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Rental car travel in Europe (rent from Italy and visit Easern European countries)

Rental car travel in Europe (rent from Italy and visit Easern European countries)

Old Feb 24, 19, 10:42 pm
  #1  
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Rental car travel in Europe (rent from Italy and visit Easern European countries)

I live in US and I have been to Europe (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Prague, Zurich). However, I have never driven a car in Europe.

This summer, I am planning a family trip (my wife and 4th and 2nd grade children) including a 7 day mediterranean cruise and 6 day rental car trip.

Day 1 Venice-Zagreb (Croatia) 5hr
Day 2 Zagreb-Budapest (Hungary) 4hr
Day 3 Budapest-Vienna (Austria) 4hr
Day 4 Vienna-Salzburg-Munich (Germany) 5hr
Day 5 Munich-Fussen-Innsbruck-Dolomites (Italy) 6hr
Day 6 Dolomites-Venice (Italy) 3hr

Q1. I read online that I can not enter Hungary with a rented vehicle from Italy. I think I need to change the routing.
Is there anything I need to know about.

Q2. Rental car insurance. Does it work without any problem when I cross the border?

Q3. It sounds like entering eastern Europe with a rented vehicle from Italy is not that simple like driving Canada with a rented vehicle from US.
Is it better to stay in Western Europe (for example Germany, Switerland, France, and Italy)?

Q4. It looks like parking in old downtown is not easy as in US. Is there better way to visit downtown (for example, park outside the city and walk or park at the hotel and take a cab)

Thank you in advance.
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Last edited by poohhead80; Feb 25, 19 at 12:07 am
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Old Feb 24, 19, 11:41 pm
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Yes, many cars (especially above a certain category) can't be driven in Italy or eastern Europe. You should read the rental company's terms of service very carefully, or contact them directly for a bespoke quote for your itinerary.

As for insurance, you need a so called "green card" which lists the countries the car is insured in.

Finally, your itinerary is insane, spending 5-6h a day in a car in the busiest period of the year (i.e. those 5-6h can easily become 7-8) could make you regret all your choices.

Pick one or two cities, go by train or fly with an LCC, and take your time.
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Old Feb 25, 19, 12:07 am
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When you rent, your company will specify where the car can be used. Sometimes an additional supplement is required to take the car outside its country of origin. Also remember that you need a motorway vignette in Austria and Hungary (can be bought online).

I agree with the previous poster - insane itinerary.
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Old Feb 25, 19, 3:40 am
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If you want a touring holiday, I'd personally say slow down and focus on one area, unless you have a specific reason to go to particular destinations. I do enjoy touring around as opposed to the "pick two cities approach" personally, so can see where you're coming from. You can get old cities, coast and mountains quite easily by staying in Slovenia and Croatia. Koper, Ljubljana, Bled, Bohinj, Rijeka and Krk... There's even a ferry between Venice and Pula to give you a head start and get you round the "taking the car abroad" worries.

Approach with insurance varies between the US and Europe. Typically, you get CDW with excess bundled into the price if you rent locally. If you rent from the US, the assumption is that you may have some kind of CDW cover. The rental company will need to ensure you have a "green card", as mentioned above. This may not be a physcial card, but it is to demonstrate that you have cover outside the car's country of registration.

Parking can be an issue, it varies too much from city to city to give a blanket approach. You may find an advantage in having a smaller car. One website that may help is http://www.parkopedia.com/. Personally, I've had no problem driving and parking in some very dense, old cities, but it pays to research in advance. The cost can be significant in some areas.

Last edited by stut; Feb 25, 19 at 3:46 am
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Old Feb 25, 19, 4:24 am
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I can guarantee the actual travel times will be much longer: meal breaks, "releaf" breaks, justified meltdowns by super fatigued children, road works, paperwork delays at the border crossings because of the rental car, and a million other things. The travel times for some of those legs will be as long as twice the estimate which does not allow for stops and problems. You will be left with 10 minutes visiting each city or area, instead of, say, 4 days. You need to either make this a 20-to-25-day trip, or limit yourself to one, maximum two destinations.

Please note that the car rental companies have a blacklist (countries where you are not allowed to take their car). If I remember correctly, Eastern European countries make up the majority of that blacklist.

Last May we had an unforgettable 10-day trip in Italy. We stayed in a total of 4 places. We had a really wonderful time and some of the places we visited are breathtaking. That said, if we had been able to stay two weeks instead of 10 days, that would have been even better.

