Driving Europe Crazy: 2011
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? Is it useful to bring or rent a GPS?
Read the latest car rental advice from Rick.
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
Zagreb Car Rental
We rented a car in Zagreb Nov.16 and found Active Rent a Car to be an excellent choice. They have locations through out Croatia. They offered to pick us up at the train station free of charge. From their office is was easy to find our way to Plitvice Lakes. Right turn and 5km later you're on the expressway. Frane was very helpful and a pleasure to work with.
Wist, nc USA Thu 12/08/2011
driving in germany
driving in germany involves lots of circles.remember,as you enter circle,drivers in the circle have the right of way.dont forget to yield. if you are not use to driving 100 miles an hour,stay off the autobahn.you will get ran over.
lithiasprings, ga USA Tue 11/22/2011
If you have a fear of heights do not drive into the Cinque Terre, take a train. I drove in and then promptly drove out terrified. Ricks advice was right on, my friend Gary's was not. Totally enjoyed it by train and foot travel.
Portland, ME USA Wed 11/09/2011
Amalfi Transfer & Tours
We arranged for Anthony to meet us in Naples and drive us to our rental apartment in Positano. We visited Pompeii and then spent a day with Anthony driving the Amalfi coast. We appreciated Anthony's knowledge of the area and he took us to places that we wouldn't have known about if we had tried to do this on our own. We were able to make several stops along the way to fully appreciate the stunning views and he stopped several times so we could take pictures. We visited Amalfi, Anthony's hometown, Fiord de Furore, Ravello, a small winery in the hills, and a ceramics manufacturer so our friend was able to find some unique pottery. Anthony has a great sense of humour and is very personable. We would certainly recommend his services [INVALID] he kept in touch with us on a regular basis until we arrived in Naples, answering his emails very promptly and arrives when he says he will. We appreciated him giving us some free time to wander during the day, rather than feeling we were being rushed to the next place. We also used Anthony's services to return to Naples airport from Positano. If you want personalized service and good company, do consider using Anthony's services.
Edmonton, Ab Can Fri 11/04/2011
Just Buy a used car and Caravan
OK, I have taken the back door to the next level, the side door. Rick would be so proud I am sure, I meet a guy on a car web site who lives in scotland. Told him I was coming over for a few months. He sent his WIFE to pick me up at the airport... latter we went to a local auto auction with his friend, bought used car and caravan. He keeps them at his house, I am going back over for 4 more months. all it costs is diesel, groceries, and sometime a camping fee. Put me on his insurance as just another driver... if I can do this u can 2... Thanks Rick, you got this started. B
Lawrence, Kansaa USA Sun 10/30/2011
Damage Waiver in Ireland with Mastercard
Used my Mastercard in Ireland for the car rental insurance with no problem. I think MC is the only credit card accepted in Ireland that covers the damage and theft. You have to decline all damage waivers. I contacted MC and they sent me paperwork that I was covered. This cut my rental cost in half.
Portland, OR USA Mon 10/24/2011
My husband and I did a tour of the Amalfi Coast with Anthony Buonocore of Amalfi Transfer. We also stopped in Pompeii. He was friendly and funny and we had a very enjoyable day. He was knowledgable about the area, having been born and raised in Amalfi. We stopped for pictures of the beautiful views along the way, did a wine tasting, and had lunch in Ravello. I felt very comfortable with his driving. This was one of the highlights of out trip to Italy and by the end of the day we felt like we had a new friend in Amalfi! I would highly recommend Anthony. He also provided transportation for us from Sorrento to the airport in Naples. You can contact him at www.amalfitransfer.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Selden, NY USA Tue 10/18/2011
GPS Advice for Europe
After two weeks of driving through from Germany to Italy, be aware that if you on "new construction" your GPS will become very confused. Sometimes, you are driving on nonexistent roads on your GPS, and sometimes the roads have been "moved". So here's what we did to overcome "Garmin Confusion": 1) If the confusion comes at a round-about, tell the driver to just keep going until you, as the Navigator, have time to read/understand the signs and find the sign for the city you are going towards. Easier than finding a place to turn around only to head back into the same round-about. 2) If the confusion is just plain new construction, ignore the GPS and again know what cities you are driving toward or away from. 3) The Garmin always tells you what street name to turn on, but it's rare that you actually see a sign with the street name. So pay attention as to whether the turn is in .2 or .1 miles or 200 feet. Until we got used to this, we'd turn too soon or too late. Even though signage is in kilometers, we kept the GPS in Miles/feet as it was easier for us to judge those distances.
