Iberian Car Rental Tips

Renting a car in Spain and Portugal is a great way to see the countryside, but some tips are in order.

Most guide books recommend taking collision damage waiver coverage, even if one’s employer or credit card company normally insures against accidents.

This is because local authorities will reportedly hassle, or even retain accident participants until the issue of their insurance coverage is resolved. This can take one or two days out of your vacation, haggling with local authorities and awaiting documentation to be relayed from the U.S., even if you are not personally at financial risk.

Note also that local police authorities will not likely speak English. Consider CDW a worthwhile purchase of trip-interruption prevention, costing about $15 a day when converted to U.S. prices.

Police are reputed to be tough on automobile violations and can demand payment of fines on the spot. Driving within marked speed limits and paying attention to signs, which are easy to follow with their international symbols, can help avoid problems.

The best way to park the car when sight-seeing is to enter a town and proceed to the area called the “Plaza Mayor.” At most of these center city locations, a large parking area is attended by a ticket taker. You pay the attendant for your parking permit and then place it in your dashboard window. Lock the car and take the keys and you are on your way for pedestrian touring.

Never leave valuables or bags exposed to view from the outside when you park. Lock everything in the trunk. At night, most paradores provide parking in private hotel lots, but it is best to take everything to your room. Spain, like many countries, has a vandalism problem, and unscrupulous folk will break your window to get at a bag left exposed on a seat. Most cars are standard-shift; travelers pay extra for the few vehicles with automatic transmissions.

All Aboard America!, among several charter bus rental companies, provides convenient services in Phoenix and Arizona. The counter peopleĀ  explain the details of the itemized bill to the renter and provide maps on how to get from the rental lot to the main highway. They also have service numbers to call if you get in trouble with the bus.

Don’t forget the ask the lot attendant to show you how the dashboard controls work on a European car. It takes time to figure out and it’s dangerous driving into traffic without knowing what all the buttons are for.

10 Tips For Vacation Property Owners

If you’re one of America’s approximately 5.5 million vacation property owners, or if you are thinking of buying a seaside villa or a condo on the ski slopes, take some advice from an expert.

Here are 10 tips for “would be” and current vacation property owners:

1. Buy because you truly want to own the property, there’s a lifetime to fun, excitement, pride, status and enjoyment in ownership.

2. Don’t buy to “make a killing” in real estate. Those days are gone with the high inflation of the late 1970s and early 80s and with the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

3. Calculate cost of ownership before you buy. Include taxes, mortgage, utilities, management fees, regime fees, association fees, maintenance, furnishings and insurance.

4. Don’t buy on impulse. Research the resort. Talk to present owners.

5. Find a good management company. It’s tough to take care of a condo when it’s hundreds of miles away. Your property manager is your business partner.

6. Rental income can help pay your hefty property expenses.

7. In addition to rentals your manager secures, get some yourself. With just a little work, you can put thousands of extra rental income dollars in your pocket.

8. Try trading. Trade a week at your property to an owner at Aspen, CO or Amelia Island, FL.

9. Save the best weeks for your personal use.

10. Showcase your Alabama vacation property on the Internet. It provides global reach to millions to help owners rent, trade or sell their vacation properties.

For free information on showcasing your vacation property on the Internet write: Vacation Value Online

Vacation rentals tips

Vacation rentals are especially appealing to families with kids – you pay a lot less for snacks and drinks at the supermarket than at even the cheapest fast-food outlet. And you don’t have to face an avenue of palms outstretched for tips.

Vacation rentals can be convenient. Many are actually handier than a hotel to the beach, slopes or whatever else is the main attraction. You don’t have to dress up for meals. You can spread your stuff around the bedroom and still keep the living room neat for visitors.

A rental can also bring you closer to the local population. Some of my favorite visits to France were those in which I rented a cottage in the countryside or an apartment in the city. Even with my halting French, coping with daily life gave a view of France that I’d never have seen from a hotel.