If you are interested, I can give you our beautiful itinerary (but for the length of your trip, I would recommend to only do about half of it, otherwise you will miss some of the best things in each area). A circle from Venice to Venice, including the Dolomites and several other wonderful places in the North-Eastern parts of Italy. No border crossing headache or insurance problems. Let me know if you want to see it.
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Old Feb 25, 19, 5:49 am
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The only border you may have problems and delays at is the Croatian one (both to and from), given that this is a non-Schengen country. At the remaining ones, unless something major happens (e.g. another exacerbation of the refugee crisis) no customs officer will bother looking at either you or your car. Having said that, though, your biggest problem will be having to deal with an accident, even of the smallest kind. If cross-border driving is not allowed, you should be prepared for a major delay when you return it, linked to the payment of a huge fee, in addition to whatever damages plus whatever problems you'll have in any of the countries you visit, such as time spent at police stations. Clearly, no way you should do it unless you have received a "green card" when getting the car. Conclusion: Forget what we FTers say that sounds good for you, call the rental agency now and get everything in writing!
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Old Feb 25, 19, 6:32 am
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Thank you for the info.
I knew my original plan was too much. My wife wanted to visit Budapest and Fussen. Now she is convinced crossing so many borders in a short time period can be an issue. Probably we will visit Fussen (Geormany), Dolomites (Italy), and cities around them.
Also, I will contact the rental car company to make sure everything is in writing.

My kids are good at road trips. We do the road trips which include 4-5hr daily driving about 3 times a year.
Our recent trip was
Day 1: Salt Lake City - West Wendover - Salt Lake City (5hr driving)
Day 2: Salt Lake City - ski (2hr driving)
Day 3: Salt Lake City - West Yellowstone (5hr driving)
Day 4: West Yellowstone
Day 5: West Yellowstone - Jackson hole (4hr driving)
Day 6: Jackson hole - Salt Lake City (5hr driving)
I did not think driving in Europe especially in peak summer season would be quite different with driving in US.
Also, safety is the first priority. I would not take any chance for example entering countries where my rental contract does not allow.

Any recommendation about the rental car company? My friend used Rentalcars.com one time and recommended it to me. However, I would appreciate your recommendations.

Thanks,

Last edited by poohhead80; Feb 25, 19 at 6:39 am
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Old Feb 25, 19, 6:35 am
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Originally Posted by FlyerTLV View Post
Last May we had an unforgettable 10-day trip in Italy. We stayed in a total of 4 places. We had a really wonderful time and some of the places we visited are breathtaking. That said, if we had been able to stay two weeks instead of 10 days, that would have been even better.

If you are interested, I can give you our beautiful itinerary (but for the length of your trip, I would recommend to only do about half of it, otherwise you will miss some of the best things in each area). A circle from Venice to Venice, including the Dolomites and several other wonderful places in the North-Eastern parts of Italy. No border crossing headache or insurance problems. Let me know if you want to see it.
Yes. I am very interested your itinerary. If you need my email address, 1406enclave at gmail dot com
Thank you very much.
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Old Feb 25, 19, 6:50 am
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Originally Posted by poohhead80 View Post
Thank you for the info.
I knew my original plan was too much. My wife wanted to visit Budapest and Fussen. Now she is convinced crossing so many borders in a short time period can be an issue. Probably we will visit Fussen (Geormany), Dolomites (Italy), and cities around them.
Also, I will contact the rental car company to make sure everything is in writing.
The only border crossings you'd really notice (barring Hungary battening down the hatches again) are the ones to/from Croatia. You could find yourself simply facing a sign with a reminder of local speed limits, and a language change.

I did not think driving in Europe especially in peak summer season would be quite different with driving in US.
It is quite different. A lot of the areas you're planning on visiting are a lot more densely populated that somewhere like Utah, and with significant freight and holiday traffic. Imagine driving around Southern California, or the NE Corridor to get a better picture, plus cities without any freeway/feeder roads, and some areas with single-carriageway roads only. Driving requires more concentration, too. Summer holiday traffic, for example if you're in Italy around Ferragosto, can give you multiple hour delays on even relatively short journeys. Again, you need some detailed research, although it doesn't always get it right. For example, France regularly publishes expected peak traffic flows for holidays, but I've been stuck in a 2h-long traffic jam (that I ended up escaping from to take country roads) that wasn't predicted (while listening to a radio station discussing why it wasn't predicted).

OTOH, go off the beaten track, and you'll find some beautiful, tranquil spots.

