Driving Europe Crazy: 2006
How do you find the cheapest rental rates? What hidden charges can you avoid? What are your tips for dealing with unfamiliar signs, European driving etiquette, and driving on the other side of the road? Is it worthwhile to buy a new or used car in Europe?
Read the latest car rental advice from Rick.
SIXT Group Europe
try to use SIXT car hire, they offer the best value with easy no frills booking.
zurich, M Switzerland Sat 12/30/2006
Car vs Train
I've done both and I much prefer the train. Yes, some train routes take you through some ugly backyards. I can also remember driving to Venice in bumper to bumper traffic with nose-to-nose tractor trailor trucks on both sides of me. Now there's a beautiful piece of scenery!
USA Fri 12/29/2006
COMPARING DRIVING TO TRAIN TRAVEL
If you decide to rent a car for travel you will be glad a year from now. You will have forgotten the additional cost and the other negative influences on your trip.
I have always rented a car and although I estimate the cost before I go, I forget about it and enjoy the convenience. And a year later when I read my journal and relive the experience I am glad I didn't let the cost discourage me.
The last time I rode the train was from Cinque Terre to Milano to take a car. I wondered why I subjected myself to the monotonous miles of unappealing views of backyards and empty warehouses along the RR tracks.
Often train schedules are inconvenient and may not go to the towns you want to see. Throwing luggage onto and off trains is a real drag for me. Many times the floor level of the RR car and the platform are 12 to 18 inches variation.
I was doubtful when I first took my car , but after a week of driving those narrow roads I looked back on the pleasant views we saw–which we would never have seen out a train window.
Being able to say stop, I want to see this sight or eat here or visit the restroom is worth the inconvenience of sometime finding a place to park.
I found driving on the wrong side in Enagland disconcerting for the first two or three days only. After that I rolled with the punches. If you take care and stay alert and watch the other drivers, anyone can do it safely.
A lot will depend on your attitude. Approach it as adventure. After you achieve your goal you will be happy. Don't let the missed turns or confusion at roundabouts discourage you. All of us go through that and after 55 countries and a few thousand miles I can say I have not regretted renting a car anywhere in the world.
I find the best advice is to buy a good highway map once you get to Ireland (not here). Those maps are more accurate and up to date.
I always leave nothing of value in my car when I spend the night. I also spread a local newspaper around the car to make it appear to be a non-tourist vehicle.
USA Thu 12/28/2006
Renting Cars Germany
My family and I went to Germany and France this last summer from the end of April to the middle of May. We rented a car from Sixt and my uncle from a different company. Our Sixt car was a VW Passat wagon Diesel Manuel. It rocked! IT was comfortable, fast, and the fuel cost less and went for longer than my uncle's little economy car. We also paid less and got a way better car for the same amount of time! We used a Platinum credit card for the insurance and decided not to do the extras for the car. On the day before we turned it back in at Frankfurt Airport a young student backed into our great car! We were worried but had a police officer fill out our forms (I took picture with my camera) and turned the care in the next day. We haven't paid a cent extra for that car then what we had agreed to when we picked it up.
Also get a GPS it will save time and keep the stress low getting around Europe.
UT USA Thu 12/28/2006
Driving in Germany
Not only do people drive very fast in Germany, they know how to drive well. The roads tend to be very good and are well-maintained (for the most part).
Pay attentione to what you are doing, concentrate on driving, don't use your mobile phone if you're the driver, stay in the right-hand lane unless passing, keep the car fueled up (you can get ticketed if you run out of gas on the autobahn), and be prepared to stop if waved over by a German police officer - they do routine checks and will just pick cars at random as they drive by, waving them down with a wand of some sort.
Also note that there are many cameras that will take your photo if you speed or run a red light, then the photo is sent to the car rental company and you'll get the pricey ticket charged to the credit card you used to rent the car - you won't get away with it just because you don't get pulled over!
Parking is expensive in cities and the rates can vary by zones. Just because you don't see parking meters (how 20th century!) doesn't mean it's free parking. You usually have to pay for street parking at a central ticket dispenser and then you place the ticket on the dashboard of the car.
If you are a member of AAA in the US, take your card, just in case - you can use it to get discounts and sometimes car help.
For great info on driving in Europe, see Moto Europa: http://www.ideamerge.com/motoeuropa/
For Germany: http://www.ideamerge.com/motoeuropa/guide.html
Good luck and have fun!
Tallahassee, FL USA Mon 12/18/2006
SWISS SPRING SKI TRIP
Claudia: the roads will be passable in the spring. If by chance you find a section which is not you can always take the train for the day and drive the following day.
I have done it many times. You will find sensational views to photograph.
USA Sat 12/16/2006
Spring Ski Trip
Planning on a spring ski bunny trip to St. Moriz. Flying into Zurich and will rent a car to drive. A spring drive in the Alps for photos will be lovely enroute to the ski slopes. Looking for info on road conditions that time of year.
Arizona, USA Sat 12/16/2006
DRIVING THRU THE ALPS MAY '06
I did a ton of homework (including a review of the posts on this website) before renting a car and driving from Strasbourg to Colmar, Bern, and Chamonix and finally dropping the car off in Annecy.
I rented from Auto Europe and had no problems. Customer service was fine, and I purchased adequate insurance before my pick up. I made sure I kept the paperwork in a safeplace.
1. THE CAR: They gave me a Lancia Musa, made by Fiat and frustrating to operate. While it was an "automatic" you still had to use a shift to change gears. The thing kept stalling or refused to start. Driving through unfamiliar cities with construction, detours and heavy traffic (like Bern) can be difficult enough----if you're using a car that doesn't behave, your travel experience can become a nightmare. RECOMMENDATION: If you're waiting for your rental car at the agency and you see them give you a boxy looking car with Lancia on the front, find the nearest train station!
2. CAR RENTAL LOTS: I noticed that many of the rental agencies do not have large parking areas where the rental cars are kept, unlike those in the States. In Annecy, for example, you have to drive around and around the train station until someone leaves and you parallel park on the street. Finding a spot can sometimes take a while. RECOMMENDATION: Allow enough time for the car return process, especially if you are trying to make a train connection.
SCENERY: The route I described above was amazing---5 STARS absolutely incredible. It's not easily done by train, and was a joy when the Lancia was behaving itself.
I've made 4 trips to Europe, and only decided to rent a car on this last visit because some of the areas I wanted to photograph were not accessable by car. But I agree with many of the people who have posted on this site---use public transport when possible. Most of the trains are great and will take you right where you need to go.
Tigard, OR USA Sat 12/16/2006
ADVICE FOR CAR RENTALS
There is lots of advice on this page about renting cars.
Some prefer riding the train and some prefer the convenience of renting a car.
Everyone is different. I prefer having a car when I can afford it. But you have to compute all the costs.
And the only way you can know all the costs is to ask when you rent the car.
Do research on the cost of petrol. Check for toll rates on the highways you will travel.
Check carefully the mileage between cities so you can estimate the cost of petrol.
And remember parking is more costly in cities. I always park outside the city at the end of the metro line and ride the train into town.
USA Mon 12/11/2006
Advice for Car Renters
The best and only foolproof way of renting a car and avoiding the scams is to TAKE THE TRAIN!
Otherwise, 1) scan your rental vehicle closely before driving away. Note all scratches and dents to the rental company employees and insist that they are documented on your rental contract before you drive away. 2) Take pictures of rental car before you drive off. Digital pictures are high quality, cheap and effective in resolving issues. 3) ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS get a receipt from a LIVING PERSON when you drop it off stating that there is no damage. Take more pictures at dropoff. Never drop it off at an unattended lot where you cannot get a receipt. 4)Keep all paperwork...every single piece of it in your "trip scrapbook". It can bring back some good memories as well as provide valuable documentation.
I've done both and I really MUCH prefer the train over vehicles...especially Swiss Trains.
USA Sun 12/10/2006
Bauer Car Rental
Has anyone used Bauer Car Rental for rental in Europe? I have looked thru the posts and have found nothing about them. Thanks
Leominster, MA USA Sat 12/09/2006
Beware of Alamo/National car rental Round 2
I was surprised to learn that other forum readers here ended being victims of National Alamo car rental fraudulent damage charge claims just like me. I rented a car from National Car Rental at the airport in Frankfurt Germany. I waived the Collision Damage Waiver CDW on my rental agreement. After returning home I received an invoice for $750.00 in the mail for the "cost of repair" of scratches and paint damages that National claims happened to the car during my rental. I see a pattern here, a highly questionable pattern of shady practices on the part of Alamo National Car rental Germany. Like other victims of this scam, I dispute their charges. My advice? Don't even think about renting from Alamo National anywhere in Europe! It could cost you dearly! The LA Times recently printed an article about these abuses titled "There's a dented fender on my bill! Rent a car in Europe and you may get dinged. But there are ways to protect yourself. July 2, 2006" Just search the web for this article, it is out there, that's where I found it. I recommend it to anyone thinking about renting a car in Europe from Alamo National and get some valuable advice on how to protect yourselves from these fraudulent charges before you go.
Chicago, IL USA Fri 12/08/2006
A second opinion...I recently rented a car from Dooley's and had no problems. The car was right, no damage, super helpful/nice staff, and much less expensive than other rental companies.
Sonoma County, CA USA Wed 12/06/2006
Left or right?
Tony Hoffman writes that "All of Europe except UK drives on the right hand side". This is not quite true as other European Union members such as the Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Malta also drive on the left. The UK is the only country in Europe with speed limits in mph rather than km/h, so be aware when you cross from The Rep. of Ireland into Northern Ireland (UK) or from France to England (UK)!
London, UK Wed 12/06/2006
RENT A WRECK
I have rented from Rent a Wreck in Stockholm in the past. I now see that they have locations only in Norway, Sweden and Denmark in Europe. See www.rent-a-wreck.com/no
They offer older cars, but in good shape.
They are really worth investigating if you want to save money. Be sure you ask for a diesel.
USA Mon 12/04/2006
Driving in Germany, Austria, Switzerland in Winter
I recommend renting from Sixt. All of their cars come with winter equipment during the cold months. And all of their cars from Jetta-size up (Mercedes A-Class or BMW 1series in Germany usually) come with a free GPS-System!
NOTE: Winter tires are the law in Germany starting this winter. If you get caught with a car equipped with summer tires you will be fined! Upon your booking just mention you need winter equipment, such as chains etc. and they'll provide it to you. There is no speed limit on German freeways. Limit in Switzerland and Austria is 120 km/h (75mph). Several mountain roads in Austria and Switzerland are closed during the winter.
Frankfurt/M., Germany Mon 12/04/2006
Dan Dooley Rentals
Beware Dan Dooley rentals.The car we rented was not the one we ordered, the sides were wrecked, and the windshield wiper was quite poor and squeaky--and this was Ireland.
Charlottesville, VA USA Thu 11/23/2006
Winter Driving in Alps
Going to Switzerland and Austria in January. Plan on renting a car and driving the Alps. Looking for a place to contact for adverse weather reports in English. Rental cars should also come with winter driving gear like chains, shovel and a big bag of sand. Cherio!
Brooklyn, NY USA Wed 11/22/2006
Annie: As an American who visits Germany your US driver's licence is valid, with two relevant limitations (as laid down in IntKfzVO article 4):
1) it has to be a "full licence", that is not a "learner's permit" or a similar restricted licence 2) since it is neither issued in German language nor complying with EU standards, it has to be accompanied by a German translation of the licence.
Since most German cops knew enough English to decipher an English language driver's licence it is very likely that you will never need the translation. But if you want to be on the safe side (and/or stay 100% legal) get an "international drivers licence", which is nothing else than a standardized multi-language translation.
Regarding the rules of the road:
the rules of driving in the US and in Germany are very similar (driving on the right side for example ;-)), but not identical.
Especially dangerous are the different rules for the right of way and the different signs.
You should familiarize yourself with the differences before driving, e.g. with these websites:
Germany Fri 11/17/2006
Drivin in Germany (Europe)
All of Europe except UK drives on the right hand side. Most major car companies in the states are represented in Europe. It is recommended that you book your car from the states. I say that only because that's what all the people I know and Hertz say. Although, you can get by with your American drivers license many people recommend you getting an International Lic. Cost is about $15 to $25 depending if you have a passport photo available. You can get them at AAA whether a member or not. Takes about 10 minutes. The car rental place like to see one. You must take your US license along with the Int'l Lic. I strongly recommend getting the additional insurance with the lower deductible. They'll require a credit card even if you prepay. For a few euros more you can put another driver on the rental. That way you can spell each other if you are traveling with a friend. If you are going to be in a large city most of the time or if you are traveling from one large city to another large city I wouldn't rent a car. I'd get a Euro rail pass for traveling between large cities. If you are doing the "country side" then a car would be benefical. Driving is not bad. If your new at it just stay to the right hand side of the road. Driving in the city can be stressful. Find a parking garage and use the tram or buses. Hope this helps.
Tacoma, WA USA Thu 11/16/2006
Annie: As long as you are old enough, all you need is a drivers license and a credit card to rent a car. They wont take cash. They drive on the right side of the road in Germany and very fast.
