Renting a car in Europe across countries

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LeftCoastIV
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Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by LeftCoastIV » Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:42 pm

We are planning a family vacation in August that will involve flying to Prague, and then renting a car to drive to Salzburg, Zell am See, and Munich.

I've been warned that renting a car in Europe and then driving it one-way across borders can be expensive.

Any tips/tricks from folks out there?

Thanks

SrGrumpy
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by SrGrumpy » Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:54 pm

That's a nice little trip planned. You'd need to price it out through the usual rental sites. One-way will kill you, not the cross-border travel. Can you fly in/out of Prague or Munich? Driving between these two cities - an easy day trip - would allow you to pop in to Karlovy Vary and Lidice. Don't forget Berchtesgaden on the southern leg.

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LeftCoastIV
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by LeftCoastIV » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:00 pm

SrGrumpy wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:54 pm
That's a nice little trip planned. You'd need to price it out through the usual rental sites. One-way will kill you, not the cross-border travel. Can you fly in/out of Prague or Munich? Driving between these two cities - an easy day trip - would allow you to pop in to Karlovy Vary and Lidice. Don't forget Berchtesgaden on the southern leg.
Thanks. We're excited. Flights are booked at this point so no changes. Appreciate the city tips. Sounds like there's no benefit to trying to book through a local operator for the rental car. My default is to just price and book through Expedia.

jeff1949
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by jeff1949 » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:04 pm

I would definitely try AutoEurope for your car rental:

https://www.autoeurope.com/

anonenigma
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by anonenigma » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:13 pm

Use a credit card that covers collision damage waiver overseas. Costco Citi Card does.

curmudgeon
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by curmudgeon » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:53 pm

The fee for dropping in a different country can vary a lot between operators. It's worth pricing on several sites, including Costco and maybe directly with some of the big companies. You don't want the car in the cities, so I would alternately consider taking the train or flying from Prague to Munich, doing your city time there, and then picking up the car for the rest of the trip and dropping it at the airport at the end.

Sometimes, though, you just have to consider your vacation time as too valuable to be spent messing around trying to save $4-500 extra in drop charges for the car.

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LeftCoastIV
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by LeftCoastIV » Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:22 pm

curmudgeon wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:53 pm
The fee for dropping in a different country can vary a lot between operators. It's worth pricing on several sites, including Costco and maybe directly with some of the big companies. You don't want the car in the cities, so I would alternately consider taking the train or flying from Prague to Munich, doing your city time there, and then picking up the car for the rest of the trip and dropping it at the airport at the end.

Sometimes, though, you just have to consider your vacation time as too valuable to be spent messing around trying to save $4-500 extra in drop charges for the car.
Thanks. I was thinking of renting the car when we leave Prague, and drop it off when we arrive in Munich

So, for our Prague >> Salzburg >> Zell Am See >> Munich trip (all places booked)
Fly into Prague - no car for a few days
Rent car as we leave Prague and drive to Salzburg
Keep car while in Salzburg
Drive to Zell Am See, keep car there as well
Drive to Munich, and drop off car
Sight see Munich without car

We traveled to France a while ago, and thought the train would be fun/romantic. Outside of Paris, we wished we had a car, to save time waiting for trains and getting from the train station to our destination, etc...

We traveled to Italy, rented a car, and found it very helpful.

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Watty
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by Watty » Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:40 pm

LeftCoastIV wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:42 pm
Any tips/tricks from folks out there?
Check to see when your drivers license expires. More than one person has gotten overseas and been denied a rental car because they did not realise that their drivers licences had expired. While you are at it double check when your passport and credit cards expire, some countries require that a passport be valid for six months beyond your expected departure date.

At least in the US Airport rentals often have lots of extra taxes and concession fees so it is best to rent the car at a non airport location. Many major train stations have car rental offices so also price the rentals from those locations.

You usually do not want a car in any of the major cities since that will limit you to hotels that have good parking and it is often better to stay in the an quant older hotel in the old part of town where there are a lot of the tourist sites.

Most likely it would make sense to pick up your car when you leave Prague. I am not familiar with Prague but one thing I have done was was to pick up or drop off a rental car in an outlying city then take a train to or from the city. That allows me to avoid driving in the city traffic. For example one time I had a rental car in England and I was going to London so I dropped the rental car off at the Oxford train station and took a train into London.

In a large city when a hotel has parking there will often be a significant additional charge. The parking may also be limited to contact them to make sure that they know that you will have a car and that they will have a space for you.

Rentals that at multiples of 7 days are usually the best value because that is at the weekly rate. If you rent it for 8 days you will get a one week rental + 1 day at a higher daily rate.

