires hit an unpaved surface? Unless their car some how alerts them I don't see how they will know you have stumbled onto a forbidden road. I've never heard of this kind of clause in a rental agreement. Is there not another car rental company that you can do business with or perhaps fly into one of the New England airports?

Inverness, United...
6 posts
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6. Re: Hire car driving on unpaved roads

"Does the car company somehow know when the tires hit an unpaved surface?" (newenglandweaver)

Well, they will if we go off the road, which is when we need the the insurance! But I take the point that I may be being overcautious about this. (I am not alone however. There have been other posts about this.)

By the way, you were asking about our itinerary. We are staying in the Warren, Vt, area 8/9/10 Oct and then Jackson, NH, 11/12/13 Oct before heading west to other things in NY and ON. The idea was that by having two bases, we could cover a reasonable amount of territory on the "rest" days and also on the "travelling" days without feeling too hassled by constant uprooting. I hope we will not be too late for the fall colours there at that time. Perhaps global warming will come to our rescue (although I imagine it could cause other weather effects that may bring the peak forward or even spoil it altogether).

Thanks for your interest and help.

NewEngland
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7. Re: Hire car driving on unpaved roads

Well a little caution can be a good thing, but if you are regularly a careful driver you should be fine. There are lots of natural things that can affect the fall colors, some being too little rain, too much rain, too hot, too cold, as well as global warming. New Hampshire has official "leaf peeper" that keep the State Tourism Dept informed about the status of the foliage locally. Just check their web site www.visitnh.gov. I would try to base myself somewhere in the middle of the states so if the color should decide to be early or late you won't have long drives north or south to catch up to it.

8. Re: Hire car driving on unpaved roads

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