Santa Rosa, CA USA Sun 09/25/2011
Flat tire in Germany
My wife and I this past summer (2011) rented an Opel Corsa through Avis with pickup at Frankfurt airport and had a great 15 days touring northwestern Germany and the Benelux countries. Our only bump in the road was in Brussels, Belgium, where we hit a large chuckhole somewhat hidden in the middle of a secluded street darkened by an overhead rail trestle. Of course it caused a flat tire and some scuff marks on the wheel cover. But when we returned the car a few days later, Avis charged us what amounted to $884.34 on our Visa card! We couldn't understand why a tire, which retailed in Germany for €108.05, and a hubcap could cost so much. Our insurance covered it, but we are convinced Avis Frankfurt tried to take advantage of our situation; it's hard to contest such problems nine time zones away. Just beware!
Sedro-Woolley, WA USA Thu 09/22/2011
Travelers to Europe need to be wary of car-rental policies concerning even minor problems that might arise, such as flat tires. It's almost a "you break it, you buy it" mentality.
Case in point, my wife and I hired an Opel Corsa through Avis with pickup this summer at Frankfurt airport. It was small, but a nice little car, and we enjoyed our 15 days of travel in it. Except for a bump in the road in Brussels, Belgium. We hit a large chuckhole somewhat hidden in the middle of a street darkened by an overhead rail trestle, and although I tried to avoid the gap, the right front wheel dropped down and then quickly out of the hole but close enough to the side to scrape the tire and wheel cover. A kilometer farther along we heard the soft rubbing sound and knew it was time to pull over.
When we returned the car several days later, the tire and seven scuff marks on the fancy hubcap could cost up to $884.34! We were told at the time that this amount, "the worst-case scenario" that would "likely turn out to be less," included "any downtime for the vehicle." In the end, of course, they stuck us for the full amount.
Researching online, I was able to find the same tire, brand new, available at a German tire outlet for €108.05, about $150, but not the exact wheel cover. Judging from what I did see, however, I figure the cover to be worth another hundred euros or so. (Why do they put such expensive parts on rental vehicles? one has to ask.) The total was considerably less than half what Avis Frankfurt charged us, and therein lies the lesson. I assume the tire and hubcap were replaced and not just mended and left on the vehicle, the scrapes painted over. And as for downtime, how long does it take to put on a new tire and wheel cover?
Fortunately, insurance paid the full amount. If I had been the underwriter, I would've contested the amount. But I believe insurance claims today are just easier paid than disputed.
It cost us $135 for the insurance, and in the end that saved us from an inflated charge for a lousy flat tire that we can only interpret, frankly, as another way Avis and companies like it make additional money off helpless travelers. Just beware!
Sedro-Woolley, WA USA Wed 09/21/2011
Europcar Italy charges 4 months later
Europcar in Italy charged me 36 euro 3 months after I returned. I called Autoeurope in Maine and they say it is a lookup fee because my rental car was probably caught on a traffic camera. I am contesting the charge with my credit card company because I don't believe them and will not do business with them again. I can't imagine what's next, after reading other posts about nasty charges that didn't happen and you have no record of.
Denver, CO USA Wed 09/21/2011
Filling your gas tank in Italy
In Italy my hysband and I were stymied when it came to filling our car with gas. The gas station was completely automated so there was no attendand to ask questions. We finally figured out that the pump would not take our credit card because it did not have a chip. (The train stations' automatic ticket machines also require a credit card with a chip, FYI.) The gas station does accept cash, much like a vending machine. As I write, this sounds so simple and clear cut, but we were at a loss for a good 15 minutes.
Fort Wayne, IN USA Mon 09/12/2011
Burnt Clutch in Ireland
We used Europcar to rent. We drove from the Dublin airport toward Trim and started smelling something, as well as saw smoke. By the time we reached Trim, less than an hour later, it was not good. So we visited Trim castle, then headed back to Europcar at the airport.
We were informed that we had obviously burned out the clutch, as the car had been recently serviced and no one had noted clutch damage. Well, you don't know a clutch is damaged until it suddenly goes out. They told us it was our fault and we would be charged $846 euro for the damage. And we had all kinds of insurance on that car!
Lucky for us, they exchanged the car and we drove it for the next 8 days and did NOT burn out the clutch, so they surmised that we must not have been responsible for the problem after all. But it was so awful dealing with them. In the end, they decided not to charge us after all.
I think the best you can do is ask your credit card company to question those charges and do some research that supports your position, such as in our case, it is not possible to burn out a clutch in less than an hour, especially if you drive a stick at home!
