Needing expertise travel advice

Feb 7th, 2006, 06:48 AM
  #1  
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Needing expertise travel advice

Hi everyone,
Traveling to Italy for the first time in July with husband and 4 children ages 7 to 17. We are staying in a villa in Arezzo.
Here's the problem car rentals are outrageous priced a 2 wk rental 6 people is 2,700.00. My travel agent is very creative has looked into many
options. Here's the newest which honestly saves us a a lot of money. Flying into Nice renting a car at the airport and driving through the French Riviera then into Italy the whole time staying on the coast . He has us stopping in Portofino for lunch then heading into Tuscany area. I want to avoid the A1 if all possible husband is very apprehensive about driving in Italy so the travel agent thought this might be a better route for him . I should mention the savings is incredible we are saving $1,400.00 on the rental and we don't have to paid it all up front just a deposit. I am trying very hard to make this trip affordable traveling with 6 people but it's going to run 14k + spending.
Is this worth it to travel from Nice to Arezzo ??? I should say we have all day Saturday for travel time. Any thoughts would be appreciated. thanks Red
redred6 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 07:25 AM
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I have no idea -- but I do have a piece of advice. Re-post w/ a better title. "Needing expertise travel advice" doesn't say ANYTHING about what you want to know - you could be asking anything about anywhere in Europe.
janisj is online now  
Feb 7th, 2006, 07:32 AM
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the French Riveria is BEAUTIFUL. But, if your husband is a nervous driver then maybe it's not a good idea? Think windy roads and hairpin turns. Plus, there are more opportunities to get lost with this 'drive.'

That being said, it could be an adventure. The scenery is amazing and I'd do it in a heartbeat to save some cash.
vivienleigh is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 08:03 AM
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I tried a rental car for 6 people last year and it was cheaper to have 2 small cars than one big one. I am sure that isn't an option for you with 4 kids.

Did you try www.autoeurope.com? I just gave it a shot not knowing your dates (I used 7/1 - 7/13) or pickup point (I used Rome airport). I found a van that seats 7 for $2052, inclusive of all taxes and insurance. They have specials each month and are also very good to work with.

The driving may take a bit of getting used to, but it won't take long to feel comfortable.
cls2paris is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 09:22 AM
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Hi Red,

That seems like an awfully high price, even for a 6 passenger. I rented a VW Golf (stick) for 8 days for about $350 in Sept. Have your agent check Autoeurope, or better yet check up on your agent!
Dayle is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 10:42 AM
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Hi Red,

You don't say where you are flying from, but you do not want to arrive in Nice early in the morning and then spend the whole day driving to your villa. If your husband is already stressed about driving, he certainly won't be sleeping contentedly on the plane hours before he has to "perform." This is a recipe for falling asleep at the wheel.

Unless you take the Autostrada you won't get anywhere near Portofino for lunch. The non-highway coastal road is busy at the best of times, let alone a Saturday in July.

Good luck.
JQReports is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 11:42 AM
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I agree with the last poster. And I don't mean to be rude, but I think your travel agent is nuts.

You've got about an 8-hour flight ( from East Coast) to Nice. Then at least a 3-hour drive from Nice-Portofino, and that's only if there's minimal traffic, which is very rare along the coast in July. Also, in the summer it can be very difficult to find parking in Portofino.

From Portofino, it's another few hours drive, again to Arezzo.

I can't think of a better way to ruin your first day of vacation!

I'd suggest looking into whichbudget.com and finding out if there are any cheap flights available on those dates between Nice-Pisa. ( I know the Florence airport is undergoing renovations, and not sure when those end, but you can check your dates for that airport as well.)

Then you could pick up a car in Pisa and drive to Arezzo.

Alternately, you could take the train from Nice-Genoa- then switch to another train down to Pisa. In 2nd class, even with 6 of you, it shouldn't be overly expensive.

Again, you could pick up a car in Pisa, and continue your trip from there.

Good luck!
Weadles is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 11:43 AM
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A last thought on this- Why not fly from the US to London, then take a budget carrier into Pisa? Then you could just pick up the car at the airport and drive to Arezzo from there. This seems much simpler to me since you're not planning on staying in Nice.
Weadles is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 12:03 PM
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The previous posters said what I was going to say, and I agree with them except for picking up the car in Pisa. I assume that to get the cheaper rate you must pick up outside of Italy, which would mean Nice or possibly Switzerland, but either is just too far out of your way. I just reserved a car through www.gemut.com for May in Italy. They beat autoeurope's price and, as their website says, you do actually talk to one of the owners, Andrew Bestor, who can offer advice.

You don't say if you have driven in Europe before. If I was hesitant about driving in Italy I would try to stick to the expressways as much as possible. Expressways in Europe are like everywhere else - boring but efficient. It is when you get off the highway and onto the local roads that you have only one lane in each direction and crazy drivers hugging your rear bumper so they can pass.

buona fortuna...
derekflint is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 12:14 PM
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If your husband is a nervous driver, then you should do the driving.

