Lease a car – Long term in Europe
Which company ?
There are some options lease a car in Europe and the UK. We went with UK and Eurpoe Travel – based out of Australia. They are a middle man that can arrange any type of car or vehicle lease in the UK and Europe.
There is a limit of 175 days on a long term lease contract. So we had to have a normal car rental for the first leg of our trip. This was done through Hertz in Spain. Then we would exchange the Hertz car for a Eurolease vehicle. Which is the long term lease.
The first car hire was a brand new Toyota CHR Hybrid. It had all the bells and whistles and was a pleasure to drive. Traveling from Barcelona to Valencia, Gibraltar, Portugal and back through central Spain to Barcelona. For a period of 42 days, we would have unlimited km’s, 24 hour roadside assistance and full insurance cover.
We traveled over 4500 km’s, paid €300 in Petrol, €200 in tolls and the lease for the vehicle in that time was AU$1450 (€900). So a total of €1400 for the 42 day trip.
We picked up the long term lease – a a brand new Diesel Dacia Duster with 100m on the clock and did close to 4000km’s so far in a month. The lease is for 175 days and we will return the car in Calais at the start of January. We had to pay a €400 fee because we are not returning the vehice to the same point we picked it up. The lease includes unlimited km’s, full 24 hours roadside assistace and full insurance. The total cost of the lease was AU$4795 (€ 3000). We are still racking up toll and fuel costs and I will update these later.
Why lease a car ?
When we decided to travel around Europe. Our first thought was always to travel by car. We are traveling with kids. So for safety reasons first of all and then for the freedom to do what we want and when we want. I can imagine the inconvenience of having to catch a train, bus or flight when the kids are tired and struggling to get up in the morning. It would save lots of fights and stress having to get them ready in time to make an appointment to travel.
If Tassia is maybe not feeling the best, we could delay our travels by a few hours or have the freedom to stop off somewhere to give her a break. Something we wouldn’t be able to do if we were on a bus, train or a plane.
We have felt safe pretty much everywhere in Europe so far. There have been a couple of times we’ve been uncomfortable and had to have our wits about us. Especially in touristy spots where pick pockets and thieves operate. It’s been good, but we have had to be way more vigilant than we’re used to in New Zealand. So having to be onto it constantly using public transport or trains and busees would have been mentally more taxing we believe.
Pro’s and con’s when you lease a car
The freedom to go where we want when we want. We have just found some really nice and quiet accomodation by the beach. So we decided to extend our stay from 3 nights to 6. If we had flights or a bus to catch we wouldn’t be able to. If the kids get tired or want something to eat (they’re always hungry). It’s easy to stop off somewhere.
Some places we visited were remote. Especially places in Sicily and parts of Portugal. Places we wouldn’t have been able to visit if we didn’t have a vehicle.
Storage space. Unfortunately our family like to horde things. So the car is also storage space for some excess things like pairs of shoes and hats, bottles of water etc. If we were traveling any other way. They would have a hard time keeping all their knickknacks in a couple of backpacks. Something we’ll have to work on for future travel, I think.
It’s not cheap ranging between €1.20 – €1.90 a litre. So far we’ve done around 8500km’s. It’s cost us around €800 so far. Our first car (4500km) was a hybrid and we managed to do around 750km on a tank which cost around €50 to fill. Our long term lease is a slightly bigger SUV style Diesel vehicle and is a little heavier on gas as it’s not a hybrid. So we do manage 750km’s on a tank, but it costs about €75 to fill.
There are tolls roads all over Europe. Some are cheaper than others. In Spain, we traveled from Barcelona to Valencia and it cost roughly €40 in tolls alone. Then we traveled 1500km’s through Portugal and only had to pay €28 in total tolls. Tolls in France and Italy have been similar to Spain. People have told us to avoid tolls, but when it adds 2 hours onto a 3 hour journey, especially with kids in the car. We decided it’s worth the extra money to get to our destinations a little quicker. We are traveling 3 hours every 3 days to a new destination, some days we have pushed to 5 hours – like the slog from Naples to Sicily. It can get a bit much sitting in the car that long for that often.
Parking is not cheap and sometimes there is no parking at all. In Barcelona, parking is the worst nightmare you can imagine. More on that in another post.
One of our necessities when looking for accommodation is free parking and if there’s no free parking, just parking at least. In the main cities like Milan and Madrid we paid up to €20 a day. In Rome we managed roadside parking for €7 a day. Roadside parking is available at a lesser cost, but then you run the risk of getting broken in to. Making sure there is absolutely nothing visible in the car is a must. Having foreign plates also makes you a target – as we found out. More on that also in another post.
Smaller towns charge a minimum for parking or most villages have free parking. Some of the accommodation we booked had free parking on site. Usually a free standing house or a couple of flats in a single block with a garden.
We don’t always have the freedom to go wherever we want. Because you are stuck with a car. I know it contradicts what we said at the top, but it gives you some freedoms, but locks you in from others. If we wanted to make a quick trip to Greece or fly to wherever for a couple of days. We would always be conscious of the fact we had a car and it would have to be left somewhere and there’s always risks and costs involved in doing so.
Being new vehicles, there isn’t much maintenance outside of fuel and water and tire pressure. We did have an issue in Barcelona where we had a tire punctured and we were robbed. That’s not really maintenance, but the tire was covered by insurance.
If we had to do it again, we would absolutely do it this way. The freedom we have with the car is by far the biggest factor. Then the cost, even with parking, tolls and fuel included is still cheaper than bus, trains and planes. Especially for 4 of us.
Considering a single train trip for the 4 of us between Barcelona and Valencia would cost €120, not including getting around the city and to and from our accommodation. We would travel to 10 cities in our first leg and match what the whole first car rental cost – including tolls and fuel. In comparison that wouldn’t even get us back to Barcelona for the start of the second leg.