Good luck on that clutch situation. I think this is a common problem there and whoever happens to rent the vehicle when the part finally goes seems to get stuck with the repair, unfair as it is.
SIERRA VISTA, AZ - A USA Sun 09/11/2011
Driving in Germany
Bavarian "Gemütlichkeit" seems to be largely gone, and no more so than on the road - especially in Munich. In fact there is so much construction in that city as to make it extremely difficult to navigate through.
Portland, OR USA Wed 08/31/2011
St. Gotthard pass traffic
Avoid the St. Gotthard pass on busy weekends. We got stuck in a 7 hour traffic jam on Saturday, August 6 and, apparently, the same thing happened the next day. If you have to go through the pass, consider going over the top instead of the tunnel. It was easy, pretty and virtually no traffic.
West Sacramento, CA USA Thu 08/18/2011
Insurance and Documentation of Rentals
Two tips on car rentals: 1. My Am Ex card offers an excellent policy for less than $30 per rental, and I'm fairly sure other cards offer similar deals. 2. Reserved a small car with automatic for three weeks in the UK. Got a fantastic price online. Picking it up at Heathrow, I was just saying no to the endless up-selling until -- they tried to get me opt for an automatic!! I had simply given them my reservation number, and the lady insisted it was reserved as a standard. But, I'm always over-prepared, so I pulled out a paper copy of the confirmation email which clearly said "automatic," then offered to boot up my laptop and show it to her. After she talked with her supervisor, I drove off in the automatic at the great price. Have ALL documentation. They don't expect it.
TX USA Thu 08/11/2011
HERTZ / IRELAND RIP OFF !
Got a quote from HERTZ for five day rental ( Audi A-4 automatic) for 230GPS (included everything, I thought !). After undisclosed VAT tax on line, but really being lead to believe that if I didn't get the extra insurance coverages I'd automatically be setting myself up for a huge cost via accident or car damage, my five day rental turned into 660BPS !!! That's close to $1100 US for FIVE DAYS. I was worried about wrong side of car stearing wheel, wrong side of road driving, and they really play on that, but after about a day or so I was fine... Will never rent from HERTZ again, even here in the States. Feel completly ripped off ! Would recommend GPS for Ireland though...
MILL CREEK, WA USA Mon 08/01/2011
Anthony OUR HERO!
My husband Benny and I had spent a busy morning touring the Colosseum, had a caught a train from the busy Termini station to Naples and were very much looking forward to our afternoon tour of the Amalfi Coast and ending up at our final destination of Positano for some R & R. Anthony greeted us at the Naples train station with a big warm smile and we immediately knew that we were in for a good time. After an afternoon spent taking in the sights of the beautiful Amalfi Coast (Anthony is completely flexible and ensures your time is spent doing exactly what you want to do), he offered to call our hotel in Positano to alert them to our arrival and send a porter to get our very heavy suitcases. Oh oh! We had booked the wrong hotel - and had NO accomodation in Positano. Anthony was our saviour! He promised to "not abandon us" and went about calling every hotel in Positano until we found some accomodation. Needless to say after a such a long day having this happen was somewhat stressful but Anthony took absolute care of us and did not give up until we had found a hotel. I can not express how grateful we were and now firmly believe that 'everything happens for a reason'. The hotel that Anthony found was by far the highlight of our European tour and we would not have found it without him. A day later we were walking through town and saw him again and were greeted with big hugs!! When we left a day later he was at the hotel on time (and very early at 5:30am!) to take us back to Naples airport. Anthony we LOVE you and will never stop singing your praises or recommending you to all of our friends and family. You are our HERO!
Benny & Elise "Corina" Corin
Melbourne, VIC AUS Wed 07/20/2011
Drop off charge
-This is silly. A drop off charge of $50 or so is very low. And the AutoEurope website is very clear on the matter. I rented a car from them (EuropeCar was the actual supplier) taking it from Paris to Venice -one way. There was a drop off charge of 300 euros -reasonable given the added cost to the renting company. All was clear on the website, no surprises.
USA Wed 07/13/2011
Fictional car rental price on autoeurope.com
I'm researching car rental in France and tried autoeurope.com. I got a quote of $150.77 for a 3-day, one-way rental but on the page with the price is this:
Please read! Important information about this rental. Please Note: Certain restrictions may apply when picking up and dropping off at different locations, including additional fees. If the one way is permitted, we will contact you to advise of any restrictions and/or applicable fees. A voucher will also be sent for your review. You may cancel your reservation and receive a full refund if done so with three days advanced notice.