USA Wed 11/15/2006
I would like to rent a car in Germany. I don't know if an American driver's license is all I need, or what side of the road they drive on.
Hamilton, MT USA Wed 11/15/2006
Dropping a Rental Car in Venice
The last time I dropped off a rental car when I arrived in Venice, I dropped it at the Venice airport and had to face the Venice traffic. Is there a better place to return a rental car? The advantage was low cost because we could then take public transportation into Venice...
CO USA Tue 11/14/2006
First let me recommend a web site to check out www.driveeurope.com. It is a Germany agency that will plan your entire trip (hotels, flights within Europe, car rentals, everything). They have package plans and will also customize and quote you any intinerary your heart desires. Just completed a two week vacation Amsterdam, flight to Prague, flight to Germany, 1 week car rental in Germany (shared cost with two friends with pickup and dropoff at different locations), express train ticket from Frankfurth back to Amsterdam. All hotels were 3star or better, additional travel health insurance, and additional car insurance. Car was a full size Passat turbo diesel (very nice). Always request a diesel and Nav aid if you can (diesel fuel is 33cents per liter cheaper than gasoline, remember gas over there is between 6 and 7 dollars a gallon). My airfare to Europe was seperate. I also paid slightly higher hotel prices because I booked a single. My total cost for the above trip was a little less than $2,000. All the transactions for the tour was done on line with the tour agency. Absolutely no problems the entire trip. You pay 20 percent when you finalize the intinerary, balance prior to 30 days. You receive a tour package two weeks before departure with all vouchers, tickets, etc, etc. plus more maps and brochures than you'd ever need. If you want a specific tour etc. this agency will book it for you (and you then can skip lines and know up front whether something you want to do is available, etc. I can not recommend this web site and agency high enough. It is worth checking out. Be sure and check out ALL the links at the web site. They were EXTREMELY helpful.
Seattle, WA USA Mon 11/13/2006
Driving Europe Crazy
My husband and I have booked a car lease, with guaranteed buy-back, from AutoEurope. We will have a small, economical four-door Peugeot. For nine weeks, including all needed insurance for accidents and breakdowns, and will be paying $1600 total. Now THAT's a deal! Also, we booked our hotels at each site we wished to visit through booking.com. On top of that, viamichelin.com gave us routes from hotel to hotel that used both quickest route, most economical route, or Michelin recommended route. We mostly chose the economical routes, as they would take us through little towns. Viamichelin also gives one the advantage of letting you know approximately how long this trip from location to location will take, AND the gas price and toll fees, if any. A GREAT way to know what to expect!!!
Santa Rosa, CA USA Sat 11/11/2006
When renting cars in Europe make SURE that you are aware of all the extra charges for dropping it off in a different country. You may think you've found a good rental deal...until you find that the additional drop fee is 200 Euro (or more)
USA Thu 11/09/2006
DRIVING IN EUROPE
Aryan; I have done six trips through Europe similar to yours. You started right by looking at a map.
Go to your library and browse for a good travel guide. Then buy it and highlight it for the interesting sights you find in each city. Take it with you.
Determine the mileage between each city and estimate driving time. Then you will know how many days of driving you must set aside.
You can average 60 miles an hour on autobahns, but other roads are much slower.
The rest of your 20 days you can assign among the cities. Plan on more days in the ones you find most interesting.
I doubt you can travel the distance you describe in 20 days and see much in each city. You might want to skip Czech Republic and Austria.
USA Wed 11/08/2006
Driving in Europe
I and a friend wanna do a driving trip in Europe in early march next year. Still at the ideas stage... and this is what we've thought. Start at barcelona... cross over to france... drive through nice, cannes, marseille, monaco... then onto to italy. drive through italy to austria, and then further to the czech republic. we have 20 days to do this. is it enough? can someone advice on what route to take and the places to cover in italy and austria. we're open to all suggestions, and our plan is very flexible. what we've come up with is only by lookin at the map. thanks...
Hong Kong, HK Wed 11/08/2006
Car rental advice
Don't try to rent a car at 1900 on a Sunday evening in Thun, Switzerland! Only thanks to a savvy taxi driver, was I able to rent a car. Arrived by train Sunday evening- the TI desk was closed, train clerks didn't have a clue (nor should they), so I was desperate. A taxi driver thought he knew of a place, only 10 CHF's away. So, off we went- to a Shell gas station! Bottom line: I got a car. Only problem: I still don't know what I paid for a 3-day rental, with dropoff in Basel.
Cedarpines Park, CA USA Mon 11/06/2006
Car rentals in Germany
Driving in Germany: I have lived there and now go there as a tourist every year or so. An International Drivers License is not necessary-the cops know where to look at a US license. To save money on a rental car at the Frankfurt airport (save 19%) rent the car at the town of Kelsterbach approximately 4 km from the airport. You can return it anywhere in Germany without this surcharge. Take the S-Bahn from the airport for 2.30 euros and get off at Kelsterbach. It is only a 5-10 minute walk to the Europcar rental office. A taxi is 25 euros.
TX USA Mon 11/06/2006
GPS/Driving in Germany
As someone who recently moved to Germany for 3 years, I can hit on a couple of the tips I received when I moved here. First, in answer to LT, the Garmin Nuvi 350 is great. I have had one for 6 months now and except for an occasional farm road, it can get me where I want to go. For anyone who is planning on driving in Europe, I recommend buying or renting the GPS with the car, and learning the road signs ahead of time. If you don't buy a GPS, or for pre-planning, I was told mapquest is not as accurate and viamichelin is the way to go. It has served me very well for trip planning, and even gives total costs as well as speed cameras if they are available. Timid drivers are one of the biggest dangers on the roads here, as European drivers are VERY agressive. You don't want to be fiddling with a map, deciphering signs and driving. If you are not prepared to drive crazy with them, then I would recommend taking a train or flights, as you will probably enjoy your vacation more and be less scared. Cheap airlines fly all around Europe and you can get anywhere for 100 Euros. Don't run yellow lights, they will send you a ticket. Speed cameras are also very prevalent here. Some countries require the driver to be visible, some will send you a ticket if they get the license plate. To the best of my knowledge there is no disputing these. Different countries have different rules on what they require in the car (first aid kit/warning triangle/vest) but the car company should have it prepared for you. If you buy a car make sure you know the requirements. First aid kit and warning triangle in the backseat are pretty standard. Being prepared for the chaos on the roads here is the best advice I can give, but once you figure it out (in Paris there are no road markings, if there is room you make your own lane) then it is not so bad to drive here and you can see a lot from a car. By the way, gesperrt in German means the road is closed!
Germany Sat 11/04/2006
Be careful when renting a car with your AMEX card. Even if you have paid fully in advance, car rental insurance is ONLY provided if their credit card is scanned,(for road taxes, full gas tank return), when you pick up the car. They will omit this important fact when you call and ask about car rental coverage. Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way when a British driver ran into my car, and I am stuck paying for repairs that equaled the cost of the entire trip! This is the 3rd time that I have safely driven over 1,000 miles in the UK, but the 1st time that I have rented the car on my credit card. I do find, however, that driving in the UK is fairly easy once you master the roundabouts, their drivers are quite safe, (with the exception of the one that hit me), and it really helps to have a detailed mapbook with you.
Hoover, AL USA Fri 11/03/2006
Michelin Driving Directions
I used the Michelin website to plan each leg of our recent auto trip through France. On the whole the directions were correct and the additional information was helpful. However, everything fell apart on the Cote d'Azur. The complexity of the roads between Nice & Monaco befuddled the Michelin computer and, in one case, it sent us in exacly the opposite direction we should have gone. We discovered, in fact, after we had abandoned using them, that it would have directed us onto pedestrian streets and even passages it described as escaliers (stairways). Once we had a good map from the hotel, we did o.k., but, even with that, it was a challenge.
Arlington, VA USA Fri 11/03/2006
Car rental advice
We just returned from a two week trip to Switzerland, Italy, Austria & Germany and we used a rental car for the entire two weeks. There were 3 of us girls and we unanimously agreed that renting a car was the best way to go. We saw so much more than we would have by rail. We rented a VW Passat diesel small wagon and it was wonderful. The gas mileage was great and it was roomy & comfortable. We rented it at a downtown location rather than the airport and it saved us money. We had no difficulty driving and only one of us droive the entire time. If three girls can do it anyone can
Phoenix, az USA Wed 11/01/2006
Stick Shift in Ireland
It's exactly the same. So first and second are at the left hand side as you sit in the car. Third and fourth are centrally positioned and fifth is on the right hand side. Reverse can be either extreme left of the shift or on the right with fifth gear.
Nottingham], UK Mon 10/30/2006
Stick Shift in Ireland
When you drive in Ireland, is the stick shift configured the same as ours or is it reversed, i.e. a mirror image?
CO USA Sun 10/29/2006
Hey LT from Canada. Get the Magellan 700 or 760 Roadmate. We travel to Europe a couple of times a year and it is a life saver. No stress looking at maps at all. I save all my WW2 sites on it and when friends borrow it they get sent to the exact spot. You will need to buy the Euro maps for around $200 extra. The prices have come down alot since we purchased ours $400-$500 The best travel item you can have. It will save a marriage!
IN USA Thu 10/26/2006
Driving in Gemany
Just got back from a week running around Germany. We ended up renting from Budget, but booked through NWA.com (Northwest Airlines site)which gave lots of options and was by far the cheapest. Everything went without a hitch, but the agent in FRA noted, they are very picky about scratches on the cars on return, so be very careful. We ended up not getting the international license (see my post below) and no one seemed concerned.
Rochester, MN USA Wed 10/25/2006
Driving in Italy
Although driving is a great benefit if your staying near napoli or the Amalfi coast and it sure beats the bus system that doesn't run the schedule if there arent enough people to make the trip worthwhile, I would warn against it. I had heard about scams in Napoli, of people pretending to be hit by your car and falling down than seeking money for the hospital and had planned on flying instead of driving my car from my residence in Albania but the high prices and inconvienence caused me to take the risk. Well what do you think happens when we get to Positano on the Amalfi coast? Someone on a mopad speeds by me and falls next to my car and two people come over and tell me in broken english that I have to take him to the hospital and give him my insurance papers even though he never hit my car. They took our liscence plate number, turned us into the poice and the next day brought us into the police station to have us fill out a report. Now back in Albania, we have the insurance company saying that they want about 8000 euros for the damage to his bike and medical problems. I was warned by almost everyone here who knows the situation there and I didn't listen. Italy is dangerous (and there are many people their that want your money any way they can get it) so drive at your own risk.
Kavaja, ALbani Albania Fri 10/20/2006
Driving in Ireland
Rented from AutoEurope. Was able to get a comfortable Chevy 5 door automatic, with 0 deductable super CDW plan; (the hatchback made the luggage easier to load/unload) for 524 Euros for 11 days. That's about $680 US, or $62.00 a day or $15.50 a person. Haven't gotten my credit card bill yet, so these figures aren't official.
As for driving in Ireland, it was nerve wracking at first...I was responsible for 3 other folks' lives! I was almost as nervous those first 2 or 3 hours, as I was 20 years ago when I did my first solo cross country flight in an airplane, on the way to becoming a private pilot. While the roundabouts are a bit trying at first, it is not too bad a system for a country the size of Ireland. If you are unsure in a roundabout as to which exit to take, you can keep driving around the inner lane to buy a little time to figure out the exit. Many tourists complain about signage and getting lost in Ireland. The BEST advice I can give: You need to have the name of TWO cities in mind. The one you are about to enter, and the very next one on your intended route. You rarly find hiway numbers, only small white signs with a name of a town or city posted on it, (often times you really have to look for them). We found it helpful to have the map reader find the name of that next city, a couple of miles before you enter, because the turnoff could come at any time before, inside, or after the city limits. We could have saved some time being lost, if we would have had that advice before we started driving over there. We put on over 1400 K and I was fairly comfortable driving, days 3-11. My Parents gave me a B Plus grade! I'm totally convinced, that it is a much better option than a tour bus.
WA USA Fri 10/13/2006
WHAT IS THE BEST GPS (NAVI) SYSTEM FOR EUROPE?
I just got back from a driving trip in Europe and find out that having a GPS system is a must while driving in big cities. I was wondering what brand of GPS system is the best for Europe? Is Nuvi 350 by Garmin a good choice?
MONTREAL, CANADA Fri 10/13/2006
Don't rent from Car Rental Express!
We recently rented a car in Rome using the Car Rental Express websight. They got good reviews, so I thought it would be ok. We rented from Car Italy and Tours. We prepaid for the car on-line including the extra insurance. At the counter, I accidently signed a waiver declining the insurance. This would allow them to charge my credit card for any damages they found later, which, not surprisingly, they later did. Being jetlagged, I didn't read what I was signing. I was charged over $300 for damages I didn't incur. Please read the fine print and don't rent from this company. The cheaper alternative, ended up costing us more!
