|Driving from southeastern Germany to the alps in Austria. The motorcyclist is the only other traffic.|
There's only one thing that saved David and me from wandering back roads aimlessly this summer, and you will want to make sure you have it too.
Save money by skimping on car size or amenities, but do not ever attempt to drive in Europe without GPS (global positioning system). Signs can be confusing and road construction detours can be maddening, but GPS will lead you out of any confusion safely. I only wish I had discovered it sooner.
|We loved the little black box of instructions, on the left, that provided detail about the next turn.|
|Luckily, there was no other traffic on the golf cart lane!|
I have found far cheaper prices when dealing with companies like Avis, Sixt, and Kemwell directly. Note that all American car rental companies have offices in Europe, so the best advice is to do your homework. Call every company represented in the country you're visiting (All will have toll free numbers.) and get a quote.
And here's another valuable tip. Always join a company's premier membership program if it is free. I joined Avis's "Preferred" program because it offered free upgrades. That's probably why we were not given what we'd paid for, a manual transmission, but were upgraded to an automatic instead--usually a prohibitively expensive change. (Actually, the car could change from automatic to manual with a switch of the gear shift lever.)
Go over your car carefully and take photos to verify the damage, or lack thereof, so you are not charged for dings later.
While it is simpler to pick up your rental at an airport or train station, you will be charged extra for the convenience. (For some reason I have yet to understand, there is no extra charge for drop-off at an airport or train station.) It might pay you to take a taxi for a few euros to a nearby rental site. (David and I did this in Freiburg, Germany, taking a taxi for €17 rather than paying an extra €60 or so in train station pick-up fees.)
|Our car smiles for her portrait!|
And the last thing to remember is to enjoy the ride! There is much less traffic on the European roads we've traveled so driving is a pleasure rather than a chore.
The GPS cost has gotten more reasonable. We paid only €33 for ten days. You might want to take a stylus with you, the kind you use with a Kindle reader, as it makes GPS programming much easier.
Remember that European cars get much better gas mileage than American cars. We got almost 50 mpg!