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Road trip on Schengen countries.

Chennai (Madras...
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Road trip on Schengen countries.

Hello there,

We are a family of four - I and my spouse with two kids of 7 and 2 years old. This would be our first time visiting Europe. 8 days trip France(Paris CDG)=>Swiss=>Austria=>Germany=>Luxembourg=>Belgium=>France(Paris-CDG).

W'd like to rent a car as we are interested in the road trip, especially visiting the country side and the flexibility stopping wherever we want and stay. We had some prior experience of long distance traveling with kids in the US. But have no idea about how this would work out in the Europe, considering the fact that - though under Schengen area - different countries might have different set of rules for traveling.

> Should we carry International Driving Permit or valid US Drivers License is suffice?

> What we should be concerned about renting a vehicle, our trip starts from Paris and planning to rent a vehicle, do the road trip and return back.

> Can we rent a vehicle from one of Schengen country and travel to the others without having to carry any special permit from the rental company? e.g. I read of carry a Vignette pass for traveling Swiss motorways? What about other countries?

> Recommend any scenic routes in the loop considering the fact that family with kids.

> Any other things we should be taking into consideration before making a decision on rent a vehicle.

Please share your recommendation or suggestions. Appreciated.

Thank you,

Ram

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18 replies to this topic
Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Road trip on Schengen countries.

This journey is not possible in 8 days unless you spend all your time driving and none of it in actually seeing these countries. It is ridiculous.

Chennai (Madras...
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2. Re: Road trip on Schengen countries.

I see your point. It does sounds ridiculous. Sorry.

Our objective of this trip is to enjoy traveling on the country side. And I calculated the total approx. distance would be 1000 miles. Thought not too bad to drive 125 miles/day on the 8 days trip. We are not going crazy driving too far away just to cover the countries but if you see the round trip, the countries that are listed is on its way back to Paris but different route.

If you know anything about traveling restrictions on crossing border, as I mentioned in my original message, for e.g. having to carry vignette sticker to travel Swiss, kindly do share. Also if you know anything about what kind of Driving Permit should we carry. Any information specific to road travel is highly appreciated.

West Chester...
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3. Re: Road trip on Schengen countries.

It's probably a good idea to go to AAA and get an international Driver License. It just means a photo and a look at your US license to be sure it is current and unrestricted. Some countries like Italy officially require it but nobody has asked to see it when we have rented cars in any country. kind of a waste of a few dollars but best to do it.

If you have an AMEX credit card look into their premium insurance plan, it only charges about $25 per rental (up to about a month long I think), it was a great help in France when we dented a fender on a small pole. You can enroll in it even with the no annual fee AMEX card.

When you look at rental sites, they will tell you which countries you will not be able to take the car into, but I think you should be fine with those you mentioned. If you are going to leave the car in a different country you will then be looking at some huge fees. We rented a car in Paris and were winding up in Basel. If we drove to the Swiss side of the Basel airport to return it, would have cost $400 more than to leave it at the French side Hertz desk! So we dropped it off at the French car return, walked through the airport and into Switzerland to get to the bus for Basel.

We have driven France in September and roads were not busy once outside of Paris. But don't expect that if you travel June thru August. Many roads are monitored by camera in Europe so its easy to get home to find a speeding ticket in the mail from a speed camera you did not see. Plus a service charge from the rental company Luckily my GPS that i took from home with a Europe map downloaded to it, monitored for speed limits and warned me to be careful.

As to routes I have no experience there outside of parts of France and Italy.

I'm sure there must be suggested driving routes somewhere online. BTW we found Google Maps really helpful as to routes and driving times. But there are others.

Sounds like quite an expedition. check Google maps for some of your routes to see if their travel times match what you are anticipating, you might find you need to scale back or change some routes. WE have been able to drive further than we expected most times in France but never in the UK because of the traffic volumes on the main roads and the slowness of the smaller roads.

Chateaurenard...
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4. Re: Road trip on Schengen countries.

It would be very dangerous to get into a car when jet lagged after an intercontinental flight. You should have a look at www.viamichelin.com and see the time you would need (allowing for no stops or traffic problems) and the costs (fuel & tolls). There is precious little of interest in Luxembourg.

Wales, United...
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5. Re: Road trip on Schengen countries.

I don't think your plan is a sensible one, sorry, Ram. As you amdit yourself, you don't know how a road trip will work in Europe, but I can tell you that it's a veyr different proposition to a road trip in the US.

The countries you're interested in are far more densely populated thna most of the USA. That means the roads will be more crowded, and there are far more interesting things to do per 100 miles than, say, on a drive through Arizona or New Mexico. So you need to plan for plenty of time outside the car, and I think that's particularly important when you have young children.

Marlow, United...
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6. Re: Road trip on Schengen countries.

Not a great plan. Far too many countries, no time allocated to getting out of the car and seeing things, and finding accommodation "on the hoof" will, at best, take up a lot of vacation time that you have precious little of, and at worst, leave you scrabbling around to find absolutely anywhere to stay, particularly if travelling in July and August.

Spend 2-3 days in Paris, then hire your car and head somewhere close by - Normandy, the Loire, Brittany, the Ardennes, the Black Forest. Plan it all out ahead, working out what you want to see. Your current technique of throwing darts at a map is not going to work if you only have 8 days.

Europe has a rich history and very varied landscape, so there is far more to see in any given area than in most parts of the USA. Road-trips are not therefore comparable.

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Road trip on Schengen countries.

I have to say please don't wing this, especially with young children. Plan all your stops in advance and book them. Consider staying at least 2 nights at any stop and then taking short trips into the surrounding countryside on the second day, minus luggage which is at real risk if you leave it in the car.

There is no way you can see it all in 8 days, but there is usually no difficulty in taking a car into any of the countries you have mentioned. You need a vignette for Swiss motorways, but it is quite possible to plan the route in advance and avoid them altogether. The roads are fine.

You need your American licence and an IDP for most Schengen countries.

Some hints about driving in France

www.nickbooth.id.au/Tips/FrenchDrive.htm

Chennai (Madras...
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8. Re: Road trip on Schengen countries.

Thank you, Andrew! That was helpful.

Chennai (Madras...
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9. Re: Road trip on Schengen countries.

Noted RojBlake! Thank you for your advise though.

Chennai (Madras...
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10. Re: Road trip on Schengen countries.

Hi Poolounger2 - Good suggestions. will look into it. Thanks!

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