Tips for hiring fly and drive trips or self-guided trips.
Summary of contents of this page:
- Tips for hiring fly and drive trips or self-guided trips.
- What are fly and drive trips?
- Common destinations for fly and drive trips in Europe.
- Advantages of fly and drive trips.
- Type of accommodation.
- Rental vehicles.
- Rhythm of the trip.
- Orientation and itinerary.
- Telephone assistance during the trip.
- What the self-guided tours do not include.
What are fly and drive trips?
Fly and drive trips are also known as “self-guided tours” The “trips to your air”, the “fly and drive” (literally “fly and drive”) it is a trip in which you drive a rental vehicle, following an itinerary that is marked by accommodation previously reserved by the trip organizer, as well as possible visits, contracted activities and / or excursions. You can also include flights and airport taxes in the price, but in that case the departure dates are usually scheduled because the agencies look for the dates with the cheapest flights.
You have to read the conditions well because sometimes I have found trips that include plane tickets in the price but leave aside airport taxes (that sometimes exceed the price of the ticket), claiming that rates may vary and saying that the final price will be confirmed once the reservation is made, that is, we do not know what price we are going to pay until the decision is made, which is not to my liking… that is why I prefer fly and drive trips that paradoxically do not include flights, so I choose when to fly, which airline and I know how much I'm going to pay.
Fly and drive trips do not offer tourist guide service to travelers, nor do you travel with other people other than those of your family or group of friends who have hired the trip. Obviously, the lack of a guide greatly lowers the price of the trip but has the disadvantage that we lose the services that a local guide gives us: cultural information, tour, the transfers, help in hotels and restaurants with the language, security and tranquility, accompaniment, help with unforeseen events and accidents, etc., etc…, So we will have to choose depending on our budget and priorities whether to have a guide or not…
The essential characteristic of any fly and drive is the prior information that the trip organizer provides: Before opting for a fly and drive trip, I recommend studying the details of the visits, suggestions, places to eat, good maps, featured places,… everything that helps them not to get lost and to dedicate the maximum time to enjoy their vacations without wasting time. This information is usually received when the trip has already been contracted., to prevent travelers from using these guides to travel on their own if they were given earlier, For this reason it is difficult to be able to compare these details between different companies but with the information that they send us or that they show on the web you can already give us a clue, that is to say, if a self-guided tour is advertised on your website with poor or imprecise detail, what we can expect is that the travel guide that they send us once we have hired is also very poor, at least that's how I think…
Eventually the price may include travel insurance, but as in the case of flights I prefer to look for it by my means, This way I save because sometimes I don't need what these insurances cover or it may even be covered by my own private health insurance and it is money that increases the price of the trip.
Common destinations for fly and drive trips in Europe.
Within Europe there are destinations that due to their orography, the landscapes or the type of tourism that takes place in them, They are the most hired to make trips type “fly and drive”. For example, you will find different offers to do fly-drive circuits in Scotland, Ireland, Croatia, and within Spain the most common is in the Canary Islands. However in senderismoeuropa.com We recommend you to do this type of self-guided trip with a rental car in Bulgaria, there the rental price is lower than in the destinations mentioned above, In fact, in Bulgaria you can rent a car with full insurance without excess for the same price as a rental car with excess insurance in Ireland would cost., Scotland or Croatia. Thus, traveling with the peace of mind of not having to pay a deductible for any damage to the car, even for a small scratch, it is something to keep in mind.
Not only for the economic issue, The main reason for recommending Bulgaria as a fly and drive destination is that it offers a diversity of landscapes and popular architecture that is very exotic to the eyes of travelers from Central and Western Europe.. You can find more reasons in our article Reasons to travel to Bulgaria, where we also give information of interest about what you should know before traveling to Bulgaria.
So if you are thinking of taking a fly and drive trip through Europe, Here is our proposal, It is just an example because we can change the duration of the trip and the places to visit according to your preferences, Ask us for a quote if you want to make changes:
Advantages of fly and drive trips.
Although they may be obvious, they should be remembered:
- There is a specialized company that is responsible for the organization and management, making our work easier and saving us time.
- It is cheaper than a trip that involves the service of a local guide.
