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volkswagendriver Feb 2nd, 2012 05:14 PM

Auto rental tips please
We're spending a week in Austria and the surrounding area for our Honeymoon in late June, we'll arrive in Munich around noon, then need to make our way to St Johann im Pongau. I'll be renting a car so we can go where we want, when we want and would like to hear of any tips beyond getting a map, GPS, the Austrian Hwy sticker and reflective vest you'd like to share.

Being a fan of VWs, can I specify that I want a Golf or Passat or is it just luck of the draw when you show up at the counter? Thanks in advance!

bobthenavigator Feb 2nd, 2012 05:19 PM

In Munich your odds are good, but those are different classes of cars. Book the "compact" and you may get an upgrade to the midsize. has good deals in Germany.

soods Feb 2nd, 2012 05:22 PM

We have traveled by car quite a bit in Europe. We always ask for a VW ahead of time. It's popular, so they usually have them available. We would advise not to be so intent on getting from one point to another with GPS or map. Getting lost is where the real trip begins. As long as you make it to your end point in time to sleep, loose yourself on the journey. Take small roads instead of the major hwys. Grab a snack or meal in a town you just happen across. Meet people and ask for points of interest that you don't get from a guide book. Driving is the best way to imerse yourself in the color an culture of the country you visit.

Michael Feb 2nd, 2012 05:24 PM

It's the luck of the draw as to the exact car you will get. Look at prices on or (they're sister companies). If you are willing to have your credit card carry the CDW (check that there is no deductible), the "basic" rate offered by either company is often the lowest available. However, there is a stiff cross-border drop-off fee. It would be best to pick up the car in Munich and returning it there or somewhere else in Germany. If returning the car in Munich, you might find cheaper local rentals.

volkswagendriver Feb 2nd, 2012 05:31 PM

Looking at I see a big difference between the basic price and the one w/ insurance and unlimited miles, if I go w/ the basic, will I get socked w/ a milage fee or can I purchase unlimited miles separately? I'm not reall hot on buying the insurance.

Michael Feb 2nd, 2012 05:44 PM

Autoeurope (U.S.) usually offers unlimited mileage. If it is not clear on the web site, call them.

pja1 Feb 2nd, 2012 07:07 PM


I can recommend going through for the rental car. Pick up at Munich and drop off in Munich or at least in Germany. We rented a car for our most recent trip, 11/2010, for 9 days, picking up and dropping off at Munich airport through and the cost was $332. We had a Ford Fiesta.

The Austrian toll sticker called a "Vignette" can be bought at gas stations along the highway (in Germany) after leaving Munich. Cost is 7.80 Euro for a sticker valid for 10 consecutive days (cheapest and shortest period of time avail.).

The reflective vest, if not in the trunk (check), can be bought at the same gas station you buy the Vignette. About 5 Euro or so. I took ours home and have it in my car trunk now.

For CDW insurance, we use the AMEX "Premium Car Rental Protection Plan". It's free to enroll. Just call the "800" number on your AMEX card. Cost for the CDW ins. with this plan is $24.99 for the entire rental period, up to 42 days. That's the entire rental period, NOT per day.

Make sure to reserve/pay for the car with your AMEX card and pay any other costs accociated with the car rental with the AMEX also. I don't mean gas, etc., just costs accociated with renting the car.

We like Michelin maps. Buy an Austria and/or a Germany map. Either or both may cover where you're going. Never used or felt the need for a GPS. That's just us.

Highways/road signs are different. You will not see signs with a north/east/west or south associated with it. Highway/road signs have the highway/road # and the towns/cities the road is heading towards. Instead of say... Route 80 west, you'll see A8 Salzburg or B305 Ramsau/Berchtesgaden.

Stay to the right on highways unless you're passing. They really do this! Cars can come up very quickly in the passing lane so, when passing, be careful to check behind and see what's coming and how fast it's coming.

Also, be familiar with some basic road signs.


ira Feb 3rd, 2012 05:53 AM

Hi V,

Austria requires an International Driver's Permit.

ParisAmsterdam Feb 3rd, 2012 06:49 AM

Get a TDI Passat if you can. Comfy, roomy without taking up too much space on the road and the TDI engine is a joy to drive with plenty of power for the mountains. I wonder if renting through Sixt might help get the car you want... they are a German company.

I would get a GPS before you go and learn how to use it. Driving in a foreign country in an unfamiliar car in traffic that's likely faster than you're used to is no time to learn the vagaries of an new gadget. Both TomTom and Garmin sell units with European maps pre-installed. And don't overlook good maps... GPS is great on the move but you still need a decent map...

crckwc1 Feb 3rd, 2012 01:35 PM

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!
We have picked up rental cars in Germany several times (booked through AutoEurope) and they came with a GPS. Even though we aren't highly technical and don't own a GPS, it was easy to use and very helpful. However, we always have a good map as well. We seldom get a choice of vehicles other than the size/type booked and a sometimes-upgrade. We rely on our World MasterCard for insurance (free and no deductible) and have been pleased with their coverage of a couple of minor incidents. If using a credit card for insurance, it is imperative to use it from booking through all paperwork, etc.; otherwise, it doesn't cover.

AisleSeat Feb 3rd, 2012 04:48 PM

You may want to pull up a ViaMicilen map to St Johan. You will probably leave the autobahn frm Munich to Salzburg at Prien (also where you would get off to go to Ludwig's Herren Chiemsee castle.).

Remember that rental cars carry a 19 percent surtax if you pick up the car at an airport or train station. It doesn't matter where you drop it off at the end of your rental. Talk to Bob or Andy Bestor at Gemü about the best deal and the best place to pick it up. I love the Northern Tyrol and Southern Bavaria and you will have a great trip. As you get over to Salzburg there are lots of beautiful and picturesque places in the Salzkammergut.

volkswagendriver Feb 3rd, 2012 07:36 PM

OK, what exactly is the CDW insurance?

pja1 Feb 3rd, 2012 08:52 PM

You really need to know and understand what CDW is before renting a car.

Michael Feb 3rd, 2012 10:31 PM

CDW covers damage to your car. Liability for damage by you to other property is covered in the rental agreement.

molker Feb 3rd, 2012 11:42 PM

Skoda - owned by VW - - models made in Czech - most identical to the VW.

volkswagendriver Feb 4th, 2012 05:21 AM

Thanks for the links on CDW, that explains it perfectly.

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