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  1. #1
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    US Car/Truck Rental Options - family of 4 plus 2 bike bags for Lake Tahoe trip

    Hi,

    Flying to San Francisco in the summer for a couple of weeks and we are intending to head up to Tahoe. Now we have not been in Tahoe for 7 years, but we would love to take all of our bikes so we can enjoy the easy trails by the lakes/easy tracks with the kids. Our kids are young (3 and 6). Last summer our then 5 year old learned to ride her bike and our young son is progressing well on his little balance bike.

    Our (or rather my deranged) plan is to take two bikes bags with Mum and Dad hardtails (one per bag) and one of the kids' bikes in each bag. The bikes the kids have are small, so it will just about be doable (airline weight limits noted). BA don't charge extra for bikes, subject to the weights being under 23kg/50lbs.

    My bigger issue is renting a car the other end. Can anyone recommend a rental company that does good value SUV/pick up truck/minivan rentals? We need to be able to put two decent size bags, plus two bike bags and kids all in the back somehow.

    I see Enterprise do small truck rentals (Nissan), but not sure if they are the crew cab variety (i.e. have proper seats in the back). Avis do SUVs and minivan options.

  2. #2
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    Whatever you do, be extremely careful with the "traditional" rental companies.

    I forget which company it was, but my wife and I went to Las Vegas and wanted a vehicle we could use to take our bikes up to Gooseberry Mesa in Utah. We rented a larger 4wd SUV and paid in full for it. Got to the rental counter, and they didn't have it. We had 2 big bike boxes, and they were trying to put us into a sedan. The short of it is that they rented out the vehicle we had reserved/paid out from under us. We managed to at least get a minivan, but only after wrangling with the agent at the desk. At least we could get our bikes out of the airport, but we could not get that minivan up the dirt road to the mesa later (it was too muddy).

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the tip Harold. I note some renters offer Wrangler unlimited. I guess it is about possible to fit two bike bags and two kids (1/3 seat down) in the back?

  4. #4
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    I cannot imagine the logistical hell of flying with 2 kids, associated luggage and 4 bikes, never mind 2 are kids bikes.

    And flying back ?. Who's taking you to the airport ?

    I'd explore shipping to a local bike shop, or to a local UPS depot.

  5. #5
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    I don't think a wrangler is going to be large enough (think about after the bikes are assembled).

    Get the largest minivan you can, usually enough room for 3-4 bikes in the back if you remove front wheels and put them in upside-down on the handlebars.

  6. #6
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    Sometimes I don't make it easy for myself! We would transport the bikes in two bike bags (we have traveled with them before, but admittedly with only one bike per bag as they are designed to be used).

    We will therefore have total check in luggage of two big bikes bags and then two large bags with all our clothes - we have some bags on wheels which means each parent can pull one bike bag and one clothes bag, to make the airports a bit less of a nightmare. At Heathrow it is a short distance from where you get dropped off to the check in. Although our kids are only 6 and 3, they walk fine and are used to walking fairly decent distances with us.

    The only other complication is getting to the airport. We will likely use our own car (a Volvo XC60, which for anyone who is not familiar with this model I think would be classed as a small/mis size SUV in the US). We would need to get everything in the boot/trunk and then simply drop off all the bags, when park up the car at the parking lot at the airport.

  7. #7
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    Thanks Shark. I have been looking at larger SUV models and minivans. The challenge is that where we are staying in Tahoe has no external parking and the garage is only 78in wide by 199 in long.

    I think a minivan (which we have used to carry bikes in before when in the US) may be a bit tight for the garage space. A wrangler is not cheap to rent, but to be honest the main appeal for me is that I would just love to drive a Wrangler. I am a big kid like that, but I would never get the opportunity to rent one in the UK!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by gribble View Post
    Thanks Shark. I have been looking at larger SUV models and minivans. The challenge is that where we are staying in Tahoe has no external parking and the garage is only 78in wide by 199 in long.

    I think a minivan (which we have used to carry bikes in before when in the US) may be a bit tight for the garage space. A wrangler is not cheap to rent, but to be honest the main appeal for me is that I would just love to drive a Wrangler. I am a big kid like that, but I would never get the opportunity to rent one in the UK!
    North or South Tahoe? Great riding at either end.

    78 inches wide?!?! That's only 6 1/2 feet. Standard garage door is minimum 8' (96"). Or are you talking about parking space width?

