Hyundai Elantra, my latest Hertz Rental Car – HaliPawz

As my summer with mom draws to a close, it was time for me to head back to Kansas City, Missouri from Port Huron, Michigan. I rented a car from Hertz like I normally do. I wasn’t as happy this time about the rental price, but that is another story. I had picked the group “Toyota Corolla or similar” and ended up with a 2015 Hyundai Elantra.  I have some question about the Elantra and the Corolla being in the same class, but Hertz, like any rental car, is never specific enough to give you an true answer and it wasn’t so far off that I feel like complaining again to them.

Rental Car 2015 Hyundai Elantra

Rental Car 2015 Hyundai Elantra

Let’s talk about this car for a minute. The first thing I want to acknowledge is that it is a nice looking car. I’m really more of an SUV/truck person in general, but I do appreciate a decent looking car at a good value. The car has a nice sleek look to it. When I got in to drive away, I was impressed with the amount of legroom when you put the seat all the way back. I’m 5 foot 10, so plenty of legroom, especially for a long drive, is very important.  I still don’t like how low it is to the ground, like I mentioned in a previous rental review, but again, I’m used to being higher up in my mini suv.

Headed to my moms to pick up my luggage I didn’t have a real chance to check the vehicle out, as it is a straight shot on a normal road. The brakes were crazy intense though! I barely tapped them and the car jolted to a stop!

When I start loading the luggage, I was impressed with the amount of trunk space there was. I am not the neatest packer, especially on car road trips. As long as everything can shove in the trunk I am happy! Because of this, I appreciate ample trunk space. I fit my suitcase, a duffle bag, a baby gate (for the dogs), a 30 pound bag of dog food, two tie outs, the dog’s travel bag, my laptop bag, a pair of shoes, some miscellaneous small bags,  and a big Sam’s Club thermal tote with some food in it.

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Hyundai Elantra Trunk filled with stuff

Since it’s a rental, I covered all of the seats in sheets and blankets.  Filled the dogs water cooler and put it in the back, on the floor.  Loaded the dogs up and we were on our way.

Bella asleep in the backseat of the Hyundai Elantra Rental Car

Bella asleep in the backseat of the Hyundai Elantra Rental Car

The backseat must not be too bad, because Bella was not as restless as she was on the trip six weeks ago in the rental car. She only wanted her head out the window for about two minutes and then settled in on the seat and fell asleep. Zipper crashed in his normal place on the floor of the backseat.

When I first hit the expressway, I was a little concerned as the car seemed to want to sway back-and-forth quite a bit. There wasn’t a lot of wind, so I wasn’t really sure what caused it. All I knew was it was going to be a long drive if it continued. After a while, I began to think maybe it was me, because it seemed to get better as we drove along. There is an interesting feature I found on the car, you can choose what mode you want to drive it. The options are normal, Sport, and Comfort. I’m not going to lie, I played with it a few different times on the road, and I honestly couldn’t see that much of a difference. The steering wheel might be a little tighter in sport mode but it was very minimal.

I have to drive from Port Huron, Michigan to Kansas City, Missouri pretty down pat. I usually know where I’m going to have to stop, I know when I’m a third of the way, I know when I’m half way, especially when I’m doing the drive overnight. As I was crossing Michigan, I was on the phone and realized that I had already been on the road about four hours and the gas tank was still at half a tank. I couldn’t believe it!  I made it all the way from My mom’s house, to Kanake, Illinois before I had to stop!  It wasn’t because I needed gas, it’s because my bladder gave out before the gas did. It only took 10 gallons to fill it back up and we were back on the road. I noticed I still had 447 miles to go until I reached my home, and the car was saying I had 417 miles to empty. Had I waited another half an hour, I would’ve only needed to fill the vehicle up once for a 12 hour drive! That is pretty impressive. In looking at the gauges I averaged about 36.8 to 38.4 miles per gallon.  Not too bad.

