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Car Rental? Worth it or not??

Travel Forums Europe Car Rental? Worth it or not??

1. Posted by Mikey (Budding Member 10 posts) 12y

I am finalizing the plans for our trip in August.. We plan on using the eurorail select saver good for 15 non-consecutive days costing us almost $1400. My worry is that we might start to feel "stranded" if we decide to take a day trip from where we are staying to outer lying attractions. For example, we are staying 4 days in Nice, France but would like to see the other cities along the french riviera.. what types of transportation can I expect and is it cost effective? I can rent a car for $30 a day but is it worth it? How does insurance work? Any other suggestions? We don't want to get stuck paying $$$ for buses/taxies etc.

2. Posted by pangloss (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y

as i don't know where you plan on going, it's difficult to provide decent advice. train schedules can be found on www.sncf.com (in english).

in terms of rental cars i suggest you book from the US rather than locally and also try to find a discounted rate offered by a large company (budget, avis, hertz, europcar or sixt). sometimes these rates offer all insurance included (and also all the mileage), but it's possible that one of your US credit cards covers rentals too. please check terms and conditions carefully as some only do for rentals in the us.

please let me know in case you'd like to know more

3. Posted by pangloss (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y

oops. i just noticed that sncf was bad advice. they only show long distance trains on their english site. so here's my suggestion: let me know what you plan on doing in detail and i might come up with more information.

p.s. august is very high season in south of france (half of paris will be down there), so booking early and planning carefully is a must

4. Posted by Mikey (Budding Member 10 posts) 12y

Europe Vacation
August 9-September 7

August 9 - Fly into Ramstein AB, Germany
-Space A: Dover AFB, DE - Germany 7x a week
-Space A: Charleston AFB - Germany 2-4x a week
-Space A: Norfolk NAS - Italy 3x a week
-Space A: Norfolk NAS - Spain 2x a week

August 10 - Eurorail from Saarbrucken, Germany to Paris France - 245 miles 552.00E
August 16 - Eurorail from Paris, France to Nice, France (B)540.00E
August 20 - Eurorail from Nice, France to Florence, Italy - 260 miles 320.00E
August 24 - Eurorail from Florence, Italy to Rome Italy - 170 miles (B)375.00E
August 29 - Eurorail from Rome, Italy to Venice Italy - 329 miles (B)228.00E
August 31 - Eurorail from Venice, Italy to Salzburg, Austria - 271 miles (B)375.00E (3rd night 50% off)
September 3 - Drive from Salzburg, Austria to Munich, Germany - 90 miles $232.02
September 5 - Eurorail from Munich, Germany to Castle "Auf Schoenburg" 150.00-210.00E
September 6 - Eurorail from Castle "Auf Schoenburg" to Ramstein

Extend 1 day paris, move nice 16-20, move florence 20-24, cut rome 24-29 - DONE

Thanks for the help!

5. Posted by pangloss (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y

well, this sounds like quite a trip. i'd love to travel for so long.

what i haven't understood is whether you are considering taking a rental car (only if you rent in germany, where cars are typically cheap during vacation because it's a business tool, and if you're ready to wait a little you might be able to get a 3 series BMW for as little as 35$ a day including all insurance) for your entire trip or just for parts of it. if yes, you might save a little money and gain flexibility, but on the other hand you might spend a decent time on the road instead of watching the landscape from a train.

if i were to switch to a car, i would change the schedule to make trips shorter, i.e. see the travel between cites as something i typically would span across two days and stop at a nice (and often cheaper) country hotel.

what's also important: if you intend to use highways in france and italy, this is going to be expensive because of the road toll, quickly adding to your travel budget. if not, you need to be patient and good at reading the map (or rent a car with gps system AND a DVD for all of Europe).

what you also might consider: there are a number of low-cost no-frills airlines in europe, which give you a better deal than the train. however, i like train rides much more than taking the air-bus.

now for local travel. this can get difficult and will need some planning. going from big city to another big city is definitely easy, however, travelling locally by train and bus is some adventure, unless you speak the language. you only will find part of the information locally PLUS some schedules might be reduced during the August holiday season both in Italy and in France.
two sites where you might find some stuff:
http://www.beyond.fr/travel/bus05.html
http://www.rail.ch/index_e.htm (yes it's swiss, but shows more than sncf)

i'm not sure whether this was helpful, alternatively just send an email

6. Posted by Mikey (Budding Member 10 posts) 12y

Yes it was helpful.. I would love a 3 series BMW for $35 a day :) What I was thinking I could use the rental car for is for trips outside of the cities we are staying in.

For example.. our first stop is Paris and we could stay in Paris and just walk all around it for days and days, but one of my big things I want to see is Normandy which is not in walking distance. I suppose I could use the train, but we rather not use on of our 15 days if possible, and rather not pay $140 round trip for the both of us. So we figure we would rent a car for a day or so here.

Next we are staying in Nice, France.. we figured a rental car for 3 or so days here would be great to put around from Vence to Nice to Monaco or wherever we may want to go which you cannot really do with a train (or so it seems).

The other destinations probably won't require rental cars I don't believe. I am paying almost $1400 for my eurorail saver 15 days 5 country pass. Should I just up it to one month unlimited for $1800, only a $400 difference and skip the rental car?

And lastly, how flexible is the train for day trips? Is my normandy day trip a possibility from paris? What about the french riviera? And finally.. I was looking at online schedules, and I can't find ANY trains that go from Nice to Florece (which is my 3rd destination).

7. Posted by pangloss (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y

well, the 35$ for a bmw would be only if you rent in germany for 15 days or more... i doubt you get more than a small renault in south of france for that amount. but anyway, i think this is a decent approach, but (due to the fact that it's HIGHEST season) please make bookings very early, i.e. now.

8. Posted by Mikey (Budding Member 10 posts) 12y

I am trying to make all reservations. Hotels are done, and will book certain tours... but eurorail and rental car is another thing.. and quite honestly giving me a headache because I simply do not know how the train works or what I am even doing.