Getting around by car, Phoenix
Because of the huge area to cover in the Phoenix SMSA metro area, a vehicle is the best method of transport. The signs to find the rentals and return must be read carefully, though. They are off site from the airport, and shuttles needed to get to the 3 mile away destination
Not really a tip about phoenix, just a sharing of experience. First is there is a shuttle bus for all car hire, takes about 10 minutes and expect the buses to be full and therefore lines at the car hire base to be long.
I experienced the longest check in ever at 'Dollar' car hire as they made a number of attempts to extract more funds
"Do you want to upgrade?" - No
"This is one of the smallest cars we have, you may want to reconsider," NO, btw smallest by US standards is not the same as smallest European
"Where are you travelling to, you may feel better in a larger vehicel" NO
"some of the vehicles this size do not have power steering," Not true as I asked at pick up point later, and my voucher stated PAS included
"How many bags do you have? There may not be enough room in the trunk of this vehicle"
"Insurance you have will not cover you for .. .blah, blah, blah"
"Do you need roadside assistance only $$$$$$," Already covered thank you
"GPS sir?" NO NO NO
You have arrived in phoenix. you dont have a driving licence, you cant rent a car. So what are your option
A) Walk throught freeways & highways Illegaly & get run over
B) use a taxi
Its about $16 a trip but its worth geting fromA to B in one piece that in a bloody mess
Driving was our preference since we only live 6 hours away, yet it didn't even seem that long. It only took around $30 in gas one way and was a beautiful desert mountain scenery, at least when I woke up from time to time.
Our driver woke up at 4 am to come get us all at our houses, we slept the whole time while he tried to stay a wake! We were not very good passengers :) lol
Getting there and having the mobility of a car was nice! It saved money on renting and having to take cabs! And the hassle at the airport these days is awful! We actually flew back and the driver drove by himself back home. I would have much rather driven back! With all the hidden fees, traffic of people, and long waits to get on a plane, driving is defiantly my preference.
Phoenix is actually a collection of cities, in order of most tourist notoriety: Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe (home of ASU), Carefree, Chandler, Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Cave Creek, Avondale, Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, Levin et al...
Ultimately, you will spend quite a bit of time getting from one place to the other around Phoenix unless you go and settle at a specific resort. The upside is that Greater Phoenix is on a big grid and relatively easy to navigate. Note that gas costs significantly more the further North you go in Phoenix. Upside is that gas is not too expensive around the airport.
Regardless you will have the opportunity to enjoy some of the most spectacular sunsets.
Phoenix is a driver friendly city since most roads are in very good condition, most of them are new built in recent years. All roads are also straight so it's very easy to find your way. The only thing to remember is there are cameras at some intersections. If you didn't stop at red light they will send a bill to your home.
One of our big surprises on a recent visit is the way that they do road work on the freeways. On the weekends they simply tell you to get off at an exit because they have closed the freeway for one or more exits. The first time it happened to us, we luckily had a map to get us back to the freeway because they do not give you any directions - just tell you to get off of the freeway.
The other tip about the freeways is that although therre are many freeways and they are well planned, the population of Phoenix continues to grow faster than they can build freeways to handle the traffic. They are one of the few cities that I know of that has a traffic backup in the middle of town in the middle of the day simply because of congestion. Alwyas allow extra time and you will not have to worry.
If you want to get the most out of your experience and travel in the most comfort you will need a car because the public transportation is not very dependable and especially in the summer months which can last 6 months. Phoenix is on a grid system so it is very easy to find things on a map and the freeway system is very new and easy to navigate. Just avoid I-10 and US 60 during rush hour because it is very congested and you will not move very much. Gas prices have gone up and currently are at $2.31 cents a gallon so be sure to get an economical car because Phoenix is very vast and expansive. People here drive very fast and often go 10 to 20 miles over the speed limit, especially on the freeway, but dont try this trick because speed and red light cameras have been installed in may places and you may end up with a ticket as a souvenir.
Travelers going through Phoenix can save some time by taking the "Heavy Goods Route" of I-17 instead of staying on I-10 all the way through the city. It's a more definite time savings for eastbound travelers. Why? Recent extensive road construction was finished not too long ago, and the previously beat-down, raggedy, pothole-ridden truck route portion of I-17 is now silky smooth and has almost none of the sharp curves and multiple exits that tend to bog down traffic on I-10. Westbound travelers, take I-17 north exit off I-10, it's before you get to the Sky Harbor Airport exits, follow it through city center where it bends north, and get back on I-10 West, or just stay on 17 if you're headed north towards Flagstaff. Eastbound travelers, take I-17 exit south off I-10 and just follow it until it ends and blends back into I-10. You'll save about 5-8 minutes, more during high traffic times. If you want the "Midnight Club" thrill of racing through noisy twisting tunnels under city streets with a bunch of other cars, take I-10 all the way through town, but if you're interested in making time, and by the way getting a better view of Phoenix's downtown, take this little I-17 detour.
The freeways are relatively easy to navigate, but stay alert. Some locals like to drive fast, and they WILL drive around you even if you're trying to get off at an exit. At least it can be that way when you're trying to get back to the airport. I rented my car at the airport from Hassan at Advantage. All the rental cars have another building, where they have a combined shuttle from all the Sky Harbor airport terminals to take you to the different rental companies.
My economy car I reserved months ago still wasn't there, so I was upgraded to a PT Cruiser convertible at the same price. That was good. What was not was all the extra taxes (which I did know about), a Highway help fee for breakdowns, and extra, extra insurance for accidents. My extra liability insurance that I used for Texas was 'no good' here, so I opted for the second option of cdw and coverage of the other car if I hit one.
What was NOT GOOD is that Hassan charged me at the highest rate (not the second highest) (basically coverage for everything) so Hassan, you lost all your kudos for friendliness and helpfulness because this cost me $50 extra.
Next time I plan to stay at a hotel that has an airport shuttle and rent a car from there.
although the streets are basically laid out in a grid that includes both phoenix and scottsdale, you must pay attention very carefully to their exact names. the main street running north and south through both is central avenue. the numbered "streets" run east from central avenue. the numbered "avenues" run west from central avenue.
one thing that helps is that in most areas, the street signs are large (even for old people like me whose sight is not so great any more!), mark which way is north/south or east/west, and give house address ranges (for example, 2340-2390 for the house numbers on that block).
it helps to have a map, though, because in one place, i found 70th street right next to 1st street!
in downtown phoenix, practically all parking is at coin-operated meters, except for specific large attractions, such as the heard museum. practically all parking is free in scottsdale.
We have recently moved to Phoenix from the UK. As we will be here for more than a year we had take the Arizona driving test which was interesting.
The driving test centre is very old fashioned, you show up take a number and wait. you will do eyetests andanswer some questions then you will do a written test. If you fail you can come back and do it again the next day.
The actual driving test was much more of a drive than a test. First you had to do a parellel park in an enormous space. You actually had 3 goes at this if you get it wrong. Then you drive out the centre do one left turn then all the other turns are right all the way back to the test centre. Probably drive about 5 or 6 miles. you do not have to do any other skills like emergency stops, reversing round the corner or either make a point of looking at the mirrors.
Kids are allowed to take their test here really young. while I was waiting for my test I heard someone ask how long does the driving trst takes, they where told about 50 minutes, 20 minutes for actual driving the rest for the parallel park!!!!!!!.