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Hyundai Elantra Gauge showing 36.8 mpg

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Notice the angle of the edges on the driver’s seat of this Hyundai Elantra

As I have mentioned before, I am not a small woman. The seats were not the most comfortable in my opinion. The edges kind of dug into my outer thighs a little bit so I found myself shifting a lot. Perhaps if I had a vehicle with power seats, it might have been a  little better because I could have raised them up a little, but I doubt it. I found myself sliding down in the seat quite often and then having to shift myself back up. It’s just not comfortable when you’re wearing a pair shorts! Another complaint I had which I have often in cars, is the position of the center armrest and the side armrest; there is no comfortable way for me to rest my arm on it while I’m driving. They were both way too low. I found myself bringing my left leg up and resting my arm on it while I kept my hand on the steering wheel.

For some reason I don’t seem to like the cruise control on this vehicle. I can’t explain it, but I feel like I was constantly tapping my break and shutting it off and then driving with my foot on the gas again. I hit a little bit of rain at one point in the drive, and the vehicle handled it pretty well. I had control of the vehicle at all times.

***A little safety tip… Never ever ever use your cruise control when it is sprinkling, raining, snowing, icy, etc.!  It is not safe.***

Okay, back to the review!

The headlights were weird. I know that sounds strange, but I had difficulty figuring out if my lights were on or not!  I drove at least an hour and a half to two hours with just my parking lights on until it got dark enough for me to realize I didn’t have my actual headlights on. What threw me off was it looked like they came on automatically because the dashboard lit up a little differently when I got dusk but it didn’t look like any lights were on the outside so then I flipped the switch and saw a slight change on my dash and what I thought were lights on the car but then, like I said, it was only my parking lights!  Oops! Oh well I eventually figured it out.

The mirrors on the side are very nice, they are a good size, and the driver side has a little mirror insert in the upper left hand corner so you can see the road from two different perspectives.

The gauge lighting is nice, you have a clear indication of your fuel, you can toggle between your trip Miles, your miles per gallon, how many miles to empty, what your average rate of speed is, and how long you have been on this trip. It was easy to reset each one of them when I  started my trip. As I am a huge fan of the color blue, I was happy to see that most of the lights on the dash were a nice navy blue tone. Accented with white or a lighter shade of blue depending on which one you were looking at.

The steering wheel has a nice assortment of gauges on it including your cruise control your emotions to go between the different styles of driving, your trip information and you can quickly reset it from your steering well. I was surprised to not see any radio controls on the steering wheel, not sure if that is an option that can be added on different models or not.  The one thing I found weird though was that the controls were all on one side, so when you’re driving at night, it just didn’t look symmetrical.  If you have a case of OCD, I’m sure it would annoy you a little!

It has a sunglass holder up near the roof along with nice lights that are easily accessible and easy to turn on for the interior, I know they’re easy to turn on because Bella‘s big head turned them on more than once when she decided to walk around a little bit and try to move to the front seat!  I said try, because she wasn’t successful, but she did hit the light!

You have a 12 V plug along with a USB plug and in auxiliary plug all at your fingertips. The USB plug is a very nice touch. There is a small area to the right of the plug to put a few things. I put my Bolle` sunglass case in it though and it pretty much filled up the area, so it isn’t very big. The center armrest also opens up for additional storage, but I don’t like to put things in there for a rental car because I don’t want to forget them.  There is another 12v plug just off to the right so a passenger could also plug something in.  I forgot to look to see if any were in the back seat or not.

Front Area of Hyundai Elantra Rental Car from Hertz

Front Area of Hyundai Elantra Rental Car from Hertz

All in all, even with being uncomfortable seats, for a rental car on a long trip I would definitely choose it again if given the option because I loved the gas mileage and how little I spent on gas for the trip. I just need to either lose weight, or make sure I’m wearing jeans the next time! LOL

Both Zipper and Bella were able to fit their head out of the same window when we were closer to home!

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Bella and Zipper sticking their head out of the rental car Hyundai Elantra

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Bella and Zipper happy to be home after 15 hours in a car. You can see the water cooler on the floor behind them.

Would I purchase the car?  No, it would be too uncomfortable for me long term, but for one or two people (or skinny people) renting a car, it might be a good choice.

I hope this review helps you! Share your comments and thoughts if you have this car or have driven one?

