Whether you're planning a weekend excursion or a cross-country trek, sometimes it makes more sense to rent a car for a road trip than it does to drive your own. But how can you tell when renting a car is the right decision? By considering your answers to these four questions, you can hit the road in the right ride for your journey.

1) Will a short-term car rental better meet the needs of your party? If you own a small car but are traveling with friends and family, a larger car will help everyone (and their gear) travel more comfortably. Conversely, if you own a large vehicle and are traveling alone, a short term-car rental can help you save money on gas, and save on wear and tear.

2) Will you save gas? Regardless of the size of vehicle you have – or what size of vehicle you need – if the rental car is more fuel-efficient than your own car, it might make sense to rent. In most cases, a large payoff won't come for several hundred miles, so crunch the numbers and make an informed decision.

3) Will you save on maintenance costs? If you're planning a road trip, choosing a long-distance car rental may help you save big on maintenance costs. After all, if you're traveling 3,000 to 5,000 miles you'll need an oil change before, during or after your trip, and you may need to have another type of scheduled maintenance performed, as well. By choosing to rent a car for your road trip, you might be able to drive your car for several more months before investing in the services – rather than having them done now.

4) Are you considering buying a new car? If so getting that same make and model as a short-term car rental can help you decide whether it's the right choice for your family – and your wallet. By taking the car on a road trip, you can experience first-hand how it feels to drive for extended periods of time, how it handles a variety of weather conditions – and decide which extra features you need, and which you don't.