Finding Four Wheels…What’s So Hard About That?

I have 4 hours. 4 entire, glorious hours to myself to work on the trip planning.

Today, car rentals and leases. 4 rentals and 1 long-term lease to be exact.

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t attempted to tackle this before today.  8 to 10 times before today, actually. I try to keep all the relevant information in mind:

  • An automatic car would be better in England as we have no clue how to drive on the other side of the road. However, if the price difference is exorbitant, then go with a manual.
  • Same thing for Ireland. However, we’ll be used to driving on the other side by the time we arrive, so might be easier to do a manual if needed. Credit cards do not cover insurance in Ireland as 10% of accidents in Ireland involve tourists. Keeping that in mind, go with the smallest car that makes sense as the roads wind a ton, and the possibility of losing a side mirror is high.
  • France rental — don’t care. Driven there before and feel ok about it. Actually, plan on me driving as I will not be driving in England or Ireland — the idea terrifies me. Hodophobia is the fear of traveling. I’m going to call this Anglohodophobia. Believe me, it’s real.
  • Italy rental — one credit card covers insurance; one doesn’t. Remember this when placing booking. And remember that we just added more trains in Italy which alters the rental dates.
  • Lease — compare going direct vs. going through a consolidator. Remember that the price on the website probably doesn’t include the fees for picking up in Brussels and dropping off in Milan.
  • Everywhere — check trunk size to make sure all 4 carryons and 2 smaller backpacks fit (ugh…that reminds me that I need to look into a backpack for myself…add that to list of stressors).

I plunge in. I look at websites, take a few notes. I decide to go with a consolidator recommended by Rick Steves. My in-laws worship Rick Steves, and the guy has an insane European business, so that should be good. And the idea of doing all of this through one place sounds great. I try and put out of my mind that I already called this consolidator a couple of months back and talked to someone there for a LONG time. Then I didn’t act on the information. Which is good because our plans changed. But what if I get the same guy? Will he remember me?

I call. I am sure this is the same guy. I reassure myself that all New Yorkers sound alike — it’s got to be a different guy. We talk for a LONG time, mostly about leases. I feel like I’m getting a bit confused as I talk to him. That might have something to do with the fact that I’m simultaneously doing internet research, so all the prices are becoming a blur. He tells me that if I do all the leases and rentals through him, I can get a 5% discount on each rental. I find a rental online that is $1000 cheaper than the lease. I decide to call him on it, explaining that in my “prior” research (2 seconds is prior, isn’t it?), I found much cheaper prices. One thing he mentions that seems valid is that my credit card probably doesn’t cover a rental longer than 30 days. I use that as my out and tell him that I will call my credit card company and then call him back on Monday. He says his name is Alfred.

Yep, the same guy. There just aren’t that many Alfreds in the world.

I hang up and find a note where I have the number for the credit card travel insurance information. I call it — it’s an international collect number. I hang up. Then I remember that one of the credit card companies sent me a document outlining rental car insurance. Second page in black and white: insurance coverage terminates after 30 days.

OK — we need to do a lease. I look at the website of the consolidator where Alfred works. Wait a minute…why is the lease $350 less online on their site? I decide to call Alfred; after all, we’ve talked so much that I feel like we’re buddies. I tell him what I found online, and he becomes slightly brusque, telling me, “I can’t get you that price. That is only online. And, if you book online, then I can’t give you 5% on the rentals.” I thank him for the information and hang up. I’m not sure we’re still buddies.

3.5 hours have passed. I have leased nothing. Rented nothing. If I just bite the bullet, I could still get this done today.

Instead, I decide to write a blog post.

Escapism is my reality.

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