Dayton, OH USA Sat 10/07/2006
Driving Tickets from Germany
We just arrived back from a week long stay in Germany. When I arrived back I received an additional charge on my credit card from our car rental, Hertz. When I inquired about the additional charge, I was told that I had a driving violation (what it was, I dont know) and when the police contact the rental company, they are charged an administration fee, which was $30.00. And of course, Hertz charges that to me. Hertz did tell me the date and time of my violation, but was not able to tell me anything beyond that. I have not received anything in the mail yet, but I would caution those who are driving in Germany to stay alert. It appears they catch you for anything! I'm not even given a chance to debate the violation. I'm positive I would have a good reason! :) But all in all, the driving was virutally painless.
New Berlin, WI USA Wed 10/04/2006
Transportation In Italy
Here's a big hint. If there are 6 or more of you traveling on planes & trains in Italy, you could much more economically hire a Limo service to pick you up and drive you to your destination, whether 10 minutes or 2 hours or more. We were on a trip in Italy with 12 persons and hired Italy Limousine.it-Great prices & service! I highly recommend them.
Costa Mesa, CA USA Mon 10/02/2006
I have been trying for months to get a good rental rate for Portugal ,France and Great Britain. The best value I could get was consolidator Autoeurope. However France is still about $60 a day for an economy car.Hope this helps narrower it down for those still comparing auto rates.
USA Mon 10/02/2006
Large Passenger Car Rental
If you are flying into either Heathrow or Gaatwick Sixt car rental will rent you a Minibus. These normally seat 12 people so it should be quite easy to seat 7 people plus luggage. As for the cost don't expect this to be a low cost option. The rental is high unless you get a very lucky discount. The insurance will be very high because of the number of passengers and you will not be able to use any CDW cover your credit cards may offer. Fuel cost will be very high as these vehicles use a lot of deisel and our fuel prices are higher than yours. To save costs it may be worthwhile phoning round a few companies once you have arrived and seeing who is offering low rates for the period you require. Some factors will put the cost up - mainly insurance factors such as the age of the driver, what ( if any ) experience he/she has of driving large, stick-shift vehicles on UK roads etc. Unless you have a driver who is very used to driving on the left hand side in large stick-shift vehicles and has experience of UK roundabouts and the oddities of UK driving what starts out as a good idea may end up a difficult option.
Nottingham, UK Fri 09/22/2006
Large Passenger car rental
Hello..there are 7 of us going the UK in April of 2007. We need one car/van/truck that will fit all of us and our luggage..does anyone know of any company who does this for a resonable price? We are having a hard time finding anyone.
Denver, co USA Thu 09/21/2006
Tickets in Germany
Cindy-I don't think your info is correct. Twice in one visit my husband was recorded by a camera on the side of a road. Months later he received a notice of speeding from the car rental agency with a charge of 12€ for handling. He did nothing and he heard no more. He has rented vehicles in Germany on three subsequent visits.
USA Wed 09/20/2006
Its up to you, but if you ever plan to travel to germany again, you will likely be arrested at you port of entry, should it be a German airport - all passports are scanned at german airports and all out of state fine defaulters are logged - This isnt scaremongering - but if theres a standard fne, you can choose to defualt at your own risk.If you cross into germany by land, you will be unlikely to be caught.Good luck
OH USA Tue 09/19/2006
DENNIS-----INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS LICENSE
The International DL is primarily to aid police who cannot read English.
My experience in Germany would convince me most police can read English.
I have never needed it in that country and I have driven through Bavaria many times.
The one time police stopped me in Germany the policeman spoke perfect English and merely looked at my drivers license and waved me on.
USA Mon 09/18/2006
CINDY...POSSIBLE TICKET IN GERMANY
I received an additional credit card charge from the company I rented my car from.
It included a citation stating that I had entered a tollway without paying.
There was no photo, but I recalled having trouble reading signs when I entered a tollway for a block in Oslo; so I decided that it was probably correct.
I wouldnt do anything about your notice. If there were a charge, the rental car company is responsible for payment.
If they paid it, they will then charge your credit card. Until you hear further I would not do anything.
USA Mon 09/18/2006
Possible ticket in Germany
I spent part of July and August in Europe. I have recently received two letters from Freiburg, Germany--from the first one I could pick the German word for "police". Could not figure out anything else from it.
Letter two arrives. It has the picture of a license plate, plus the view of the inside of the car--because light is reflecting off the windshield, the driver cannot be seen.
I have no clue when or where this was, but the car is black, the same color as our rental, so I'm assuming we went through a light that was very yellow! Does anyone have a suggestion on what I should do?
Orange County, CA USA Sun 09/17/2006
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unknown, US US Thu 09/14/2006
Answers to your driving questions.
I found a great link that will tell you about the driving regulations in any country you will be visiting. http://www.autoeurope.com/guides.cfm For instance, the question of whether or not an international driver's license is actually required in Europe. It appears that it is in Italy and Austria, but not in Germany. You can also find information about the required toll stickers in countries like Austria and the Czeck Repuplic. Happy driving!
Vancouver, WA USA Wed 09/13/2006
James - you would avoid this type of situation if you had indeed purchased the motorway sticker for a few Kr at your border crossing - corrupt police in Europe are thankfully in the monority, but perhaps a little research and planning would avoid this type of occurence actually happening at all ? You were actually in the wrong in this case & the police DO have the power to fine you on the spot in CZ- perhaps yopu were lucky - making enemies of the local police may not be best practice for US citizens in today's political climate ?
USA Tue 09/12/2006
Corrupt Police in Czek Republic
Beware of corrupt Hwy police in Czek Republic, We were driving a rental car from Prague to Munich. We got stop by the Hwy Police. The cop said that we needed some kind of tax stamp in our windshield,he wanted a cash payment of the ticket, after we told him that we would pay at the police station, he backed out, and proceeded to stop other tourist. We alerted the other tourist and he got mad. I guess most of the tourist get intimidated by them and they pay them off. Please don't. Tell them that you will pay at the station. Make sure they see you write their license plate number or police car number, also ask them for their name and write it down.Then they will get scared and will treat you fairly.
Tampa, Fl USA Mon 09/11/2006
Use AMEX for a good deal with Hertz
I just returned from 9 days in Spain and Portugal. Although I found Hertz to be very expensive through most web sites, we ended up getting a great deal by going through the American Express web site. If you have an AMEX card you can log on and get decent travel deals. Hertz was half the price through AMEX as it was via other web search engines.
New York, NY USA Mon 09/11/2006
You are correct in stating that Sixt Rental Car prices are significantly cheaper than others. However, I have high trust in AutoEurope so I would much rather use them if given the opportunity.
Since AutoEurope has a policy to match the lowest price of any competitor, I've reserved several times at Sixt, then call AutoEurope and tell them about the lower price. AE always matches it, and I'm left with the best of both worlds...a trusted agency AND the lowest price. Try it, it's easy.
USA Thu 09/07/2006
SIXT Rent a Car v. Auto Europe
In the past my husband and I have rented from Auto Europe when in Italy. I am going in Oct with my mother and got far better quotes - as in half the price - from SIXT Rent a Car. Anyone ever heard of them? Comments?
Hoping to save money but not get stuck with unexpected fees or no car...
Omaha, NE USA Thu 09/07/2006
I was lucky, I managed to book through the AA website. You can get through to the Avis section and then book your car and grab 15% off. Saved loads, did it all online (could even choose whether I wanted a car with a cd player) without a hitch. It was pretty good, also I heard that they do discount at hotels and parking too, but it's been a while, so I don't know if they still do.
Milford, UK Tue 09/05/2006
Rental Cars have CD player
Comment below about "doubt you will have a CD player in car" - just got back from Germany, Austria, Prague. Just like in the US, rental cars are usually newer models and so of course our car had a CD player. We bought Mozart CD's at the gift shop in the Vienna Opera House and played these as we traveled about. It was a great way to enjoy Mozart's 250th birthday! My only regret on the car rental is that we had to have a Ford because we were driving in Czech Republic. If we had stayed in Germany or Austria we could have had a Mercedes or BMW!
Atlanta, GA USA Sun 09/03/2006
Planning your driving times
We rented a car at Toulouse Airport and drove to Carcassonne; then back up the freeway to Beynac in the Dordogne, via St.Cirq La Popie. We found driving to be enjoyable and easy; however, here is a key - we wish we had another one to two days. We planned our estimated drive times based on the maps we had, but it always took longer than we estimated to get from A to B. It makes more sense to take your best uninformed guess and double the driving time. This is especially important if you have reservations for cave visits in the Dordogne. A 20 minute perceived trip may take 40 minutes. Getting from small village to small village (unless you drive like a maniac) always seemed to take more time than we originally planned, so talk to the locals and plan ahead.
Oceanside, CA USA Fri 09/01/2006
GPS software for laptop
We are taking european delivery of a Saab in October in Vienna. After that, we'll spend a few weeks driving through Austria, Germany & Netherlands. I'm thinking about getting a GPS device for our car, and then loading the gps/map navigation software on my laptop. Has anyone else tried this? Which map software did you use?
Tucson, AZ USA Thu 08/31/2006
Car rental prices
I was surprised to find the so-called discount sites that offer rental discounts/coupons are actually HIGHER than if you go direct. If you find a rental at Costco, Entertainment,ect. that suits your needs, be sure and check the price by going directly to the rental site.
SANTA CRUZ, CA USA Mon 08/28/2006
We just spent 2 weeks in Britain and Ireland. We arrived by ferry from Norway and hired a taxi to the car rental. Good idea! As I would be driving I concentrated on getting the feel of the left side and watching the signs to learn their meaning all the time asking many questions. I found it helpful to purposely hit the curb and center bumps a few times to get the feel of where i was on the road. It was nice to realize that most often if I took the wrong road in a city or town, I would get another chance at the next roundabout. Roundabouts by the way are not the bugaboo I had thought they would be. They are user friendly and make an excellent U-turn option. Last tip...learn to drive like the natives or you will never get through a busy town.
Wirtz, VA USA Sat 08/26/2006
Ireland has many uninsured drivers, DWI and a high rate of "whiplash" claims which seems to be normal for anyone inviolved in accidents, hence insurance premiums are very hight for residents. If you are renting a car there, please ensure you are fully covered - even the most minor & insignificat bumps will likely lead to claims for injury against the guilty party, even should everyone appear top be OK at the time and the other party agreed the bump was minor!
dont say you havent been told!
SF, CA USA Thu 08/24/2006
Master Card CDW rental cars
I was considering getting a Master Card from Capital One for the CDW Collision Damage insurance coverage for our trip to Ireland this fall. Capital One referred me directly to Master Card customer service. They told me today, that effective Aug 31, 2006, Master Card would no longer cover CDW in Ireland. It appears now that we will have to add "super CDW" to our regular CDW coverage in order to eliminate the $1100 deductible.
Ocean Shores, USA Wed 08/23/2006
DB....IN CAR CD PLAYER
I doubt your car will have a CD player. If it so important for you to hear your CDs, when you get to Germany, buy a cheap portable CD player.
That's what most of us would do.
USA Tue 08/22/2006
Mary.....Bruge to Normandy
You can find the mileage between these two points and the driving time.
USA Sun 08/20/2006
Bruge to Normandy
Has anyone driven from Brussels or Bruge to Normandy; Mont St. Michel being the furthest point? How long did it take? Any problems or helpful hints? We're looking at a March 07 trip.
Madison, MS USA Sun 08/20/2006
I would not worry about it. I have rented cars for years in Europe and no agent has ever noted my expiration date.
If they ask, simply tell them why you have the date on your license.
If they refuse you a car walk to the next counter and rent a car.
USA Thu 08/17/2006
License Updated in Last Year
I am about to rent a car in France. My question is, some companies say that your licence has to be valid for at least one year. I have moved to a new state in the last year, and therefore I had to update my license. Does anyone know if this will cause me a problem? If so, any suggestions on how to alleviate the problem? Thanks!
Philadelphia, PA USA Thu 08/17/2006
London to Normandy
Don't hire a car in the UK. You will need a left hand drive car for France. Take the train to Dover and cross over as a foot passenger on the Calais ferry. Pre-book a car from one of the major rental companies and pick it up at their offices at Calais docks. Buy a good map on the ferry and take your time when driving to get used to the roundabouts. Consider breaking your journey with an overnight stop in Dover and an early start for France. It's a lovely drive.
Nottingham, UK Thu 08/17/2006
MEGAN....NEED HELP FINDING PORSHE RENTAL
I always call Kemwel.com at 1 800 678 0678 and talk with an agent. They have given me the best rates in Germany. As you found out renting for a short period is costly.
USA Wed 08/16/2006
Need help finding Porsche rental in Germany
My husband and I are taking a trip to Germany in September and would like to rent a porsche 911 for one day, if possible. We have checked w/ AVIS and they have been everything BUT helpful. We've checked with Autoeurope and it seems like they only offer this car for a 3 day min rental, and the price tag on that is very high. We are willing to pay a good deal, but would like to only have this car for one day to drive on the autobahn, and have rented an audi for the remaining days that we are driving during our trip.
Does anyone have a recommendation for how we might accomplish this rental? Anyone know of a rental car company that is easy to work with over there?
Columbus, OH USA Wed 08/16/2006
AAA will sell one to anyone, not just AAA members.