So I called Autoeurope and was told that the quoted price is fiction and the real price would be $193. The agent couldn't explain why they would display a price that was fictional.
Jacksonville, FL USA Tue 07/05/2011
best time on the Amalfi coast!
Anthony is a great guy! my Mother and I went on a long awaited "mother daughter trip"and the day spent with Anthony was truly one of the highlights! He is fun to be around and when the day is done, you feel you have met a new friend. I am so thankful to have had Anthony drive us!
Charleston, sc USA Sun 07/03/2011
Amalfi Coastline - Anthony Buonocore
I purchased the 2011 Rick Steves Italy Travel Guide for our 3 week trip in June. While trying to figure out the best way to visit the Amalfi Coastline from Naples, I came across the "By Taxi" information in the book. I emailed all the people recommended by the book and the only one who responded was Anthony Buonocore. He responded promptly with a quote and details. He picked us up at our Bed & Breakfast in Naples. We had a very enjoyable time with Anthony. His knowledge and humor made the trip even more wonderful. Anthony's lunch recommendation was not only delicious but the view was incredible. Our stops at the winery and Lemoncello factory were delightful. We were traveling with 2 older teenagers (18 & 19) and Anthony was very engaging with them as well. I highly recommend Anthony to anyone who is looking for an excellent driver and guide of this beautiful coastline. I only hope Anthony visits Tampa sometime so that we can show our gratitude by driving him around our city. You can reach Anthony at his website www.amalfitransfer.com or directly to his email at email@example.com. Thank you again Anthony, you made it unforgettable! John, Diana, Teena & Rockie
Tampa, Florid USA Tue 06/28/2011
Europcar and 3rd party renters (autoeurope)
This is turning out to be a fun holiday!
I rented an Audi A3 (or similar) and I requested information on what is considered similar. I also asked if I could pay a fee to ensure the car of my choice. I was informed there is no way to specifically reserve a particular car.
So I arrive in Frankfurt and am given a Hyundai I30, which for those familiar is in no way close to an Audi A3 or similar. It was not on the list of anyone's similar car from the 3 different rental companies I investigated; but I digress.
When I went to the lot guess what was parked two spaces down? Yes an Audi A3 as I had requested. I went back inside with my papers but was told the car was reserved, reserved? If you recall I was told there was absolutely no way to reserve a specific car for any amount of money.
So I drive the Hyundai, which is a kind car which helps you to be safe by slowing down when it goes up a hill. Now to be honest if I were to drive all over Germany at 50 then I would have no problem. But since my trip required a bit of driving then I had an unreasonable expectation of being able to keep up with the traffic in the right hand lane.
So ay way I contact the rental company, who apologize and tell me that Europcar can replace my vehicle but for a gas powered one.
S I drive to the location they specified and there I am offered a VW Golf. Now mind you that's a fine car for it's intended purpose but not my intended purpose. I ask for an upgrade and offer tp give them more money, on top of what I originally paid for an Audi A3, or similar. The response was they have no other cars of the 40 or 50 on the lat that I can exchange, only the VW Golf.
S the moral is, before you accept the car they decide is what you want, you may choose to examine other rental agencies to see what they have available for walk ups. [INVALID]natively you may wish to examine other options.
At any rate you might want to keep in mind that your wonderful vacation that requires some driving my be spoiled due to driving around in an unsuitable vehicle. I would suggest seeing if you can just arrainge to go only where a train goes and stay on the beaten path. Forget old friends and just stay in the city where your plane lands.
