Most travelers to Europe carry a kitchen sink in a backpack and buy a month’s worth of rail passes. Some, like me, prefer the freedom and convenience of traveling by car. Behind the wheel, you’re able to go wherever you want and go whenever you want. European roads are well-maintained, and it’s easy to find discoveries you would otherwise miss if you traveled by train. Most Renault EuroDrive is equipped with GPS so you’ll never get lost. Touring Europe by car requires a bit of advanced planning. But the rewards are more fulfilling than your ordinary backpacking trip.
Back in the summer of 2013 I was burnt out from the 9-5 and was ready to take a short sabbatical. I have researched all methods and concluded that a car would be the best way to go. I have based my decision on several factors.
I like to be able to leave and go wherever I please and carry more luggage and the comfort of having my space.
When I did my calculations and research, I found that it’s cheaper to lease a car than buying a Euro Rail pass.
The car can also double as a mobile home when necessary. It saves money from accommodation expenses. It is sometimes convenient to sleep in the car when I’m chasing sunrises and sunsets. Just jump out of the car and go! The insurance and shop/maintenance costs are also covered as part of the package of Renault Eurodrive.
I wanted to see Europe in all its glory. Not just the major cities. I wanted to get lost in some random village. Eat at some random rural restaurant. I wanted to explore some long abandoned ruin. Climb up the stairs of a castle I’ve never heard of. Maybe even go on an unexpected adventure like getting Chased by Goats in Norway.
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With the Renault EuroDrive, you can visit and drive around in 42 countries. The lease is a fixed amount based on how long you want the car for. Included is full vehicle insurance coverage in all 42 countries. 24/7 roadside assistance is also part of the package. The Renault Eurodrive vehicles come with an Automatic transmission. I prefer manual since that is what most people in Europe use. I wanted the whole experience.
You have the option of leasing a Diesel or Gasoline car. I went with Diesel. Diesel is popular in Europe and provides better mileage than standard gasoline vehicles. I was getting something like 68 miles per gallon with my Renault Captur.
The concept is simple
You buy/lease a brand new (not used) Renault model of your choice. It ranges from small sedans to full-sized SUV’s. You then drive it for as long as you want and wherever you want within the 42 countries listed. Once you’re done, you return it to Renault, and they will repurchase it from you upon return. The vehicle is yours, but you treat it like a rental by paying only for how long you have it for.
In Europe, it is expensive to buy a brand new car due to taxes and tariffs. By “leasing” the car brand new and then selling it back as used upon return. Renault can make it more attractive to potential buyers. Why? Because a used car doesn’t have as many tariffs, taxes, and fees associated with it. The seller and buyer win.
The process is simple
You can reserve a vehicle of your choice. Then you choose how long you want to drive it. You then decide where you want to pick it up. There are 32 pick-up and drop-off locations throughout Europe. If you choose to pick it up and drop it off in a country of France you start incurring a fee anywhere from $210 to $420. I picked my Renault Capture at Charles De Gaulle airport to avoid taxes. It was also convenient since most flights to CDG are cheap coming from SFO.
I reserved a Clio4 Estate – Diesel with built-in GPS with a pick-up date of 7/17/2013 and returned on 12/20/2013. My total came to $3971 for the 5-6 months I will have the car, that’s around $800 a month. I think it was reasonable considering I used to pay a $1300 monthly mortgage and $450 a month lease on a car. My plan was to car camp whenever I can and Couchsurf all the other times.
I did this most of the time while in Europe. My monthly expenses were less than living in the United States! There is an initial charge $400 for the reservation, and you pay the rest when you pick up the car. My trip ended about a week early and upon return, Renault, gave me a refund for the week I wasn’t going to use the car for.
After paying reservation, I received this email:
We have received a negative confirmation from Renault in Paris as far as the Clio Estate you requested is concerned.
The good news though is that we could find an even better model for you, the just-released “Captur” which comes with the same engine and also with the GPS Europe and we could give you this car for $4,073.60 which is only $100 more than the Clio (this includes an exceptional 5% discount on the regular rate for this car as a compensation for the trouble)
$4,073.60? Just $100 more for roomier and newer model car? Oy Vey! I’ll take it!
Once confirmed, I received another email with a contract package requiring a copy of the passport picture page and credit card authorization. I sent those in and received another email with my contract number and password that I used to log into their website and review my contract.
The Captur moment
My arrival Charles de Gaulle airport didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked, but I finally I was able to sort it through. The car, Renault Captur, is a spiffy looking machine which is completely brand new when I drove it out of the Airport and into the French countryside. The car is simple and is equipped with a GPS which came in handy. It beats combing through a paper map and asking for directions. I believe the Captur debuted in 2013.
The Captur has not been released yet for general public purchase when I drove it off the airport. I was driving around in Prague, and I saw them shooting a commercial for the Captur. I got some funny looks when I drove next to the car while they’re filming the commercial!
Thirty thousand miles
I must have put close to 30,000 miles on the Capture, and it ran without a hitch. It is comfortable to sleep in, and trust me; I’ve slept in that car more often than I’d like to admit. I’ve driven it through Norway and back down through southern Europe. I’ve had many random driving adventures. Explored a lot of villages. Picked up a lot of hitchhikers and strange but cool characters. And generally just had a blast.! I did avoid driving in most significant metros – city drivers in Europe are crazy!
I have driven it all the way to Turkey and on through the Asian side without any issues. However, about 15,000 miles later I blew a tire in Goreme, Cappadocia. 24/7 roadside assistance at farthest reaches of the contract, delivered. I found a Renault dealer in some town and they honored the agreement. If you’re traveling long-term, Renault Eurodrive is a cost-effective way to go around Europe and can even serve as a camper. I wouldn’t hesitate to relive this adventure again, and I recommend the same to you.