I’m a water baby, through and through. I was born in Juneau, Alaska, and have relished digging my toes in the sand on beaches all around the world. When it comes down to it, I really just want to reach the beach, and this summer, that necessitated renting a car.
This year, my family determined to vacation in Asbury Park, New Jersey, my sister’s favorite beach town on the Atlantic Seaboard. The problem? She’s a city dweller with a tiny hatchback, and our family of three (including a 1-year-old who needs all the things) was flying from Saint Louis to Philly to meet her before driving out to the shore.
I tried this way and that to figure how we could make the trip happen without renting a car, but road tripping was not a viable option, and neither was public transportation. Eventually, we booked a small sedan with a traditional rental car company. While I wasn’t feeling excited about the vehicle or the cost of the rental, the beach was calling, and we needed a rental car to get us there.
Enter Kyte — An Innovative, App-Based Rental Car Experience
A few weeks before our trip, I got an email about Kyte, “The best way to get a car” with legit rental cars delivered to your door. As a travel editor, I get emails about a lot of products and experiences, and I was skeptical.
I wasn’t interested in driving someone else’s vehicle a la carshare company Turo, but I was impressed by Kyte’s rental offerings in Philadelphia, where we could book an SUV for a day longer and over $100 less than we were planning to spend on a compact with the other rental company.
Also, Kyte would deliver the vehicle to my sister’s apartment in Center City. She could use it to pick us (and all our luggage) up from the airport, no shuttle rides or waiting around for a rental car required. She could even install baby’s backup car seat, already at her place from a previous visit, before we arrived.
I felt my stress about the rental car (and how we were going to get everything in it) melting away. I decided to take a chance on Kyte.
Pro Tip: It’s worth pricing out a Kyte rental even if you’re already booked with another company. I was able to cancel my traditional rental reservation less than one week before its start date with just two clicks and no penalties or other fees.
How Does A Kyte Rental Work?
I was sure to read the fine print as my sister and I navigated the Kyte rental. For example, you need to decide what kind of insurance coverage your rental will require depending on whether the drivers are personally insured or not (we are, so we didn’t have to pay those additional fees). Likewise, do you need unlimited miles? All Kyte trips come with 300 miles per day, but if you’re going to put more than that on the vehicle, you need to upgrade. The drive from Philly to Asbury Park is only 80 miles, and we didn’t plan on any additional driving, so we didn’t.
Kyte’s website makes it clear that the booking needs to be in the name of the person who’ll be receiving the vehicle and the keys. Since baby, my husband, and I would be in flight when we wanted to have the car delivered, it needed to be in my sister’s name. Easy breezy. We FaceTimed as she followed all the necessary steps to establish herself as the primary on the rental, entered my credit card info (I’d agreed to pay for the rental, and this didn’t present any problems), and picked a 30-minute delivery window.
As soon as we booked, we had the option to add drivers via a link that collected the necessary information and took a photo of my driver’s license followed by (hilariously unflattering) “selfies” that were used for ID verification. A few minutes later, I got a text that I’d been approved.
Pro Tip: You’ll have no control over Kyte’s ID verification selfie cam. Prepare to be amused and/or horrified by the pictures it takes in quick succession to compare against your driver’s license.
As promised, on the day our rental started, my sister got a text notifying her when the Kyte “Surfer” (delivery and pick-up driver) was on the way and again when he’d arrived. She popped outside of her building, he verified her ID, they snapped a happy photo, and the keys and a beautiful, perfectly clean, fully-equipped, like-new GMC SUV were all hers. She took her time installing baby’s car seat and picked us up from the airport a few hours later. No shuttles, no standing around, no paperwork required.
Pro Tip: Unlike some other rental car companies, Kyte does not offer car seats, but you can install your own. If you’re considering a Kyte rental, you’ll want to travel with one or consider having one shipped to a travel companion or initial destination ahead of time. This was a godsend for us that alleviated a lot of stress.
Since I was approved as an additional driver, I had the pleasure of cruising out to the shore after picking up a Target curbside order. Baby fell asleep in her familiar car seat and my sister, my husband, and I found ourselves chatting and listening to music comfortably even as the SUV we didn’t think we could afford was packed to the gills with luggage, coolers, groceries, a beach tent, and even the portable high chair that wound up keeping us sane during beach house meal times.
Parking Our Kyte Rental Car
When we got to Asbury Park, we lucked out with a free parking spot right in front of our vacation rental. We unloaded our Kyte and forgot about it as we soaked up the sun, played in the waves, went to beach yoga, and strolled the boardwalk. The perfect car rental, am I right?
Note that my sister did pay for parking in a private lot while she had the car in Center City, Philadelphia.
No Need To Refuel — Let Your ‘Surfer’ Do It For You
When it was time to go home, we packed the vehicle and drove from the shore to the airport. My sister dropped us off and drove herself home. A few hours later, during the window she’d scheduled, a Surfer texted to say he was outside my sister’s building to pick up the vehicle, and she handed over the keys.
Given Kyte’s local market rate refueling option, we decided not to stop for gas as we still had over half a tank. Passively agreeing to let our Surfer refuel for us (which involved our card on file being charged market rate, but no penalty, additional fee, or service charge whatsoever) made our trip that much more relaxed.
‘Nobody Ever Says Nice Things About Rental Car Companies’ (Until Now)
When I got back to work, I found myself gushing about our Kyte rental experience. “Nobody ever says nice things about rental car companies!” my boss chuckled.
The Kyte rental really did make our beach vacation, so I can’t help but think it might be the end of the stressing-about-renting-a-car era — and encourage you to try a Kyte rental, too.
Who Is Kyte Good For?
Obviously, if you’re comfortable road tripping in your own vehicle or will be traveling with someone whose car can accommodate everyone comfortably, renting a car isn’t an issue. But if you’re planning a trip during which you’re going to need a vehicle and want a deal, and a more streamlined, innovative rental experience, Kyte is for you.
It’s also a great option for folks who want to get away from home without putting miles on their own vehicles (or who need something larger or more reliable) and those who can ride share during part of their vacation but then want to hit the road (say you’re beginning your vacation in San Fransisco, then want to head to Napa Valley).
Kyte currently operates in the following cities:
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
- Washington D.C.
- New York City
- Jersey City
Note that you can enjoy a Kyte rental even if you’re flying in and need a rental immediately, but you might have to take a Kyte-covered ride share off airport property before being handed the keys.