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Car Rental or Public Transport - Costs ?

New York City, New...
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195 posts
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Car Rental or Public Transport - Costs ?

I will be in Guatemala with my family in a couple of weeks. There's 5 of us, and I am still trying to weigh up whether I should rent a car or rely on public transport.

I'm not looking to get a debate going on the non-cost pros and cons, like convenience, safety, etc. I am experienced with renting cars in Latin America and know the deal.

We will be doing a two week itinerary, whereby we take in Antigua, Atitlan, Chichi, Coban, Tikal, and back to Antigua.

It looks to me that car rental is cheaper (for me). Yes, public transport would be cheaper if we rode on chicken buses, but they are not really practical for families traveling with luggage. Public transport would therefore be the private minibuses that work the roads between towns and villages. I've used them before, and although reasonable, can be quite an item if there's 5 of you and use them a lot.

I got an online car rental quote from Tabarini and it seems quite reasonable. Their quote included the car rental, insurance, and sales tax. Unlimited mileage. I am assuming that the total price they quoted is the actual final price, as I've had the occasional issue in the past where the quoted price doubles when they draw up the final bill. I have an email into them asking for clarification.

Port Richey, Florida
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1. Re: Car Rental or Public Transport - Costs ?

Hi there, In your case I'd say a rental car would be cost effective and safer. I prefer to do my own

driving than letting one of those maniacs driving chicken buses risk my life. Or I ride the deluxe type busese. But in your case with your family that would be more expensive and inconvenient than driving a rental car. I've normally gotten a good weekly rate driving a Mitsubishi Lancer. But if you're planning driving off the beaten path, such as Joyabaj I think you would need a 4X4 type vehicle. FYI, some gas stations take credit cards, but they prefer Visa. And, while I was able to use my MC at some of them, most of them take cash only. Most people would advise you against driving in guatemala for safety reasons. But, like I said I feel safer with myself behind the wheel. And if you stop and think about it, we have our own maniacs on our roads also. For instance here in South Florida, traffic fatalities happen every day not only on I-95 but on the streets also. Then, some other people will tell you that driving a rental car it's a hsssle because, you would have to worry about securing the car for the night. But, believe it or not, most hotels all over the country have secure areas for you to park the car overnight. And that could only be a problem if you're visiting a small town off the beaten path. But, then you're probably not going to be able to stay there because, you're not going to find a suitable place to stay with your family anyway. So, I'd say go for it. You'll be fine. Tabarini is a good company, and you have some other local companies with good rates also. Good luck.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: Car Rental or Public Transport - Costs ?

Good points. Although I didn't want to make this a safety issue, it's hard not to take it into consideration.

I can deal with maniac drivers. I also think that driving standards throughout Latin America have improved considerably since the white knuckle days of years past, when most roads were dirt tracks. The safety issue I am mostly concerned with is the bandit variety. So with this, are you safer in a car, a minivan, a bus, etc? I would always guess that minivans are the most vulnerable, being that the bandit knows there are not only tourists on board, but tourists who are not broke backpackers. Cars are more likely driven by locals, and I guess locals are not usually targets.

Bethesda, MD
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3. Re: Car Rental or Public Transport - Costs ?

I've used Tally a few times, and I never had a problem with the bill. With five of you, it's definitely cheaper to rent a car. The only issue is finding secure parking.

Port Richey, Florida
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2,546 posts
11 reviews
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4. Re: Car Rental or Public Transport - Costs ?

Believe me I check five guatemalan newspapers on line on a daily basis. And I wouldn't be telling you that, it's safe to drive in guatemala if I knew otherwise, specially when you'll be having your whole family with you. But of course I'm sure those isolated roads on those pictures probably gave you the creeps. But I haven't read of any rooberies along those roads either. And I'm sure you read the cyclist feedback. I for instance drove from Panajachel up to Godinez, a quiet road,with breathtaking views of lake Atitlan, but I never felt threatened though. I never drive at night and mainly because of road hazards and lack of proper warning signs. And during downpours because of poor visibility. But you'll find lots of good restaurants, ice cream places, gas stations and hotels with swiming pools along the main roads where you can have a cup of coffee while waiting for better weather.

5. Re: Car Rental or Public Transport - Costs ?

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