Gettysburg, PA, USA Tue 08/15/2006
I know - many people report that it's completely useless. As I said, I'm not sure that I'll bother with it, but in order to decide if it's worth the hassle, I need to know how much hassle it would be to get one. Thus my question: for non-AAA members, where does one go to get an IDL?
Seattle, WA USA Tue 08/15/2006
DB....INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS LICENSE
Depends on which countries you visit. I have read that Italy requires the IDL. Other countries apparently don't.
I have driven thousands of miles without it and would go again today without one and not be concerned.
I have driven in every country in Europe several times including Czech Rep, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. Never a problem when the police stopped me and I showed my drivers license.
USA Tue 08/15/2006
International Driver's License?
I know, I know...this has been kicked around endlessly...and many people report that they've been stopped by police, been in accidents, etc,, and were never asked for an IDL.
I'm not sure if I'm going to bother getting an IDL or not. Before I can decide that, I need to find out how much time, hassle and expense it would cost me (if it's very little of all three, I figure why not - but if it's going to be a real PITA, then I'll think long and hard).
I am not a member of AAA.
Anyone know where else one can get an IDL with a minimum of fuss and expense? Thanks.
Seattle, WA USA Mon 08/14/2006
Italy Car Rental
The BEST Italy coverage--any damage--no deductibles. I read ALL the fine print , on most you will not have a window, tire etc. covered. Check out www.albatours.com Based in Toronto so the price is CDN. Even with the credit card 1%fee it works out cheapest, as CDN dollar is less than US dollar
Spruce Pine, NC USA Wed 08/09/2006
LINDA MINIVAN SEARCH
Do a google search for "Minivan Tuscany" or some town and see how many webpages you get.
USA Sat 08/05/2006
LINDA.....MINIVAN RENTAL IN TUSCANY ITALY
Take a look at this webpage: travelwithkids.about.com/cs/europewithkids/a/europecar.htm
USA Sat 08/05/2006
Minivan Rental in Tuscany/Italy
I was wondering if anyone knows of a company that rents minivans/small bus that will seat at least 11 people in Tuscany/Italy. We would like to drive ourselves
Melbourne, Vic Australia Fri 08/04/2006
Types of transmissions
If you need to drive a car with a automatic transmission, make sure that they do not give you one with Folrmatic transmission. There is a difference even if the car rental agency tells you otherwise. Trust me!
Chicago, IL USA Wed 08/02/2006
The Great Autos Crete
After reading, and having experienced, many of the posted European auto rentals stories I must describe a most accommodating rental adventure in Crete. It began the night before a flight to Greece when my wife, another couple and I were subjected to a prolonged party that resulted in the loss of my wallet; therefore, my driver's license, etc. Frantic preflight calls arranged replacement of everything but the license, which is unfortunate for I am always required to drive on these outings. So off we go, and the only thing I have is the AAA "International" driver's license. My fishing license carries more authority than the IDL, but unfortunately I also lost that during the pre-launch celebration. About 10 days later we finally reach Crete and approach the rental booth where I explain to the young clerk that all I had was my international license. No problem. He examined it with his casual interest, noted my name and address, and shoved the rental form across for me to sign. Am I surprised? I couldn't understand how this could happen, but he didn't care if I was Charlie Manson, I was getting the car. Ten minutes later I understood why when we saw the car (a five-year old Hyundai, side mirrors ripped off, radio ripped out, wheel covers missing, paint (?), slick tires, weak engine that was matched to the even weaker brakes, but the best d___ air conditioner in Europe). When I asked him where the rental company's office was in Chania his response was, "Uh, just leave the key with the parking attendant." Having no further questions we tear off into the night with only a few near-death experiences until we learned how to get the car stopped. To this day I am certain that the Hyundai was the clerk's personal car. We had a ball. This was the best car I have ever rented. No pressure. Could have rolled it and no one would have known or cared. Due to the great AC the wives were happy; therefore, the guys were happy. The rental company's named is withheld to protect my new best friend in Crete. Yes, I will use them again.
Lexington, SC USA Mon 07/31/2006
Car rental and travel in Spain.
We are planning a trip to the south of Spain in April of 2007. In looking for car rental info. I have seen wide variations in rates. A number of local Spanish companies seem to offer far better rates than AutoEurope, Hertz, Kemmel, etc.I am hoping that someone reading this can recommend some reliable rental companies in Spain and the Costa del Sol.
While in the area we expect to make trips to Seville, Granada, etc. I have no desire to drive into the center of these cities and am wondering if things like "park and rides" exsist in outlaying areas.
Please feel free to email me comments
NC USA Thu 07/27/2006
Cheapest Car Hire/Rental
If you are looking for the CHEAPEST car hire throughout Europe then visit www.carhire3000.com and you will find this company to be miles ahead of the rest, on price, quality and service. I have used them several times and they are outstanding - Give it a go. I am from Leeds in the North of England but work in the US.
Marcus - Leeds
Leeds, UK Wed 07/26/2006
Car renting in Scotland
One of the best spots to rent a car in Edinburgh is at the National Car Rental just to the west of the city center and next to the rugby stadium. It is just off of the main stretch that turns into the highway leading to Stirling. It's very easy to find and get in and out of (meaning, of course, you don't have to go into the heart of the city!). I've had great luck with them several times.
St. Louis, MO USA Sat 07/22/2006
Driving in Italy
We got lost alot driving in the hill country. A tip we got from another traveler was to rent a GPS devise in your car. If you drive on the autostada, make sure you get in the correct toll line. We did not have exact change, tried to use the credit card and ended up with an unpaid toll ticket which is subject to additional fees. Means of paying the ticket are extremely difficult.
Marysville, WA USA Thu 07/13/2006
Think twice before driving in Switzerland
If you want to see how the locals "really" live in the Alps of Switzerland then visit Muerren and Gimmelwald in the Lauterbrunnen Valley...but leave your car behind because cars are only allowed as far as Lauterbrunnen (where you'll pay to park them) - only trains get to visit Muerren, Gimmelwald, Wengen, Schilthorn and Jungfrau.
Roads are not bad, but Swiss trains are superb!
USA Tue 07/11/2006
Driving in France & Switzerland
My husband and I rented a car with Lyon as a base, and although we only drove to Geneva and didn't explore much more of Switzerland, we thought the roads were great and had no problems.
One thing to consider in Switzerland is the EUR35 you'll be forced to pay at any border crossing. Apparently, it's a privilege to drive on Switzerland's roads as I've read it should be the best in Europe...but I thought France's was even better.
I totally recommend a car rental over trains if you want to explore all the wonderful villages in between whatever train stations there are. It was the best part of our trip...spontaneously getting out at highway exits to drive through and see how the locals 'really' live.
Toronto, Canada Tue 07/11/2006
Driving in France and Switzerland
Leann: If you think you're going to spaz out over rental cars and driving in foreign countries then don't do it. Train travel is easy enough...especially in Switzerland. The Swiss trains are the best in the world. Their transportation system includes trains, buses, boats, gondolas, trams, cogwheels...etc. They go most everywhere you could want and they WILL be on time.
Roads are safe in both countries. On some of the high mountain passes in Switzerland I was a little scared driving because there were no guard rails separating the edge of the road from the sheer mountain cliff below. I would not want to do that again. Do you realize that by renting a car in 1 country (France) and dropping it in another (Switzerland) you will incur a hefty drop-off fee? Our additional fee was 270 Euro to drop off in Switzerland after renting in France.
My suggestion is to not rent a car at all. But if you must then rent somewhere in France and drop it off at Basel/Mulhouse airport or Geneva airport. The Basel/Mulhouse airport technically sits in France and Switzerland. Therefore it does not incur that additional drop fee. Geneva may also be that way; I'm not sure.
I would ALWAYS vote for trains in Switzerland just because the trains are so wonderful. If you have a Swiss Pass then every form of public transportation mentioned above is covered at 100%. Just hop on or off at any point along the way. The only exceptions would be the few high mountain trains that are private. But even on them you get a hefty 50% discount with the Swiss Pass.
USA Tue 07/11/2006
Driving in Switzerland and France
We are planning a trip next late May to France (1 wk) and Switzerland, (5 days) and trying to choose between a car rental and a train pass. There will be 2 adults and 2 young teens. I am not too worried about driving in France, but Switzerland concerns me a bit. Are the roads easy to drive on, when we approach an oncoming vehicle will we having to be super close to the edge of a cliff? Would train travel be easier and safer in Switzerland? What about renting a car in France, then train travel in Switzerland, can we pick up a car at CDG Airport, and then drop it off in Lyon, or near Geneva? We have never rented a car before on our travels, and this will be our first time to France and Switzerland. Help!
Mpls., MN USA Tue 07/11/2006
BRYAN....CARD RENTAL IN ITALY
You only need the IDP if the police stop you. Chances are next to zero that you will need one. Forget about it and enjoy your trip. I have bought one twice and never needed it.
USA Tue 07/11/2006
We have been living in Europe for 2 years, and I would HIGHLY recommend getting the GPS systems in your rental car. We have been everywhere and it has been priceless.
USA Mon 07/10/2006
PARKING SAFELY IN SPAIN
Do what I have done for the past 10 years...put everything in the trunk like Al says.
Then take a local newspaper and spread it around the dash, front seat, back seat and on the floor. Make it look like a local car.
I have never had a problem.
NYC, USA Mon 07/10/2006
Parking safely in Spain
You can park safely almost anywhere provided you follow these simple rules: Do not leave anything in the car itself. Put everything in the trunk and keep it there. Transfer items to the trunk long before you park up. Leave nothing in the car, not even a ball point pen or a pack of gum. Lock your car and walk away from it quietly. Do not advertise the fact that you are tourists. If you leave nothing on display in the car and give no indication that the trunk holds anything of value car theives will look for easier pickings.
Nottingham, UK Mon 07/10/2006
My wife and I leave for Italy in 2 weeks for 24 days. If your itinerary is still flexible,I would recommend the following: If you can free up three days, I would recommend staying in the Cinque Terra for 3 nights (like Vernazza). You could get these 3 nights with the extra day you have, spending 3 nights in Rome instead of 4, and not staying in Florence, but staying in Siena for 3 nights and doing an all day side trip to Florence. Two nights in Sorrento is probably sufficient, Sorrento works well as a springboard for other nearby sites (i.e. Pompeii, Capri, Amalfi Coast). Siena is a wonderful city and definately worth visitng. We only visited Siena for the day during our last visit and regreted not staying there. If you aren't interested in the Cinque Terra, then Sorrento could be a good one to stay 3 nights because it is on the sea and the Amalfi Coast to the south would be a great place to just relax for the day. Naples is gritty, but you will need to go through it anyways going from Sorrento to Rome, and it is the birthplace of pizza. Just follow Rick's advice and you'llbe fine going through Naples.
Puyallup, WA USA Sun 07/09/2006
Unless you are planning to take additional side trips from Sorrento, Pompei, Herculaeum, an extra day in Sorrento wouldn't really be necessary, it's nice but there isn't that much to do. Although, it is a rather long trip from Rome which will eat into your time there. I'd also advocate for two days in Sienna, it is worth it. Maybe use your extra day to extend your time in Florence, there is so much to see and eat and drink and eat.
Seattle, WA USA Fri 07/07/2006
UK driving on the wrong side
If you can drive a stick, you can drive a British stick. It is not as hard to make the switch as you might think. And since getting an automatic transmission is considerably more expensive, it's worth it to try just to show yourself you can. It will be a fun travel memory and a boast to your friends when you return, and when you're doing it you will feel all James Bond-ish.
British traffic lights helpfully go from red to red and yellow before going to green, so you have a warning to put it in gear.
Roundabouts are hard to get used to but after a while they are kind of fun.
DO NOT under any circumstances try to learn to drive your car in London! We started in Dover, drove up to Canterbury, took the freeway to Salisbury, then some local country roads, then to Bath, and finally made our way to London. It was still terrifying trying to manage in the traffic roundabouts, confusing lanes, buses appearing from nowhere and seemingly trying to crush us, etc. And we were there after 7 p.m. on a weeknight.
That's the other thing. You have to pay a huge sum, something like $15, just to be allowed to drive in London during the day (it's free after 6:30). England is outrageously expensive for Americans just to start with, plus filling your gas tank will run you something like $80 or more.
Pittsburgh, PA USA Fri 07/07/2006
1 extra night
Firstly, 2 nights in Florence really doesn't give you a lot of time to actually "enjoy" the city. Yes, you can probably see the Duomo and take in both the Academia and Uffizi - but you've left no time for the relaxing strolls, peaceful lunches/dinners, gelatos, etc. As you probably already know, Sienna is a daytrip from Florence - do you really need to spend 2 nights in Sienna? or even 1 night? All of your hopping around means a lot of luggage toting as well. Spending 3 or more nights in one place will actually allow you to unpack and unwind long enough to maybe relax and enjoy instead of just "seeing as much as you can". I would vote to eliminate Sienna and add those nights to Florence at Residenza Il Villino (perfect place). As for your 1 extra night, I personally love the Amalfi coast and would choose to spend the extra night in Sorrento. Do a daytrip to Amalfi while there.