Be sure to have an international driving permit, you can get them at AAA. Some people say that you can get by without one but it is not worth the risk that you will run into a rental car clerk or a cop that is having a bad day.

Plan of getting gas when your tank is half empty. Gas stations are not as common as in the US and there are stories of people getting to unattended gas station that does not take a US credit card. I have never had a problem but it does not hurt to fill the tank when it is convenient.

As I recall if you rent through Costco you get an extra driver for free, at least in the US. That is worth checking on since even if you don't plan on having someone else drive having a second driver could be handy at times.

Take the drunk driving laws seriously. I find driving overseas challenging enough so when I am driving overseas I do not drink at all if I will be driving.

I also try to avoid driving much at night but that us usually not a problem since Europe is far enough north that the sunset is real late in the summer. Check to see what time the sun will set when you are there.

A GPS or a smartphone app is essential for navigating.

curmudgeon
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by curmudgeon » Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:45 pm

One thing I have heard (never been able to do this myself) is that when you go to pick up the car in Prague, *ask* them if they have any German cars that need to be returned. They won't price that out in advance, but there might be a chance on the spot given the country pair involved.

oxothuk
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by oxothuk » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:27 pm

Prague is only a couple of hours by train from Dresden,Germany. I would suggest you consider separate rentals for Czech Republic and Germany. One way rentals within the same country often have little or no extra charges.

SrGrumpy
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by SrGrumpy » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:28 pm

LeftCoastIV wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:22 pm
Outside of Paris, we wished we had a car, to save time waiting for trains and getting from the train station to our destination, etc...

We traveled to Italy, rented a car, and found it very helpful.
You're absolutely right. Car is the way to go. And, as @Curmudgeon said, it may be best to bite that one-way bullet, which will delay your retirement by about 5 seconds.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by adamthesmythe » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:29 pm

I did that exact trip as a one-way rental a few years ago. It was not all that expensive.

HOWEVER I had an unpleasant experience returning the car at the Munich airport. They were not willing to inspect the car and give me a receipt. Apparently between-country rentals belong to the original country of rental and are not the problem of the receiving station (even if the same brand!).

I took a bunch of photos and in the end had no problem.

But it was kind of weird. Actually in several experiences I have found the Munich airport car rental generally unsatisfactory, not very businesslike. Apparently these days the Germans are not as German as they used to be. I suppose some would find that is a good thing.

02nz
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by 02nz » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:00 pm

oxothuk wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:27 pm
Prague is only a couple of hours by train from Dresden,Germany. I would suggest you consider separate rentals for Czech Republic and Germany. One way rentals within the same country often have little or no extra charges.
This is an excellent suggestion. My experience is also that one-way rentals within Germany incur little or no extra charges. You can take the train to Dresden, maybe do some sightseeing there (very much worthwhile), and then rent the car and drive from there, dropping it off in Munich at the end of your trip.

Note that in the Czech Republic and in Austria, use of the freeways requires a "vignette," which you can buy at the first gas station you come across.
Last edited by 02nz on Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

02nz
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by 02nz » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:07 pm

LeftCoastIV wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:00 pm
Sounds like there's no benefit to trying to book through a local operator for the rental car. My default is to just price and book through Expedia.
Check Kayak for car rentals, it will check a bunch of sites, including some that specialize in Europe. I've usually found my cheapest international car rentals this way.

And make sure you ask for an automatic (there's a checkbox for this on Kayak) - most European rental cars (below the luxury category) are manual.

LookinAround
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by LookinAround » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:49 pm

Absolutely get an international driving license!

1. They're required in the Czech Republic https://cz.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-se ... -licenses/

2. Even though not required in Germany, you can save yourself time /questions / confusion if pulled over by a cop as the IDL is printed in multiple languages.

Note you are still required to have your US license along with your IDL

neilpilot
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by neilpilot » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:57 pm

LookinAround wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:49 pm
Absolutely get an international driving license!

1. They're required in the Czech Republic https://cz.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-se ... -licenses/

2. Even though not required in Germany, you can save yourself time /questions / confusion if pulled over by a cop as the IDL is printed in multiple languages.

Note you are still required to have your US license along with your IDL
No such thing as an IDL. But an IDP is also required in Austria.
Last edited by neilpilot on Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

an_asker
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by an_asker » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:57 pm

LeftCoastIV wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:22 pm
curmudgeon wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:53 pm
The fee for dropping in a different country can vary a lot between operators. It's worth pricing on several sites, including Costco and maybe directly with some of the big companies. You don't want the car in the cities, so I would alternately consider taking the train or flying from Prague to Munich, doing your city time there, and then picking up the car for the rest of the trip and dropping it at the airport at the end.

