Car Shipping vs. Renting: Which Is Right for Long-Distance Travel?

One crucial decision is how you’ll get from point A to point B when embarking on a long-distance journey, whether for a cross-country move, a vacation, or any other reason. The two primary options often come to mind are shipping a car or renting one. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, and choosing between them is a matter of careful consideration.

In exploring the pros and cons of shipping a car versus renting one for long-distance travel, we will look into the key factors to make the right decision that best suits your needs and circumstances. Whether seeking convenience, cost-effectiveness, or peace of mind, this guide will consider the aspects to weigh before hitting the open road or entrusting your vehicle to a transport company.

Car Shipping vs. Renting: Which Is Right for Long-Distance Travel?

Shipping a Car

Regarding car shipping, two main shipping options are generally available to individuals and businesses. These are the open transport and enclosed transport methods. Each option has its benefits and disadvantages. Therefore, choosing the right one depends on your specific needs, budget, and the level of protection you desire for your vehicle. Let’s explore these two car shipping options in more detail:

Open Transport

The open shipping method refers to transporting vehicles in open-air carriers or trailers. In this method, cars are exposed to the elements and are not enclosed within a container or protective covering during transit. Open shipping is a commonly used and cost-effective option for transporting cars, especially for short to medium-distance journeys.

Enclosed Transport

Enclosed shipping transports goods or items in a fully enclosed and sealed container or vehicle to protect them from exposure to the elements, theft, and damage during transit. This shipping method helps transport valuable, fragile, or sensitive items that require a higher level of protection than open-air shipping methods.

Enclosed Transport

Pros of Shipping
  • It is convenient since it saves you from the hassle of driving long distances, primarily when covering thousands of miles. You can comfortably fly to your new destination and have your vehicle waiting for you upon arrival, eliminating the need for exhausting road trips.
  • Your vehicle provides comfort and familiarity that rental cars may not offer. You already know how to operate your vehicle and are accustomed to its features, making the journey more comfortable and stress-free.
  • For extended journeys, shipping your car might be cost-effective compared to renting a vehicle for an extended period. Rental fees can quickly increase, especially if you need the car for several weeks or months.
Cons of Shipping
  • The cost of shipping a car can outweigh the benefits of shorter trips. Transporting a vehicle over a short distance may not be economical, as rental fees could be lower for such trips.
  • Shipping a car requires careful planning and coordination, including selecting a reputable car shipping company, scheduling transportation, and dealing with potential delays. It may not be suitable for travelers who require flexibility.
  • Depending on the shipping method and the company’s handling, your vehicle may experience wear and tear during transportation, leading to additional maintenance costs.

Renting a Car

Renting a Car
  • Renting a car offers you flexibility since you will choose the most suitable vehicle. You will select a car that meets your needs, such as size, fuel efficiency, or luxury features.
  • Renting a car eliminates the need for upfront costs associated with shipping, such as transportation fees, insurance, and maintenance. You pay for the rental duration only.
  • There are a variety of models from rental agencies, from economy cars to SUVs, luxury cars, and specialty vehicles. This variety ensures you can access the right vehicle for your trip.
  • Renting a car for an extended period can become expensive, especially when considering daily rental rates, insurance, and additional fees. This option may not be cost-effective for long journeys.
  • Driving a rental car may require some adjustment, as it may have different features and handling characteristics than your vehicle. This could potentially lead to discomfort or unfamiliarity.
  • Most rental cars come with mileage restrictions, which can be problematic for you when you are planning to cover a significant distance.

Contact SAC Today


The choice between shipping your car and renting one for long-distance travel depends on several factors, including the distance of your journey, the duration of your trip, your budget, and your personal preferences. Shipping a car offers convenience and familiarity but may be expensive for short trips. Renting a car provides flexibility and various options but can be costly for extended journeys.

Therefore, you should carefully evaluate your needs and circumstances to determine which option best suits your long-distance travel plans. If you feel lost or confused, talk to us! Ship A Car is here to serve you and assist you in making some of the most challenging decisions.