Also, why Naples? It is an extremely intense place and unless you have something specific that you really really want to see, I would note bother visiting. Of course this is all just MY opinion.
USA Fri 07/07/2006
We are planning 14 days in Italy this September. We are thinking: 4 nights in Rome, 2 nights in Sorrento - side trip to Naples, 2 nights in Sienna, 2 nights in Florence, 3 nights in Venice-must have 3 nights
We have one extra night and were wondering if where it would be best spent. We are leaning Sorrento. Thanks
Tacoma, WA USA Thu 07/06/2006
JARED....SORRENTO MOPED RENTAL
If you ever saw how the Italians drive you would not consider riding a moped anywhere in Italy.
Riding one may be fun, but not if you are risking your life by dodging speeding autos.
Reconsider and choose an alternate method of travel. Most travelers like the bus along the Amalfi coast.
USA Sun 07/02/2006
Driving/Renting in Germany
My wife and I spent 10 days in Germany recently. Our rental was from Hertz, which, after using my job/corporate discount, was competive with other rental sources. Folks should look for such discounts: beyond employer agreements, membership in various interest and fraternal groups can also yield rental discounts. Hertz service, as usual was excellent. We drove about 1200 miles, through Bavaria and into the Rheinland. Germany is exceptionally easy to drive in. Routes are very well marked. When combined with a good map (Michelin) there were no issues. Only a portion of the Autobauns are without speed limit and in any case, German drivers are very well disciplined: they pass only on the left, they don't tailgate, the signal: driving the Autobahn is easier than I-95 in the Eastern US. Drove one big city: Munich. Traffic in Munich is no worse than dozens of major cities in the US. More and more car rental companies now offer models with GPS navigation, making travel almost anywhere very easy.
Newark, DE USA Tue 06/27/2006
Driving in the U.K
We just returned from the U.K. and rented a mini-van from Auto Europe/National. No hidden surprises. I bought all the Ins. that I could. We drove over 800 miles. I would say that driving over there is much easier than here in the states. Stay on the left and always look to the right in the roundabouts. On dual lane roads the right hand lane is apparently for passing, so stay to the left or they'll wave and honk at you. If you are in a roundabout and the street you want is 3 or more to your left go to the middle of the roundabout. Its hard to explain but the roundabouts are very efficent. My wife navigated and I drove. A good mapbook is a must. I used a Phillips Navigator Britain 1-1/2 miles to the inch. It had the smaller B-roads on it which came in handy when we had a road detour. Plan your route before you leave the B&B. Driving in the U.K. was great. If anyone needs the mapbook send me an e-mail.
ellijay, ga USA Sat 06/24/2006
Driving in Rome
In addition to using the word "Pain" to describe driving in Rome, I would also add "Dangerous". Both Paris and Rome are cities in which I would never recommend driving...and I have driven twice in Paris :-(
USA Fri 06/23/2006
Driving in Rome or Paris
Definitely don't drive your car into those cities. YOu don't need one in the city, and it is a pain to drive and find parking in the city. Try to find somewhere outside of the city to park at, and use public transportation. Can't help you as to where to park since we have always travelled by train, or picked up our rental upon leaving the city.
Williamsburg, Va USA Thu 06/22/2006
To Mike regarding Auto Europe
Mike, if you read through earlier posts on the "travelers helpline", as well as on "driving europe crazy", you will find that many people have used Auto Europe and from what I have read, usually with good results. We have used them several times because they have always been the least expensive. Also, if you find a cheaper price, they will match it. You pay in dollars up front, which alleviates the uncertainty of the final rental amount due to fluctuating currencies. If you choose to get the inclusive rate which includes CDW, be sure to read the fine print regarding the deductible you will be responsible for if you should damage the car. They are a consolidator and usually our car has come from Europcar. All in all, we have had a good experience with them.
Williamsburg, Va USA Thu 06/22/2006
I am renting a car in Paris and driving to Rome and back. I have found what seems like a good deal through Auto Europe. Has anyone used them before? Any tips re: driving in France or Italy? Can I park outside of large cities like Rome and Florence if I do not want to drive in them, and take public transit downtown? Mike
Vancouver , BC CANADA Thu 06/22/2006
When renting a car look for the bottom line. They can be quick to upgrade you without notice. When driving on the autobaun, always keep to your right. These German cars can fly. My normal speed is between 80 to 90 MPH, and that is average. Most cars are going over 100 MPH and most large trucks are going 50 MPH. The strech to Stugart is quite fast, so be prepared when passing thru that city. When renting always get somthing with some power, you will need it when you are on the autobaun. From France to Chec it took us about 6 hours. Whatever you do don't jump in front of a car going faster than you. These Germans like going fast at any expense. Watch for cars comming into the autobaun, they can slide in and you have to give the right of way. It is worth buying a car here that is one year old with low miles. Don't buy a new BMW or Mercedes. Buy last years model and get a 15,000 cheeper price. Also they sell only german spec cars, standard. So make sure you know the cost and what you are getting.
USA Mon 06/19/2006
NATIONAL CAR RENTAL FALSE CHARGES
After reading so many letters like yours in this column and elsewhere, I am going start taking photos of my rental cars when I take possession and when I return them.
This action is especially needed if you have to leave your car at a station after hours with no attendant to inspect it.
Several travelers have recommended doing this because of false charges like yours.
If you do this, be sure your photos are dated so there can't be a denial of them as evidence.
USA Mon 06/12/2006
NATIONAL CAR RENTAL
After returning home from my trip, I received an "Invoice" in the mail for $424 for collision damage insurance which I waived on my contract. They charged it against my credit card, which I am now disputing. BE SURE TO KEEP ALL OF YOUR ORIGINAL PAPERWORK. Luckily I did and now have documentation to fight this fraudulent charge.
USA Fri 06/09/2006
BORDER CROSSING: between NE GERMANY and NW POLAND
A suggestion for those of you who may ponder exploring the Baltic Coasts of Northeast Germany and Northwest Poland: there is a northernmost border crossing between Germany and Poland at the resort town of SWINOUJSCIE, Poland. This is a PEDESTRIAN-ONLY crossing. If you plan to travel by car, you will need to do this at a border crossing west of SZCZECIN, Poland. We were disappointed that we could not continue our exploration into the German side of the Baltic coast, but found the Polish area here which also includes Wolin Island's town of Miedzyzdroje (free ferry service to SWINOUJSCIE, Poland from this other Polish town)to be beautiful seaside landscape.
San Diego, CA USA Thu 06/08/2006
Tiger Car Rental
I am going to Italy for a month and I will have a car for eight days. Does anyone know if Tiger Car Rental is a reputable company? I am leaning towards Kemwel, but Tiger has a few options that would be convenient(i.e. location and business hours) and they claim they have a zero deductible(zero excess) on all rentals in Italy. Kemwel has no deductible on just one car class. If anyone has used them or know anything about them, it would help with my decision.
Puyallup, WA USA Tue 06/06/2006
A Pedestrian's life in Italy
If you are wondering what's like a pedestrian's life in Italy, you may wish to take a look at this edu-taining video: http://www.italyfromtheinside.com/
Bellevue, WA USA Mon 06/05/2006
MARNA.....CAR RENTAL IN ENGLAND
I have rented cars from kemwel.com several times and have always had no problems with that company.
It is a British consolidator so you get your car from a major European agency when you book with them.
Last time I picked up my car in Frankfurt it was a Sixt agency car.
You wont get a nasty surprise. I will use them again when I go back.
USA Sun 06/04/2006
car rental in england
We are renting a car for about 20 days in England and Scotland. Kemwell's price is about half of what other rental agencies are asking. Has anyone had any experience with this company? I like to save, but I don't want any nasty surprises, either.
Portland, OR USA Sat 06/03/2006
BIDDING ON CARS ON PRDICELINE
You get linked to another page because Bilbao is too small to have an agency to deal with priceline.
I have had that problem with towns in the US.
USA Fri 06/02/2006
Bidding on cars on priceline
Has anyone bid on a rental car in Europe on priceline?
Every time I try to do so (I'm specifically looking for Bilbao), I then get sent over to the autoeurope site. And then I don't see an option to place a bid. Any ideas? Thanks.
Stratham, NH USA Thu 06/01/2006
BIDDING ON PRICELINE FOR AUTOS AND HOTELS
I just finished achieving first time success in renting cars and hotel rooms by bidding.
I have always been leery, but after reading "The Secrets of Finding Lower Hotel Rates" at hotels.about.com/cs/travelertools/a/discounts" I felt confident enough to bid on priceline.com.
Although my bids are on US locations, the principle will work for European bids as well.
On the auto rental I found the lowest rental rate in Norfolk VA to be $30 a day; so I bid $15 a day on whim and they accepted my bid. My car will be furnished by Avis.
On the hotel room I found the going rate in San Antonio, 2 star rating to be $82.
I bid $30; denied. 24 hours later I bid $35; denied. 24 hours later I bid $40; denied.
Then I bid $45 and they accepted my bid. The hotel I got provides a two room suite with two queen beds and continental breakfast.
Those two experiences convinced me that I want to bid some more.
DALLAS , TX USA 05/27/2006
USA Sat 05/27/2006
I use Argus and they include the CDW in the rental price. I then checked with VISA and they also covered it because the CDW was included in the rental price.
WA USA Thu 05/25/2006
Dan Doooley in Ireland
Ok, I've got one for anyone who's used Dan Dooley to rent a car in Ireland. I have been looking online and have found 2 apparently seperate companies - www.dandooley.com & www.dan-dooley.ie Are these 2 different companies? and if so, which one is everyone recommending on here? Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
Chicago, IL USA Wed 05/24/2006
CDW is a real problem. I consider it to be the the most perfect form of legalised robbery ever invented. That having been said I always wimp out and take the rental companies 100% CDW cover. At least that way you get peace of mind - at a very high price. After all you can be in an accident through no fault of your own. I parked a brand new Ford Mondeo in Nice only to find some drunken clown had driven into it and written it off. After assisting the police I called the rental company and had another car within two hours. I just don't understand why CDW is so high in some countries and included in the package in other European countries.
Nottingham, UK Wed 05/24/2006
Rental Car Size
The prices are for a 4 day hire. In fact, autoeurope had the Saab for $209 so I snagged it.
I am still in a quandry about what optio to do about CDW, however.... rental company CDW/super CDW v. credit card v. travelguard..
San Luis Obispo, CA, USA Tue 05/23/2006
Car rental advice
Go to the gemut.com website for information on rental cars. Good rates and great service. As far as whether you go the whole trip with a car or split it between car and train is a personal preference. I prefer car all the way although I try to avoid driving in large towns. The convenience of having transportation available at your convenience is something to consider plus less hassle with luggage. Also, you can stop anytime you see a photo op if you are in a car. If you are going into larger cities the train may suit you better. We typically will find a place to stay 5-10 kilometers out of the city, leave our car there and take the U-bahn or S-Bahn into the city. Works fine for us.
Mansfield, GA USA Tue 05/23/2006
Just wanted to pass on this car return advice for Paris train stations. The underground Parking site contains the auto rentals in the lowest levels. If I hadn't read this here last year, my husband & I would still be circling Gare D'Lest
Mission Viejo, CA USA Thu 05/18/2006
Rental car size
Ken. I was confused by the prices you quote, so did a check on the National Car Hire website. The costs for a week's hire were as follows: Vectra £211, Zafira £245, Saab 95 Wagen (Auto) £361. These are much as I would have expected. The Saab is a more prestigious vehicle, so commands a premium. The Zafira is a higher and more upright vehicle than the Vectra, so I would say that it is more suitable for sightseeing. Access is easier on the Zafira, but the Vectra probably rides better and is better at speed. All should be OK for the luggage you will be taking. You can check out the Vauxhall models at http://www.vauxhall.co.uk/vx/home.do.
UK Thu 05/18/2006
CDW Maze (sorry to whip a dead horse...)
Relative to the issue of CDW acceptance or rejection in the UK, after having read Rick's book, I have three options: 1. Pay an outrageous amount of money for $0 deductible, 2. Decline CDW and accept the coverage from my VISA or AmEx which may result in the levying of a large hold on my credit card (this coverage does NOT, at least from VISA, include medical expenses), or 3. Take out policy from travelguard.com for a minimal amount of money but with a $250 deductible.
Does anyone have any favorable or unfavorable first-hand experience to help shape my thinking about what to do?
San Luis Obispo, CA USA Wed 05/17/2006
Rental car size: Saab 9-5 wagon v. (Vauxhall) Opel Vectra v. Opel Zafira
My wife, two young adult daughters (19 and 21), and I will be touring England for a few days. We are fairly good at packing with a limitation of one carry-on or slightly larger bag per person and one computer bag or small carry-on duffle size bag.
I am not familiar in the least with Opel (Vauxhall) and Saab vehicles. I have noted that the difference translates into about $140 for a 4 day rental between the two Opel models ($181 and $318) and the cost of the Saab is $280.
Could someone familiar with these three vehicles give me an idea as to whether the difference translates into much more space in the Zafira?