West central WI, Wi USA Sun 06/26/2011
Rental car consolidators
While planning a recent trip to Spain, I decided that we would need a rentla car for part of the trip. While looking for companies that rent cars in Barcelona, I came across a company called Argus Car Rental. I initially believed it to be an actual car rental company, but then relized that it was a car consolidator. They operate somewhat like priceline: You agree to a price & terms, they then tell you who which company will be supplying you the car. In this case, it was PepeCar, a Spanish rental car company that I had never heard of. Upon arrival at PepeCar, I was informed that Argus Car Rental had used another consolidator CarTrawler to reserve the car. No big deal, thought I was now being informed that the insurance that was included with the deal was insurance thru CarTrawler, not Pepecar. So if there was an accident, PepeCar would would get reimbursed thru me, I would have to file a claim with CarTrawler. Being a little pissed at the insurance arrangement. I balked at buying any additional insurance thru PepeCar as I was already covered thru CarTrawler & my credit card. I was not going to buy insurance for the 3rd time. The thought did cross my mind that if I had to file a claim with CarTrawler it would be a nightmare. Well, the very first day, I banged up the car while driving thru the maze-like streets of Cadaques. Not bad damage, just scrapes on the rear bump and left rear corner. when I returned the car to Pepcar, I had full intentions of telling them about the damage even though I knew it meant the beginning of a insurance ordeal that I was dreading. When we arrived, we were handled by a lady who spent the whole time she was dealing with us on the phone speaking to someone over at the barcelona airport. She even stayed on the phone(cordless) while she went out to record the mileage and look over the car for damage. She inspected the interior, then got out and inspected every corner of the car until she got around to the corner where the damage was. She completely neglected the rear left corner all together. She then came back in to the office, and while still on the phone, gestured for me to sign the :no damage" section on the paperwork. She then refunded the damage deposit, signed the inspection section,gave us our paperwork, then shuffled us over to the shuttle bus. All the while, talking on the phone. Now, I am normally the guy who insists on taking responsibility for all of my actions, good or bad. But I wlaked away with a smile because of this: Most rental car insurance is a scam, especially in Europe. I WAS NOT going to buy additional insurance when the deal I got thru Argus was "all inclusive", including all needed insurance. Heck, I wouldn't have even bought some of the insurance that was supplied under the "all inclusive" deal except for the fact that it was "all inclusive. And in the end, I knew that my credit card company would also back me up. The poin there is this: Always be aware that there may be middle men involved if you are using consolidators for air, car rental, or accomodations. And these consolidators can add an extra twist to you holiday plans.
Lutz, FL USA Thu 06/23/2011
Anthony - driving you to the best view of Amalfi
My husband and I are usually independent travellers, using public transport or car hire, however for our short stay of only 6 hours on the Amalfi coast we decided that we needed our own chauffeur to show us the delights of this beautiful coastline. After some internet research we found great reviews on a gentleman named Anthony Buonocore. I sent him an email requesting his assistance and advice in an itinerary that would include the picturesque town of Positano. A few years ago we had taken a cruise into Naples and had visited the fantastic ruins of Pompeii and the beautiful town of Sorrento. This time we wanted to explore further long this delightful coastline. Anthony answered my email promptly with a suggestion of Positano, Fiordo do Furore, Esmeralda, Ravello and Limoncello tasting. Our cruise ship was offering a tour to Positano by boat, but we felt that the only way to experience the real Amalfi would be to drive on land amongst the locals and indeed, Anthony as it turned out was born and bred in Amalfi, so what better guide could we ask for! On reflection this decision was the best one as it turned out that the ships tour of Positano was cancelled at the last minute. Anthony's prices compare favourably with the cruise ship tour prices and instead of being herded along in a large group in coaches we had our own private vehicle and our own chauffeur and guide. Anthony is a family man who is passionate about his birthplace and was really keen to show us Amalfi at its best. Anthony arranged to meet us at our cruise port at 8.00 am and unknown to us the ship tours were first to disembark on the tenders meaning we didn't get to shore until 8.30. We arrived to find Anthony patiently waiting for us dressed in a smart suit and tie and we were greeted with a big smile and warm hand shake and welcomed to the Amalfi. He clarified our requested itinerary with us and timings of the return to our ship. I don't usually travel well in a car so I asked to sit in the front with Anthony. The coastal roads, though breathtaking were quite twisty, Anthony knew them like the back of his hand so at all times we felt comfortable with his driving. We stopped at some picturesque photo stops and heard many amusing tales of local life, past and present, by Anthony, a true professional who took pride in his business. All too quickly our tour came to an end and we were safely back on the quayside for one last photo and farewell to Anthony who now felt more like a friend. For a first class professional service, we definitely recommend Anthony at www.amalfitransfer.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dubai, UAE Fri 06/17/2011
Best Amalfi Coast Driver
Based on Rick Steve's recommendation in his Naples/Amalfi Coast Snapshot Guide, we hired Carmello Monetti (www.monettitaxi17.it) for a ride from our hotel in Sorrento to our one in Priano. What a great trip. He told us the history of the area & stopped several times for "photo ops".
But the real reason for this recommendation: I accidently gave him 50 euros more than the fare & he returned it! He had driven part way back to Sorrento, stopped for a coffee and realized that I'd made the mistake. He drove back to the hotel to give me the money back. And if that wasn't enough, he then offered to take us to Positano for free because it was on his way home. Unbelievable!
If you need a driver for the Amalfi Coast then Carmello Monetti is your man.
