European Car Rental – Top Ten Tips for Europe Travel – Tip #2: The Price Is Right

When it comes to shopping for something on-line, we tend to become naturally more focused on a singular aspect of the product or service we desire. There is so much information to be absorbed while browsing sites that it is nearly impossible to factor everything in. This is very true of the travel industry, which happens to be the second largest on-line market (I’m sure you can guess what the first is) and the one thing most customers tend to zero in on is that magical of all numbers: price.

This is of course to be expected. We can, after all, only afford what is in our budget. However, the first order of business should always be to understand the requirements of our vacation, in this case, the car rental. Before you look at prices, you should have a solid idea of how many people you need to accommodate, the amount of days you are staying, whether or not you can drive a manual shift, and the locations you are picking up and dropping off at. Provided you have those things locked down, you can safely move on to comparison shopping.

While it is true that 91% of travelers at least research if not purchase their trips on-line (source: Nielsen NetRatings – EyeforTravel independent study), it is always best to have some human contact before you make that important decision. In fact, if it is difficult to elicit at least a personalized e-mail response within 24 hours of contacting a travel company, you can almost guarantee that their customer service will put you on the back burner should you have a problem. Before you settle on a price, make sure that any future dealings with the company you choose will be satisfactory, or you will end up paying much more than that number on the screen.

The time honored tradition these days is “added extras”, also sometimes known as local taxes, hidden fees, or much more malicious wordings, depending on who you talk to. Some companies only quote you a “base rate”. Some companies will tell you their price is “all-inclusive”. Sometimes this is true, other times it is anything but. As long as the company is honest in conveying this information, it should not be a deterrent, as sometimes it is not within their control. Make sure you always read any terms and conditions and if you are still uneasy, call or e-mail the company and ask if there are any other charges to be expected upon arrival. Note that I say “charges” and not “fees” or “costs”. The basis of this being that in most cases a security deposit will be held for gas and key as well as a deductible for insurance purposes. The things that should either be included or not are:

Value Added Tax: Like sales tax in the States, all the countries in Europe have a different tax structure. This can be as low as 7.6% (Switzerland) to 25% or more (Scandinavia) and is generally not refundable as it is on goods, since car rental is deemed a service.

Insurance: While there are new types of insurance being imagined up by rental companies everyday, the main ones are usually Collision and Theft (these two are sometimes covered by credit cards – more on that in later articles), liability, personal accident insurance (like medical insurance) and personal effects coverage (covers your belongings inside the vehicle).

Mileage: Only luxury vehicles and SUV’s should come with limited mileage. Beware any company who does not have unlimited mileage on normal sedan and wagon vehicles, even vans.

Local Taxes: These typically include premium location surcharges (airports and railstations especially), road taxes, additional drivers, eco surcharges and more. Like insurances, these are called something different every day.

After inclusions are tallied up, request a free quote in writing. If you can’t get a free quote in writing, chances are the company will end up billing you for something you do not know about. If the company has a website where the quotes are stored, print it out off of your browser. Make sure it has a tracking number so you can pull it up when needed. Also make sure you know the difference between a tracking number and a confirmation number. One holds a rate quote, one holds an actual vehicle.

In general, you can get the lowest price from a consolidator, who deals with multiple suppliers. They have contracted wholesale rates and typically hold more weight when confirming special requests such as hotel deliveries, additional equipment and after hours pick ups. It helps if they have a “best rate” policy. The better companies will offer to beat any rate you can find provided it has the same parameters and inclusions. Always ask if they have discounts for memberships like AAA, AARP, etc. Ask friends who have used the company if they know of any discount codes. You never know what will bring down the price in the long run.

To sum this up, always remember that price should not be the first thing you look at. Make sure the company is reputable, is easy to reach via telephone and e-mail, has the criteria you require available, and then worry about the price. It may sound like a lot of work but in the end you will be happy that made the right choice.

Tips on Renting a Yacht

Whether on a vacation or you just want a relaxing day on the water, a yacht is a fun and luxurious way to relax. A day on the ocean or sea can be an unforgettable experience, and yacht renting makes it even more special.

When renting a yacht, people can arrange all of the details of the voyage to make it perfect. People with their own experiences and licenses can book a charter in order to be their own captain of a yacht. Otherwise, people need to hire a captain and crew.

Plan as much of the yacht trip as far in advance as possible. There needs to be some room for maneuvering until the rental is finalized. Yacht rentals should not be rushed since there are so many parameters and expenses involved. Figure out possible travel dates, where to depart from, the trip duration, and the desired destinations and activities.

The companies, brokers, and private parties offering yacht rentals need to be researched. Pick one that matches the plans. Searching for a yacht rental means there will be options for luxury yachts with captains and crews. If a yacht without a crew is needed, then the term bareboat needs to put into the search.

For more specific search results, people should put in the region or port of departure. Look in yacht advertisements, boating magazines, and websites for more options. Contact the port authority, harbor master, or local yacht club to ask for rentals or recommendations.

It is a good idea to physically visit the port of departure. There could be bulletin boards of ads displayed for yacht rentals, along with free newspapers, magazines, and fliers advertising yacht rentals. After looking at all of these sources, compare all of the options that match the preferred details that were written down earlier.

Look at the size, amenities, and comfort level of the yachts being considered. Find out that services the crew provides. Decide what is most desired out of the yacht trip. If people want to spend the yacht cruise sunbathing and relaxing, then the services provided need to be able to meet that goal. Find out the limits and how far or where to take the yacht.

Compare the total costs of each yacht and get rid of options that do not fit the budget. Find out the cost of the deposit and the base price of the yacht. Also ask about insurance, fuel, customs, and another fees that may be hidden. Do not forget about payment and tips for the skipper or crew if being hired.

