If you have any additional questions, please give us a call at 813 343-3001.

GENERAL

Bring as much as you need to be comfortable. On our shorter tours, we will only be away from Stuttgart for one or two days. You can leave your large luggage at the Graf Zeppelin Hotel in Stuttgart and just take an overnight bag with you. Your large luggage will be waiting in your room at the Graf Zeppelin when you return. If you are on one of our longer tours, we will be providing a luggage van to carry your large luggage from hotel to hotel. When you arrive at your next hotel, your luggage will be waiting for you in your room.

Europe is 6 hours ahead of the East Coast and 9 hours of the West Coast. Noon in New York is 6:00 pm in Europe. All flight, train, bus etc. schedules in Europe are usually on the 24-hour clock. Simply deduct 12 hours to the times in the afternoon and evening to get to the pm times, i.e., 18:00 = 12 pm; 22:30 = 10:30 pm; 0:15 = 12:15 am.

We recommend that you arrive a day early, if possible, to get acclimated to the time difference. Some people take a nap upon arrival and some stay awake and then go to bed early. The recommendation from physicians is that you should get as much daylight and mild exercise as possible after arrival, stay awake, have an early dinner and get a good night’s sleep. Please contact us if you would like to arrive a day early and take advantage of our Early Arrival program that includes hotel, dinner and breakfast.

The weather usually parallels the mid-Atlantic states in the U.S. You should go to www.weather.com to get a forecast for Stuttgart or the other venues we are visiting. When we drive in the Alps it gets chilly any time of year, so a windbreaker or leather jacket is advisable.

U.S. or Canadian citizens do not need a visa to go to any of the European countries. All you need is a valid U.S. passport, with more than six months validity before it expires. If you are a non-U.S. citizen, then please check with your respective consulates.

No, your valid United States or Canadian driver’s license is sufficient for driving in Europe. It is important to remember, however, that driving in Europe is VERY different from driving in the U.S. We will provide detailed instructions, country-by-country. Remember, ONLY Germany has areas on their interstate highway system – the AUTOBAHN – with no speed restrictions. Bear in mind though, it certainly is not a free-for-all, because you must follow some very specific rules and etiquette. You will be receiving a copyrighted document written by Peter Sontag entitled “12 Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Trip from Fast Lane Travel, Inc.” Please read it before you arrive. Remember, you are in other countries and their laws apply!

Yes, virtually everywhere (except certain remote villages in the Alps) you can use your VISA or Master Card. AmEx has less of an acceptance level in the smaller establishments, but all hotels, major stores etc. take it gladly. However, credit card companies may tack on an “international transaction” fee up to 2%.

European electrical outlets are 220 volts, 50 cycles, rather than our 110/120 volts, 60 cycles. If you want to bring something electrical, like a curling iron, bring one that is manufactured for both 110 and 220 volts. Then you will only need a plug adapter. An electrical converter is NOT needed for most items you will be bringing. Today, most laptops, telephones, tablets, headsets, etc. have dual voltage and can be charged with the European 220V system. Please let us know if we can assist you with any special needs you may have, such as breathing devices (CPAPs), for example.

Yes, we have had several incentive groups on our tours over the years with groups as small as five and as large as 95. We are happy to arrange a special incentive tour for your group that meets your special requirements. We have also arranged special tours for groups of friends, family gatherings and various PORSCHE groups. Please give us a call.

Fast Lane Travel, Inc. is a Delaware Corporation and is also a bonded, insured, registered and licensed Seller-of-Travel Corporation. Peter Sontag is the Founder & CEO of Fast Lane Travel, Inc. and has been conducting PORSCHE trips for the last 45 years. In total, there have been over 8,000 Porsche Trip participants who have enjoyed our services. Of those, approximately 500 Porsches (roughly $35 million worth) were picked up on the trips over the years. Everyone has been gracious, fabulous and loads of fun. Fast Lane Travel, Inc. is the officially Porsche Club of America (PCA) endorsed provider of the PCA Treffen® Program.