San Francisco, CA USA Sun 06/12/2011
Great Sicily Car Rental
For car rentals on Sicily, I had a great experience with Marco at www.noloinrentalcar.com. The phone is 34 329 534 40348; they deliver and come fetch it at the end.
Edmonds, WA USA Thu 06/02/2011
Amalfi Coast Car Service
Contact Anthony at Amalfitranfers.com for transportation around Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Met us at the Naples airport and picked us up in Vietri Sul Mare for our return to Naples. Very punctual, friendly and knowledgeable . Wonderful service and highly recommened.
Bill & Ellen
Longmont, CO USA Thu 06/02/2011
Rental cars on Autobahns REPLY
For the Autobahns, Germany does not require a pass for the Autobahn you do have to have an emissions sticker for entering major towns but that will be provided by the renting organization. Austria requires the toll sticker called a Vignette if you are traveling on major roads, back roads do not need it. Also they require an international drivers license. Switerland requires a Vignette for driving on any road.
Depending on the country you can purchase it for a few days vs the entire year.
If you plan to drive outside the country you get the car check because alot of the countries bordering that part of Germany do require a sticker per country.
Germany, DE Wed 05/25/2011
Amalfi Coast Experience
I often travel alone, as I did at the beginning of this year, and it's nice to know that I can always rely on Anthony Buonocore to transfer me between the Amalfi Coast and Naples airport as I quite often arrive too late for public transport. Anthony runs a very professional transfer service and has a wealth of knowlege and love of his homeland that makes every trip with him, not only so interesting and lively, but one you will always remember and distinguish from all others. You are treated as an individual when you are travelling, and not as part of a herd, when you book Anthony to show you the delights of the Amalfi Coast.
Ayrshire, United Kingdom Tue 05/17/2011
Rental cars on Autobahns
When renting a car in, specifically Germany and Austria, be aware of traffic fines for driving on autobahns without a special pass on the windshield. I drove on an Austrian Autobahn, leaving Bertchesgaden, Germany back to southern Germany ( Munich area). The route had me on an Austrian highway ( Autobahn or equivalent) for 4 km. This cost me $195 of tolls, charged to my rental car credit card. I never even exited the highway to enjoy Austria. Beware to all driving in Austria or southern Germany!
Danville, CA USA Tue 05/17/2011
I was invited to share a cab with friends to Salerno on Easter Sunday(2011) and we found ourselves treated to the most professional service from a true Gentleman.The car was clean,comfortable and free from unpleasant odours.Passenger comfort was clearly a high priority to Anthony.
I would highly recommend any service which involves Anthony Buonocore.
Linda De Marco
Brisbane, QLD Australia Sat 05/14/2011
Amalfitransfer.com and Anthony are your best bet for seeing the Amalfi Coast!
Just returned from a Mediterranean cruise. Our days were filled with many large group excursions, and that is not how I wanted to see the beautiful Amalfi coast!. By doing some research, I found Anthony and Amalfitransfer.com. First, he was a pleasure to work with prior to our trip. He has a very complete website, a short video on You Tube, and was very timely getting back to me via email as we planned my day to the Amalfi coast. Anthony's rates were very good compared to some other private tour companies, and this made using him instead of paying for a day excursion through the cruise ship possible. When at the last minute, we added two more people to the tour, Anthony was very flexible, as he was in planning our personalized trip for the day. Anthony arrived in a Fiat van. He was waiting at the peer when we disembarked. He was totally charming, and by the end of our day with Anthony, I felt I had made a new long lasting friend! As a native of Amalfi, Anthony knows his local area very well, and had a day planned for us of the most beautiful areas on the coast. When we informed him that we wanted to go first to Pompei, he was completely flexible, waited patiently for us, until we realized that Pompei would really cut into a thorough days visit to Amalfi. He was good-natured, and adjusted our itinerary based on the time we had spent at pompei, still giving us a tour of Amalfi that we will never forget. He planned a stop for lunch at a wonderful restaurant a little past Positano that was on top of a cliff and we ate lunch outside overlooking the Mediterranean. As we ate our lunch in these beautiful surroundings, a mandolin player played italian songs like "Oh Solo Mio". A local family was having a wedding luncheon that day, and we left that day feeling as if Anthony who had planned our lunch there, also really showed us a slice of Amalfi coast life!
Anthony is a charming gentlemen, with a friendly personality and a good sense of humor. He speaks English quite well, and takes his work quite seriously. He drove slowly and carefully, and we felt very safe with him and his van as we drove through the cliff side roads up the Amalfi coast. I have recommended Amalfitransfer.com to my friends and family visiting that part of the world, and I highly recommend Anthony. Lastly, he knows the Amalfi coast, has a wealth of information about the area, and is extremely professional. When I return, I will use Amalfitransfer.com for my transport and tour needs.! If you want to see Amalfi your way, contact Anthony!
