Does anyone know how I can find out about road work or high traffic areas before my trip to Germany/Austria? We will be driving between Munich, Oberammergau, Salzburg, and Munich. Thanks!
I don't have any information about road work or high traffic, but I offer you one real word of caution. Pay close attention to the "Toll Road" signs when driving into Austria. Pull immediately into the first stopping area as you are crossing the border and get a "sticker" for the toll road. Otherwise, you could get stopped and end up paying a 120 Euro fine! Their idea of toll roads is not what we find in the U.S. There are no toll booths, just a traffic crew that stops everyone exiting their toll road and if you don't have the "sticker" on your windshield, you get to pay the fine. They have a van all set up to vacuum your wallet. They'll even take credit cards! Even if you show them your U.S. passports and valid car rental agreement, and vehemently complain that you saw nothing about stickers (which there wasn't anything about stickers and if there was you couldn't read the little signs that might have been splattered amongst others while driving at 100 Km) they don't care, you pay.
They sell the Austrian vignettes at all border stations. It cost € 8 for a 10-day vignette. Better buy them at the border or, even better, still while in Germany.
The vignette requirement in Austria is well known. A minimal amount of research would have revealed this fact.
To Tom in Hüttenfeld, True, the requirement for the vignette might have been discovered if the driving into Austria was part of our planned trip, but it wasn't. When driving from Munich to Berchtesgaden driving through Austria did not appear on the map and the GPS didn't make any distinction between regular highways and toll roads. To say that it is well known is a rather silly statement since you live in Germany. Perhaps to you it is well known, but as a visitor, taking an unplanned trip to a town in Germany while in Germany, there was no apparent need to be concerned about vignettes, stickers or any such thing. To say anything about researching assumes research was available . We didn't carry a computer and none was available at the hotel. Rick's book was also cut and we didn't carry anything about driving into Austria since it wasn't in our plans. Your comments are rather demeaning and most arrogant. In the U.S. you get an entry ticket when you enter the toll road and pay when you exit. Were you aware of that? That's the model on most toll roads I've ever driven on. It certainly is in France as well. That is the model that someone with my experience of 50 years of driving would expect in Austria as well. I contend it is a trap to do otherwise. As a visitor, we should have been given some latitude. Perhaps pay a reasonable penalty in addition to the basic cost of the vignette, rather than the outrageous fine. Before you write, think and don't be so arrogant and inconsiderate.
Those checkpoints exist not to entrap innocent travelers who don't know the rules, but to catch the more numerous people who try to get around the vignette requirement without paying. I'm sure your's was an unintentional mistake, but other's who weren't so innocent probably have used the same story as you thousands of times. And I've only seen one border crossing into Austria where the vignette requirement is not clearly displayed. The sign is usually written in at least 3 languages. To add more to the original question, another option is to listen to the traffic reports on the radio, which all of the regional ARD affiliates (sort of like the German version of the BBC or NPR) provide at around 5 and 35 minutes after the hour. You only have to know a few German words, including numbers, to understand them. They will announce it as "Die Verhershinweise". You will hear, for example, "Vorsicht auf der A-Fünf Karlsruhe Richtung Basel, Acht kilometer Stau/Stockender Verkehr". Meaning, "Caution on the A5 Autobahn, vicinity of Karlsruhe in the direction of Basel (ie, south-bound traffic), 8 kilometer traffic jam/slow down". You may also often hear the word "Baustellen", which means "construction site".
I always thought it was pretty hard to miss the Vignette signs all along the last 15 km or so of every highway and at all the rest areas and as you cross the border and at every filling station as you cross. Maybe they are not as obvious as I thought.
Ok... so now maybe I am worried about my trip last Nov. from Germany to Austria... I may have paid for a vignette, but I don't remember if I did or not. I know I have paid for one in Switzerland, because they took the money at a typical toll booth at the border, but if I had to do something different I don't think I did. Oops.
Hi Terry kathryn, In Austria you need to buy the "Vignette" (toll sticker) at a gas station or such. You then take it and stick it on your windshield. If you don't remember stopping at a store to buy one and putting it on your windshield yourself, you didn't have one. Lucky you didn't get stopped on a highway in Austria! Paul;
Back to the question about road construction. The Garmin we brought to Europe was a Nuvi275 and has a traffic alert function. About 30 minutes outside of Frankfurt, the traffic alert showed almost hour delay ahead. At this point we were already stopped in traffic. So we clicked on "avoid", and Garmin directed us off the next exit along a beautiful country road through small villages until we were past the traffic. This would have saved us an hour, but in the process of listening being tired after our flight, we turned too soon onto the Auto Bahn the same direction we'd just come from. So we actually had to back track another 10 miles, saw that the other side was down to 1 lane for construction, and were lucky enough to drive the country road a second time. Our mistake cost us time, but certainly better than sitting in traffic.
Thank you for the tips everyone!