    You can't fit that much into a Wrangler. Minivan or full size SUV will have a lot more usable room. By "full size", I mean in normal terms, not rental car company terms. They consider a Nissan Pathfinder "full size", which it isn't. Chevy Tahoe or Suburban is full size.

    Biking has really taken off in the Tahoe basin in the last few years. Have you considered renting bikes? There are many places to rent all sort of bikes both in North and South Tahoe, from kids stuff to full on down hill rigs. More so on the South shore, from what I saw. And most have hourly, versus daily, versus multi-day rentals. Sure, there's extra cost to rent, but I'm pretty sure you'll come out ahead by not having the extra luggage, and by renting a reasonable car versus a full size SUV. And you have potential cost avoidance. What if the weather is bad? What if plans change? You won't have spent the extra cost of car rental and luggage... and hassle of international travel with bikes.

    Just as an example, we rented two Rocky Mountain full suspension bikes from from Over The Edge (https://otesports.com/locations/south-lake-tahoe/), with trail head shuttle service, and complimentary beer at the end of our rides, for barely more than a day's rental cost of the full size SUV we had.
    You didn't quit riding because you're old, you're old because you quit riding.

  9. #9
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    Some friends and I flew out to Breckenridge last summer with our bikes and rented a crew cab (4 door) F150 from one of the generic rental car companies (I forget which one). It was perfect for the trip. The new F150's back seat is HUGE, easily the size of a full size luxury car's. The bed was plenty big to pile bikes in. I can't think of a better rental vehicle for biking The gas mileage was reasonable and we were able to access a few trail heads that had less than perfect roads.
    Vermonter - bikes, beers and skis.

  10. #10
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    Thanks Fredcook. We are staying in South Lake Tahoe. We stayed on the northern end many years ago (I think from memory it was near Kings Beach). There was a lot of riding options back then (we bought a Tahoe Trail Map at the time) and we really enjoyed exploring the Tahoe Rim Trail and trails linking down from there. We did the Flume and I remember Armstrong Connector, both I think on the Eastern Shore.

    We may well ditch the option of flying with bikes altogether; we have decent bags that make the airport part ok, but car rental logistics is more of a hassle. In all honesty, the kids love riding so it is just as much about them. I am hoping to take my bike so I can get a sneeky morning ride out on the hills...

    I will look at bike rental too.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by gribble View Post
    Thanks Fredcook. We are staying in South Lake Tahoe. We stayed on the northern end many years ago (I think from memory it was near Kings Beach). There was a lot of riding options back then (we bought a Tahoe Trail Map at the time) and we really enjoyed exploring the Tahoe Rim Trail and trails linking down from there. We did the Flume and I remember Armstrong Connector, both I think on the Eastern Shore.

    We may well ditch the option of flying with bikes altogether; we have decent bags that make the airport part ok, but car rental logistics is more of a hassle. In all honesty, the kids love riding so it is just as much about them. I am hoping to take my bike so I can get a sneeky morning ride out on the hills...

    I will look at bike rental too.
    Ah, the Flume. It's a classic. South Tahoe has really exploded in recent years. Especially at the Nevada state line. For a fun quick "sneak in" ride, ride down Van Sickle. The last 3 miles of it drop 1700'. Just don't expect to "ride" up it... get to the top via one of other options, like the TRT (Tahoe Rim Trail) from highway 207. That section of the TRT is open to bikes. Over the Edge will shuttle you up in the AM, and you can ride back to the shop from the state park Van Sickle drops down into. For a longer ride... gotta do Mr. Toads Wild Ride. Trailforks seems to be the most up to date on trails for the Tahoe basin.
    You didn't quit riding because you're old, you're old because you quit riding.

  12. #12
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    For what you are trying to haul, minivan all the way.

    As askd, is 78x199 the actual garage size, or parking space in a car park type thing? If its a garage that is actually only 78" wide then rent a convertible, because you won't be able to open the door on any modern automobile.
    "It was like a German, techno-weird, acid trip." - The Hoff -

  13. #13
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    Hi, 78in x 199 is apparently the dimensions of a car you can fit. Mini convertible?!

  14. #14
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    You may want to consider a full size crew cab pick up like an f150 or ram 1500. They are comfortable (easily hold 5 adults) and you can probably get all your gear in the bed.

  15. #15
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    Rent a Surburban and you will be good. Pick ups do not allow you to secure anything in the bed. We just throw a blanket over the bikes and other gear and do non bike things. As far as parking, there is always a place to park. We usually tip heavy and park the rig right out in front of the lodging facility.

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