My husband and I will be in Luxembourg in Sept and would like to rent a car to travel to Trier, Rhine River area, Black Forest, Rothenburg and the Romantic Road, Bavaria, and drop it in Munich. We have never driven in Europe before - always taken the trains. Can anyone tell us how to rent the car, costs, and any tips on driving in that area? Where is the easiest place to drop the car in Munich to avoid heavy traffic and still be able to catch transportation into the city center?
There are people who are much more knowledgable than me on car rentals. Here's Rick's advice:
When you price the car, check out picking up in Trier. The drop off charge in Munich may be significantly less if it's in the same country.
The area you are in works well for a rental or you can use local trains for the Mosel and Rhine Valleys then pick up a rental for Rhotenburg, Romantic Road, Bavaria and Munich. I haven't dropped a car in Munich but as long as you avoid the rush hours, you will probably be okay.
As far as driving. It's really not hard. Signs in Germany are logical and easy to follow. Stay out of the fast lane except to quickly pass a slower car. Ausfahrt means exit, it's not the name of a town. When you get to a town there are always signs to the center, when you approach the town center follow parking signs. When leaving you can follow signs back to the highway (autobahn).
If you have time, take at least a day to see Salzburg (by train works fine and it's included in inexpensive day rail passes, Bayern or Schones Wochende). It's a beautiful small city and everything is in walking distance from the center.
Thank you so much for all of the information. We will look at Rick's site and take your advice about picking up the car in Germany instead of Luxembourg- thanks for that tip. After our time in Germany, we will drop the car in Munich and take the train over to Prague, on down to Vienna, Danube Valley, Hallstat, and into Salzburg. Switzerland after that. Can't wait to see all of it! Thanks again so much for taking the time to help us!
Brad's advice to pick up the car in Trier is good and would save you a drop off charge imposed when picking up in one country and dropping in another. If you pick up and drop off in Germany you could avoid that cost. If you are determined to pick up in Luxembourg be sure to ask what the drop off charge would be for taking the car to Germany. Luxembourg to Trier is not that far and I would think you could take public transportation there for less than the drop off charge would be.Driving is not hard at all but as you indicated you would not need the car in Munich. If you keep the car while there you should consider finding a hotel on the outskirts of town and take public transportation into town. If you drop it and stay in the center of town you could ask the rental company where their offices are that would not require driving into town.
To rent a car you should shop around to get the lowest price. I can recommend gemut.com and many here use autoeurope. You could go to their websites and get what you need for rates etc. Gemut has a good site for tips on driving and rentals. Gemut has an affiliation with autoeurope but I would check with both to get a rate as they could very well offer a different price. Let one know what the other has quoted and you may get them to bargan a little. There are other companies you could check with as well. Avis, Hertz and Europcar to name a few.
Be sure to go to your local AAA office and get an International driving permit. This is not a drivers license so you will need to take your state drivers license with you. I would also recommend you take a gps with Europe maps on it in addition to having a good road map. You will appreciate the gps.
Thanks Lane for the additional information. All of these tips have been very helpful.
James, German law specifies that foreign DLs which are neither issued in German language nor issued by a EU or EEG state must be accompanied by a "certified translation" or an IDP (which is of course nothing but a standardised translation).
In practice this is rarely enforced for English DLs and cars. If you say that your DL is valid for standard cars, most cops will give you the benefit of doubt.
That changes if you drive a van, camper, truck, motorcycle, trailer, and so. A Californian couple I knew had their motorcycles impounded for three days before the US embassy could give them a certified translation that proved that their DLs were valid for motorcycles with a top speed of over 45km/h...
I have driven in Europe several times and have never gotten an international driver's license.
I am preparing now to go to Europs and have been comparing rental prices online--so far found kemwell.com the cheapest.
Sorry, I meant international driver's permit. A nd the website is kemwel.com
We've had good luck renting from carjet.co.uk. They're a broker, so they look for the best deals from their suppliers. And they're clear about what's covered and what's not, in terms of extra CDW, glass, tires, etc.
Thanks so much for all of the information and help! My husband did get an IDL, so we are covered.
I agree with Lane and can definitely also recommend www.Gemut.com for all your rental car shopping needs. We first booked with the owner, Bob Bestor, back in 1991, B.T.I. (Before The Internet), and have always had excellent service. His son Andy now works with him. His website is chock full of info re car rental tip and more (specializing in the countries of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland). Do please check it out.
Two reasons I continue booking with Gemut include: 1) You can book and later cancel with no fee whatsoever; and 2) He will price match. We once got a quote from his site, but found a cheaper one online somewhere, and he matched it, no questions. (We simply provided the link and the price quote.) Also once overseas, you can use their 24//7 telephone number, so you're never alone. Over the years we've gotten cars from Avis, Sixt, and (last April) Auto Europe. All were as advertised with no disappointments.
Linda, thanks for the information. We will check out the web site for booking the car and also for the tips it provides. Since this is the first time we have rented a car in Europe, all tips are welcome. :)
On a related note, does every driver need an IDP or is it sufficient to have one per car?
Each driver should have one. The IDP is a personal document as is your regular state drivers license.
I'm not happy with Gemut. I recently obtained a quote from them, one of several quotes for my upcoming trip to Germany/Austria/Italy. I specifically stated that I wanted complete (no deductible) CDW. The quote they gave me was low compared to others that I got, which included at least some CDW. Gemut's did not include any CDW. They totally ignored my request, saying instead, "CDW and theft are optional. Most customers use a credit card which covers CDW and theft at no-cost." That's not what I asked for.
Even with virtually unlimited collison damage liability, the projected cost of renting a car is still twice that of using public transportation, with which I would have no liability.
France does not require an IDP. But it's helpful to have one.
Check out www.autoeurope.com You can get their prices online. I also get prices from EuropeByCar (on the phone). I will then call AutoEurope and bargain with them. Their sales are low this year because of the economy. I believe a GPS is free with a rental. Also, ask for a diesel car. Diesel gas is a lot less expensive than regular unleaded and you get better gas mileage. We get a compact hatchback car so that our luggage is hidden from view. We return our cars to the airport because it is easiest to find and to get to (as far as traffic). It might cost more, but I don't like dealing with one-way streets in the city center. Don't forget to get good Michelin maps--they're the best. Buy them at Barnes & Noble or on this website in the travel store. Have fun making lifetime memories!
Denise has some great tips for you. We always use Autoeurope. They are based in Maine. You can call them, and you will get a real person that will go out of their way to help, and answer any question that you may have. And yes, they will bargain if you find a cheaper rate elsewhere.
I'm also renting a car in Europe and was hoping one of you could help with a burning question that I've been debating with Kent on a separate string called "Car Rental Liability Insurance."
Does anyone know if liability insurance is implicit or included when you rent a car in Europe? The CDW/Theft and Personal injury covers the rental car and its occupants but what if you damage someone else's car or cause injury to their person? I'm coming to the realization that I might need an umbrella policy to cover myself for this type of eventuality. Any input would be appreciated as I am leaving in 2 weeks.