There have been several recent posts re the expense of a country-to-country car rental, like what you're doing. That may be what's driving the price so high.

I (and my husband) have done quite a bit of driving in France and Italy with no problem. I would choose highway driving for where you're coming from and where you need to get to, because it will be an easier drive with less congestion. Yes, the speeds are generally higher than in the U.S., but the drivers are also generally better. The slower cars (including you, presumably) really do stay in the right lane, leaving the left lane for the much faster vehicles.
Lexma90 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 12:14 PM
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I have heard that if you find a better rental rate at another website, that auroeurope will often match it.

I don't think driving in France is really much easier than driving in Italy and agree with the previous poster that the major expressways are easier to drive than the smaller roads. I can't imagine landing in Nice with jet lag and trying to navigate that route. If you really want to try it, I'd stay the first night in Nice to rest up first. Has your travel agent driven in Europe?
KathrynT is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 12:20 PM
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Another thought: How much are you paying to fly into Nice? Flying into Milan or Rome might be cheaper which would help offset the price of the car.
KathrynT is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 12:31 PM
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That car rental price is crazy! I've rented cars in Europe numerous times and never have I paid even a third of what your getting quoted.

I'm sure you are getting the high cost because you are picking up in France and dropping off in Italy. Definitely consider flying into and out of Italy to save car rental costs. Otherwise, you would probably save a lot of money by renting two different cars; one in France and one in Italy. Do you own research to find prices. I always use autoeurope.com. As mentioned above, they will beat competetor prices.

I too would have to question your travel agent. A good agent should know this, respect your budget and offer alternative solutions.
tcreath is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 12:40 PM
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Fire the travel agent, seriously....he's "creative," all right...and clueless....

Last time I rented a 7-passenger van (Renault Espace) for 10 days, the cost including all insurance and fees was just over $700. I used AutoEurope as I always do. A rental in Italy would be a bit more expensive.

The whole rationale for flying into France and then driving into Italy escapes me completely, especially if your husband is nervous about the
driving. That first day would be an absolute nightmare.

Forget France. Figure out a way to get to Pisa and pick the car up there - whether it's through London or somewhere else.
StCirq is online now  
Feb 7th, 2006, 01:28 PM
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Many of you seem to be overlooking the fact that redred is thinking of flying into Nice solely to avoid the high cost of renting the car in Italy, so flying into Pisa wouldn't help!

redred, sounds as though you should take some of the above advice and do more looking/comparing of car rental prices. I also sure wouldn't want to be doing that long drive after an overnight flight. Really not a good idea.
SusanP is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 02:08 PM
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I too strongly (and I mean very strongly) veto having your husband drive from Nice to Arezzo after the transatlantic flight (assume you are flying to Europe from the US) especially with 4 children in the car. And do you really mean a car? Six people and luggage would be a problem with a car..assume you mean a good size van.

This is an accident waiting to happen in my opinion. And my opinion Red is based on being in the insurance business for decades. I cannot tell you how many terrible accidents I have had to process due to driver fatigue. Add in your husband being apprehensive about driving in Italy etc., well again the combination sounds dreadful.

My husband loved driving in Italy be it the autostradas or country roads but we never rented a vehicle until at least the second day after arrival. We knew what jetlag (and didn't suffer much jetlag) and fatigue can cause.

I too would strongly suggest that you get another TA or research this on your own with a strong suggestion that you fly into Italy. There is no value that you can put on the safety of your you and your entire family. Please believe me on this comment. Best wishes to you.
LoveItaly is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 02:20 PM
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Hi red,

Car rental in Italy is expensive because insurance is required.

Have you checked with your CC company to see if they provide auto insurance?

Picking up and returning in France is a good idea, but make sure that you are insured in Italy.

ira is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 02:28 PM
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Credit card coverage or no, you must pay for insurance on rental cars in Italy. As for lunch in Portofino, not only is it a detour, but it will eat significantly into your savings.
Mimar is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 03:05 PM
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I just did a quick check on rentals from the Florence airport on Novarentacar.com and a 7-seat people mover is $1485 for 14 days in July.

They must have a special on the 9-seat minibus as it is $1200 (manual transm).

Didn't check other sites, but I think you should shop around a bit on your own.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 03:19 PM
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I too don't have confidence in your TA. Most TAs don't use AutoEurope.com, because they don't get commision. Research here for car rental information, then call Autoeurope.com (after perusing the website) and Nova.com, but when you talk to Nova, tell them you need the price on full insurance.

Ok, now for the Portofino thing: that is simply insane. I won't drive into Portofino at any "in season" time. I have seen long, and I mean long, lines to get into the town and the public parking. Many people simply take the bus or boat into Portofino, as it is a pain to park there.

I too think you should be flying into Italy. Rome is better for Arezzo, IMO. That is because you can fly there directly. But we need to know where you re coming from to give you better advice. Plus, do repost with a better subject line. It will be to your advantage.
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