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Car rental for 7, should we get one or two vehicles?

Car rental for 7, should we get one or two vehicles?

Old Dec 21st, 2013, 06:12 AM
  #1  
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Car rental for 7, should we get one or two vehicles?

Ron and I are taking our son and his family to France for two weeks June 2014. Our first week we will be dividing our time between Normandy and the Loire, staying at a B&B in Bayeux and another near Montrichard. We only need a car for one week as our second week will be in Paris.

I'm starting to price car rentals on Autoeurope; expecting, if we decide on one large vehicle, that we will need to reserve sooner rather than later.

We will be a family of 4 adults and three boys, ages currently 12, 09, 09. Autoeurope shows a rental for both a 7 passenger Ford Max and also a 9 passenger Renault vehicle. I personally would like to keep our family in one car but I've read more positive comments about renting two cars with so many people.

Ron and I have been to the Loire and Normandy several times and don't remember having any problems driving around or problems finding parking but we were always in a small car. I don't think we will find town streets like the hill towns of Italy where we will be visiting in Normandy and the Loire. We are taking a tour with a guide driving us in his vehicle around the D-Day sights, if that should make a difference in our rental choice.

Our son is willing and able to be the second driver if we decide two cars would be better than one. Can anyone give me advice from experiences renting a "big rig" The only person I know who had one car for 7 was in Tuscany and for them it was a travel nightmare--never to be done again!!

We can certainly rent two cars cheaper than one large people mover but I've never been a fan of traveling as a caravan. Our son is a much faster driver with professional driving school experience compliments of Ford Motors but we will have the GPS---which will be worth its weight in gold---a wonderful equalizer to Nathan's speed

Thanks for any comments or suggestions to help us decide what size vehicle(s) to rent, Deborah
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 06:19 AM
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I would definitely go with 2 cars. The larger vehicle may hold the 7 people but luggage may be a problem.

It is likely that, at some point during your week, everyone may not want to go to the same place at the same time. Even if one group wants to head out or head home early, you'll need 2 cars.

We don't like to caravan either. We arrange to meet at our destination and communicate by text if running late, etc
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 06:40 AM
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I have no experience yet but we have chosen to rent one 7-passenger van for our group of 4 adults and 2 kids. Of the adults I am the only driver as my 18 YO can't drive manual and he is not old enough to be on the rental contract. My mom hates driving at all and my dad has a very short temper and I don't want any wrong turns, getting separated, etc to ruin our holiday. Yes, the trip to/from the train station to our rental home will be uncomfortable with all of the luggage but it is a small price to pay for the rest of our week going smoothly.
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 06:51 AM
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I've rented a 9 person vehicle (8 passengers and one driver) and driven around Normandy. If you get the 9 person van you shouldn't have any problem with your luggage since you'll still have 2 seats free with 7 people. The agency told us they often rent these vans to hockey teams that have a lot of equipment to carry. Driving in Normandy itself was no problem and the van was surprisingly easy to handle. But you should base your decision on whether people may want to do different things, in which case two cars would be best. If you're all on board for doing the same things then the 9 person van should be fine.
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 07:51 AM
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I really like what Judy suggested--and for all the same reasons. With two families, not everyone may want to go to every thing every time--we've taken our adult children and spouses to Paris, and while car rental wasn't the question, what they wanted to do could be different, and that was fine.
Whether the son is a faster driver really shouldn't become a reason. It isn't hard to "go together" if you're going the same place. Hopefully you won't be driving on the "interstates" for this trip--the secondary roads are much more interesting, and capable of getting everyone for A to B.
Two cars it would be for me--more like a family trip and less like a tour. Everybody in the lobby at 8!!
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 08:04 AM
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Mystique--off topic but Ice Hockey in France?? my son's entire family play travel hockey (they live in Michigan) so if I told them there was the possibility of hockey they'd be trying to find a pick up game during our travels!!

I agree completely with each of your differing comments which is why I'm having such a problem with our decision Since I'm the travel planner in the family everyone is willing to go along with my decision. When I first proposed the trip it was to be a full week in Normandy, slow travel, so minimum time would be in a vehicle with our luggage. Well, slow travel doesn't "fly" with 3 hockey boys according to my son so we changed our week to an overnight near Mont Saint Michel and equal time in Normandy and the Loire; having many more hours of luggage with us in the car.