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How to travel long distances safely with your dogs in the summer – HaliPawz

I travel from Kansas City to Michigan quite often in the summer months with my dogs.  It is a 13+ hour drive.  While I do not mind the drive, my biggest concern is about the health and welfare of my dogs while traveling in high heat.  It is possible to travel long distances safely with your dog in the summer months, but you must be smart about it!

The first thing to do is to make sure your pets are healthy.  You should never travel long distances with a sick pet, especially one where their breathing may be restricted. Make sure they are up to date on all of their shots and licenses.  Check their collars and leashes to make sure they are in good condition.  If you normally walk your dog(s) with a harness, make sure you have them out and ready to go.  Check your dog food amounts.  Do you have enough for the whole time you are going to be gone?  To make things easier for me, if I am going to be gone for a week to ten days, I will just go and pick up a bag the appropriate size for the trip and then pack one serving out of their opened bag into a zip lock baggy.  This way, I don’t have to worry about open bags of dog food in the vehicle.  You should also have one or two emergency leashes, the type that just slips over their head, in case of a collar or leash breaks.  I have an extra one for each dog.

Make sure your dog(s) are used to riding in the car and riding with each other if you have more than one.  Start taking them with you when you are running errands, keeping in mind the temperature out and being careful.

Because I travel often with my pets, I have a bag with toys I only give them when I travel, collapsible dog food dishes, extra emergency leashes.  Be considerate of others if you are planning on staying in a hotel at all.  Pack toys they can play with without making a lot of noise.

On the day of travel, try to keep your stress level low.  Dogs are sensitive to stress and it is important to keep their stress level down. Try not to medicate your dog with any medicine to keep them calm.  I know some people will give their pet Benadryl or something equivalent to relax them.  While I understand you can not have your dog running around when you are driving but you also want them to be able to breath without any issues, so consider a seat belt or a travel crate over medication.  Benadryl can cause rapid heart rate and rapid breathing, which is not good when it’s hot out.

Ugh!  I hate packing!

Ugh! I hate packing!

Have plenty of water.  They may or may not drink a lot when you are in travels, but you want to make sure they have water available at all times.  I like to use a small insulated cooler because it stays stable due to the weight of it and it keeps the water from splashing around.  Both of my dogs can drink easily out of it.  I also like it because it holds enough water so I don’t have to put my dogs through changing water multiple times and I don’t have to use bottled water.

Starting out isn’t bad because you either have the air conditioner on or the windows down, the potential dangers hit when you have to stop.  Think about your stops.  Try to minimize the amount of time you’ll be stopped during the day, when the sun is up.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Here is what I do to keep the dogs safe while I am making the necessary stops.

When stopping at a gas station, look for one with a full canopy over all of the pumps if you can.  It shades the sun from getting into the car.

Roll the windows down as much as you can in the back without it being so much that the dogs can get out.  Do not just “crack” the windows.  Get them down enough so they can get their nose out the window if they need to.

Do not leave their leashes on them when you are out of the vehicle.  If your dogs are anything like mine, they may jump from the back seat to the front seat and back.  If the leash gets hung up on anything, it could be deadly.

I will usually start the gas, then get the dogs out to start stretching their legs.  I let them walk around with me while the gas is pumping.  Be aware of any liquids on the ground though, as it could be poisonous.

Once the gas is done pumping, I’ll go and walk them in the grass, letting them go to the bathroom, and just overall enjoy being out of the vehicle.

I’ll then put them back into the car but I’ll keep it under the canopy with the windows in the back down and the windows in the front down slightly, just not as much.

Then I run in and use the restroom, grab some snacks if I want them, and get back in the car to take off.  It is so easy to lose track of time looking at things so one thing I do is set my alarm on my phone for seven minutes.  By setting the alarm, I’m able to MAKE SURE my dogs are never left in the car and in a dangerous situation.  Even if I haven’t finished purchasing what I’m getting, I’ll set the stuff down, run out, check on them, and then run back in to finish doing what I was doing.  The other reason for seven minutes is so, if I’m the next in line, knowing it will only be one more minute, I’m good.  Ten minutes could easily stretch to fifteen, so I keep it at seven, that way it is never more than ten.

