Last month my girlfriend Kristen and I took a road trip down south using HitTheRoad.ca. We left on Wednesday, arrived into sunny West Palm Beach, Florida on Sunday, and flew back home to Toronto on Tuesday. It was a short trip but a great mini escape from the cold Canadian winter.
HitTheRoad.ca is a vehicle delivery service. If you have the time and a good driver’s abstract, you can sign up to become a driver and get paid to transport vehicles from point A to B. It’s a road trip where you get a free car rental and get paid to travel too.
December is a busy month for snowbird relocations so there were plenty of routes available. I came across one car that needed to get from Toronto to West Palm Beach over my birthday — Kristen was game and we went through the process of applying as drivers. After a few screening calls and reference checks we were selected as the drivers.
Preparing for our road trip
As much as I love spontaneous travel, we planned out our route and booked all of our accommodations in advance. It helped each day knowing exactly where we were going, knowing we had a place to stay that night, and not having to deal with booking hotels while on the road.
Three absolute must-have’s when booking your accommodations:
1. A place to park your car
2. Centrally located – you won’t have much time to spend at each stop so if you’re planning on doing some exploring, you’ll want to be close to where the action is
3. Wifi – to update your Google Maps and playlist (more on that below)
We broke up our days based on a combination of how much we wanted to drive and where we wanted to stop. We had five days to deliver the car and averaged between four to six hours of driving each day, giving us time for breaks and short stops along the way. You’re also given a kilometre allowance to stick within. It’s pretty generous but can add up if you’re doing multiple detours so best to stick to stops along the way.
Our stops were:
Day 1 – Altoona, PA
Day 2 – Lynchburg, VA
Day 3 – Charleston, SC
Day 4 – Jacksonville, FL
Day 5 – West Palm Beach, FL
The car is only available one way so you’ll need to book your flight home. If you’re not in a rush give yourself a few days at your final destination. It’ll be a nice chance to relax after so many days on the road.
HitTheRoad.ca will supply you with the vehicle owner’s contact details so you can connect and figure out pickup time and location. There are a lot of little details to go through in the documents they send over but just read through carefully and ask any questions you have beforehand. You want to be fully prepared before you go on your trip!
Picking up the vehicle
We picked up the vehicle at the client’s home. The process was similar to getting a car rental: we completed a walk around and car inspection, recorded the odometer reading, signed documents, and confirmed the time and location of the drop off in West Palm Beach.
Crossing the U.S. border
There’s a whole document to read through about crossing the border and it kind of psyched me out but the actual crossing was a breeze. We had to enter through the commercial/truck entrance and had all our papers ready to show the customs officer. We were then asked to enter a building to submit the documents for review. After a 10 minute wait we were called up, paid a $13.05 USD fee, and were cleared to continue.
On the road
#1 must have of any road trip: a killer playlist! If the car doesn’t have Bluetooth you can purchase an aux cable for around $10.
There’s a feature on Google Maps that allows you to download maps for offline use, which is useful if you don’t want to use up your data on the long drive. The app has a file size limit so each morning I would download the map for our drive that day before hitting the road and delete it once we arrived at our destination to make space for the next leg of our trip.
Safety is a huge priority so don’t ever feel pressured to drive for longer than you can. Take breaks when you need them, avoid driving at night, and switch drivers often if there are two of you. We drove a 2010 Dodge Journey and had zero issues with our car making the trip. The car itself is insured but if you’re traveling in the U.S. it’s always a smart idea to get traveller’s insurance.
Dropping off the vehicle
The client was arriving into West Palm Beach on Sunday evening and we scheduled to meet him at the airport.
We met him and his wife at arrivals where we did a walk around of the car and were paid for completing the drop-off. After getting paperwork signed off on Kristen and I took an Uber back to our Airbnb. Not mandatory but before returning the car we took it for a wash. It was still filthy with winter slush from Toronto and we thought a clean car would be a more welcoming sight.
The payment we received covered our flight home and gas; accommodations and food came out of pocket so you could make it as budget-friendly as you’re comfortable with. It was a fun road trip and an affordable way to travel if you’re flexible.