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Rental car travel from Amsterdam to Italy and back


Feb 26th, 2012, 09:32 AM
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Rental car travel from Amsterdam to Italy and back

Hello -

My sister and I (both in 50s) are travelling for a week from Amsterdam to Zurich to Siena and back to Amsterdam. We are considering renting a car for this trip and looking at mapquest driving directions it looks as though it is doable. I don't mind driving but I am a little nervous about some of the crazy-sounding drivers in Italy. The train seems too expensive. Does anyone have experience driving in these areas and making a trip like this in 7 days? Are we crazy to try it?
Thank you!
Giulietta is offline  
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Feb 26th, 2012, 09:49 AM
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It will take at least three days to get to Siena, and another three days to get back to Amsterdam. I do not think that you have the time for this road trip, which probably would be more expensive than the train once the cost of the rental, fuel, parking fees and tolls are added up.

The alternative is to take the train or look for low cost airline flights, booked the sooner the better. This is especially true if you are locked into a return from Amsterdam. Otherwise I would look into a return flight from Rome or Milan.

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Feb 26th, 2012, 10:56 AM
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This is way to much territory for the amount of time you have. You will be driving almost all o fthe time and will have practically no time ti see anything.

Another issue is taking a car from Netherlands into Italy. When you rent a car yuo have to tell them what countries you plan on dirving in and you may find that taking the car into Italy is either not allowed or will be a major surcharge. (If you take cars into countries not approved your insurance is no longer valid - and if anything happens to the car if straight out of your pocket.)

I encourage you to either extend the trip to at least 2 weeks or cut the itinerary significantly.

We have done many road trips in europe, love driving there and know how much fun it can be (I just love being able to drive fast cars fast - legally) - but your trip leaves no time for sightseeing.

If you really must do this trip then get open jaw tickets and just drive one way - don;t wate 3 days getting back to Amsterdam.
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Feb 26th, 2012, 11:08 AM
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Just did a quick check and the trip you are talking about is approximately 16 hours driving time (so 2 full days with stops for meals and gas) in EACH direction. So you would spend 4 full days of your 7 day vacation just sitting in a car. This doens;t count stoppg to see ANYTHING - just sitting in a car.

If yuo really want to see Zurich (not sure why since it is primarily a business city) you could easily take a train to there, then on to Siena - and fly back to Amsterdam.

OR - you culd just fly into Amsterdam and back out of Florence or Pisa and save yourselves all of the backtracking to get to Amsterdam.

If driving looks much cheaper I think that you hven;t looked into bargain flights or are reading the train fares incorrectly (they simply aren;t as much as a 7 day car rental plus gas and tolls).
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Feb 26th, 2012, 12:43 PM
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Not a good idea--even by private helicopter.
Why those 3?
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Feb 26th, 2012, 01:12 PM
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For such a short time, it would have to be 1 way. With a car, not sure if you would want to be driving big cities. Wnat is your goal? Countryside? Cities?

I might suggest couple of days Amsterdam, low cost flight to Rome, couple of days, train to Venice, fly home from there...or some variation of this.
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Feb 26th, 2012, 04:56 PM
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About 15 years ago when I was still in my fifties I rented a car in Haarlem (near Amsterdam) and drove to Milan via Basel to pick up my daughter. We came back to Holland via the Mont Blanc Tunnel and Burgundy. It was an experience but I can't say that I recommend it. On my way to Italy I got lost on a huge mountain, I think near Interlaken. I remember looking out the window and straight down about 5,000 feet at 2 AM. I finally made it to Milan. On the way back to Holland we over nighted near Beaune and I bought some wine at a degustation shop. It was easy sailing until Antwerp. The confusing signs there had me going in circles.

Get some good maps (Michelin) and plan your trip carefully with your navigator. See http://tinyurl.com/3bc2ax for an illustrated introduction to driving in Europe.

The Italians drive fast and furious, leaving millimeters for the margin of error. The expressways are not so bad but city driving can drive you crazy. Make sure you get the expressway permit when you enter Switzerland and be especially aware of ZTL signs in Italian cities.
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Feb 27th, 2012, 04:18 AM
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amsterdam - zurich - Sienna 3 days driving? No way! Two if you take it slow. It's some 1500 km (900 miles), 15 hours driving (assuming you don't push it on the German Autobahn).

However, cheaper than going by train? Don't underestimate the price of traveling by car!

For these distances you want something that is not too small - but for Italy you don't want a very big or expensive car either. Let's say a VW golf is okay. Prolly manual shift and petrol.

Fuel costs: 3000 km round trip, 1:13 petrol car => 230 liters x €1.50/liter (assuming you refuel in Germany, Switzerland and Italy) makes €350 in fuel (prices may vary over the next few months and differ much throughout Europe. Here in the Netherlands Euro95 (regular petrol) currently costs €1.80/liter (ca. US$9.13/gallon).

Add toll and Swiss motorway vignette estimate €100

Add car rental for a week including large mileage (3000 in a week, that's more than usual) another €400 (category VW golf or something).

Grand total: €850, 4 days on the road.

I think going by plane is cheaper and faster.
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Feb 27th, 2012, 05:21 AM
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Wow - thank you everyone. This is so helpful. I will definitely look into trains, but the last time that I looked at the Eurail pass it was quite expensive. Is Eurail the way we want to go?
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Feb 27th, 2012, 05:26 AM
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Also, to explain about Zurich - my sister and I lived there for a year when we were in our young teens (our dad was singing with the Zurich Opera Company then) and we have never been back. We are going on a tour with my choir that ends in Amsterdam and we were able to extend the trip for a week but must return from Amsterdam. Zurich is our main destination but of course we wanted to get to see as much as we could while there. Who knows if we'll ever have another chance to go?
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Feb 27th, 2012, 05:54 AM
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No wonder you thought trains are more expensive. No --you likely do not want a Eurail pass. Just regular point to point tickets will be probably be cheaper. And discount tickets will be much cheaper.

". . . but of course we wanted to get to see as much as we could while there."

That's the problem -- the more distance/destinations you cram in, the less you usually see. You end up on the move, checking in/out, and just trying to navigate to where you are staying and have little time to see/do things. Stick to A'dam to Switzerland and back - and even that will be a bit rushed.
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Feb 27th, 2012, 06:38 AM
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Janisj - thank you. How do I find discount tickets?
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Feb 27th, 2012, 06:53 AM
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Giulietta - go here: http://www.seat61.com/ and read up on the countries you'll be visiting. You buy the tickets from each country's railway's website, and seat61.com will have the links.
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Mar 2nd, 2012, 12:42 AM
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I'll cast my vote with The_lonely_traveler. It would have been cheaper to fly my daughter to Amsterdam from Milan first class than what it cost me in car rental, tolls, gas, food, and motel to drive there and back. It was a nice drive, but I had plenty of time because I was living in NL at the time. And I bought a keg of wine in Beaune.

Another time I was in Geneva and needed to get to Amsterdam. I found a KLM flight that was about half the cost and one-tenth the time of a train. Shop on kayak.com for flights. Going through the mountains of Switzerland by train is beautiful but takes time. Look at the maps and schedules on the German Rail site http://www.deutschebahn.com/en/start.htm.

Flying also gives you some magnificent views of the Alps. Mont Blanc is one mighty awesome chunk of ice from the air. I had a great view on a flight from Barcelona but I don't know flight paths from the north.
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