Some people paint, some create sculptures . . . I create enjoyment. My goal is to provide the perfect travel experience to PORSCHE enthusiasts. Designing, organizing, managing and conducting these trips is an art, not a science. Responding to the various requests by participants, coordinating the interaction of the various service providers in Europe and nurturing the relationship with PORSCHE and PCA has been rewarding. I invest about 800 hours of my personal time to do this for the PCA. Read the participants’ comments and you see why I enjoy doing this. When you fly back home after one of my trips you will appreciate the thought, preparation, work and long hours that have gone into the creation of my “work of art” the Fast Lane PORSCHE travel experience because “it is my business to do pleasure.” Peter Sontag, President and Treffenmeister.

Yes. We can design a custom tour for you. Just give us a call and we’d be happy to provide you with all the options and prices.

TRIP

Place your luggage on one of the free luggage carts. The carts have rubber teeth in the undercarriage which lock onto the escalators and, therefore, can be taken up and down escalators! You can take the carts directly to the train. There are also elevators. The trains from FRA leave from Terminal 1.

The signage is clear. As you walk towards the trains, there is a ticket office in the center of the hallway and several counters to the right. I booked a 2nd class (Economy) seat on Train #517 ICE 12:54 – 14:08 (1 ¼ hour ride) for €64.00 paid with AmEx. The train left from Track (= Gleis) 5. There is a map of the train layout every 50 feet on the platform as well as a sign displaying the destination of the next train and the train number.

Before you take the escalators down to the track there is a little coffee shop where you can relax and wait. There is no reserved seating – but plenty of room. The train is very sleek and long. About half way the train makes a 2 – minute stop in Mannheim. All announcements on the train are easily understood in German and English. The trains are virtually silent gliding along quietly and very smoothly as they approach speeds of 100 mph+. I worked on my laptop all the way.

Once in Stuttgart, the Hotel Graf Zeppelin is directly across the street. If you need help with your luggage, call the hotel for a porter – local call: 20 48 0; from Frankfurt 0711 20 48 0; from the U.S. 011 49 711 20 48 0. Be sure to tell them the train # you are on so they can find you. It’s smart to call ahead and not when you get into Stuttgart. Enjoy!

We will pick you up at the airport in Stuttgart, provided you either have us arrange your travel or you give us your detailed itinerary at least two weeks prior to your arrival in Europe. Look for a Hofmann Taxi representative with the Fast Lane sign – Hofmann at the Airport can be reached: 796 356 or 948 4409. If you arrive by train in Stuttgart the Steigenberger Hotel Graf Zeppelin is directly across the street from the Hauptbahnhof (main railroad station).

No, it won’t be a problem. Most educated Northern Europeans speak excellent English and if you should ever have a language problem, all your guides (Peter, Thomas, Hans, Volker, Marc) are bi-lingual and will gladly help.

German is a very literal language; each letter is pronounced. For example, the word “knee” would be pronounced kah nee in German. That’s also why your car is a por sha not a porsh. Also some of the names we use in English for destinations do not coincide what locals call them; for example: Nuremberg = Nürnberg; Munich = München; Cologne = Köln; Vienna = Wien; Austria = Österreich; Germany = Deutschland, etc. Please be aware of these differences when reading road signs!

This is your vacation. Some of the 5-star hotels are more formal and there might be one or two evenings where I would wear a jacket (no tie) and the ladies might enjoy dressing up in that “little black dress.” But we have had participants who wear a jogging suit the entire trip, or jeans… you have to be comfortable. In general Germany is more formal than the U.S. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Some folks bring driving gloves or buy them in Germany. In any case, prior to the trip we will send you day-by-day attire recommendations.

No, it won’t be a problem. Most educated Northern Europeans speak excellent English and if you should ever have a language problem, all your guides (Peter, Thomas, Hans, Volker, Marc) are bi-lingual and will gladly help. Also, the Google Translate app works fantastic! Download it and give it try.

German is a very literal language; each letter is pronounced. For example, the word “knee” would be pronounced kah nee in German. That’s also why your car is a por sha not a porsh. Also some of the names we use in English for destinations do not coincide what locals call them; for example: Nuremberg = Nürnberg; Munich = München; Cologne = Köln; Vienna = Wien; Austria = Österreich; Germany = Deutschland, etc. Please be aware of these differences when reading road signs!