San Luis Obispo, CA USA Tue 05/16/2006
EMILY....DRIVING IN SLOVENIA AND CROATIA
I spent a week driving through those countries. Roads are not as good or as fast as in Austria or Italy.
They are narrow and poorly kept so you cant drive very fast. I don't remember shoulders on the highways either.
No other problem with driving there....just be sure to allow more time for covering long distances.
USA Mon 05/15/2006
Driving in Slovenia and Croatia
This summer my friend and I are taking a long trip through Europe. We are both 23 and have been to Europe. Two of our countries are Slovenia and Croatia. I have been researching quite a bit about them. I think that it would be best to rent a car and drive.
Has anyone driven through these two countries? Do you have any tips? Please anything you can tell me would be great!!
Anchorage, AK USA Mon 05/15/2006
AUTO RENTAL ADVICE
I forgot to say that I always reserve an economy size because they often have to upgrade me.
USA Sun 05/14/2006
AUTO RENTAL ADVICE
I just rented a car for use in Norfolk in Sept. I searched all the majors but didnt like the rental fees.
So I decided to bid on a car on priceline.com. I bid $15 a day and was surprised when they accepted my bid.
I now have an Avis car waiting for me at the airport.
I realize that cars are far more expensive in Paris, but next time I rent a car in Europe I will try priceline again.
Anyone else bid on priceline cars?
USA Sun 05/14/2006
Hertz - too expensive
Everytime I look for rental cars ANYWHERE Hertz always seems to be the most expensive option. With the advent of the internet, just a little pre-planning can save loads on things like rental cars.
USA Sat 05/13/2006
car rental advice
Rented a car, their smallest 4-door vehicle, from Hertz in Paris, for 1 day. Ended up paying almost $350. I thought I'd checked everything out beforehand, but next time I'll rent from another company.
Brea, CA USA Sat 05/13/2006
Carlos.. Thanks a bunch, sounds great! I'll write that down and try to work it into our trip. Thanks so much!
Pittsburgh, USA Fri 05/12/2006
Since no one has helped you in a week, I will try.
Having driven Tuscany several times I can recommend that any direction you drive from Florence will be exciting for you.
However, for a days drive, I would drive South 60 km to Sienna and walk about the town.
Then drive East 50 km to Arrezo , walk that village, then back 50 km to Florence. Total 100 miles.
If you pass any farms selling produce, buy some regardless of what it is. Also sample the wine if you like wine.
DALLAS, USA Fri 05/12/2006
My friend and I are renting a car for a day from Florence to drive into "Tuscan country" in Italy. Does anybody have any reccommendatoins as for where to drive for a day trip through the countryside?
Pittsburgh, USA Mon 05/08/2006
Beware of speedtrap in Austria!
This must be the only speedtrap in Western Europe. If driving from Garmisch-Partenkirchen along the B177 to Innsbruck, watch out near the town of Seefeld! The speed limit changes from 100 km/hr to 50 over a stretch of only about 200 meters. The friendly Austrian police will inform you have exceded this limit at any time and reward you with a nice ticket (everytime I drove by, someone was pulled over). They clocked me at only 57 km/hr and I did not escape the fine.
Philadelphia, PA USA Mon 05/08/2006
Driving in Ireland
We four women friends just returned from a two week, trip of a lifetime to Ireland. We landed in Dublin, took the city bus to our hotel in Temple Bar, spent a few days there, then took the city bus back to the airport to pick up our rental car from Dan Dooley. Don't drive in Dublin! But after the first couple of days on the narrow roads, we got used to it, and though we didn't feel comfortable driving as fast as the locals, they were happy to go around us, or wait for us to pull off to the side. One thing I didn't anticipate though, is that I had very poor visibility in our Ford Focus. Being very short, I could not tell where the car edges were (a must in Ireland!), and ended up leaving most of the driving to my taller friends. Next time I will rent something even smaller!
Redmond, WA USA Sat 05/06/2006
UK Car Driving
As another UK driver who has also driven in the U.S. as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, and many European countries, can I endorse BP's response to the posting by Jennifer of Seattle.
In the UK, there is, generally speaking, only one police force, which is responsible for the enforcement of the criminal law as well as traffic law. With the introduction of speed and other traffic cameras, visible law enforcement on highways by police in marked cars has probably diminished. However, the Highways Agency now has traffic officers patrolling many of the motorways. They are there to help with accidents and incidents and such things as removing debris from the roads. These are jobs that used to be done by the police. As far as I am aware, there are still unmarked police cars on motorways.
As well as fixed traffic cameras, you will also see mobile speed cameras, often mounted in the back of a vehicle parked at the bottom of a hill where speeding is easy.
The money raised by traffic cameras is a source of debate in the UK. In the year ended March 2004, over £113 million (over $205 million) was collected in fines from cameras. That represents a lot of drivers.
Regarding hub caps on hire cars, my brother-in-law rented a car recently and was told that the hire company ignores scuff marks on hub caps when looking for damage. I also noticed that all the hub caps on the car he rented were secured with cable ties. In my experience, close encounters with other vehicles more often result in damage to door mirrors, rather than wheel trims.
UK Wed 05/03/2006
I feel compelled to respond to Jennifer of Seattle's extraordinary note on UK driving habits. Having been a driver in the UK I do not recognise the country she describes - and I am not being over defensive.
Has Jennifer driven anywhere else in Europe apart from the UK? If you want to see genuine recklessness and aggresiveness I suggest she tries Paris, Italy, Portugal. Most visitors comment on the care and consideration of UK drivers (and I work in a multi-cultural office so hear this all the time). Of course there are idiots everywhere and it sounds like Jennifer found the majority of the UK's in one trip!
I agree that driving faster than the limit is widespread. However surely this is the same everwhere and is not necessarily reckless.
Some country B and C roads are small but I have driven in the USA and Canada and the Motorways(freeways) and A roads are comparable in size. I drive every day to work along narrow country lanes and never once have I been pushed into a 'wall or hedgerow'. No one has ever hit my side mirror and the idea that people pass so close that they can scrape hub caps has to be a joke. Sure I have some scratches on my hub caps but nothing to do with other people - just me parking too close to the kerb occasionally.
Finally I do know my figures on hub cap costs. A replacement manufacturer's hub cap will cost approx 25 poiunds if you buy it yourself so if a rental company is charging 75 pounds you are being ripped off and should complain.
I suspect we are going to have to agree to disagree on this but needed to respond in case everyone is scared away!
UK Wed 05/03/2006
More UK Driving Advice
There may be highway patrol in the UK, but we drove all over the country for two weeks and saw no one policing any road, highway or byway. What we did see was excessive speeding and reckless driving by nearly every driver on UK roads. Grannies, soccer moms, white van men, teenagers, all races, ages and creeds. They all speed and they all speed excessively.
As to the speed cameras. The UK public well knows, most cameras have no film in them. Further, most camera holders hold no cameras. Don't believe me, you can see it for yourself driving at 70mph. Sure, they occasionally operate, mainly at construction zones, etc. My point was, that the British driving public, as evidenced by their aggressive driving and unbelievable excessive speed must think they are irrelevant too, on some level. They certainly ignore said cameras. We didn't ignore them. But we were quite alone in that.
The highways can sometimes have some pullover room, but not generally. Roads of all kinds, including all major highways are small. Much smaller than what we are used to.
That leads to my final thought. The reason I said to remove hub cabs (if possible) when renting has absolutely nothing to do with driving on the opposite side of the car.
Remove your hubs caps when renting for two very specific reasons:
1) The UK roads are very small. Their freeways are somewhat larger, but still small in comparision. Everything else, including their highways are tiny. Remove hub caps so that the aggressive UK driving public won't scrape your wheel as they pass you or push you into walls and hedgerows. We had seven cases over two weeks of British drivers who either came at us with no room to go except into a ditch, or pushed us into walls and hedgerows. They are THAT aggressive. And that wasn't even in summertime. UK drivers will pass you on any kind of road with only inches to spare. Also, pull in any side mirrors too. They hit those all the time.
Reason two to remove hub caps: Rental companies will charge upwards of 75 pounds per tire for any scrapes (no matter how small). BP doesn't know his figures.
Have fun on your trip and remember to rent a small car with your own CDW. You'll need it.
Seattle, WA USA Sun 04/30/2006
Difference between AMEX Cards
We're renting a car in France and I'm checking out insurance before I pay more in rental car insurance than the car rental charge. GEICO, our auto insurer doesn't cover outside the country. Although the American Express web site indicates free collision damage coverage when you rent with your AMEX card - better check. My American Express card is a Executive Business card which only covers in the USA. My wife's American Express card is a personal card and that does cover if you rent the car in France and pay with the card. AMEX doesn't cover in all countries so you better check with your issuer regardless of the credit card you use.
Shoreline, WA USA Wed 04/26/2006
Circle Route Including Prague
You may want to look into taking the train to Austria & Czech Republic instead of renting a car for the full trip, since you are visiting only big cities. It will be more costly per day for transportation to drive since you will most likely be parking the car for the days spent in Vienna & Prague. Both cities have great public transportation & it doesn't make sense to use a car as finding parking can be difficult or at a steep price. Also, I have found the train can sometimes take the same amount of travel time as a car, since you are bypassing the traffic coming into a big city & city center is usually easily accessable from the train station. Eight nights to visit so many cities/countries is a very bruising schedule so you need to look at how tired you will be driving on unfamilliar roads vs taking a snooze on a train or thinking about paring your schedule down. I know it looks good on paper, but the reality can & will be very different. Three of us did a 9 night Berlin/Prague/Vienna/Prague loop with 3 nights in each last October & was glad we took the train from Berlin to Prague so everyone could catch their breath. The travel time was less than 4 hours-about the same as by car. We couldn't have driven through Prague as quick & we know all the shortcuts through/around that town since my husband is from there. If we had to do it again, we would have taken the train between Prague & Vienna as well.
CA USA Tue 04/18/2006
CIRCLE ROUTE INCLUDING PRAGUE
Robert: Yes you can do it, but it will take lots of concentration in everything you do because you won't have much time to relax.
I haven't done it, but I have done similar trips. Be sure your alarm clock works and that you set it on local time when you arrive.
I parked my car overnight twice in Prague. My host family helped me find a more secure parking place. Your problem is that there is no off-street parking in Prague.
I suggest you ask a few people where to put it. If you stay in a hotel, you should have a secure place. Ask the hotel clerk about it.
And don't leave anything in the car. I have read about travelers who scatter a local newspaper throughout the car to make it look like a local car.
DALLAS, USA Mon 04/17/2006
Scammed in Firenze
First off, I LOVE Italy and I loved driving in Italy (just not through Firenze at night).
I accidentally got on the motorway without a motorway ticket (not that I knew how I could have gotten one). When I got to a toll booth, the nasty Italian manning the booth yelled out "Give me your ticket. I need a ticket!!!" So, he assessed us a 50 euro fine for not having one which I wasn't happy about. Like an idiot, I paid cash.
Then when I got back to the states, the car company charged me 50 euros as a fine. What a scam!
Well, I guess it was a 120 lesson.
SD, CA USA Mon 04/17/2006
Circle route including Prague
I plan to rent a car in Munich, drive to Salzburg(Hallstatt actually), then on to Vienna, and even Prague. I'll return via Regensburg and return the car in Munich. If I sleep two nights in Hallstatt, Vienna, Prague, & Regensburg, I can do it in 8 nights. It is possible? Have you done it? Do I have to "guard" my car from theives in Prague? (I rent & drive in the Yucatan...)
Brigham City, UT USA Mon 04/17/2006
I started to read posts here on this forum to get info about rental car companies and after reading all the posts here I actually started to feel a little paranoid about driving in Europe this summer. Then I had to remind myself that I learned to drive in Germany (I was a military brat) then I worked in Europe for 3 years and drove a VW Camper 30K miles around Europe. Since then I have also had a few trips to Europe and did a little driving. I never worried about anything. I used the same good judgement I use driving here in the US: be courteous, obey the laws, and use common sense. Blend in, be a European, don't be the ugly American and expect things to be like they are in the US. Also, all the bad experiences in this forum I have also heard from people driving and renting in the US as well. So, learn the rules and enjoy. It is a wonderful safe place to travel.
Seattle, WA USA Sat 04/15/2006
Enterprise Rental Car in Bath
Recommend using Enterprise Rental car in England. We rented from them in Bath. They picked us up at our B&B. Also, they recommended getting the full coverage (0 liability) damage waiver for extra 9 pounds. Well, worth it!!!Wow, we were so happy we did. We blew a tire in Cheddar gorge! The staff at the Bath Enterprise office were so helpful. We drove (on the spare) to Wells to a Quick Fix tyre shop and was on our way in less than a hour - no additional cost to us! When we returned our car, they dropped us back in the center of Bath. The price was good too!
Edina, MN USA Thu 04/13/2006
Beware of Alamo/National car rental
Alamo/National in Munich debited my credit card $475.00 for a scratch they claim I put on the rental car bumper. They are a bogus company and did not respond to emails, fax's, or phone calls...you are just out of luck with a company like this. Never again.