I am diligent about this.  One time, when I was traveling with my mom and my two dogs, we decided to stop at a chocolate store near the Michigan border.  It was over 85% that day.  I was not taking a chance on their health and well being.  Every seven minutes, I ran out, checked on them, made sure they were perfectly fine, and then would reset the alarm and go back in.  We ended up being in there about 25 minutes.  The dogs were perfectly content.  I did pull them out to walk around one more time, just to be on the safe side, but they were pretty content to get back in out of the sun.

One last word of caution, when you are traveling and stopping someplace for them to go to the bathroom, be aware the asphalt they are stepping out on could be very hot.  Again, always think about the situation, think about the potential dangers, and everyone stays healthy and happy.

Watching out the window

Watching out the window

It isn’t always easy to travel with your pets in the heat of the summer, but it is possible.  Remember, they need to be your first concern.  Water, windows down enough for them, not just cracked, and managing your time will keep them safe!

Happy Travels everyone! 

I'm always happy at Grandma's house!

I’m always happy at Grandma’s house!

Traveling with pets? My go to hotel is LaQuinta when available – HaliPawz

I love travelling with my two dogs.  They are part of my everyday life, so it only makes sense I enjoy them when I am on the road as well.  When I moved from Michigan to Missouri eleven years ago, I learned how to travel better with my one dog, Jake, because I was on the road so much for work.  Even traveling home for a visit, I had to plan accordingly because it wasn’t always easy to find a place to stop if I drove.  When I flew, Jake had to be in a travel carrier and travel as cargo.  I hated it.  I was always worried something would happen to him.  It caused me to choose car as a way of traveling instead.  A thirteen hour drive without stopping can make for a long trip, especially when I was traveling after working all day.

Then I discovered the LaQuinta hotel chain!  They quickly became my go to hotel chain of choice.

Let’s discuss the reasons why:

LaQuinta currently operates over 830 locations throughout the US, Mexico, and Canada.  I know they have grown quite a bit over the last few years, so they are becoming easier and easier to find in a location I am traveling to.  Of course, I have emailed them more than once to open one up in my home town of Port Huron, Michigan so I can stay there when I go home to visit family.  Maybe one day!  They may not always be in the prime spot in the city, so if you are hoping for an ocean view room, or a location right in the heart of the city you are traveling to, then you may want to consider a different hotel, but they are usually within a close proximity of where I want to be.

LaQuinta is affordable!  Yes, cost is a huge factor for me when I travel.  I try to find the best priced location when I travel and I have found LaQuinta to participate in many of the travel discounts available.  This is an important side note, LOOK FOR DISCOUNTS!!!!  You should NEVER pay full price for any hotel.  Don’t always assume the discount option you chose the last time is the cheapest option this time.  I will write another blog about traveling on a budget later.

The rooms are nice.  Now, I do want to put in a disclaimer.  If I am not familiar with the location, I will call them to find out if they are a corporate location or a franchise.  If they are a corporate location, I will book with them in a heartbeat.  If they are a franchise location, I will first look to see if there is another location within the same proximity.  If there isn’t, I will go and look for reviews, study the pictures, and I will have to consider if I still want to book at the location.  Not every franchise location is bad, but there has consistently been a difference in the quality of the rooms between the franchise locations and the corporate locations.  The corporate locations have been redesigned.  The rooms are nice, the colors are cheery, the staff always seem to be friendly.

Speaking of staff, the staff is another reason I like to choose the LaQuinta hotels when I travel with my dogs.  With the exception of one location in Georgie, I NEVER feel like traveling with my dogs is a pain to them.  I never feel like I have to hide the fact my dogs are with me.  The staff seem genuinely happy to see them.  They greet them.  They smile when they see them.

All of their locations, with three exceptions, are dog friendly in the US.  I have never travelled outside of the US with my pets, so I can not speak for their Mexico and Canada locations.  I was told the reason the three do not is because of where they are built, there is no grass for the dogs to be taken outside, so they cannot be welcoming of pets.

