If this is your one-and-only trip to Europe, try to extend your trip a week or so after the group tour to explore in depth the areas you liked best, particularly the area where you would like to research your family. You will, of course, have done your research preparation on PIE!
Call the major car rental companies and ask for their European rates. A Ford Fiesta or equivalent is usually the lowest category car (with standard shift). To avoid steep CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) charges, use your American Express or Gold MasterCard to book a rental. Check your bank card issuer for information. The good news for a lot of people is that European car companies are increasing their stock of automatic cars in the lower categories. If you're bringing a laptop, check that the car has a lighter to use or recharge it on the road (this is the latest European car economizing).
If you are planning to buy a car this year -- as well as go to Europe -- look into programs offered by Volvo, Saab, Mercedes, etc. Savings can be thousands! including the savings versus renting that size car, combined with the discount afforded by the program. You order the car from your local dealer (usually three months are needed) and pick it up in Europe. Get the car to a drop-off point before you return and it will be delivered to the dealer with his regular shipments. Note: These are not so-called "gray market" cars. See your dealer.
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This page was last updated on: 03 Jun 1996. Comments and additions to the list are welcome. Contact either of the section owners, William J. Girimonti III or Sylvia Zalla.