Sometimes, though, you just have to consider your vacation time as too valuable to be spent messing around trying to save $4-500 extra in drop charges for the car.
Thanks. I was thinking of renting the car when we leave Prague, and drop it off when we arrive in Munich

So, for our Prague >> Salzburg >> Zell Am See >> Munich trip (all places booked)
Fly into Prague - no car for a few days
Rent car as we leave Prague and drive to Salzburg
Keep car while in Salzburg
Drive to Zell Am See, keep car there as well
Drive to Munich, and drop off car
Sight see Munich without car

We traveled to France a while ago, and thought the train would be fun/romantic. Outside of Paris, we wished we had a car, to save time waiting for trains and getting from the train station to our destination, etc...

We traveled to Italy, rented a car, and found it very helpful.
I spent time in Prague, Munich (less than a day), Salzburg (a day) last year - late August. Obviously, you don't need to do what I did but ...

I took trains from Prague to Munich - the hard way, changing trains three times. You could do the same with one train change, I believe. I then took a train to Salzburg from Munich - two hours.

Alternatively, you could take the train from Prague to Salzburg via Linz; then hop over to Munich.

I've no idea where Zell Am See is, but I was recommended Berchtesgaden as well. Wherever I went was pretty easy to navigate with public transportation (specifically trains in my case).

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sunny_socal
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by sunny_socal » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:11 pm

This summer we're renting a car in Munich and staying a few days, a couple more days in Salzburg and then a few in Milan. Will eat the drop-off fee, it's several hundred dollars.

Renting a car in Europe is expensive compared to the USA, but when I priced out train/plane tickets for the same route we wouldn't have saved anything and would lose a great deal of time. Looking forward to _driving_ through the Alps in a BMW 5-series! :beer

jminv
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by jminv » Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:18 am

The fee is typically more than the rental but I checked some dates in August and the overall rental cost is not bad. Make sure you have IDP since it’s required in Austria.

For Zell am See I would really recommend staying somewhere that offers the Summer Card (local attractions) as part of the hotel deal. It’s not available for purchase you have to book a place that provides it as part of the deal. The summer card is a very good value and we loved everywhere we went with it. Up the mountain, another lift too, lake boat, the high mountain lake dam attraction, waterfalls, silver mine, outdoor river attraction, museums etc etc.
https://www.zellamsee-kaprun.com/en/act ... ummer-card
Click on partner accommodation.

If you like the idea of a thermal spa complex then also refine the search on that page to include accommodation that has passes included for tauern spa. It is a great spa, relaxing, and lots of fun. One of the better ones I went to in Austria.

billfromct
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by billfromct » Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:30 am

I'm in Fussen, Germany right now.

Our trip is/was: Munich, Salzburg, St Gilgen, Kaprun (next to Zell am See), Innsbruck, Fussen, Garmisch, then back to Munich.

One thing you may want to check out is Burg Hohenwerfen on your way from Salzburg to Zell am See. It's the castle where the movie Where Eagles Dare, with Clint Eastwood, was filmed in the late 1960s. It's located in Werfen, Germany 53 kms south of Salzburg.

bill

clemrick
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by clemrick » Thu Jun 13, 2019 5:00 pm

When driving in Europe remember:
1) Speeding - they have cameras and will find you, long after you are home and think you have paid for everything. We did have one rental car that showed the speed limit on the dashboard, but it was not updated to the speed law changes in France last year (as of June 2018).
2) City and Country required stickers - rental cars do not always come with the ones you need. Switzerland requires a vignette and many German cities require Green Zone stickers. For German Green Zones, you can usually park outside the zone and take public transportation.
3) Check out the TripAdvisor forums before going, they have the up-to-date info, like the speed changes in France, so you don't get in trouble.

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LeftCoastIV
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by LeftCoastIV » Thu Jun 20, 2019 10:51 pm

OP here...

Thanks everyone for all the helpful info. I took the advice to get my IDP from AAA. Very easy process. Now looking at Kayak, Costco, and AutoEurope for the best rental rates. Thanks again.

Pam01
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Re: Renting a car in Europe across countries

Post by Pam01 » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:57 pm

There is a direct train from Prague to Linz that can be booked from Czech Republic railways (www.cd.cz) or OBB (Austrian Railways). You could take the train to Linz and then rent a car to use in Austria and Munich. Munich is near enough Austrian border that if you want to avoid a cross-border rental charge, you can do a quick drive across the border to Austria to drop the car off (Reutte is the Austrian town just across from Fussen and Salzburg is like one hr from Munich) and then take the train back to Munich. Bavarian regional pass is about 25 euros and covers Salzburg. There are frequent trains between Munich and Salzburg. I am assuming you are flying out of Munich.

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