Sacramento, CA USA Thu 04/06/2006
PARKING IN CINQUE TERE
GM: Parking at Vernazza is outside the town and on the shoulder of the road. I did not see a parking lot.
I would not feel comfortable leaving my car out there. Since it is remote from the town.
I would prefer to park at Levanto and ride the train to Vernazza about 15 minutes away. The fare is cheap.
TULSA, OK USA Mon 04/03/2006
parking in Cinque Terre
We will have a car going into Vernazza for 2 nights, July 2-4/2006. Should we try to park above that town or park at the Levanto train station and train in? I'm assuming one can leave a car for a few days in Levanto (for a fee, of course). Thank you for your considered reply.
San Francisco, c USA Mon 04/03/2006
Another good web site for European distances is:
USA Sun 03/26/2006
You can get the mileage/driving times information from the website www.viamichelin.com
edmonton, alberta canada Sun 03/26/2006
HIRE CAR RIP-OFF, ADA MONTPELIER
FRENCH HIRE CAR COMPANY, ADA, ROBBED US! Be warned - our group was recently debited Euro 650 for non-existent damage to a small bus that we had hired for 6 hours. The company debited our credit card once we had left Europe and have ignored 2 faxes and at least 8 emails to various departments. When we collected the bus we found much minor body damage, but the representative at Montpelier Airport would not even leave her seat to come and confirm it. Hence when we dropped it off in Nice, the representative there pointed out damage (not caused by us) and told us the company may charge us for it. Two phone calls to Montpelier had no result, and then we received that charge. DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY UNLESS YOU HAVE NO OTHER OPTIONS.
Melbourne, Victoria Australia Wed 03/22/2006
INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS LICENSE
I have driven 9,000 miles in Europe and never been asked for the IDL. I was stopped 4 times by police without mention of it.
Since you will drive only one day, I would not buy one. If you are stopped, the police will accept your US drivers license.
NYC, USA Tue 03/21/2006
Don't forget about Alamo or National Car rental when renting. They offer some great rates and Cars and they are not mentioned by Rick...
Pittsburgh, PA USA Mon 03/20/2006
I rented from Auto Europe. They are an American based company that deals with car rentals in Europe. When I rented I did the inclusive rental which covers all of the insurance. About 2 months before we went I found a cheaper rate for the smae car on their website. They very gracious canceled the orginal rental contract and were going to give me the cheaper car, then they found an even cheaper rate for a compacy car and with a free upgrade and GPS. We actually wound up with the same car that we orginally started out with. I would recommend them to anyone going over. One thing look over the car very careful when picking it up because the inspection was very detailed. Make sure if any damage is on the car, even a sratch have it noted on the contract before leaving the pick up point.
Leominster, MA, MA USA Sat 03/18/2006
My UK host recommends Carjet for an auto rental in Spain. Have any of you used them? What was your experience? Thanks,
Maine USA Wed 03/15/2006
MAPS FOR ENGLAND
You will find better highway maps in the UK. If you need to look at one, go to Borders or Barns & Noble and look at their collection.
I have found the maps produced for European countries much better for my driving needs. When you get to the city you arrive in, go to a large service station with a store and shop for one which meets your needs.
CHICAGO, IL USA Sun 03/12/2006
Driving Europe Crazy
We leased a new Renault Laguna for each of the last three years for about 5-6 weeks in France and nearby countries. It was better than renting. We drove about 3000K each year. For safety, we put a French newspaper in the back seat (suggesting we are locals) and looked for a European police window sticker. They are on ebay under police sticker.
Modesto, CA USA Fri 03/10/2006
For Nervous Drivers
When driving in the UK or Ireland, I always put the learner's " L " in my front and back windows. This helps by getting a bit of slack from native drivers when I'm trying to remember all of the small points of driving on the left. You can purchase these at most gas stations, and take them home with you for the next trip.
Hudsonville, MI USA Wed 03/08/2006
Rental vs buyback & some tips.
We do a 6 week driving trip to Europe every 2 or 3 years or so. We have rented (Alamo, Sixt and Europcars) and used Peugeot's buyback system. We only use the buy back system now because: 1. We are there to have a holiday not to spend time (days) filling out forms in police stations and/or insurance offices. This alone can cost $100s. 2. After adding the cost of buying zero excess for CDW AND theft; rental works out A$200-250 more expensive than the buy back. Based on a 6 week period. 3. We get a brand new car (most times a brand new model) every time. 4. We pay no one way fees. 5. We get days deducted as part of the loyalty and early Bird systems.
The buy back downsides are: 1. Limited pick-up and drop-off points. Peugoet uses major French towns and then only one spot; say the TGV station or the airport. Major non-French cities (Vienna, Frankfurt, Athens etc) are also available but there are far fewer options than the ubiquitous Avis office on every street corner. 2. There is a 17 days minimum period. 3. More planning - less spontaneity. So I would say if the trip is a spur-of-the moment thing for up to 17 days – use rental and buy the excess waivers for EVERYTHING.
Petrol – buy at the supermarket outlets – Auchan, Champion, Carrefour, Leclerc etc. It about 20% cheaper than the Autoroute services. Even better get a modern diesel (HDi) car that will save you at least A$100 every 2000 kilometres. No, they don't smoke and yes, they will still do +160kph on the autoroutes.
Size - another thing we have noticed about some non-European car hirers is they tend to get cars like their car back home. This is fine for the Autoroutes and Route National (Nxx) roads but if you intend to drive on single lane regional (Dxx) roads; especially in and around old towns or up in the mountains – DON'T. These can be very, very small roads – one car at a time roads, sometimes with an unguarded 300 metre vertical drop right next to you. Make life a little easier for yourself; get the "Ecomony" size.
Finally - I always look forward to driving in Europe because, in general, they are good, courteous, decisive drivers who go fast, know how to use their mirrors, round-abouts and traffic lanes and expect you to know as well. There are, naturally, some British, Belgian, Spanish and Turkish exceptions – that is how I know about insurance claims!
Sydney, Nsw Australia Sat 03/04/2006
Please bear in mind that Ireland has a long eatblished "compensation culture" with regard to Auto accidents.It is normal & has been for many years ,for all parties involved in an accident to make various claims for personal injury / whiplash etc.Irish Auto insurance is at one of the highest levels in Europe because of this theme & inversely, many cars on Irish roads _ Espcially in Rural areas - are uninsured. This is why Irish auto lease rates & subsequent insurance levels are so high...be careful !
FLA USA Wed 03/01/2006
Car Rental - Ireland
I realize and accept the fact that renting a car in Ireland is more expensive than many other countries. What I find infuriating is the difficulty in getting a "total" rental price from rental companies online. The only one I've been successful at getting such a quote is Dan Dooley, who quoted a price of $600-$700 for our particular needs for a one-week rental. The other companies (Argus, Europcar, Autoeurope, Europebycar) give you a price, but it's without anything extra, like an extra driver and insurance, added in. It's tough to get a "bottom line" price. And Expedia and Travelocity only deal with airport pick-up/drop-off, so they're of no use to me, since I want to pick up at a city (non-airport) location. I suspect the most efficient way to get this info is the old-fashioned way - by telephone.
Seattle, WA USA Mon 02/27/2006
Thoughts on AutoEurope, driving in Italy, insurance, and need tips for Spain!
While searching for driving info. on Spain, I read most of the posts on this thread and decided to add some comments:
First of all, I want to mention that 5 yrs. ago we were considering renting a car in Italy and I read SO MANY negative things about driving in Italy that we almost didn't do it! One man posted his experience driving along the Amalfi Coast and we decided to go for it. Never regretted it (except maybe once in Milan, trying to find our hotel! Other than that, we didn't drive in very large cities except on beltways around them. I would say driving up to Bellagio was more winding and more narrow than the Amalfi Coast, though I read many warnings not to drive the AC! In general, the Italians know EXACTLY how wide their cars are to the inch, and the slower vehicle always allows the faster one to pass them. (A lesson many Americans should learn!)
We rented from AutoEurope and were very pleased. Only problem was finding the AutoEurope office in Civitaveccia one day. When we did, it was closed! It so happened that the cousin of the clerk at AutoEurope worked at Avis, where my husband asked for advice on how to turn in our car. Suffice it to say things were straightened out. After our cruise, we picked up another car in Civitaveccia. At our hotel in Positano, the son of hotel's owner parked our car in a little basement garage that was overfull. He managed to rip off one of the mirrors, and we worried about what AutoEurope might do. NO PROBLEM at all when we turned it in and no extra cost. All of the ins. we would need was incl. (I had heard that was the law in Italy.) A word of caution for those of you who rely on your credit card or ins. at home: if you are involved in an accident in another country, there are DEFINITE reporting requirements to insure you will be covered by your own ins. Some of these requirements can be rather difficult to carry out at the time, and you might find it hard to comply, or think you will be reimbursed or covered and later learn you didn't do EXACTLY what your ins. required. So to be SURE, it's worth it to get the CDW and so forth.
Now, if anyone has any info. or comments on driving in Spain, please feel free to email me! We are trying to decide whether to get a car from the start when leaving Madrid for Granada and the Costa del Sol, then Seville (from which we fly out of Spain), or to take the Ave train to Granada, then rent a car. (?) Anyone have any thoughts on which would be best and why? Thanks for any input!
USA Wed 02/22/2006
Argus in Ireland -
I just rented with Argus in Ireland (I had booked through Advantage on expedia.com in the US). I was really shocked at the "compulsory insurance" that I was required to pay when I picked the car up at the Dublin airport. They said every renter was required to pay this extra insurance. I was quoted a total estimated price of $107 for the base rate and estimated taxes and fees. But when I picked up the car I was told that there would be another 75 euro of compulsory insurance in addition to the other fees so I wound up paying $198 total. And then naturally I wasn't permitted to return the car early for a partial refund in an attempt to save money. I would have gone with another company if I had known the true price because I chose Argus only because I thought they were cheaper. Is this standard practice in renting cars in Ireland or is Argus just shady?
Alexandria, VA USA Tue 02/21/2006
Car Rental UK
As a UK driver I just wanted to agree with some points in Jennifer's post and clarify others:-
1. Not correct that there is no highway patrol on motorways. You do see police cars and they are often waiting at the side on a slip road to catch the speeding driver.
Speed signs as such are unecessary on motorways as all should know the speed limit is 70 mph. It is true that a lot driver faster than this - the norm is probably closer to 80. You are unlikley to be stopped for going 71-80 but I would suggest anything above 80 is risky and should be avoided.
The white circles with a black slash mean that if there have been speed signs below the maximum limit (70 mph on motorways, dual-carriage ways and 60 mph elsewhere)then you can now go up to the limit. For example if you see 40 mph signs and then a white circle/slash this means you can now drive at 60/70 mph depending on the road).
Speed cameras are not irrelevant - ignore them at your peril. Some may not have film but many do so if you see a flash in your rear view mirror you may well get a fine.
Good advise to know the small towns on your route. If I am going on an unfamiliar journey I always note down the towns on the way and never have problems.
Roundabouts are common and are excellent at keeping traffic moving. If in doubt on the direction keep driving around it. Remember to keep to your entry lane and signal left the turning before the one you need.
2. Good idea to remove hubcaps - although they should only cost $10-$20 to replace if damaged. I don't agree with the reason given. I don't scrape my hub caps because I am used to driving on the left with right hand drive. However put me in a left hand drive car driving on the right and I will probably scrape the passenger side hub cabs. I did this on hioliday in Spain recently but luckily was not charged for the damage.
Roads are only narrow through some old towns and on B and C roads - the majority you will drive on are wide enough. Have to take issue with the aggresive driving comment - most who come from continetal Europe comment on how placid the British driver is. You will get idiots everywhere who will drive badly and aggresively - particularly the infamous 'white van man'.
UK Wed 02/15/2006
Car Rental Advice for UK
Just rented a car in England for a week and I have a few tips for the wise:
1) Get CDW Insurance yourself before you leave with in-hand proof to show the rental company in the UK. We used AMEX's rental insurance for $24.95 which included $100,000 coverage with no deductible. The car companies will charge you at least that amount PER DAY for their CDW, including Rick's suggestion. Get your own for cheaper, elsewhere.
2) Understand that if anything happens to the car (damage, theft, no-fault) you will most likely lose your deposit despite having coverage and no deductible. The companies cover third person liability, but again, if something happens you will still be out all your deposit. It's all in the contract.
3) The British drive excessively fast on their motorways. I'm not overstating this. They have NO highway patrol and speed signs that are only suggestions and appear not as numbers, but as circles with slashes or an 'x' through them. You will find yourself at 70mph being passed CONSTANTLY by those going 80,90,100+mph on every kind of road. Only the big trucks seem to be speed-governed. The speed cameras are irrelevant. Your 'peaceful' driving vacation in the UK will not be 'peaceful.' You'll have freedom, but it will be stressful. Expect it. Also, traffic roundabouts are everywhere, every few miles, often every 100ft. It can be difficult to quickly know which direction to take. Be aware ahead of time of smaller, upcoming towns in your direction. It may be all that you are offered.