- If we do not know the country, allows you to get advice on the best places to visit, enjoy good accommodations, etc, by the organizing company, which will also be very interested in the traveler being satisfied and knowing the destination better than us.
- Provides greater freedom of decision to the traveler than a programmed circuit type trip
- It gives us greater security and peace of mind knowing that the itinerary, accommodations, etc are recommended by a company that already has the itinerary tested by other clients as opposed to having to travel on our own, designing the entire trip ourselves.
- The organizing company will always get better prices for vehicle rental and accommodation than we could get ourselves on our own., Of course, afterwards, he charges it with his business margin, but it is also true that the advantages they bring are worth money…. everything has a price.
There may be more but these I can think of are the main ones, and since all that glitters is not gold, below, section by section, I will be commenting on some of its possible disadvantages and with which you have to be cautious before hiring this type of trip.
As with any type of trip contracted through agencies, The subject of accommodation included in the trip is important because it is where they tend to get cheaper or sometimes the opposite., the organizer charges us more than they should because the hotel belongs to someone you know or has interests in it. It is convenient to have the more data of the accommodations the better. If the agency is serious, it will tell us that if there are changes in the planned accommodations, These will be replaced by others of the same category and a plus is being able to choose a higher category of the hotels on the trip, even if this means a supplement. I personally don't pay much attention to the star rating of a hotel, I have been in hotels of 2** with better facilities than other 4**** and sometimes I prefer to be in rural houses or small hotels to be more in contact with the locals and nature, rather than in large hotel chains where the treatment is more impersonal and one loses a bit of the notion of the country where one is, but as I said before, the best thing is that the organizer gives us the option to choose.
The subject of the rental vehicle segment is another key factor in the price of the trip, You have to know well what type of vehicle the self-guided trip includes, type descriptions “economy category vehicle”, “mid-range vehicle”, “tourism type vehicle”, etc, They are imprecise and if we hire it we can find a car in which we can fit but not our luggage… or that when driving on the road they pass us to the trucks. Vehicle segment should be clear, be suspicious if it doesn't specify… Car manufacturers classify them according to their length and number of seats according to this scale:
- Micro cars: two-seater cars, smaller than 3300 mm.
- Segment A cars: Smaller sized four-seater cars, currently between 3300 mm y 3700 mm.
- Segment B automobiles: have room for four adults and one child; hatchbacks and minivans haunt the 3900 mm, while sedans and wagons come to the 4200 mm.
- C-segment cars: They are the smallest with five full seats. They are located around the 4200 mm for hatchbacks and minivans and 4500 mm in the case of sedans and estate.
- Segment D cars: They also have five seats but have more powerful engines and a larger boot. The size is about 4600 mm.
- E-segment cars: they are the largest models of generalist car factories. The average size is 4800 mm.
- F-segment cars: they include only high-end models. They always exceed 5000 mm.
Therefore, for a trip abroad I usually resort to segment C since, traveling as a couple, have enough space in the trunk for luggage of 2 persons, You have to think that many days we find ourselves in the need to leave the luggage inside the car when we do tourist visits and therefore it is convenient that everything fits in the trunk and nothing is visible on the seats; in a segment A or B this is difficult to avoid because their trunks barely fit 2 small suitcases… If we are over budget, you can request a Segment D to be more comfortable and safe…
You also have to know that once you reach the destination, in everything related to car rental, the traveler establishes a direct relationship with the car rental company and not with the company that organizes the trip, that is to say, although the company that organizes the trip is the one that looks for the vehicle, manage your reservation and invoice us for the rental service, When we collect the keys at the airport, the rental company will ask us for a deposit., to sign the contract, liability for possible vehicle damage, etc. and in these procedures the company organizing the trip does not intervene. It is very important to read the car rental conditions, Most of the time the car rental company sets a deposit of 300-500,00 € that in the event of an accident or parking scratch, it is not returned and the joke can be very expensive… That is why we always prefer comprehensive insurance (in Bulgaria you have to order it as “Super CDW”, which is “CDW” to dry is that that implies that franchise of 300 a 500,00 €). Obviously, if we want to avoid these possible inconveniences, the only solution is to hire a tour with a local guide to take care of the transport and then pay the corresponding extra for their services..
Rhythm of the trip.