See if food and drinks for the day will be included. If not, figure out how much these services will cost and ask if people can bring their own picnic of food with them on the yacht. Read the terms and conditions of the company or person that is renting the yacht out and make sure they are comfortable.

A reservation should be made once all of these options are narrowed down. Before signing a contract, read every condition and then make the payment with a credit card. Make sure the logistics for sailing out and coming back to port are sufficient. A day or two before the day of the yacht trip, confirm the reservation.

There are a few extra tips to make the yacht trip more enjoyable. Research testimonials of others who have used the yacht service online and make sure there are no glaring problems. Pack lightly since there is limited room available on board for luggage. Read the fine print so people know exactly what they will and will not be paying before finalizing rent.

Travel Tips That Will Help Make a Travel Trip Smoother

You finally have some vacation days, which means you can go somewhere for a few days and relax without having to worry about work. Are you excited? While people are excited about traveling, they also feel a bit apprehensive because it can also be a hassle. However, it is essential to remember that this only happens when you don’t plan properly and take advantage of the benefits that technology can offer you these days. If you want to make your trip as smooth as possible, here are some excellent travel tips that can come in handy:

Get organized early on

Staying organized is one of the best ways to prevent any last-minute problems and fiascos. When you have made up your mind to go somewhere, you should inform your credit card company or bank about it so that you don’t face any payment issues. The next step is to take a look at your travel documents before flying because you want to ensure everything is up to date. This includes checking to see if you have a valid visa for every destination that’s part of your flight itinerary. If you find a problem at the eleventh hour, you may have to cancel your plans.

Take advantage of the tech

There is no denying that technology has simplified everything, which includes traveling. Gone are the days when you had to go in blind to a new place because you can now check out everything beforehand thanks to technology. You can find a wide array of travel apps that can turn out to be immensely useful, which include maps that can help you in getting around the new city and finding places. Likewise, there are also apps that enable you to get real-time flight updates, weather conditions and even find your restaurants according to your dietary requirements.

Opt for pre-booking where possible

It is recommended that you tick off as many things as possible from your list to avoid any issues. Again, technology plays a role here because you can now check out vacation rental websites for booking your accommodation, car hiring websites to hire a car for picking you up from the airport and similar other tasks. This can enable you to save a lot of your valuable time and keep the pressure off so you can stay stress-free.

Avoid the rush

If you are going on a vacation instead of a business trip, you want to be as relaxed as possible in order to enjoy. This can only happen if you give yourself time to make it to the airport and go through security. You can make use of GPS in this situation for checking your estimated travel time and even mark the route that can get you there quickest.

Be ready for security

If you have traveled before, you know the ins and outs of security. It is best to place your keys, jewelry and small electronic devices in your carry-on luggage as it can save time. You don’t have to empty out your pockets and get through easily. It is also necessary to ensure you are complying with all the custom requirements when it comes to large electronic devices and liquids. Other than that, you should also be familiar with the number of pieces of baggage or the weight limit imposed. These requirements can differ for countries and airlines and you should be familiar with them beforehand to avoid any penalties or fines.

As long as you follow the tips mentioned, you will be able to enjoy a smooth and relaxing trip and face no hassles.

3 Tips For Renting Vs Buying Your Snowboard Equipment

Smelly boots, chintzy bindings, and rock-beaten decks; this is the common snowboard rental experience. How long do you have to use this second-hand crap anyway?

Plus, renting equipment is generally a hassle and can get expensive fast. Wouldn’t it just be cheaper and easier to invest in your own gear and pay a one-time fee?

Keep these tips in mind as you consider whether or not owning your own snowboard equipment would be worth it…

1. For first-timers

If you’ve never been snowboarding before, you should always rent–in fact, you may want to rent the first few times you head to the hill.

Rental boards are tailor-made to help a new rider through the learning process. Plus, with a rental board you don’t have to worry about damage when you ride off of the trail and into the dirt.

Even if you are planning a longer vacation and the price of renting seems greater than buying, you are better off sticking with the rental equipment. You might find that after the first few full days of snowboarding, you need a few days off to recuperate; you won’t be needing a board the entire vacation after all.

2. Don’t rent, demo

If you can shape turns down a green slope, it might be time to start thinking about customized gear as you start to further advance your skills.

But if you don’t get that many days on the hill, maybe you don’t need to spend all of that money just yet?

A renter who is looking for an upgrade without making a commitment should consider demoing. Demos are legit, name-brand board, boot and binding models available for rent from most rental shops.

Demos usually cost a bit more than average rentals, but they are a great way to start shopping for your first setup by testing several available-for-purchase models. Demos are like sticking your toe in the pool, instead of just jumping in.

3. Go feet first

If you are really itching to get out of your rental gear, but you are unsure how much you will ride or you simply don’t have the cash for a decent full setup, consider spending some dough on your first pair of snowboard boots.

Boots are the single worst part of the rental experience. Most rental books reek something fierce; they are all packed out from having so many pairs of feet in them and usually the liners are so beat that the boot offers virtually no support.

Probably 80% of the difficulties people experience when using rentals come from poor boot fit.

One thing in snowboarding you will hear over and over, “Boots are the most important piece of your equipment”. Since boots are the first step in relaying your movements into snowboarding, they should be the first piece of equipment you invest in.

I guarantee that owning your own pair of custom-fit boots will make more of difference on snow than any board or binding will. This article from the Angry Snowboarder features excellent tips on getting a boot that’s practically made for you.

One final tip: you will know when you need to buy your own snowboard gear. You will feel like your rental gear doesn’t turn hard enough, or go fast enough, or pop high enough; and depending on which of those it is, you will also have a good idea of what to look for in your first setup.