How to Drive a Car for Free Across North America

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Traveler's Toolbox  

Candice and Cailin (1)

By Candice Walsh

Want to know how to drive a car for free across North America? Even trying to avoid paying for gas?

The Canadian website HitTheRoad.ca is most likely exactly what you’re looking for.

HitTheRoad.ca is a vehicle delivery service that connects drivers who need to get somewhere with vehicles that need to be delivered. If you’re moving across the country and aren’t keen on driving, HitTheRoad.ca will  find someone that will safely deliver your vehicle. Do you have a clean driving record and need to get somewhere cheaply?  HitTheRoad.ca will pair you with a vehicle to deliver and even throw in gas money. Easy-peasy.

I’ve personally used HitTheRoad.ca twice. The first time was in 2011 when fellow blogger Cailin O’Neil and I drove from Ontario to Vancouver on a cross-Canada road trip. The second was earlier this year when I drove from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Toronto, Ontario. Both trips went off without incident — except, that is, for lots of adventures, laughs, and great memories.

Here’s how it works.

For The Owner

The main benefit of hiring HitTheRoad.ca to deliver your vehicle is cost: it’s much cheaper to have a car driven to a destination than it is to have on shipped. Delivery can also be customized to fit your schedule, and your car will arrive at your front door.  If you’re moving, you can also stow some of your belongings in the trunk.

HitTheRoad.ca is also recognized by U.S. customs, so there are no problems driving one of their cars across the border.

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On the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, we stopped a few hours to hike the Skyline Loop.

For The Driver

The perks for the driver are pretty amazing: essentially you get a free road trip (you’ll have to pay for expenses other than driving, of course), and as long as you’re flexible and have a good driving record, you’ll make the perfect candidate. Basically, you’re hired by HitTheRoad.ca to deliver the vehicle safe and sound to its owner. You’re given a stipend to cover gas, which will usually cover your journey as long as you don’t stray too far off course. Hold onto all your receipts, and then you’ll get reimbursed when you’ve completed the gig. You pay nothing to actually drive the vehicle.

The exact amount you’ll be reimbursed varies. According to the HitTheRoad.ca website, “We usually pay ‘more than’ the cost of gas for trips between Canada and the USA. We usually pay ‘less than’ the cost of gas for trips across Canada. We offer a flat fee for each trip on a case-by-case basis. Drivers are informed of the exact amount provided for each trip.”

Although you will have to commit to a schedule, you’ll still have a fair bit of flexibility in your travel. On my last trip, my friends and I took a little detour to Gros Morne National Park. It wasn’t directly on our route, but we wanted to spend a day camping out and seeing the famous Tablelands. If you budget your time reasonably, you can travel at a somewhat relaxed pace instead of pushing yourself on full days of travel.

Long hours cooped up in a car make for some interesting road trip games, by the way.

Note: You have to watch your mileage. While in Montreal, we wanted to head into interior Quebec for an overnight getaway in Saguenay. In order to do so without using up all the budgeted miles, my friends and had to book a rental car for the side-trip.

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My road trip friends and I with our sweet ride in Gros Morne National Park.

Safety Concerns

On my most recent trip, the owner of the car that my friends and I were driving was concerned about the strangers that were driving her car.Who wouldn’t be? She was trusting one of her most valuable assets to people she’d never met .

To alleviate these concerns every driver is required to pay a deposit of $500CAD, which is returned when the car is delivered unharmed. HitTheRoad.ca also gives the driver a maximum mileage amount so that they don’t put the car through unnecessary wear-and-tear. If the driver doesn’t adhere to the guidelines, the owner can deduct 25 cents per kilometer from the deposit. Drivers are also asked to provide one professional reference, preferably from a former employer.

Drivers are also required to provide HitTheRoad.ca with their driving record and a photocopy of their driver’s license. HitTheRoad.ca handles all customs documentation and paperwork for border crossing.

Having a car break down mid-trip is extremely rare, as each vehicle is assessed to ensure that it’s mechanically sound. However, just in case, drivers are pre-authorized to spend up to $175 on car maintenance. On both of my trips, we never had a single problem with our vehicles. The only trouble we had was when Cailin and I almost ran out of gas in Northern Ontario! Stay fuelled up.

The car is insured, but drivers are urged to purchase travel insurance. If you’re in a collision you’re insured, but your deposit will be used to pay the insurance deductible, as it would with a rental car.

Should You?

Absolutely. Some of my best travel experiences have been on road trips: eating Finnish pancakes in Thunder Bay, Ontario (of all places); my mind being blown while driving through the Canadian Rockies for the first time; bonding over “Have you ever?” car games with three bloggers; rediscovering old 90s music while exploring Northern Ontario.

It’s easy, cheap, and tons of fun. Shouldn’t all road trips be like that?

Comments:

  • Thank you for posting such an informative article about HitTheRoad.ca!
    I could not have said it better myself.
    Greatly appreciated 🙂

    David
    HitTheRoad.ca

  • Great article and insightful. The owner of Hittheroad.ca is helpful and knows the routes well, having travelled most of them himself. I think Jim’s comment suggests he would rather pay for a flight rather than driving 1 way and flying back the other. Who wants to do the prairies across Canada twice if you have limited vacation time like most of us.

  • Hi Matt,
    I would take this ‘great deal’ with a grain of salt. I know Candice, Cailin and a few other writers and bloggers have been lucky with their experience, but that is far from my experience.
    To Mike, Jim (and Matt), a thorough review of Hit the Road is available on my site, with a lengthy list of complaints from many drivers. My personal experience was done without HTR being fully aware of my site and before they set up their “working with bloggers” page.
    I’d encourage anyone thinking of being a HTR driver to give it a read first. While this article by Candice is great, it only briefly touches on some of the risks a driver takes, I think there are other less risky and less restrictive options out there for road trip drivers and travellers.

    http://redhunttravel.com/2012/02/travel-articles/road-trips/warning-about-hittheroad-ca/

    Cheers.

  • Wow, it sounds like you had a very different experience with HittheRoad.ca than others did. As with all small businesses, I’m sure that customer experiences can vary greatly. I do hope that your experience wasn’t representative of the majority, because this sounds like a really good opportunity for people traveling on a budget.

  • Thanks for sharing information about this option for cheap travel. it is certainly worth a look to see if an option meshes with your itinerary! As well as checking out cheap motorhome and hire car relocations!

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