We encourage you to review the Terms and Conditions on the back of your invoice. Our policy is to give you a full refund up until 96 days prior to the tour’s departure for TREFFEN tours, 121 days for all other tours. As long as we haven’t paid our European suppliers yet, we can work with you to refund money that has been applied to the tour. However, we strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance from our partner, Allianz, to cover any cancellations, medical contingencies or other issues that might prevent you from taking or completing the tour.

There is access to excellent medical care anytime should you need it. We even have a physician on call in Stuttgart who will come to the hotel if needed. If you purchase travel insurance, the insurance will cover other medical needs such as hospitalization, medical evacuation, etc.

If you wear glasses, bring your extra pair. You may also want to bring along your prescription (but sometimes it is difficult to get glasses made up quickly in Europe). If you use any medicines or special items, bring a supply sufficient for the trip. If you suffer from any sinus or allergy ailments or are in any way susceptible to respiratory infections, please ask your physician for a prescription before leaving on the tour. Long transatlantic plane trips, air-conditioned tour buses and hotels, coupled with jet-lag, fatigue and late hours, sometimes produce conditions that can make your trip uncomfortable.

In the past we’ve been lucky with the weather. Consider packing a sweater and windbreaker in case there are rapid changes in temperature. The higher in elevation we go, the cooler it will be – a sweater and windbreaker then will feel great! We’ll be crossing some high Alpine mountain passes and there could be snow on the ground. You might also want to pack your sweater in your carry-on luggage with you on the airplane, especially since the cabins on long plane trips can get quite chilly. As we get closer to your tour date, we will send you information on appropriate attire for the evenings – but don’t panic! Nothing is formal, but there may be an evening or two where it might be appropriate to wear a sports coat or little black dress. Most evenings, however, will be casual.

We currently use AVIS for our PORSCHE rentals and are mostly new-model 911s. We have had excellent experience in the last five years with their pool of over 180 PORSCHES. Ninety-nine percent of our guests have gotten their first choice of PORSCHE over the past few years with Avis. We also have several other suppliers and can get you Turbos, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, etc., for an additional fee. We occasionally have also been able to get TechArt or RUF PORSCHES for our guests. But the latter are for the very serious driver and are generally not comfortable road cars since they typically have a harsher ride than production PORSCHES. Prices will be quoted upon request for these specialty cars – typically up to an additional €500/day or more.

TRIP COSTS

No, the tour price does not include airfare because our guests come from all parts of the U.S. and many different countries. A significant number of guests also use frequent flyer miles to book their airfare. However, we’ll be happy to assist you with your flights – just call us at (813) 343 3001 or contact us at [email protected]

The current U.S. Government policy appears to maintain a low value of the Dollar vs. other currencies. This policy helps our exports. For example, it puts Boeing in better competitive position vs. Airbus Industries. It also attracts visitors to the U.S. to come here and shop or buy U.S. assets, like real estate assuming our Homeland Security doesn’t stop them at the border. On the other hand traveling to Europe is, therefore, much more expensive because it takes more Dollars to buy Euros. The Euro (€) was introduced on January 1st 1999 to further expedite the unification of Europe. Most European countries went along with it and gave up their currencies, some did not, like the UK, Denmark, Switzerland etc. In 1999 you could buy one Euro for $.86 vs. approx. $1.25+ today. In other words, you pay almost twice as much for the same Euro today as on the day it was introduced in 1999. That means you roughly pay twice as much for everything but unfortunately you are not getting any more in return.

Germany has a VAT (value added tax) system currently at 19%. Anything you buy in a store or a service you receive the price has a 19% tax built in. In other words roughly 1/5 of all the money you spend goes to sales tax. In addition on certain commodities additional taxes are levied, like gasoline which in June 2019 sold for approx. $7.00 per gallon for premium 98 Octane fuel (which is what we need to fill up the PORSCHES).

