I recently had a blog reader contact me about her upcoming trip to Venice, and the ins and outs of renting a car to drive to Croatia. Which brings up a great travel blog subject ~ should I rent a car when traveling in Europe?
|this little pink Fiat was parked down the street from me in Rome for days
In the last few years I have only been renting cars in Italy, so my information is more Italy-centric, but the concepts really do apply to all of Europe (although if I were planning to drive on the autobahn I would rent something sleek and fast.)
Before you commit to renting cars look at where you are planning on going. Europe has the most brilliant train systems, with a network of fast trains that run from country to country and city to city, and then smaller trains that run within the cities and their out lying areas. If you are planning on just hitting big cities I wouldn’t even think about renting a car.
On last year’s Corinna B’s World Glam Italia Tour we rented cars in Sicily, the Amalfi Coast and for a couple of days of running around in Tuscany. Otherwise it was all trains.
Driving in Italy is great fun, so long as you don’t have to drive inside Rome or Naples! I have literally driven the length and breadth of Italy many times over in the past few years, and as such have made a list
Re: question about Veni
* I definitely always recommend picking up your rental car at the airport. You have easier access to the freeways, and the non airport locations often close for the day if they don’t have many bookings, which can leave you stranded! (which happened to us once in Florence)
|My rental Fiat 500 in San Gimignano
* Rent a diesel – they cost so much less to run! Cars over there get far better gas mileage too.
|tiny rental car in Sorrento
* Rent a small vehicle, not a U.S. sized bigger one. Cities, towns and villages over there have smaller, narrower roads and tiny parking spaces. On my last trip we rented Fiat 500 XLs, Fiat 500s and little Citroens which were so fun to drive and you can park them anywhere! The year before I had an Alpha Romeo that was faster than the devil.
|I loved this Alpha Romeo I rented in 2013
* Buy the maximum insurance. I’ve read about people having their passports withheld until they come up with €3000 deductibles! The locals aren’t necessarily likely to crash into you, but other travelers are!
* Don’t rely on Siri for GPS. She is relatively good, but misses some big stuff. The highway exits over there are miles apart, so missing your exit can take an hour out of your trip.
If you do use Siri read the next instruction ahead of time – they have shorter distances and more cars, so you need to know which direction you are turning a while before you get there, or it can be a mess!
* Keep lots of coins on hand. You go through many toll booths on the highways there, and they sometimes only take change not cards. Also the exchange rate fees and international fees on your credit cards make it totally not worth while.
* If you want to rent scooters make sure you have them indicated on your international drivers liscence. If it doesn’t specify that you have a scooter permit many places won’t rent you one.
|make sure you know the rules for renting scooters in Europe
* Driving over there is great fun! I always rent a stick shift, just because it’s fun :))