For only one week I think we could easily all sightsee together but then again having one car does not allow for much group spontaneity--ugh!!! Thanks again, Deborah
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 08:06 AM
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We were recently in Italy with 7 adults. We had 2 cars - thank goodness. While we usually went the same places at the same time, we didn't always and the two cars worked well for us. Keep in mind that you may be in areas with very narrow roads and smaller cars will make it easier to navigate.
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 08:13 AM
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If you take two cars (a good idea I think) then buy walkie-talkies in France - don't take US models with you, their frequency range is illegal in France (mostly reserved for emergency services). Walkie-talkies are cheaper than taking your cell phones and incurring roaming charges (while you're really roaming the countryside).
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 08:16 AM
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Gretchen, thanks for giving me that perspective. In my head I was imagining Ron and Nathan driving on the autoroute thinking how dissimilar their driving styles are rather than on the smaller roads that we would be more likely traveling. Deborah
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 08:19 AM
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Two cars, for all of the above stated reasons. Two more: one, rental agencies reliably have cars, period, that you can make work for up to four people apiece, but not necessarily exactly the vehicle promised, for any number of reasons (e.g., previous renter totalled the 9-seater intended for you.) Two, it could be handy, as well, to have a means of separating two kids getting on each other's (and in consequence everyone else's) nerves (does it sound like I have experience traveling with active young kids?!)

If you don't have GPS units loaded with French road maps for both drivers, know that most rental agencies now offer GPS as an added option. Well worth the money. An investment in suitable cell phone coverage (to facilitate communication) is also a good idea.
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 08:24 AM
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We use AT&T and buy a text package for our phones before we leave for Europe. Incoming texts are free from anywhere and the cost of the package makes it quite reasonable for us.

We try to avoid making calls but texts are fairly cheap and, since many of our trips involve a stop in Paris, the walkie-talkies are not a good option
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 08:45 AM
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IMO definitely rent two mid-sized or even small cars. MUCH easier to get around, find parking, etc. And as mentioned, you may not want to be connected at the hip 24/7. W/ two cars - for excursions one could hold 4 or 5 if the other 2 or 3 wanted to rest or go for a walk or shop (or just have some 'me time').

And there is really no reason to 'caravan' - if the cars do get separated, everyone should know where the next stop is, and cell phones should eliminate anyone being abandoned.
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 08:47 AM
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Thanks for the helpful information. michel, I noticed walkie-talkies at Costco last week, we had tried using them in the past without great results but I was thinking maybe newer models had improvements--never thought they would not be allowed in France, thanks for that information.

Judy, Ron and I have AT&T while Nathan and Heather have Sprint--have to work out what form of communication we will use for the two weeks

Sue, we love our Garmin with its' preloaded European maps, won't travel there without it. The passive aggressive controlling mother in me (really NOT who I am) is thinking we'll use the gps and I'll give Nathan and Heather our michelin maps I'm sure we will stay all together than way LOL. Deborah
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 08:56 AM
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Another two car advocate here. We traveled with another couple for about 4 trips to Italy & France. We were in the lead and the other couple followed - with no problems at all. These were all about 3 week trips.

I suspect that 2-3 people in your party could get "chateau-ed out" after visiting 6-7 chateaux, and might want to go back to the hotel to lounge by the pool, or go into Blois & sit at a cafe - while the others spend 3 hours at Villandry taking pictures of the gardens.

Stu Dudley
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 09:15 AM
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Thanks for the comments, I'm putting away my rose colored glasses of an all for one and one for all vehicle road trip.

Stu, traveling for the first time to Europe with our grandsons I know this will not be a multi-chateau trip in the Loire, which is fine, Ron and I did that last year and loved every minute. It will however be horseback riding, kart track racing, tree climbing, cave exploring and other opportunities for fun Deborah
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 11:08 AM
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With a group this size I really think every minute together may be a wonderful plan but then reality happens. I love traveling with family, extended family and friends but still need to get away once in a while.
Having an extra can can facilitate this.
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 12:52 PM
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Two cars, absolutely. Obviously, the 7-person van is out unless each of you is carrying only a handbag. And the 9-person van would probably be fine, as you're going to areas that are relatively flat and don't have hill towns with those twisty tiny roads...but I've been in one of those 9-person vans and it seemed gigantic to me (and wouldn't even fit in my driveway). And as everyone has said, being stuck together all day long for a week isn't ideal.
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 03:50 PM
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Agree, you need two cars.

In 2015 with 14 people, we will have five cars.

Enough so that people can go different ways during the day.
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 04:36 PM
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>>
In 2015 with 14 people, we will have five cars.
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Old Dec 21st, 2013, 04:40 PM
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Stu; Will be seeking thoughts on a Paris apartment for six, but not on this thread. Villa already rented for 2015 in Nice with 7 bedrooms.

Sorry Deb
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