RENTING A CAR
Although a single traveler won’t save by renting a car, four usually will. If you can’t decide between train and car travel, you may benefit from a combination of the two; RailEurope and other railpass vendors offer rail-and-drive packages (49). Fly-and-drive packages are also often available from travel agents or airline/rental agency partnerships.
You can rent a car from a US-based firm (e.g., Alamo, Avis, Budget, or Hertz) with European offices, from a European-based company with local representa tives (Europcar), or from a tour operator (Auto Europe, Europe By Car, and Kemwel Holiday Autos) that will arrange a rental for you from a European com pany at its own rates. Multinationals offer greater flexibility, but tour operators often strike better deals. Rates vary widely by country; expect to pay US$80-400 per week, plus tax (5-25%), for a tiny car. Reserve ahead and pay in advance if pos sible. Picking up your car in Belgium, Germany, or The Netherlands is usually cheaper than renting in Paris. Particularly during the summer, rental in parts of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, as well as in Denmark, Ireland, and Italy, might be more expensive; some companies charge extra fees for traveling into Eastern Europe. It is always less expensive to reserve a car from the US than from Europe.
Some chains allow you to choose a drop-off location different from your pick-up city, but there is often a minimum rental period and an extra charge. Expect to pay more for larger cars and for 4WD. Cars with automatic transmission are far more expensive than manuals (stick shift), and are more difficult to find in most of Europe. It is virtually impossible to obtain an automatic 4WD. Many rental pack ages offer unlimited kilometers, while others offer 200km per day with a surcharge of around US$0.15 per kilometer after that. Return the car with a full tank of gaso line to avoid high fuel charges in the end. Gas is generally most expensive in Scan dinavia; in any country, fuel tends to be cheaper in cities than in outlying areas.
Ask about discounts and check the terms of insurance, particularly the size of the deductible. Minimum age varies from country to country but is usually 21-25; some companies charge those aged 21-24 additional insurance. In general, all you need to rent a car is a license from home and proof that you’ve had it for a year. Car rental in Europe is available through these agencies:
Auto Europe: US and Canada ® 888-223-5555; www.autoeurope.com.
Avis: Australia ®136 333; Canada ®800-272-5871; New Zealand ®0800 655 111; UK®087 0606 0100; US ®800-230-4898; www.avis.com.
Budget: US and Canada ® 800-527-0700; UK®014 4228 0181; www.budgetren- tacar.com.
Europe by Car: US s800-223-1516; www.europebycar.com.
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