Renting a Car in Europe – Is it Worth It?

By Kristi Remick

Photo courtesy of journalingforhappiness

Photo courtesy of journalingforhappiness

NO! Oh wait, you want details.  Well I will give you several reasons why and a little back story. Recently my husband and I traveled to the South of France (Ste. Maxime) and the Netherlands (Amsterdam and Alkmaar). Due to budgetary constraints and the fact we had to bring our dogs with us, we decided it made most sense to rent a car.  We probably saved a few hundred francs going this route but we gained some grey hairs along the way.

Reason #1 NOT to rent a car in Europe – Europe has amazing train systems and low cost airlines. Europe is way ahead of the United States with their rail infrastructure making most train travel easy, fast and affordable (typically).  Low cost airlines can be a little stressful during the boarding process but the time you save flying vs slowly dying in a car, with extremely gassy dogs, well worth the small amount of pain they inflict.

Reason #2 NOT to rent a car in Europe – No matter what Google Maps says, it will take 2+ hours longer. Google and its maps are amazing but they don’t take into account construction, tolls, traffic, weather and pee breaks.  If you are driving in Europe, there will be ALL of the above and most of the time, the tolls and construction are planned horribly.  While traveling home from the Netherlands, we drove through Germany on the A5 which was undergoing major construction.  All traffic on this major highway was at one point diverted through a town…A TOWN.   We were forced, with hundreds of other European travelers, to drive 10km along a two lane road with traffic lights. Not only was this disruptive to our travel plans, it was horribly disruptive to this small community that was forced to do business as usual with a grotesquely clogged main street.

Reason #3 NOT to rent a car in Europe – The money you save is not worth the stress. We thought we were smart renting a GPS system.  We thought we were even smarter by printing out directions “just in case”.  You can’t possibly get lost with both a GPS and printed directions, right? Right…uh…NO. You will get lost in Europe and there are a whole slew of reasons why.  The South African woman from our GPS  resorted to yelling at us on occasion because she couldn’t understand how we could possibly get lost with her constant and annoying guidance.  She and I are currently estranged.

You have to weigh what you are really saving when deciding between traveling by car or public transportation. You will spend more time driving than flying or training, you will get into a fight with your GPS and/or partner, you will expend effort vs sitting back and letting someone else drive for you and you will invent new swear words along the way.  Minus inventing new swear words, the negatives far outweigh the positives.

When I am not busy stuffing my face with chocolate, you can find me over at From A to Z blogging about my life in Zurich Switzerland.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Tags: , ,

Powered by WP Hashcash