After surviving the technical stuff, let’s focus more on what happens when you decide to expand your travel appetites and cross country borders.
First of all, most of the time when you book online (in advance), you get a better deal. But booking online to travel abroad will need a telephone confirmation so that the company can prepare everything for you. If you’re renting a car in the UK and want to travel to Ireland or continent, that might bring high surcharges. In that case, for crossing to the continent, you will get a return ticket for Channel Tunnel. Though I wouldn’t recommend, as an alternative, taking a train or a ferry boat and then rent again, it’s possible. There is one more thing that makes your life more complicated when crossing from the UK to the continent or the other way around…which side of the road you are driving at. Avis arranges a switch for you, from right-hand drive to left-hand drive. Which is great but don’t expect that service from everyone. Think how that would influence your driving and, above all, if you are ready to switch sides of the road.
Why is it also important to tell upfront the rent-a-car company where you’re planning to go? Because there is an imaginary border between Western and Eastern countries. What happens is that you might get a cheaper car and have to pay for extra insurance. That doesn’t apply to all Eastern Europe only to some. What irritates me sometimes is the label, that people who don’t know anything about countries in Eastern Europe, put no matter what.
Always ask at the car rental for unfamiliar law in countries you plan to visit. Signs are the same but speed limits, headlights, safety seats for children etc. are not. European superhighways come with tolls. Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia have a system of vignettes that you buy after you cross their border. Vignettes are valid for a period of few months up to a year. Prices are reasonable except in Slovenia which has extremely high prices. EU is pressuring them to cut the cost for tourists but they haven’t answered so far. On the other hand Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Croatia (Mediterranean countries) have toll booths on highway exits.
Don’t let all of this discourage you. Now you know what you can expect and is not as bad as it sounds! ;)
Stella – European Travelling Advisor