Does anyone have a good recommendation for renting an inexpensive full size car for 1 week in Frankfurt from 12/26-1/2? I've checked all the usual travel consolidators, Travelocity, Orbitz, but understand that there may be other low cost options.
check with gemut.com.
Go online and check the rates for autoeurope--www.autoeurope.com. Then call EuropeByCar and get quotes from them. Then call AutoEurope--they will match EuropeByCar prices. Negotiate with the salesman for the best price--rentals are down right now. Good luck and have fun on your trip.
Have you tried with Sixt.com? If you can check their German side. All cars come with full insurance and rates can (but don't necessarily have to) be lower than on international Sixt websites.
gmut.com guarantees the lowest rates no matter what, so I would put in a request with them. Know they move a little slow, but it's worth the wait. On that note, don't wait until the last second to work with them.
One of their tricks is to have you go to the main train station to pick your car for significantly cheaper, but they can also get decent airport rates. If you plan on getting a GPS with your car anyhow, make the effort to go to the train station for a pick up, you'll save tons.
Thank you for all of your suggestions and I've submitted a rental car request on Gemut.com as suggested. I'm also checking Sixt.com and other recommended sites.
Any other suggestions are welcomed! Thanks!
If anyone should give you a lower price be sure to let Andy or Bob Bestor at Gemut know and they will beat it providing it is matching apples to apples. Also be careful to make sure the quote you get is in U.S. dollars and not Euros. Gemut will quote you a rate in U.S. dollars and hold that for you even if the dollar should weaken against the Euro. If it should gain against the Euro call them back and ask for a new rate and see what happens. Can't hurt.
If you really want to rent a car, go to Gemut. They have the lowest rates I have found. However, decide if you really want to depend on your credit card for damage coverage, because that is how they will quote it, and tell them to include CDW if you don't want to depend on your CC.
Before every trip, I have gotten quotes for a car rental, usually from Gemut. I have compared it to the cost of public transportation, and I have always found that I can save hundreds of dollars a week by not renting a car. I once figured that the savings by not renting a car on my first four trips this century paid for my fifth trip.
Lane, thank you for your posts and I've submitted a request to Gemut for a quote.
Lee, it sounds like you recommend that we travel by train versus renting a car. I'm currently holding a full-size car rental for $477 for 7 days.
What would it cost to travel by train from Frankfurt 12/26, to Rothenburg, 12/27, to Munch 12/28, to Fussen 12/30, to Salzburg, 12/31 to Frankfurt, 1/2?
I just checked Sixt.de, the German website of the country's largest car rental provider. They'd charge you €340 incl. all insurances, airport handling fee, unlimited km etc. It would be for a VW Passat or similar. Most of their cars come with Diesel engines which offer much, much better milage than regular gas ones. At the moment one liter of Diesel costs around €1.00. A fully loaded VW Passat consumes around 10 liters of Diesel per 100km (around 8 liters or less for freeway-only segments).
Ken, Andreas is correct about the diesel cars. Also, if you get a standard transmission you will also get better mileage. Our rental for 3 weeks last year was $711.04. I realize rates have gone up since then and also it appears that you are maybe looking for a larger car. We rented a VW Golf but when we arrived in Stuttgart we were told there were none available and we got a Peugeot that was equivalent to the Golf and it was just fine. I did call our credit card (AMEX platinum card) and got confirmation that our cdw was covered so I did opt out of the rental company's cdw. I also took a copy of my contract with AMEX and highlighted the portion where we were covered for the insurance. As Lee mentioned you should call your credit card company and make sure you have cdw with them.
Ken, your itinerary is a little unclear. Do you mean you are arriving in Frankfurt on the 26th and spending the night, then traveling to Rothenburg on the 27th? Are you doing Salzburg as a day trip on the 31st, or spending the night?
Nevertheless, if you are willing to ride in 2nd class on regional trains, you can do the entire trip with five Bayern tickets, plus local tickets from FRA to Bavaria (Kahl) for $210 (€162 at $1.30/€). That's for 2-5 people, assuming Salzburg is a day trip.
To the cost of a car, you have to add the price of gas, estimated by ViaMichelin as $164 @ €1.22/l, for $641, total, for the car (compared to $210 for the train).
So, for a few extra hours, you can save over $400, almost 70%. And, with the train, you have no liability exposure, like you probably have with the car rental. Some people have been lucky using their credit cards for damage coverage; others have had very bad experiences.
