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  • Writer's picturec camp

Car-Leasing in Europe

  • Looking at hiring a car for more than 3 weeks in Europe?

  • Want to pick up in one city and drop off in another?

  • Usual car-hire places too expensive?

  • Ever wanted to drive a new car for a few months?

  • Well, have I got a bargain for you! (none of this is sponsored!)



While travel in Europe is easier than travel in Australia (hello Euro-rail!), I am a perennial fan of roadtrips. Why take a 1 hr flight when you can drive for 4 hours instead? I find you see much more of the countryside, avoid the aggravating queues at airports and sitting next to a men-spreading 6-foot-4 giant, although that might have more to do with my choice in travel partner (I’m looking at you Adam).


Options:

Our original idea was to buy a car in one country in Europe and then sell it in another country when we left for the UK. However, this plan was quickly dashed as it became apparent that buying and selling cars in Europe is more complicated than anticipated, requiring a permanent address and buying and selling the car in different countries opens you up for a range of very complicated tax implications. I had a brief, fleeting image of myself sitting in a European jail for tax evasion, and we promptly abandoned that plan.


This left us with very few choices. As we wanted to rent the car for a minimum of 2 months, to rent through a usual agency would have cost us well over $16,000 AUD.

On the verge of conceding defeat and resigning ourselves to traveling via bus, train and plane, I stumbled across long-term car leasing.

This is a scheme that allows you to lease a brand-new vehicle for a minimum of 3 weeks, then return the car which will be on-sold to a private owner.


There are a few companies that offer this, however we settled on AutoEurope. Nearly two and a half months of leasing set us back around $4,500 AUD or about 2,500 Euros – inclusive of comprehensive car insurance and 24/7 roadside assistance. And best of all, we could pick it up in one location (Munich) and drop it off in another location (Lisbon). It is slightly cheaper to pick up and drop off at the same location, but not by much. For a full list of their pick-up and drop-off locations check out their website.


Pros:

Having a car gives us a lot more flexibility and agility. We can choose our own adventure without being locked into pre-booked travel plans. There is a wonderful, wild freedom in pulling over to admire the view or seeing a tourist attraction on a freeway exit and making a spur-of-the-moment detour.

Cars make great storage places. As we are traveling for 6 months across many varying climates, we had to pack for every scenario – however the goose-down jackets, knitted scarfs and waterproof-hiking boots which will be perfect for Iceland are nothing more than space invaders in the sticky humidity of southern Italy. Having a car allows us to store unnecessary stuff so we don’t have to lug it from one accommodation to another.

It is easier to transport food supplies. One of the biggest costs when traveling for a long time is eating out. Having a car allows you to buy some staples – bread, milk, coffee, yoghurt, snacks, cereal etc – and easily transport it form one place to another. It is amazing how much money you can save by eating breakfast in your room, taking a packed lunch and avoiding takeaway coffees.


Things to Note:

Petrol is expensive. We are paying an average of 2 Euros per litre and depending on the distances you’re traveling, this does add up.

Toll roads are also very expensive – some of them can cost upwards of 40 Euros. There are toll-free options if you aren’t in a hurry but be prepared to add an hour of two to your trip.

Accommodation with parking is a must. Thankfully, we have discovered Booking.com has a very easy filter option for this. I haven’t used Booking.com much in the past – leaning more on AirBnb and Hostelworld, but Booking.com has way more options in one place, and with some precise filters, you are able to find accommodation to suit almost any need.

In big cities, park in longterm car-parks. When visiting big, busy cities (particularly in Italy and Spain) we park in long-term car parking lots either at the airport or on the outskirts of the major cities. You can often find parking lots close to train-stations or other public transport options, so it is a relatively easy commute into the city and to our accommodation.


Conclusion:

Best decision we could have made. Helga, as we have affectionately dubbed our her, has allowed us to experience Europe in a way I have never experienced it before. Idling through tiny country towns, holding our breath as a car shoots past us at 300km/hr on the Autobahn, and clenching my butt-cheeks together as I wind through the narrow cliff-topped roads in Italy. I feel like I get an insight into each culture and country as I drive on their roads. Like peeping through a wormhole into what life could be like if I had been born in a different place.

If you are thinking about it – do it. It’s as simple as that. While you are slightly limited in some aspects – parking being the main one- I haven’t regretted it for a second.



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