Zip zip

Zipcars are fantastic! We’ve used a couple of cars since we’ve been here. They’re a bit like self-service rental cars – you become an accepted member, get a card and away you go!

We organised membership before we got here, it’s all online. We had to source and provide a copy of The Mister’s driving record as well! The only glitch in the process was that we couldn’t make a reservation for a car for the day we arrived without validating our membership, done by entering a number off our membership card. Being mailed to our new address. Hmm. So we had to cross fingers the card was in the mail box when we got there and cross other fingers that cars were available to use that Saturday.

Got off the plane the Saturday we arrived and cleared the mail box as soon as we got the apartment keys – bingo! The Zipcard was there. With a number on it. The Mister rustled up some pre-paid internet on his iPad and we went to the Zipcar website, entered the number and we were ready to make a reservation.

The Zipcar website is great – plug in where you live and the time you want a car and it lists all the cars that are in the neighbourhood and whether or not they’re available. We had no idea that in parking lots, basements of office buildings and apartment buildings there were so many cars! We thought they just lived in special Zipcar parking lots at a couple of locations dotted around city. Turns out there were a couple in the basement of an office block about 5 minutes walk away that had no bookings after the time we wanted it so we decided to book one of those.


If you wanted a specific type of car, 4-wheel drive, wagon, pick-up truck, unmarked car etc you might have to travel further, but so far there have always been small cars big enough to carry groceries or an ironing board close by.

Upon reservation success an email arrives with the name of the car and really specific directions on how to find it – which door of a car parking building to go into, whether or not you need to speak to a security guard, which street to exit on or return to and if you need to use a swipe card to exit the building it’s tucked into the visor. The car’s also equipped with an electronic fast pass unit so that you don’t have to pay bridge tolls. The names of our cars have been Mozart, Anthill and Mandy – 2 Mazda’s and an Audi A3. The cars have all been really clean when we’ve picked them up and full of petrol. You need to leave the car with at least three quarters of a tank of petrol.

The car is opened using the Zipcard, it’s electronic, so they don’t need people there to meet you or other drivers to hand over keys. There are huge fines if you deliver the car back to it’s spot late. You wave your Zipcard over a little thing that looks like a solar reader in the windscreen.


They keys are bolted into the car on a bungy cord and never leave the car.


The use of the car is charged onto your credit card and if you’re out on the road you can log into the site and see your reservation and if no-one else has it booked after you, you can extend out the time if needed – came in very handy when we were out at Ikea and the supermarket yesterday – got stuck in rather a lot of traffic!

17 lanes of traffic

Now we’ve used the cars a few times we see them all over the place in street lots with other cars as we’re walking around the place.

Zipcar parks

A fantastic idea. A little on the expensive side but fantastically convenient and an incredibly smooth operation.


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