If you want to exchange Dollars for Euros prior to your departure, you can do so at your home bank (you may have to pre-order them from your bank). You can also exchange at the airport in Stuttgart or at the bank at the Hauptbahnhof (railroad station) – but their fees are a little high. Most ATM cards issued by U.S. banks work in Europe and there are plenty of ATMs everywhere – just as there are here in the U.S. – with multiple language options including English. When you use an ATM in Europe, you will receive your cash in Euros and the exchange rate is usually much better than at exchange offices or banks.

The hotels in Europe have this peculiar system where they don’t quote the price for a room but they quote the price for a room based on double occupancy. For example if a “double” room costs €300 per night (€150 per person). Thus, trips are calculated on a per person basis, which include the cost of €150 per person per night in coming up with the total trip price. But the hotels’ policy is that if only one person stays in that room they can’t charge the full €300 because it would be unfair but they can’t also charge only the €150 because they lose half the revenue. So they roughly split the difference and charge €225 Euros for the room if only one person stays in it. This is called the Single Supplement.

We encourage you to review the Terms and Conditions on the back of your invoice. Our policy has been to give you a full refund up until 105 days prior to the trip’s departure. There are exceptions imposed on us by certain premium properties that requires a non-refundable one night deposit a year in advance. After that we will apply the unused portion of your deposit to a future trip. Depending on the circumstances we’ve been very flexible with refunds. You might also want to take out travel insurance to cover medical contingencies or other issues that might prevent you from taking or completing the trip.

In our experience on average 5 – 10% of participants cancel prior to departure, mostly for business or health reasons. The cancellation rate for non-deposited reservations (which we permitted in the 70’s and early 80’s) is in excess of 85%. Our experience underscores that reservations without deposits are wannabes. In order to secure accommodations in Europe we must reserve hotel space, restaurant reservations, PORSCHES, entertainers etc. They all require deposits and a participant head count, in some cases a year in advance! This can only be accomplished with deposits. For example PORSCHE Leipzig wants to know a year in advance exactly how many participants will be on the track a year later. The European service and accommodation providers only want to know “How many participants do you have under deposit?” That’s the guideline.

YES and Yes. We currently accept credit cards as a form of payment for initial deposits and we cover the credit card fees. You can pay for the balance of your trip with a credit card and we will add on the 3% -5% service fee. Paying your deposit or balance of your tour cost with a check is preferred. The credit card number we ask for during the reservation process is used to secure your PORSCHE from the car rental company to pay any traffic fines or damage to the vehicle, not to pay for your tour.

Yes. There could be further currency swings, certain venues could increase their prices, or the number of participants requires that fixed costs, such as busses, guides, entertainment, etc., be spread over a smaller number. In the past, price changes, were typically in the 5 – 7% range. We’ve had trips where prices went down or we added additional trip benefits. Since I never know the number of participants and cannot predict the currency swings, hedging is not an option. Each brochure and our correspondence clearly state the Euro price assumptions when each trip is designed and planned.

Yes. You can wire transfer Euro funds directly to our designee in Europe and, thus, eliminate the currency risk. Just let us know and we’ll give you the wire transfer instructions. To eliminate the currency risk completely and lock in the exchange rate for the trip is to pay for the trip in full in Euros at the point of sign up. If you cancel your refund might be different in US $’s from what you paid because the exchange rate may have changed. 

The rental price of your PORSCHE is included in the price of the trip, as is insurance that limits your financial liability for damage to the vehicle to €1,000. The tour price also includes gasoline throughout the tour, parking fees and tolls. However…

As is common with the rental of premium vehicles anywhere, there is a limit to the number of free miles/kilometers that you can drive each day. For our PORSCHES, this limit is 200 kilometers per day. Unfortunately, the charge for kilometers exceeding this amount is a charge we cannot pre-pay with Avis because we do not know the number of kilometers you may drive. You may deviate from the planned route and drive on your own or we may need to deviate from our planned route because of detours or road closures. Any kilometers driven above the free 200 kilometers per day will be charged to your credit card by Avis at the rate €1 per excess kilometer. Prior to your tour departure, we will provide you with an estimate of the total kilometers we anticipate you will drive so than you can plan on this post-tour expense from Avis.

