After an amazing WordCamp Scranton on Saturday I was heading to a friend’s birthday on Long Island on Sunday, a few people were surprised I had flown from New York and said driving took about the same amount of time when you factor in all the airport hassle.
I Google Mapped it and it did look like it was only 5-6 hours from Scranton to where I was going. Being a born and raised Texan, I love a good drive, and I probably haven’t had a proper road trip since my sister’s birthday a few years ago when we went up Highway 1. I’ve also never driven on the East Coast, and it seemed like there were some really pretty parks and lakes in between Scranton and Long Island so I ended up going to the airport anyway because that’s where the rental cars were.
I like Avis. They try harder. 🙂 One thing they do that’s pretty cool is sell decent cables, USB wall chargers, and car chargers for a cheap price right at the check-in desk. (I always carry my own car charger, this is my current pick. It’s super-handy in Ubers as well.) Amazingly though they still try to give you one of those Garmin GPS units that’s worse than your smartphone in every possible way. I’m sure it’s a money maker, otherwise the only reasonable thing to do would be provide a smartphone mount (or have one already set up in the car) rather than saddling people with an archaic, non-networked navigation device that has no idea about construction or traffic.
I ended up going to a Walmart that was nearby to pick up a car mount (price, $12) that ended up being a life-saver for the trip. I also believe that every person in tech should visit Walmart at least once a year, and spend time in their technology section. It’s good to understand and see how people who don’t live for technology every day interact with it. It’s eye-opening, and it’s handy to know what’s in stock in case you need 50 feet of ethernet at 4 AM.
Dropping the car off in Manhattan, it looks like they charged me $20 for a GPS which I don’t even have, so now going to need to sort out both the fee and the “missing” GPS system.
tl; dr: Smart car rental companies should ditch the GPS, provide smartphone mounts instead.