Solon, Oh USA Fri 05/13/2011
Thrify Rent a Car in Germany
Thrifty Rent A Car in Germany
My advice: don't ever rent a car from Thrifty.
I recently traveled to Germany and needed to rent a car for a week. I compared rental prices on several websites (e.g., kayak, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc.) and found that Thrifty was always the cheapest by about $75/week. I read Thrifty's rental conditions ("fine print") and noticed that I needed to rent the car using a platinum Mastercard that specifically stated that it provided collision insurance for cars rented in Germany. I called Mastercard (Citi) and was directed to a document on their website stating that Mastercard provides collision insurance coverage for cars rented in all countries except Israel, Russia and Ukraine. Mastercard assured me that all I needed to do was to bring a printed version of their coverage statement to the Thrifty car rental office. I printed the Mastercard coverage statement and brought it with me to Germany.
In the Frankfurt airport I showed the Mastercard coverage printout to the Thrifty representative. He immediately gave the Mastercard agreement back to me (without reading it), and told me that the Mastercard agreement from the Mastercard website was unacceptable. The Thrifty representative said I needed to have a letter from Mastercard specifically stating that Mastercard would provide collision insurance coverage in Germany. The Thrifty representative then pulled out a sample letter from under his desk (which was in a well-worn plastic protector). Obviously, the Thrifty employee had dealt with this "problem" on multiple prior occasions.
The Thrifty representative said I needed to purchase collision insurance coverage from Thrifty at a cost of about 20 Euros/day (which increased my total cost by about 50%). I checked other car rental desks but none had cars available for rent. So, I was forced to pay the extra cost of collision insurance to Thrifty to rent the car.
My conclusion: Thrifty purposely misleads people into thinking that they can rent a car at a lower price if they have a platinum Mastercard. Thrifty does not explain that a separate letter is needed from Mastercard. Thrifty has been doing this for a long time (Thrifty has a sample letter in a plastic protector) and knows that it is cheating people
I have now been home for 3 weeks. I just received my bill from Mastercard. Thrifty charged my card 600 Euros ($850) as a deposit in case the car was damaged. Thrifty has not released the deposit. I called Thrifty to ask for my deposit back and was told that there was a small scratch on the driver's side mirror and I was being charged $300 to fix the scratch. I wasn't involved in any close encounters/accidents and I don't recall any scratches when I returned the car. But, it is difficult to deal with this problem not what I am in the US and don't speak German.
My recommendation: Never rent a car from Thrifty. If you want to rent a car in Europe, I suggest that you rent from Europcar (www.eurocar.com) or possibly Sixt (www.sixt.com).
You will probably need to have buy (pay for) collision insurance from the company you rent the car from. Your US car insurance will not cover you for collision coverage in Europe.
Irvine, ca USA Wed 05/04/2011
Best Rental in Ireland
Auto Europe is the way to go, Rick is right. A couple years ago we went to Ireland and needed a car. Auto Europe was a third less than all the others, and they picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel! Go Auto Europe!
Tampa, Fl USA Tue 05/03/2011
Anthony picked us up at the Naples train station for transport to Positano, on another day took us on a day trip to visit Pompeii and Ercolano from Positano, and finally took us from Positano back to the Naples train station. There were four of us with luggage, so Anthony's transportation assistance was so much easier than trying to navigate a train/bus combination from Naples to Positano (on the same day that we had already flown in from the US). His service was reasonably priced considering that we were a group of four, Anthony was always exactly on time, he was a very careful and skillful driver, was fun and pleasant to travel with, and was very knowledgeable and helpful about the area. We would highly recommend his services!
Austin, TX USA Mon 05/02/2011
AutoEurope - Great Experience
Just returned from 2 weeks in Italy and France. We ended up pricing it out and for the 6 of us, it was cheaper to rent a van in Venice through Auto Europe and drop it off in Grenoble, France and pay the one-way fee (which was about $560 with tax). It still turned out to be about the same as buying 6 train tickets across Italy and then into France, plus we had the convenience of having the car. A couple of suggestions:
* Auto Europe was great. They booked it and let us pay the return fee upfront in US$ (so no surprises). When their vendor, Europcar, also charged our credit card for 501 Euros for the one-way fee, they figured out which was more and refunded that with no problem. They told me that this happens way too often and so check your credit card statement if you pay in advance.