Another expense we cannot plan for is traffic infractions. It is very common in Europe for pictures to be taken from a “speed” camera set up to capture traffic violations. Your guide will try to warn you as much as possible as we zip through the little towns or on speed restricted Autobahns. If you are caught speeding by one of these cameras, you will most likely be sent a letter from the jurisdiction with instructions for payment. NOTE: you will also be charged a processing fee on your credit card by Avis since the vehicle is registered to Avis. The jurisdiction will send a notice of the infraction to Avis, who will look up who was renting the vehicle at the time of the infraction and send that information to the jurisdiction.

The insurance that we purchase for the rental of the PORSCHE reduces your liability for damages to €1,000. As you probably know, even minor repairs to PORSCHES can be quite expensive and you will be responsible for paying for any damages to the vehicle up to €1,000. Common damages that most often occur are scratched rims, paint chips, windshield dings, etc., all of which will quickly eat up the €1,000 deductible. These damage expenses will also be charged to your credit card by Avis.

The rental price of your PORSCHE is included in the price of the trip, as is insurance that limits your financial liability for damage to the vehicle to €2,000. The tour price also includes gasoline throughout the tour, parking fees and tolls. However…

As is common with the rental of premium vehicles anywhere, there is a limit to the number of free miles/kilometers that you can drive each day. For our PORSCHES, this limit is 200 kilometers per day. Unfortunately, the charge for kilometers exceeding this amount is a charge we cannot pre-pay with Avis because we do not know the number of kilometers you may drive. You may deviate from the planned route and drive on your own or we may need to deviate from our planned route because of detours or road closures. Any kilometers driven above the free 200 kilometers per day will be charged to your credit card by Avis at the rate €1 per excess kilometer. Prior to your tour departure, we will provide you with an estimate of the total kilometers we anticipate you will drive so than you can plan on this post-tour expense from Avis.

Another expense we cannot plan for is traffic infractions. It is very common in Europe for pictures to be taken from a “speed” camera set up to capture traffic violations. Your guide will try to warn you as much as possible as we zip through the little towns or on speed restricted Autobahns. If you are caught speeding by one of these cameras, you will most likely be sent a letter from the jurisdiction with instructions for payment. NOTE: you will also be charged a processing fee on your credit card by Avis since the vehicle is registered to Avis. The jurisdiction will send a notice of the infraction to Avis, who will look up who was renting the vehicle at the time of the infraction and send that information to the jurisdiction.

The insurance that we purchase for the rental of the PORSCHE reduces your liability for damages to €2,000. As you probably know, even minor repairs to PORSCHES can be quite expensive and you will be responsible for paying for any damages to the vehicle up to €2,000. Common damages that most often occur are scratched rims, paint chips, windshield dings, etc., all of which will quickly eat up the €2,000 deductible. These damage expenses will also be charged to your credit card by Avis. You can reduce your liability to €1,000 by purchasing additional CDW insurance at a rate of €20 per driving day, which we recommend.

When returning to the U.S., the duty-free limit is currently $800 per person. When you return to the U.S., declare absolutely everything that you buy or receive as a present. If you are over the $800 per person, U.S. Customs charges 3% on the next $1,000 worth of purchases. If you exceed $1,800 in merchandise, you must pay a tax of up to 25% on the amount that exceeds the limit. Be sure to have all your receipts handy for the stuff you bought in Europe.

HOTELS - ACCOMMODATIONS

Yes, hair dryers are provided. For electrical converters, all you need are adapter plugs to plug into the European socket. Bear in mind that their electrical current is twice ours at 220 volts. Therefore, whatever you’re plugging in from the US must be able to run on 220 V. For example my laptop transformer runs on both 220 and 110 just as my camera recharger and i-phone recharger does. Personal appliances are inexpensive therefore, for example, it’s cheaper to consider buying a German curling iron than to carry a heavy transformer.

Yes, they usually have wireless access.

Yes, but the programs are in German, except CNN and BBC. They also typically have programs in Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and French.

Yes – all hotels have laundry facilities. However, your time may be limited and doing laundry may not be feasible. Most hotels will do your laundry overnight for you for a charge.