On a self-guided tour each one chooses what to visit, within the options that mark the itinerary of the trip. Sometimes I have come across very attractive self-guided tours because the itinerary showed a lot of very interesting places to visit but it was unrealistic because on a normal-paced trip it was impossible to have time to visit them all, It looks very nice on paper but it was unworkable. I recommend spending some time to see the kilometers and time that each day of the trip has and make an estimate of what it can take to visit each recommendation of the itinerary to avoid disappointment once we are traveling. Personally, I don't like being over 3 hours on the road each day of the trip because that leaves little time for the main purpose of the trip, which is to know the country, not only its roads. Many fly and drive trips want to include many places and cities to visit in their programs and at the same time include very long road days, son puro marketing, the result: tiredness and not being able to see everything in good condition or having to give up and stop seeing many of the places that the optimistic itinerary recommended us…
Orientation and itinerary.
Another important detail that I briefly mentioned above is the topic of orientation., that is to say, we must know how we are going to orient ourselves in a country that we do not know. We are used to using our GPS to get to any part of Spain (more or less) but what happens if they give us a GPS model different from ours?…, Well, you will have to spend a good time learning to handle it unless you are very awake, That's why I always carry my own GPS and I also accept the one that the rental company gives me in case mine fails or I get lost in the middle of the mountain, so I go doubly calm.
Of course, we must avoid contracting this type of trip with companies that only offer a road map or a “travel Guide” and they do not provide a GPS to the delivery of the rental car because traveling only with a map in a foreign country can become hell and delay our journey considerably. It is best to carry our own GPS with the important destinations in the memory of the device and that the GPS that they give us also has them recorded so that we do not have to enter the addresses one by one once we are there on vacation.
Telephone assistance during the trip.
Most fly and drive trips also offer a telephone service. 24 h, which gives certain confidence to the traveler who goes to an unknown country and where they do not speak their language. It is understood that the traveler will only use this service if he is in difficulties, Although there are people for everything and there will be someone who calls to ask for a restaurant in this city or that, or call at an ungodly hour just to test the service, or to act as an online language translator, or to ask for tourist advice, but that is not the function of these services and as those who are going to respond are people, not an answering machine, we must be aware of our actions, it is not going to be that when the service is really needed in an emergency they do not pick up the phone because they think that we are calling again for minor inquiries (the story of “the wolf is coming”, You know…).
This service, as I say, is intended only for emergencies related to the organization of the trip, for example, that we arrive at the airport and do not have the promised rental car, that in a hotel they cannot find our reservation, etc, always thinking that we are talking to a travel agent who is miles from our position so their margin of action is sometimes more limited than ours. If we have a car accident or medical emergency, Who to contact is with the emergency telephone number of the country (across Europe is the 112), with the vehicle insurance or with the travel insurance that we have contracted, because a travel agent can do nothing in those cases. In any case, I prefer to have this service when I do self-guided trips abroad because it always gives me more security and peace of mind., And it also gives the impression that the company organizing the trip at least cares about providing an additional service to its customers…
Typically, a fly and drive trip only includes accommodation or accommodation plus breakfast.. This is understandable given that the pace of travel and where we are going to stop to eat is the decision of each traveler, having restaurants fixed in advance would be a difficult condition to fulfill. Dinners are easier to do in the hotels where you will spend the night (if they have a restaurant) But as in previous cases, I prefer to avoid dining in hotels because I don't trust the quality of their cuisine and I prefer to be able to choose and get to know the local restaurants. Also, even if I go with only bed and breakfast, I can always have dinner some night at the hotel if I choose.
What the self-guided tours do not include.
I have written above about what fly and drive trips or self-guided trips usually include but it is also very important to know what they do not include. Lacking an accompanying guide, there are many essential services that entail additional charges and although initially the price of a fly and drive trip seems very attractive, If all these extra costs are added, we can be surprised, especially in countries where the price level is higher than in Spain.… For example: rental car fuel, parking lots, tolls, tickets to museums and attractions, etc. Therefore, before hiring the trip, it would be good to have an estimate of these extra costs, either by informing us by our means or with estimates from the trip organizer.. further, since as I said before, apart from breakfast, we will not have alimony, we must take into account the prices to eat at destination, It is not the same to eat in a restaurant in France or Germany as in Bulgaria, for example…