As I gazed over the cliff from the driver seat of my Citroen car I could feel the breeze pulling my hair and smell the salty sea air through the open window. Amalfi Coast may have been a challenge, but it certainly was a challenge I was glad I accepted.
When my parents approached me about the idea of a month-long road trip through Europe I was thrilled. I couldn’t express the joy I felt meeting them at the airport in Rome after nearly 1.5 years (since we had left Australia for my Dad, shy of 1 year since I saw my Mum in Penang).
But before that we had to decide what car to get. We have rented a lot of cars in our time abroad, however I had heard there was a better way in Europe, especially for Aussies.
Check out rental car aggregators like carrentals.co.uk or hotwire.com when looking to book a rental car. Make sure you check insurance, one-way fees, location fees, etc. It can add up. Then check it all against the actual agency websites as well. To be honest, I’ve always done better with an aggregator.
Renting a car for a long period of time can get costly and we found that even though we wanted to rent for a longer period of time the prices didn’t really get much cheaper.
Enter Car Leasing
My parents told us they had decided to lease a car. ‘What is this leasing?’ I wondered since we had only ever rented a car.
What Is Car Leasing?
If you are a resident outside the European Union, over 21 years of age, and have had a valid drivers license for at least one year you can qualify for a tax-free short-term auto lease, which France designates with a "TT" (Transit Temporaries) registration.
When you lease a car in Europe between 17 – 165 days you can arrange a buy-back agreement. That means you technically buy a brand new car, but agree to sell it back to the company within a period of time, leaving you only the difference of the buy-back rate. This difference is generally substantially cheaper than a rental and includes everything, no hidden extras.
Who can drive the lease car?
Most leasing companies allow the driver, spouse and any children (over the age of 21) to drive the vehicle. It is all included in the price.
What is the minimum lease duration?
Depending on where you live and whom you choose to drive with, you can reserve a tax-free short-term leased vehicle for a minimum period of 17 or 21 days. We choose Citroen’s 17-day minimum lease. If you require a rental for 17 days or more in Europe then leasing often works out cheaper than regular car hire.
Benefits of Citroen Car
We had the most amazing car. It was a brand new Picasso C4, which fit 2 large suitcases, 3 small ones, a double pram and 2 backpacks. Not to mention the kids and all the stuff they ended up with. The back seat was 3 separate seats instead of the usual bench seat, which made it extra wide and roomy enough to fit my parents in on the odd occasion.
It came with a GPS, which was novel, considering we usually use my husband and Google Maps as our GPS. It also featured this marvelous front window with retractable sun visors to let in plenty of light.
I probably sound like some walking advertisement, but I really fell in love with that car. If you want to buy me one for my birthday I would be very happy.
Some of the benefits with leasing is:
- Full comprehensive insurance (including third party liability and theft) - No excess, no worries!
- Pick up and drop off at different locations - helpful for our one way Italy to Spain.
- Its a brand new car, model of your choice - smaller or bigger depending on how much luggage you have.
- Generally a lower cost then the average car rental - definitely lower for us.
- Unlimited kilometers - make the most of it.
- Full factory warranty - bonus.
- All vehicles are equipped with A/C, ABS system, airbags, anti theft, central locking, electric windows and power steering - such a comfortable car.
- 24 hour roadside assistance - not that you need it on a brand new car, but good to know.
- All vehicles with CD player - Actually had several charging points and my iPhone music played through very easily.
- No extra driver charges - this cost us a fortune in Ireland, so bonus.
- No airport supplements - Again soemthing rental agencies love to jack up the price with.
- All paperwork completed prior to travel, you just rock up and drive off - so handy, quickest pickup ever.
- Vehicles can be driven throughout Europe, including Britain & Ireland
- Free pick up and return of vehicle within France
- 10 liters of diesel or 15 liters of petrol is provided free of charge - nice start to the trip.
To me it was a no brainer since we wanted the car for longer than 17 days. And what fun we had with that car! Anyway, I hope this helped clear up what the leasing deal is in Europe and whether it’s worth it over renting. I wish every country did this, I’d save a bucket load!