* We got a GPS and it was definitely worth it.
* Expect to pay an extra driver fee even for a spouse (this was 8.33 Euros per day).
* It's said again and again, but BE SURE TO DO A DAMAGE CHECK ON THE VEHICLE. We're experienced travellers and I can't believe we didn't do this; we were in a hurry to get out of Venice and just forgot. When we returned the van in France, of course they found damage and we found an empty, unsigned checkout damage report with the paperwork. Luckily, they gave us the benefit of the doubt and didn't charge us, but don't count on the rental agents to do this.
Bainbridge Island, WA USA Tue 04/19/2011
Driving in England
I don't know if this is the right way to do this, but I just returned from a vacation in England where we drove a manual transmission car in England.
We have not been to England since 2002 so we were naturally a little worried about driving on the 'wrong' side of the car on the 'wrong' side of the road. We rented from Sixt just outside Heathrow and without fanfare we were hurried out onto the roads. Very stressful.
Patience is the key to most things, as it is with driving in a foreign country. And after a few days we started to get it.
We hated the 'M' roads and avoided them. We also noticed that watching the road ahead took a lot more concentration than at home and looking in the rearview mirrors didn't happen as often as at home.
Roundabouts with lane commitments were the biggest stressor. England seems to prefer roundabouts to stop signs and traffic lights, which makes some sense. Looking at the signs before the roundabouts were more helpful than the ones in the roundabout. And going around more than once is allowed if you aren't sure.
We had a Michelin road map that we thought was decent until compared to a more detailed AA road atlas. Use a good map or better yet pay for the GPS.
Accept that at home you may be an expert driver, but in a foreign country you are a rookie. Go easy on yourself and be a little more cautious than at home.
Eugene, OR USA Thu 03/31/2011
Driving in Amalfi
If you are travelling to the Amalfi coast there is no better way to get there than with Anthony from www.amalfitransfer.com. Charming, helpful and a mine of information, so much safer and relaxing than the bus on the breathtaking but at times very scary roads, he picked us up from the airport and took us to the best pizzeria ever, they even made a 40th pizza for my friend and sang happy birthday!! fantastic and so friendly!! He also took us to Pompei and waited hours without complaint as we wandered around, looked after us in Naples and back to glorious Amalfi. Safe and relaxing, its the only way to travel.
leeds, uk Thu 03/17/2011
Get an international road sign brochure at home from an auto club. The further you go south in Europe, the worse the etiquette. Drive slow and expect the unexpected. Don't buy a car. Best advice is NOT to drive!
london ontario, ont Canada Sun 02/27/2011
One-Way Rental Italy-France
In case anyone doubts, it is a lot cheaper to rent one-way within France than picking up in Italy and dropping in France. We looked at renting a van for 6 people in Genoa (after staying in the Cinque Terre) for a couple of days and spending a few days in France, then dropping at the Lyon airport. The cost was $1300 from AutoEurope for the rental and the return fee. I then asked them, what if we took the train into France (at Nice) and picked up the same vehicle? $476 - an $820 saving. Not all is in the drop-off fee (there is none within France for this rental) - the rate also fell almost in half, probably because they are using a different vendor in France.
Bainbridge Island, WA USA Mon 02/14/2011
Interesting that Rick says having an International Driving Permit is technically required in Spain. I rented a car from one of the big international chains (can't remember which now) and wasn't asked for one. Seems like a law that is not really enforced.
Houston, TX USA Tue 02/08/2011
Renting a car in Ireland
Spent two weeks driving around Ireland: used Budget rent-a-car, expensive once all insurances were added (worth peace of mind, tho). One thing I (GPS) will recommend (GPS) while driving in (GPS) Ireland, particularly in urban areas (GPS) which we didnt have (GPS) and wish we did (GPS)... now I cant remember what it was. Had NO problems with the driving and NO problems at all with Budget RAC. Recommended.
Rosemount, MN USA Sun 01/23/2011
Renting a car in Ireland
One more thing about Budget RAC in Ireland. They didnt try to sell us stuff like "special" (transmission, clutch, windshield, roof(?)) insurances like we got in Spain and Italy. One thing they did though that I missed when I picked up the car was I was charged for a full tank of gas from the get-go. When I returned the car, though, they looked at the volume of gas in the tank and credited me back for the unused.
Rosemount, MN USA Sun 01/23/2011
Hertz and Ireland
Also had bad experience with Hertz in Ireland
Portrland, OR USA Mon 01/17/2011