They have a great rewards program.  If you do any traveling, always look into the hotels rewards program, but I can attest to LaQuinta’s being great.  It is so easy to earn free nights or turning the points into gift cards, airline miles, charitable donations, magazines, or even luxury resort partnerships.  I use mine for free nights except one time I turned it in for a gift card.  Redeeming for a free night is extremely easy.  You can do it on their website or by making a phone call.  I have never had a problem redeeming points, even at midnight ten minutes before I arrived at the hotel because I was driving overnight and got tired.

Their rewards program is on a tiered system, where the more you stay, the quicker it is for you to earn points towards a free night.  I have been at the Platinum level every year except this year.  I am not traveling as much so I am not staying in any hotel as much as I used to.  Another nice thing about their rewards program is you usually receive a follow up survey about your stay.  While you do not earn any points for filling it out, I can speak from personal experience someone DOES indeed read them and follow up.  On the rare occasion I have had a bad experience, I receive follow up rather quickly and even received a partial refund on my stay because of the situation. I can probably count on one hand how many times I have had a bad experience, so when it does happen, it doesn’t deter me from the brand, just that location.

One of the best reasons for choosing LaQuinta when traveling with pets is because they do not have a breed restriction, a size restriction, or a number’s restriction.  They are just as happy to see my 100lb Neapolitan Mastiff Bella as they are to see my lovable, Jack Russell Terrier Zipper.  Of course, Zipper wins them over because he constantly tries to jump up on the counter (a bad habit he was taught at a LaQuinta we frequented often shortly after I adopted him).  There are a few locations that ask you to fill out a pet release where you include your cell phone number.  There are some that state the animal can not be left in the room unattended.  I find these are usually at the franchise locations.  I have never had a problem at a corporate location.

Most of the corporate locations have designated areas to walk your dog, including pick up bags.  The property is usually well maintained, so you don’t have to worry about stepping in messes left from lazy dog owners.  The dogs are not allowed in the breakfast area, for obvious reasons.  They do not want dogs in the area where food is served.  They are usually welcomed in the lobby area provided they are behaving and leashed.  Again, the only exception I have ever had is the location in Georgia where I was clearly informed they were not allowed in the lobby and I had to remove them.  It stunk because I was with a large group, my entire family was staying there, so I would have preferred to have my dog with me instead of locked up in the room, but I respected their wishes.

Speaking of breakfast areas, they have a decent continental breakfast.  There are always waffles, one of their signature items, but then, depending on the location, they may have biscuits and gravy or hard boiled eggs, in addition to the traditional continental breakfast items.

So, the next time you are getting ready to plan a trip and your fur babies are going with you, consider staying at a LaQuinta if one is available in you area of travel.  You can visit their site, which is easy to navigate, at  It is important to remember, as pet owners, you are responsible for your pet.  If they have an accident on the floor, CLEAN it up.  If they are chewers on doors, don’t leave them unattended.  Even if your dog is well behaved off leash, when you are staying at a hotel, USE A LEASH!  Not only is it probably a requirement where you are, but you also don’t know what other dogs are going to be traveling.  Just because a dog travels, doesn’t mean they are dog friendly.  My Jack Russell is not dog friendly.  More than once, I have had to tell a dog owner to recall their dog because it comes running up to mine off leash.  I am always quick to say he isn’t dog friendly from a distance but too many owners say, “Oh, my dog gets along with everyone.”  Those are the owners who ruin it for everyone else.

I want to note I wrote this blog completely to help other owners.  LaQuinta was not aware of this blog at all.  I do want to say a special thank you to one LaQuinta.  I never formally thanked the La Quinta Inn Little Rock at Rodney Parham Rd  1010 Breckenridge Dr., Little Rock, AR for their amazing support towards me and my late Rat Terrier Jake.  Jake was suffering with cancer and our last trip was to Little Rock.  We had been there many times, so the staff knew him and me very well.  I am sure the same staff is not there as this was back in 2008, but his last couple of days here, he lost control of his bowels.  He stopped eating.  He, sadly, had a horrible accident in the hotel room.  I knew the end was near.  I took him to a veterinary down there and they were able to get him rehydrated and we took the chance of getting him home to Kansas City, to his cancer specialist.  When I told the staff about the accident and offered to pay extra for cleaning, not only did they tell me to not worry about it, but they were genuinely concerned about him and me.  When I notified them of his passing, many of them I had encountered throughout my stays signed a card and mailed it to me.  I have never forgotten how wonderful they were.  I had ever made a collage for them to hang up, but circumstances happened and I wasn’t able to return for a couple years.  By then, they had a new manager and it didn’t seem fitting to give them the collage.  Even with new staff, that particular location will always hold a special place in my heart.

