Should you ship your own car or use a rental?
You are planning a road trip to Europe from the USA and you're not sure whether shipping your own car to the other side of the Atlantic is a good idea. When you travel from the USA to Europe, European car rental is one way to get around - but some people may prefer to have their own car, especially if they are planning on spending an extended period of time there. When it comes to shipping a car from the USA to Europe, there is a lot of prep work to be done beyond just finding a decent car-shipping company. Considering how much of a hassle this can be, and the fact that a rental car in Europe is cheap enough, the simpler option seems clear. However, it is always important to weigh your options when you have the freedom to do so.
So, the first thing you have to do is to decide whether you are going to be arranging for your own car's transport to Europe or whether you are going to opt for European car rental instead. Let's look at some of the pros and cons of each of the options.
If you want to ship your car for your driving vacation in Europe, keep these in mind:
Renting a car in Europe has its own set of pros and cons:
You've decided to take your own car and since you can't drive to Europe from the USA, your car has to go by ship, so here's a basic checklist of things to keep in mind:
By comparison, a rental car is a cheap and easy option. Stipulate clearly that you want an automatic vehicle, as manual transmissions are commonplace in Europe. Compare cars, making sure that you know how much luggage capacity you require and whether your rental will be big enough, especially concerning cars only available in Europe and not in the US. There are a lot more small cars in Europe and no full-size trucks such as the Ford F-150, only mid-size ones, such as the Ford Ranger.
Crossover SUVs such as a Toyota RAV4 are a versatile choice, as they're ubiquitous all over the world and more practical than a sedan. Europe is also home to the best station wagons since the body type is still popular there, and they provide lots of space and comfort. Try to avoid driving long distances non-stop, but if you must, follow these tips to stay alert, especially if you're traveling alone.
A tour from the USA to travel Europe by car is an unforgettable experience and you should put aside several weeks to get the most out of it. If you're taking your own car, ensure that you are aware of the European rules of the road and local traffic signs, observe social-distancing protocols, avoid very crowded places, and know how to drive a left-hand-drive vehicle on the right-hand side of the road in the UK if you have to. Your car must be compliant in all European emission zones, too. Have a look at our detailed checklist for a European road trip.
Remember that Europe uses the metric system, so they have kilometers and not miles. Make sure you know what speed to drive if you're using your own car with a miles-per-hour speedometer. With the right preparation - and if you follow all our useful tips - your European trip will be one of your all-time travel memories.
This can vary a lot, but generally, the Netherlands is among the cheapest countries for car hire in Europe. The most expensive countries include Ireland, Croatia, Switzerland, Portugal, and Italy.
Shipping by air can run anywhere from $8,000 to $11,000 or more. It is many times more expensive than shipping by sea, although much faster.
If you make use of a roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) vessel, then no. No items may be stored in any vehicles traveling to Europe on a RoRo vessel - their interiors must be empty. However, if you are shipping your car in an enclosed container, you are allowed to pack luggage in it.
The trip from major ports on the USA's east such as New York and Baltimore to Europe usually takes around ten days, not taking into account any delays caused by the weather or mechanical trouble. Make sure you send your car ahead in time, so it's waiting for you in Europe when you arrive.