4) If renting in the UK REMOVE (if possible) your hubcaps when you first get the car. The roads are so narrow and the driving so aggressive that you will scrape curbsides again and again. This small amount of damage is heavily penalized by rental companies per tire.
5) Take good photos of the entire car in front of the rental company employee(s) when you first rent and when you return. Save photos for at least a year.
6) Sometimes the companies only give you 1/4 of a tank when starting out. I'm sure this is a ploy to scam somehow. Anyway, get a receipt on the last fill-up before returning, and better yet, get a rental employee to sign-off that the tank is the same as how you received it.
7) GET copies of everything you sign. We weren't offered any copies of anything with Enterprise. Get a copy of the declined CDW form. Very important.
7) Finally, do yourself a large favor and RENT A SMALL CAR. Also, get an automatic if possible. It's just easier with everything else you will have to deal with.
PS. We had a good time despite the inherent trouble of renting/driving/parking/fueling a car. We saw things we would never have been able to see with bus/train alone. We saw some of the most beautiful scenery in Devon and Cornwall and even stopped at a British Costco & Walmart/Asda. Give it a try and PLEASE follow the above words of advice. Have fun!
Seattle, WA USA Sat 02/11/2006
avoid car theft
Tiffany:Even you have requested a sedan,you would probably get a hatchback instead.We rented a car from Amsterdam a year ago requesting a sedan and hoping we could hide our luggages in the truck and of course we were give a hatchback.When looking around,we saw many more hatchbacks in Europe compared to sedans.But don'r worry,their hatchbacks come with a cover so your luggages at the back won't show!
Vancouver, bc canada Mon 02/06/2006
AVOID CAR THEFT
Tiffany: I have rented cars in Europe many times and bought one there once. Never had a problem with theft.
I always cover anything I have to leave in my car with a bunch of old newspapers to make it look trashy.
If you have to take a hatchback buy some cheap fabric to cover your luggage if you have to leave it there.
I always spread newspapers on the front seat and dash to make my car look like a native's car and not like a traveler's car.
You can also leave a collection of bags, boxes or empty soda cans or bottles strewn about.
chicago, il USA Sun 02/05/2006
Avoiding Car Theft
My husband and I are going to France this April and will be renting a car to tour Normandy and Brittany. I'm concerned with security issues, since I've noticed many of the rentals are hatchbacks (I would prefer a sedan, but there's no guarantee you'll get one). Has anyone had an experiece with car theft? Any advice to add to Rick Steve's advice?
Oakland, CA USA Sun 02/05/2006
Insurance: The Real Cost
I've rented cars all over Europe and beyond. Mostly this has been with Hertz and Avis as I get a huge discount because I work for an airline. I have used Europecar on a couple of occasions. When I arrive at the pick-up desk the assistant has always asked me if I want to upgrade the insurance to 100%. I always do upgrade. Over the years I've had the odd problem ( a driver reversing into my stationary car in a parking lot, a car stolen from outside my hotel in Belgium etc. ) On each occasion I have been given a new car or just handed over the keys and walked away. No nasty extras appeared on my credit card bill. The only place I have not had the option to increase the amount of my insurance cover to 100% is Johannesburg. There is no doubt that it costs more to take out 100% theft protection insurance with 100% collision damage waiver but in my opinion it is worth every penny.
Nottingham, UK Mon 01/30/2006
Insurance: The Real Cost
I have to disagree with Kim. If you buy the insurance from the rental company, and have damage to the car, you do not simply hand over the keys and walk away. You must pay the deductible, which seems to start at about $700. If you rented the car for a week, you probably paid $125 for the insurance. Which means you're out about $825 before the insurance kicks in. Yes, the credit card insurance requires me to deal with some paperwork, but it won't pay a dime. BTW, I rent my cars from the guys at www.gemut.com — best deals, sound advice, great service
Oakland , CA USA Sat 01/28/2006
rental car pickup/dropoff
our plans for a month long trip to france in april involve renting a car after touring amsterdam, brussels and brugge by train. we want to pick this car up in northern france and return there with our return flight from paris. we are trying to avoid hassle of picking up and dropping off at charles de galle by finding smaller town to pick up car in. calais and reims are under consideration. is it a hassle picking up and returning to charles de galle? suggestions?
sun city west, AZ USA Sat 01/28/2006
Renting vs Buyback
After alot of researching we went with the auto europe/peugeot open europe buy back program. Renting had a 790.00 deductable on accidents and 1100.00 deductable on theft. Buy back had zero deductable which was good because a German motorhome hit us in the south of Italy, plus unlimited mileage. We put 10875 km from Nov.3-Dec.3/2005. Plus the buy back allowed us to drive in more countries than renting. We landrd in London and took the Ferry to Calais to pick up the car and it is brand new. Than we followed the coast line of europe, south through western France, across northern Spain, south through western Portugal, across southern Portugal,Spain and France to Italy. Than south again through western Italy, across southern Italy and took a car ferry to greece. Drove across Greece to Athens than back again and took the ferry back to eastern Italy. Than went north as far as Venice, than proceeded west through northern Italy to Geneva. Than went north through Eastern France up through Belgium to Holland. Than back south to Calais to drop the car off and head back to London and our flight home. NOW THAT WAS A ROAD TRIP. Almost forget, in that 10875 km road trip I could't believe how many toll booths we went through. I should have kept track of how many we went through. Good luck driving in Europe its an experience.
Banff, Alberta Canada Thu 01/26/2006
Renting a car in Rome
We rented a car during our trip to Italy in the summer of '04. I believe we ended up with Hertz, and because we were warned by everyone, we purchased extra insurance. It took us about three days to realize that the reason everyone was looking at us with amazement was not because we were so obviously Americans, but because they'd rented us the newest "SMART" car - and it was being heavily advertized in Italy that summer. It was a sporty, TINY little thing that drove like a champ.
We discovered at the end of our trip that we could have written ahead to Italian tourism and received fuel vouchers - which would have been handy. However, our overall experience both with driving and renting was delightful and without incident. Good luck to those driving in Europe.
We're heading to Ireland this coming summer and I'm grateful to those who've posted warnings and info on driving there.
Best to everyone, and thanks to all who post, and especially to Rick and staff.
Simi Valley, CA USA Wed 01/25/2006
Driving in Ireland
I suggest that you pick up your car and ask directions for the easiest way out of the City. If you are a good driver, you will catch on quickly. On the road, periodically pull over to the edge of the road, blinker on, and allow the locals to pass you. For peace of mind, purchase the full insurance so all you need to do in case of an accident is hand other the keys, apologize, and get on the plane home.
Iowa City, IA USA Tue 01/24/2006
I know how to drive a manual no problem though I will be getting an automatic. With driving on the left side of the road and the steering wheel being on that side too, shifting with my left hand is just too much more to take in. Im just getting a little Ford Fiesta automatic, one less thing to worry about!!
Surprise, AZ USA Tue 01/24/2006
Buying Gas in France
I rented a car in the Amboise in 2003 for a day to be able see the most with the limited time a vacation allows. We rented from a place that was across the street from the TI. A taxi company operates out of the same office and one of the drivers helped us plan the trip to the various chateaux. My wife and I were traveling with another couple and... Well, I'll save the details for another post. The only problem that we had was when we were buying gas at a station between Blois and Amboise. After filling the tank, the pump refused any and all debit and credit cards that we tried. We approached a group of men in the station's office and after a little negotiation they agreed to take cash and make change. I am about to take another trip to France in which I will be have a car for about a week and I'm a little anxious about not being able to use my debit or credit card to buy gas. I don't have a problem paying cash if necessary but I'd rather use my limited language skills elsewhere. Do gas pumps in France not accept foreign credit cards or did I just pick the wrong station? This was the only place that didn't accept my card. P.S. Amboise during the morning rush hour is not a good place to reacquaint yourself with a manual transmission.
Bremerton, WA USA Tue 01/24/2006
Cont. of Car rentals in Ireland
I forgot to mention about Auto Europe. I did give them the inclusive quote that Dan Dooley emailed to me. They said they meet or beat any quotes. AE said they were UNABLE to do so with Dan Dooley's because it would be at a loss.
Surprise, AZ USA Mon 01/23/2006
Ireland car rental
I'll be landing in Dublin on Feb 27th. I chose Dan Dooley rental car. They were by far the cheapest. Unfortunately I dont have a Gold Mastercard, only a Platinum Visa which doensn't cover car rentals in Ireland (yes I checked and was shocked to find out they were correct and I wasnt covered there) All the other car rental places wanted to put a deductable of around $1200 on my Platinum Visa to wave the insurance. It was returnable only if there were no marks on the car. I found a rate with Dooley that was inclusive of this insurance and still the same rate as the others PLUS they wont charge my Visa the high deductable since I opted to get the insurance. The only problem? I have been over there about 7 times, have driven very, very few times and only to the local convienece store with a friend's car etc. I have been there enough to see how they drive there but never fully threw myself into it as I will this time. I will be renting my car in Dublin and Driving to Belfast. I must admit, Im nervous. Any suggestings or words of wisdom??
Surprise, AZ USA Mon 01/23/2006
Trusted Car Driver in Rome
Last year my husband, his parents and I went to Italy for a vacation and we blessed with finding the most wonderful and trusted driver we could imagine. He picked us up at the Rome airport, got us to our apartment in Rome and then was also a tour guide for us when we needed him. He got us around Rome with no problems - from the Forum to Catacombs to the Vatican and the Pantheon and off to a wonderful local place for lunch. We even decided to use him to drive us to Naples instead of taking the train and dealing with hassle of dragging our luggage around.
We found him to be an honest, honorable and enjoyable person and recommend him completely. In fact I just called him and let him know we were coming back in May and wanted to use him again.
If you are looking for a trustworthy driver in Rome to get you to and from the airport, as well as to show you interesting sites, I highly recommend contacting him (in Rome) at 338-8545603 or 348-5505335. Let Maurizio know Cathy from NJ in America recommended him.
Jackson, NJ USA Wed 01/11/2006
Good Maps Required
When driving in European counties, the first thing we buy when we get there is a large road atlas of the county we're in... they have much more detail than our US atlas. Even though the countries are small, the atlas will be much thicker than the US atlas... expect to spend atleast $20. Money well spent for the time you'll save! Don't forget a highlighter to mark your route, and enjoy the souvenir when you get home. Also, we buy our language translation dictionary there, too... since the translation works either way!
Chesterton, IN USA Tue 01/10/2006
Rental Car in Germany
Last month I also used Gemutlichkeit Travel for rental car in Germany with very favorable results. Best rates I was able to find, friendly knowledgeable service, and I received a guaranteed free upgrade (paid for a midsize but got a Mercedes). An added plus was that my hotel was at the central train station, and I picked the car up there, and Gemutlichkeit arranged for me to drop the car off at the airport free of charge. Their website is www.gemut.com
Philadelphia, PA USA Tue 01/10/2006
Rental Cars in Europe
Last month I used Gemutlichkeit Travel for rental car in Europe for at least the 8th time and as usual, with very favorable results. I've never been able to find lower rates, I always seem to get upgraded to a nicer car than I reserved, and I've never experienced hidden charges or other unexpected surprises. Typically, I've picked up the car from the Avis counter or another major rental firm. I've directed friends to Gemutlichkeit and their experiences have been equally favorable. You should check it out before renting elsewhere; the website - - www.gemut.com
McKinney, TX USA Tue 01/10/2006
PURCHASING A CAR
I purchased a new car in 1980, drove it for six weeks and shipped it home from London. Conditions have changed since then, but I would do it again.
I have several missionary friends living in Europe and they always recommend buying a used car. But the problem is finding one in good shape. Europeans don't maintain their cars like we do.
My friends recommend spending as much time searching for one as you can take.
Don't buy one without seeing and driving it. Ask a lot of questions. Selling it when you leave will be a problem.
Buying a new one eliminates that problem. I purchased mine from a New York company which no long exits.
Many travelers lease a Peugeot, Volvo or another make because the manufacturer will take it back. Take a look at:
USA Sat 01/07/2006
Europe Driving Advice
I suggest reading "Surviving the Autobahn" (http://www.gemut.com/News.asp?NewsID=7). At the same site is a strategy for getting the lowest car rental rate in 2006. (http://www.gemut.com/News.asp?NewsID=85)
USA Tue 01/03/2006
rules and signs
I'm quite shocked that both VonAllmen and Scott Pick started to drive in a foreign country without informing themselves about the differences in the traffic rules and/or signs. Please don't do that. That's dangerous for yourself and others.
And I'm not saying that you need extensive study to drive in Europe. Spend an hour or half during the preperation of your trip to inform yourself about the rules (e.g. http://gettingaroundgermany.home.att.net/regeln.htm) and signs (e.g. http://gettingaroundgermany.home.att.net/zeichen.htm) in the net. A lot of things will be irrelevant for your trip (e.g. rules exclusively for trucks and motorcycles) or the same/similar to the US (e.g. the "Stop" and "Yield" signs).
Print out those parts you think are different and relevant for your trip (e.g. right of way, speed limits) and reread them for a few minutes during your flight over the big pond.
Berlin, Germany Sun 01/01/2006