Lee, thank you for your post and I'm very interested in saving $400!!
12/26 - arrive in Frankfurt, overnight in Rothenburg
12/27 - travel to Munich
12/28 - Munich
12/29 - Munich, Daccau, etc.
12/30 - Neuscwhanstein, Oberamagau to Salzburg
12/31 - Salzburg
1/1 - leave Salzburg to Frankfurt
1/2 - Depart from Frankfurt
Where can I get more information on the Bayern train tickets?
Click on Lee's link in his message for info on Bayern tickets.
You can get a lot of information on these Länder-Tickets (each German state, or Land, pl. Länder, has a pass good for regional rail travel within the state) from my website.
You should also learn to use the German Rail website. If you select "only local transport" after "means of transport", it will show you the regional trains for which the Bayern-Ticket is valid.
The Bayern-Ticket will be valid on all regional trains (RE, RB, S-Bahn) in Bavaria, not on express trains (ICE, IC, EC). It is also valid for all transportation (S-/U-Bahn, streetcars, and buses) within the transit districts such as Munich (MVV) and on regional buses such as RVO (Regionalverkehr Oberbayern, which go, for example, from Füssen to Oberammergau).
I can see a few wrinkles you need to work out.
No matter how you make the trip (train or car), Munich to Neuschwanstein to Oberammergau to Salzburg is going to be a very long day. For instance, it will take you about 2 hours, regardless of how, to get from Munich to Hohenschwangau (site of Neuschwanstein). If you go by train, you will know when you will get there and can reserve tickets for the castle tour in advance; with a car, in December, you could have problems with the weather, in addition to the chance of getting lost or delayed in traffic, so reserved tickets might not be a good idea. Then, waiting for your tour, touring the castle, walking back down to Hohenschwangau (there are other means of transit than walking, but I don't think they would be particularly faster), going to Oberammergau, seeing Oberammergau, then going Salzburg will take a lot of time. You might want to leave really early, although I think the castle tours don't start until 10. On non-holiday weekdays, the Bayern-Ticket is only valid after 9 AM. The first train after 9 is at almost 10. There is a train at 8:52. It gets to Geltendorf, still in the Munich metro district after 9, so with single trip MVV tickets to Geltendorf at €6,90 per person, plus the Bayern-Ticket, you can leave just before 9.
You might also consider taking the train to Füssen the night before, staying in Füssen or Hohenschwangau, and getting an early start from there in the morning.
You will also have your luggage with you. There are lockers at Neuschwanstein, but that would mean carrying your bags up the hill. There are no lockers at the castle ticket kiosk, but the Hohenschwangau tourist/visitor center, across the street from the bus stop, has said people can leave there bags there.
There is a bus from Hohenschwangau to Oberammergau, and it would be included on a Bayern-Ticket. And, there are train connections from Oberammergau to Salzburg via Munich, also on the Bayern-Ticket.
Going all the way from Salzburg to Frankfurt in one day is also going to be long. By car the trip will take 5 hrs, if the roads are good. Regional trains will take 8 hrs, no matter the weather, with about 3 or 4 changes. Or, you can take a direct express train in less than 6 hours, but it wouldn't be covered by the Bayern-Ticket.
Had you done this earlier, you might have booked a Dauer-Spezial fare from Salzburg to Frankfurt for €29 per person online from the Bahn website. The less expensive tickets are already sold, but I still see tickets available for €98 for two people on the Eurocity (EC) train leaving Salzburg at 9:57. Dauer-Spezial fares require advance purchase and are only valid for that train, but, since you will already be in Salzburg, that shouldn't be a problem.
Lee, does the $210 that you mentioned for the Bayern tickets only include the trains in Bavaria?
I just tried the DB Bahn site for 12/26 (w/only local transport) from FRA to Rothenburg and the cost was E126 or $168 alone. Did I miss something?
Thanks for all your help! Ken
The Bayern-Ticket is only valid for that portion of a regional train's travel that is entirely within Bavaria, except for stretches into certain "border" stations, like Salzburg and Kufstein, Austria, or Ulm (Baden-Württemberg), and for "loops" out of Bavaria, like the Außerfernbahn through the Tirol from Pfronten to Garmisch via Reutte.
