That’s Not My Car

This week, I have been in Santa Clara for internal meetings. (BTW, three solid days of meetings is a looooong time.) For this trip, Budget gave me a Chevy Cruz. It drives very nicely, and I have been enjoying it. The first night, I made sure to pay attention to the color and where I parked (gray, left side of the parking lot by the street). But yesterday morning when I left the hotel for the office, I actually tried to get in the wrong car. I walked up to the car, noted the make, model, and color, saw where it was parked, determined it had to be mine, and tried to open the door. It didn’t open, so I pulled the handle again, a little more vigorously. Nope. I stood back, pointed my key fob at the door, and pushed “unlock” repeatedly. Still didn’t open. Finally, I stepped close enough to see the mints on the other seat. Oops…..definitely not my car. Once I find my actual car (which is parked two spaces away, on the other side of a big car), I realize it is dark gray and the other one was light gray. Sigh.

And of course, this made me super paranoid last night when trying to find it in the restaurant parking lot. To make sure I found the right car this time, I clicked the unlock button so the rear lights would flash. Unfortunately, on this particular car, this makes all of the lights, including the headlights, turn on. Not just blink or flash, but turn on. So when I walked up to the car that I was sure was mine, all the lights turned on and I just knew I was about to open the door to someone else’s car. Luckily, it was mine and it all worked out fine.

Readers, how do you keep track of what your rental car looks like? Do I need to start taking pictures of my cars, in addition to my parking spot and hotel room number?


  1. The key fob usually says the make, model, color, and license plate number. What they call the color and what I call the color often are different though so I just really try to remember my parking spot.

    At least you aren’t like my coworkers…they just always push the Alarm button to find their car. It’s so annoying.

  2. More importantly, how to do track the points you should received when renting the car? I was just in the cayman islands and rented an AVIS car for 8 days… but the lady behind the counter said “we don’t give miles with rentals”! I just sent them a secured email and requested miles, but is it bases on which office wants to participate? can locations “opt out”?

  3. @Worldtraveller2 – Avis and Budget points can only be earned at participating airport locations.

  4. I’m willing to use the alarm or door unlock button on the fob to make the car blink or flash or honk or whatever. Life is too short to worry if someone in a parking lot is looking at you funny!

    Besides, finding the right car quickly, especially after dark, is a safety issue for women traveling alone.

  5. One time my husband and I rented a car at LAX and drove to our hotel in Pasadena that only had valet parking. We used it a couple of times, and then again to return him to LAX while I stayed to visit family. Back at LAX we realized we were driving a 4-door but had rented a 2-door. Valet parking had given us the wrong car! Luckily, there were no personal belongings in either car, but it took many phone calls to make it right so I could keep the car, rather than driving back to Pasadena.

  6. Safety suggestion: If you’re along walking to your car and searching for it with the fob, you might want to use the Lock instead of unlock button. That way if you hit it repeatedly, when you do find the car, no one could be already sitting in it.

  7. I travel weekly and thus have a totally different car each and every week…
    I do a few things to help with knowing which is my car.

    first, I try to pick a ‘memorable’ car. This means, since I am in Washington State, trying for another states liscense plate. I usually go for Oregon or California (where i am originally from), so that I can match the type of car and stand out plate.

    If I cant do that, I pick by color, and try for something a bit different. Since I also park at hotels where most cars are rentals, I go for red, rather then the Silver or white normal choices.

    Sometimes its a combo of these two….anything to make my choice -not- like all the other people I do business with…

  8. One tip from a friend of mine was to always back into the space. She always knew her car because it was facing out, which is not how most people park.

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