Any recommendation about the rental car company? My friend used Rentalcars.com one time and recommended it to me. However, I would appreciate your recommendations.
Rentalcars.com is a decent search engine - one of many. Lots of people on the car hire boards here recommend autoslash as well. Do be wary of insurance requirements (CDW is generally mandatory, however you cover it) and the country restrictions (that will likely be documented in the small print by a specific rental company). In terms of companies, I personally find the majors in much of a muchness, including some of their discount brands. So, Hertz/Thrifty, Avis/Budget, Europcar, Sixt, Enterprise (much less of a low-cost operation in Europe than in the US). Beware of some of the loss-leader operations that rely on hidden fuel/insurance upsells and dubious charges to make their money. There are decent local rental companies, of course, but do your research - especially in tourist areas.
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Old Feb 25, 19, 10:08 am
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OP starts out with an incredibly ambitious itinerary that involves spending most of the available daylight hours sitting in a car ... crossing international boundaries ... and involving five different languages (and road sign conventions) overall ... and four different currencies in the first three days.
Then scales back somewhat. But never having driven in Europe suggests it's no different than driving in the US.
It seems, unfortunately, the OP falls into what I would describe as the woefully misguided category ...
In terms of practicalities not already addressed, is the OP planning on renting a manual (stick shift) or automatic car?
Pricing differentials between the two in the peak summer months are likely to be quite significant ... Also what size vehicle is the OP proposing to rent?
Depending on the choices there, that is another factor to consider when it comes to driving ... and parking.
As others have suggested, focus on a couple of locations ... have an actual holiday/vacation ... not a stress-inducing time period trying to cram in too much in a short period of time ... and recognize you are going into completely new environments.
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Old Feb 25, 19, 2:57 pm
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Originally Posted by UAPremExecflyer View Post
OP starts out with an incredibly ambitious itinerary that involves spending most of the available daylight hours sitting in a car ... crossing international boundaries ... and involving five different languages (and road sign conventions) overall ... and four different currencies in the first three days.
Then scales back somewhat. But never having driven in Europe suggests it's no different than driving in the US.
It seems, unfortunately, the OP falls into what I would describe as the woefully misguided category ...
In terms of practicalities not already addressed, is the OP planning on renting a manual (stick shift) or automatic car?
Pricing differentials between the two in the peak summer months are likely to be quite significant ... Also what size vehicle is the OP proposing to rent?
Depending on the choices there, that is another factor to consider when it comes to driving ... and parking.
As others have suggested, focus on a couple of locations ... have an actual holiday/vacation ... not a stress-inducing time period trying to cram in too much in a short period of time ... and recognize you are going into completely new environments.
Thank you for the info.

Here is more input from my side.
1. I will rent an automatic transmission vehicle - The last time I drove a manual shift was 20 years ago. I am willing to pay more for an automatic transmission vehicle.
2. I am planning to rent a mid or intermediate size vehicle. Based on my internet search, BMW 1 series vehicles are classified as a mid size vehicle. Rent price is around USD500 for a week including theft insurance and CDW. I am planning to take additional super coverage, as well.
3. I will rent a vehicle from one of the major rental car companies. I usually rent from Hertz, Avis, and Alamo/National in US.

My new tentative itinerary is
Day 1 Venice-Dolomites (170km)
Day 2 Dolomites
Day 3 Dolomites-Fussen (280km)
Day 4 Fussen
Day 5 Fussen-Interlaken (360km)
Day 6 Interlaken
Day 7 Interlaken-Milan (300km)
Day 8 Milan-Venice (280km)

I can see my itinerary still has a lot of driving.
My wife wants to include Interlaken and Fussne (non Italian tourist attractions) since we will have 4 days in Rome and 7 day mediterranean cruise before this road trip.
Thank you for your advice.

Last edited by poohhead80; Feb 25, 19 at 3:17 pm
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Old Feb 25, 19, 10:48 pm
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Much more realistic. I'm not sure what the fascination with Füssen is, and instead of Interlaken I would stick to eastern Switzerland (sankt moritz or davos for example). If you want to see a lake, Konstanz is very beautiful.

Keep in mind that driving in Switzerland can be very slow (speed limit is often 80-100km/h), and in Austria you'll have tolls on some tunnels on top of the sticker that you need to purchase.
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Old Feb 26, 19, 2:30 am
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...Also, Swiss highways and many city roads are "loaded" with radars and the cost of fines is modelled according to the price of meat in Switzerland (plus the horrendous "handling fee" of the rental agency).
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Old Feb 26, 19, 5:38 am
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Autoslash.com is a great site to find the best possible car rental rates.
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Old Feb 26, 19, 5:41 am
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Take the train! It's faster, It isn't Amtrak! Milan to Venice 2hours 35 minutes. No need to stop for fuel, rest rooms, food etc. More relaxing. And you get to see the scenery - nobody drives Autostrada etc (European Freeways) for the view!

Probably cheaper - no fuel, no tolls, no car rental, no vignettes (Hungary, Austria and Switzerland). Train Milan to Venice around 24 Euros.

In the places you are going take tours, rent a car for a day.
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