But before you rush off to a rental agency, consider the drawbacks, too:

A vacation rental is more like home than a hotel: You may not want your vacation to be a rerun of your life at home. Maybe you want to escape from kitchen duties for a week or so. Maybe you want someone else to clean up the bathroom and change the sheets. Maybe, when you want something, you’d rather have room service to bring it to you than chase after it yourself.

Rentals can also be a bit riskier – there are no quality standards. Unless you’ve been there before, you can’t tell whether a rental that sounds good in a brochure corresponds to a Hilton, a Avacation rental is more like home than a hotel: You may not want your vacation to be a rerun of your life at home. Motel 6 or a fleabag. You usually have to pay the entire rental charge up front, so if you find the rental really isn’t what you wanted, you’re stuck.

It’s easy to arrange a vacation rental. Many package-tour programs include apartment or condo accommodations as an optional alternative to hotels. They’re often called “self-catering” in the brochures.

Some brokers specialize in Beach house rentals Galveston. Some handle rentals throughout the world, others specialize in just a few areas. Your travel agency should have brochures from several of these specialists.

You can sometimes even find discount deals on rentals. Several of the hotel-discount programs I’ve described in other columns – such as Entertainment Publications, Encore and ITC – include condo and apartment units in their programs. Sometimes they’re in the same directory as the discount hotels, sometimes they’re in a separate program.

But a word of warning: Since there’s often no official “list” price for vacation rentals, you can’t tell whether any given price really represents a “discount” or not.

Top 10 tips for rookie travelers

Buy easy-to-carry luggage. Experts recommend using a carry-on bag with wheels, which makes it easy to zip through airports. Use a garment bag that can be hung up so suits and dresses don’t wrinkle. Always pack a change of clothes and essential toiletries in your carry-on in case luggage is lost.

Join frequent-flier programs. All major U.S. airlines offer frequent-flier programs, which are free to join. Miles earned can be redeemed for upgrades from coach-class seats to business- or first-class. There are many opportunities to earn miles without flying – from Omaha hotels, car rental companies, credit cards and other businesses.

Join an airport club. Experts say being a member of an airport club is like having an office at the airport. Major airlines have networks of private clubs at U.S. and foreign airports they serve. Memberships cost a few hundred dollars a year but travelers get access to a private lounge where they can plug in their computer, send a fax or meet clients.

Join a hotel frequent-guest program. Most are free. Earn points toward free room nights and upgrades to better rooms. You can also trade points for frequent-flier miles. Hotels have special check-in desks for members, so you don’t have to wait in long lines to get into your room.

Keep a travel diary. A diary helps you remember when you’ve found a good place to eat or a nice hotel to stay at. Road Warrior Jody Samson keeps a book, alphabetized by city, that lists restaurant, hotel and sightseeing ideas. She says it’s useful for business as well as pleasure trips.

Be prepared. Keep several pre-packed toiletries bags so you don’t forget anything. One Road Warrior suggests keeping three sets of toiletries: one for home, one for short trips and one for long trips.

Pack a snack. Bring your own food and water on airplanes in case food service is delayed because of mechanical or weather problems. Drink lots of water on the plane – and avoid alcohol – to keep from becoming dehydrated.

Dress comfortably. Wear comfortable shoes and loose-fitting clothes to make getting around the airport or getting to your hotel easier and less stressful.

Carry a medical kit. For emergencies, take a safety kit with you that includes bandages, safety pins, aspirin, and medications to fight nausea and diarrhea.

Board the plane ASAP. Getting on the plane sooner instead of dawdling in the airport will leave you more time to find a place to store your bag, get a pillow and have your pick of magazines.

Overseas tips. Apply for your passport several months in advance of your trip.

– Research business and social customs before you visit a foreign country.

– If you travel frequently to a particular country, have your business cards printed in English on one side and in that country’s language on the other.

– At international hotels, introduce yourself to the concierge. They are an excellent source of information for travelers on local customs, how to get around a city, good places to eat and sights to see.