On any trip, not just a Fast Lane Travel tour, I recommend leaving your most valuable items at home. There is no safety concern at our hotels, but we know people often lose or misplace things when they are out of their normal routine, like on a trip.

DRIVING IN EUROPE

No. Your valid United States or Canadian driver’s license will suffice. It is important to remember however that driving in Europe is VERY different from driving in the States. You will receive a detailed Drivers Briefing before we take the PORSCHES out on the road. Remember, ONLY Germany enjoys the majority of their interstate highway system – the AUTOBAHN – with no speed restrictions. Bear in mind though, it certainly is not a free-for-all, because you must follow some very specific rules and etiquette. FYI, the fatality rate is 2.4 times higher in the U.S. on our interstate highways than on the German Autobahn. The Autobahn is safer!

Safety and your enjoyment is our top priority. Our trips are guided by professional PORSCHE drivers who pace the speed based on your abilities, comfort and, above all, safety. We segment our participants into three groups: up to 120 mph (slow); 120 – 150 mph (medium); 150 mph plus (fast). Only Germany has no-speed limit portions of their interstate system, called the Autobahn. We’ve had participants up to 86-years old doing just fine. Our average travel speed on the Autobahn is approx. 120 mph – with the opportunity to go faster on certain long straight sections with little traffic. Speeds in excess of 180 mph have been reached briefly. There are strict traffic rules to be observed, however. We will brief you prior to getting into your PORSCHES.

The legal driving age in Germany is 18; however, to rent a premium vehicle like our PORSCHES, you must be 25 years of age or older. However, we do have access to smaller private car rental companies and can get exceptions for participants as young as 18. But there will be additional insurance costs. There is no upper age limit for driving as long as you possess a valid U.S driver’s license.

Yes, we can accommodate you with other cars such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes, BMW etc. We occasionally have also been able to get a TechArt or RUF Porsche Twin-Turbo for our participants.

When you sign up for our trips we ask you regarding your prior PCA or other driver’s training, if any. We also ask you for your estimated speed comfort level on the Autobahn. We then divide the participants into the appropriate driving groups. After the first day of driving you will know your personal comfort level and we’ll adjust your driving enjoyment accordingly.

When we stop for gasoline, your guide will pull up to a pump (your gas port is on the passenger side) and the rest of the cars will line up behind him. We then will all tank up from the same pump without hanging up the hose. After your car is refueled, pull forward so the next car can get to the pump. After the last car, the guide will go inside and pay the cashier for all the cars at that pump (try not to have any of the German drivers break into our line).

The PORSCHES will be pre-programmed with all of the destinations for the entire trip. Should you get separated, just follow your navigation. We will all be connected with walkie-talkies while driving. Your drive guides will provide information and road cautions when necessary via the walkie-talkies. When we stop for lunch, please shut them off to conserve the battery. In the evening, we’ll collect the 2-way radios for re-charging.

While we are very careful to avoid calamities, there is an occasional breakdown – stuff happens… We follow the U.S. Military procedure of “no man left behind.” If something happens to your car, we’ll double you up in one of the guides’ cars and get you another PORSCHE as expeditiously as possible. NOTE: Each PORSCHE is equipped with day-glow green reflective vests. If you get out of your vehicle on the Autobahn or a country highway in Germany, you MUST don the reflective vest – you’ll get a ticket if you don’t. Depending on the situation, your guide will contact the local authorities, the rental car company, and/or the towing company to remove the affected vehicle as needed.

While we are very careful to avoid calamities, there is an occasional breakdown – stuff happens… We follow the U.S. Military procedure of “no man left behind.” If something happens to your car, we’ll double you up in one of the guides’ Panameras and get you another PORSCHE as expeditiously as possible. NOTE: Each PORSCHE is equipped with day-glow green reflective vests. If you get out of your vehicle on the Autobahn or a country highway in Germany, you MUST don the reflective vest – you’ll get a ticket if you don’t. Depending on the situation, your guide will contact the local authorities, the rental car company, and/or the towing company to remove the affected vehicle as needed.