Frankfurt is not in Bavaria, but the nearby town of Kahl am Main (enter "Kahl(Main)" on the DB website) is, and the Bayern-Ticket is valid to/from there. If you buy a Bayern-Ticket from a DB automat(€27) and local tickets (€6,75 pP) from FRA or Frankfurt Hbf to Kahl from an RMV (Frankfurt transit district) automat, before you leave, that will cover your trip to Rothenburg on the Regional Express (RE) to Würzburg and other regional train from Würzburg to Rothenburg via Steinach.
I don't think there is a manned DB ticket counter in Salzburg, but there should be a red/white/blue DB automat. You can buy both the Bayern-Ticket and the tickets from Kahl to Frankfurt there.
If you enter from: Salzburg Hbf to: Kahl(Main) on the DB website, with only local transport, it should show the Bayern-Ticket under "savings fare".
There are DB counters ... at the Salzburg station.
That must be new, because when I called DB to ask them, they said there were no counters, just automats, at the Salzburg station. But, there should be some way to get tickets in Salzburg. In fact, you might be able to get them from Austrian Rail. When I was in Neumarkt-Kallham, Austria (not exactly a border station), last October, the ÖBB automat there sold Bayern-Tickets!
So, if there are DB ticket counters in Salzburg, get your tickets from Kahl to Frankfurt there. It's probably less of a hassle than going through all of the touchscreen windows with the DB automat. However, they will charge you €2 extra for the Bayern-Ticket at the counter (for "personal service"), so get that from the automat.
Also, at €30, a Hessen-Ticket is one of the most expensive of the Länder tickets. That is why it is better to buy two €6,75 RMV or DB tickets from Kahl to Frankfurt rather than a Hessen-Ticket.
BTW, if you were traveling a day later, on Saturday, you could use the €35 Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket all the way from Salzburg to Frankfurt and avoid the two local tickets. The S-W-Ticket is like a Länder ticket, but valid all over Germany, not just within one state.
For those who care: The bahn.de website will get a major relaunch on Sunday. DB says it'll become a much easier and much more comprehensive source of information - moving a couple of steps closer to making it their main sales channel.
Oh, great. Just when you get comfortable using a website, they change it.
Maybe they will only change the German language side. Oh, but that's the one I use.
I want to thank everyone for their posts and especially Juliette and Lee for recommending Gemut! I just confirmed a full size Mercedes C220 for one week in Germany for only $360 from Andy at Gemut. That's over a $100 savings from my best search on Travelocity.
Thanks everyone, and Merry Christmas! Ken
Ken, one thing to keep in mind if you are going with the car. When you get to the German/Austria border you will need to get a vignette sticker to place on your windshield for driving on the Austrian Autobahn. You can purchase those at a gas station close to the border and you can get a 10 day sticker for around 7.60 euro. Without it you could be fined substantially if caught. Check the car when you pick it up and if you are very lucky maybe there will be a valid Austrian sticker already on it. I've never been so lucky. As for an IDP (International Drivers Permit) there has been great debate as to whether to get one or not. I always do for peace of mind but it depends on which countries you drive into. Here is a link for the countries that require them. They can be purchased at your nearest AAA office.
Thanks for informing me of the Austrian Vingette sticker and fortunately I've already picked up an Int'l Drivers license at AAA. It looks like I've got everything lined up for the rental car, so thanks everyone!
I just got a quote from Gemut.com on a full-size (Merecedes C-Class or something similar) and the one week price is $300 if I pick up downtown. Add $57 for airport pickup (I think I'll get it DT and return it to the airport). Sixt's 340 euro rate includes the CDW and theft insurance but there is a deductible and a substantial fee to reduce it to zero. I plan to use my credit card's free insurance and get zero deductible that way. Also, if I pay in Germany in euros my credit card charges me a 3% foreign transaction fee. $300 vs 340 EUROS? The gemut deal is much better.
There are DB counters ... at the Salzburg station.
That must be new, because when I called DB to ask them, they said there were no counters, just automats, at the Salzburg station. But, there should be some way to get tickets in Salzburg.<<
We visited Salzburg last year. There was a DB counter but it was not open any of the 3 times that we were in the station? There was a DB machine and we had no trouble buying a Bayern-Ticket form it.
For the last 3 years we have traveled mostly in Bavaria, and found trains to be both economical and rewarding. We have traveled with other tourists, Germans, nuns (a very pleasant group) and school kids that turned an regional train into a "school bus". For us it is part of travel experience.