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Italy Q&A: Renting a Van in Italy

It’s time for another Italy Q&A reply. Theresa asks:

We are planning a trip to Italy for the month of June and will need to rent a vehicle for about 4 weeks. Maybe a van actally as we’re 4 adults & 2 young kids. Any reco’s? not sure what companies are good or what a fair daily rate to expect.

Thanks for the note, Theresa! The short answer is that a fair daily rate is the one that seems to be what everyone is charging at any given moment – but it’s true. Because the price of gasoline is going up steadily, the cost of renting a car is as well. Your best bet is to start shopping around for prices now and comparing different companies to get an idea of what the “going rate” is, and then pouncing on something when you find a lower price.

To start with, bookmark this page: Cheap Car Rental Links. In the blue box on the right, you can enter the information for your trip (the blue box is for Europe, the red box on the left is just for North America) and then let the system tell you your options. One of the companies that comes up often with European car rentals is AutoEurope. They’re a big company, although they aren’t really the company you’re renting from – they just gather the rates of other companies (like Hertz, Avis, Six-T, etc.) and you find out who you’re actually renting from after you’re done with the AutoEurope transaction. There’s nothing wrong with this system, it’s just something to be aware of – you’re not hunting for the “AutoEurope” desk at the airport!

As for the type of car you’ll be renting, I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a van that isn’t massive and doesn’t cost a fortune (either to rent or fill up with gas), but with four adults and two kids (and all the luggage that accompanies you!) you may not have much choice. You will find some SUVs available for rent at bigger airports (like Fiumicino in Rome), but that may not be any cheaper. Also remember that with any large vehicle you’ll likely be prevented from driving in the historic center of smaller towns because the roads are narrow and have buildings very close on either side. Most towns like this have parking areas just outside the city center, however, so you can leave the car there while you explore.

To get a really rough idea of prices, I did a search for a full-size SUV or van from June 1 through June 30 and got a range of $88-99 per day as the lowest rates, and it goes up dramatically from there. Again, I’d suggest you do searches like this periodically so you can see a pricing trend and then you’ll know a good deal when you see one. Also be sure to read my general information about renting a car in Italy. Oh, and if you have a choice, go for a vehicle that runs on diesel instead of regular gasoline – it’s much cheaper in Italy.