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I am arriving at and departing from YVR, and am spending 3 days (2 nights) for each city besides YVR.

For the entitled road trip, it appears easiest to rent the car at YVR, then ferry it across Vancouver Island, and return it at YVR; but I need not a car for Victoria (I have car sharing and wish to avoid the hotel parking fee of $25 nightly), are there any other options at least as cheap?

I know about rental agencies' Drop Fees (for returning elsewhere). So what if I rented two separate times? To avoid ferrying the car, I would:
1) pick up in Victoria and then return in Nanaimo or Victoria.
2) Then, for driving to Whistler, pick up and return somewhere on the Mainland (please suggest where I should do this).

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My first thought is to question whether you need a car for Whistler. Whistler is pretty self-contained and well served by public transport from Vancouver. You also don't say how long you are staying in Vancouver, or if you are just passing through the airport.

Second, let me comment on Victoria: Hotels a little out of town are not going to charge you for parking. Those in the centre probably will. Be aware that public transport from Victoria ferry to downtown Victoria is not cheap - depending on the car you want and the number of people, and how long you are staying in Victoria you might save money with a car.

I actually did your itinerary last year, without Whistler, and we opted for a one-way rental from Victoria to Nanaimo. We flew into Victoria and took the ferry out to Vancouver. It ended up being pretty reasonable, and easy enough to organize. (Though none of the car rentals are right by the ferry, so you will need a taxi - add enough time for this).

If you wanted to save the one-way rental I would pick the car up and drop off in Nanaimo (obviously taking the ferry to Nanaimo both ways). Victoria is only a couple of hours by highway, and you would avoid the drive from downtown Victoria to the ferry.

I would price out both the following options and see which works best for you:

  1. One way rental from Victoria to Nanaimo, adding in the cost of public transport from the ferry to Victoria.
  2. Rental for the whole period starting and ending in Nanaimo, and including parking if your hotel doesn't provide it free.

What car you want and if you need insurance might make the difference in which is cheaper.

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From experience, you are probably batter off just keeping the car and parking it somewhere other than the hotel. One-way rentals most often have higher rates.

Here is the web site for Victoria parking: Victoria Parking

The way I read the rates, you can park for $12/day.

Victoria looks beautiful, it's on my 2yr short list.

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