Zipper in Little Rock.

Zipper in Little Rock.

I hope this helps the readers the next time they are getting ready to travel with their pet(s).


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The Question is WHY? Baby left in car

I first want to say I am happy the baby is safe and sound. I never wish harm on any child, or adult for that matter. Unless of course, the adult has done harm to others!

My question is why….

Why was the child left alone in the car in the first place? Almost every gas station has “pay at the pump” so PAY AT THE PUMP! If you do not want to be bothered by getting your child out of the car and then back in, DO NOT LEAVE THE AREA! It’s as simple as that. Yes, it is sad that the day of walking away for a few minutes and everything being ok is gone. People have to start taking responsibility for their own actions! Don’t leave your child in a car and then wonder why something happened to your child. It’s not rocket science people!

My question is WHY…..

The other part of my question….IF you MUST leave your child in the car while you ran in to pay, WHY did you leave the vehicle in a position to be taken? Did you lock your doors? Did you take your keys? Did you leave the windows down all the way?

It would seem to me that; IF you rolled the windows down (ventilation), but locked the doors, and took the key, there would not have been time for a car jacking. They would have tried the door, locked…dang it, move on to the next vehicle. If they had enough time to pop the lock AND Hotwire the car, HOW LONG was the parent inside “paying” for gas??? This is summer!!! You shouldn’t have been away from your child that long! I don’t think anyone of legal driving age has the excuse “I didn’t know what could happen” when they leave a child or an animal in a hot car. Ignorance is NOT bliss!

My dogs love to travel in the car with me. The minute it starts hitting 70+ degrees out, I think before they go with me. Will I have to stop and get out and leave them? What is the high temp for the day? I know dogs are not children but I’m going somewhere with this. I THINK about the steps BEFORE I leave the house.

I travel with my dogs, sometimes even in the summer. That takes even more preparation. Here are my steps when I stop to get gas and / or use the restroom when I’m traveling with them.
1. Leave the windows down while I’m pumping gas. Talk to them. Make sure their heads can get out the window but not their bodies. Not always an easy task when one is 100+ pounds and the other is 18 pounds but I’m checking it and gauging the windows at that time. All windows EXCEPT the driver’s side window is down pretty far.
2. They have a water source. It used to be a big bowl, but the mastiff would tip it over. Now they have a double-sided cooler I had in my basement that I never used. It’s high enough to hold water and heavy enough to keep from tipping.
3. I lock the doors and take the key.
4. I set my timer on my phone for 5 minutes. If my timer goes off and I am not walking out the door yet, I put stuff down (if buying snacks, etc), go out, check on them, go back in and finish the transaction. I make sure to set my timer again as I go back in.

Does all that seem extreme, probably to some but I don’t care. I am the one responsible for their health and well-being, just as a parent is responsible for their child’s health and well-being. All these steps may sound like a lot, but in reality, they take 20-30 extra seconds (other than having to run back out after five minutes). If these same steps were being followed by parents that don’t want to take their child in to the gas station or corner store then we would have less incidents where a child dies or is taken in situations like this article. Proper planning and forethought is all it takes. Of course, I don’t recommend letting your child stick his head out the window! 🙂

Parenting, be it to two-legged babies or four-legged babies, isn’t easy. We make decisions for them all the time that we then look back on and say…. WHY did we do that? We can’t plan for everything ahead of time, but just stopping and thinking about all possible scenarios for a few seconds and then acting on it would probably stop a lot of the stupidity!

Have a great day all!