Driving in Europe
Continued from page 1
ABOVE: The economical Peugeot 207 on a
Residents of countries outside the U.S. can save money with
short-term tourist leases from Peugeot
Tips on renting a car
Comparison shop. Check prices at European brokers
that specialize in leisure rentals and short-term leasing programs. (See
page 5.) Check each company's age restrictions
if you're under 25 or over 65, and see "Lease for longer trips" below.
Plan carefully. Rent a car for only as
long as you'll need it, to avoid early-return penalties. If you're on a
budget, avoid drop-off charges by planning a circular itinerary.
Book ahead. If you live outside
Europe, you're likely to get a better deal by making arrangements from
Lease for longer trips. A short-term
lease can save money on rentals of 21 days or more. Such "buy back" or
"purchase-repurchase" leases are
especially useful for students and senior citizens, since age restrictions
are minimal. For details
and companies that offer leasing programs, see page 5.
Buy a pass. A Rail 'n Drive Pass
combines the speed and comfort of train travel with the convenience of a
vehicle for local excursions.
(See page 5.)
Think small. Fuel is expensive in
Europe, streets are narrow in many cities, and small cars are easier to park
than large ones. Unless you need a large car or van, stick with a small to
Shift for yourself. Cars with
automatic transmissions can be hard to find and expensive to rent in many
countries. They also use more fuel. (Exception: If you're uncomfortable with
the idea of shifting gears with your left hand, a car with automatic
transmission may be worth the extra cost in Britain and Ireland.)
Important note: If you're picking up a
car outside the European Union, you may encounter
bureaucratic hassles if you later decide to drop the car off in an EU
country. To avoid potential problems, ask for a car that's regisftered in
the EU if you plan to drive there.
Tips on driving in Europe
Prepare at home. European regulations, driving
customs, and road signs can be confusing to foreigners, so use the
information resources on page 3
and page 4 to learn
the basics ahead of time.
Be alert. If you're from North
America, forget about turning on the cruise control and floating along in
the left lane while listening to Santana and slurping coffee from your
MegaMug. You could have a panic attack when a BMW comes tearing up behind
you, left flasher blinking, at 250 km/h (156 mph) or faster. And if you've
never had to enter or exit a traffic circle (a.k.a. rotary or roundabout) in
heavy traffic, get ready for a new experience--especially if local laws give
priority to traffic coming from the right.
Carry an International Driving Permit.
This passport-like document (sometimes called an International
Driver's License) is a translation of your home license. It's required in
some countries and optional in others, but it's well worth having to avoid
problems if you're stopped by the police or want to rent a car in a foreign
country. See our
General driving links
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Need a car in Europe?
If you live outside the EU,
a tax-free Renault or Peugeot tourist car lease can be cheaper than renting
for visits of 21+ days. Minimum driver age is 18, there' s no upper age
limit, and rates include insurance.
For car rentals under 21 days:
Traveling by train?
Get free schedules, maps,
and guides for 50+ European railroads. (Residents of North and Central
America can buy tickets and rail passes online.)
From Durant and Cheryl Imboden:
About Europe for Visitors