FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Q: I don’t speak German. Will that be a problem?
A: 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, Sven, 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!
Q: I’ve traveled to Europe before and suffered from jet lag. How can I avoid it?
A: 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.
Q: What will the weather be like in Germany when we’re there?
A: The weather usually parallels the Mid-Atlantic States in the U.S. 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 even in the middle of summer, so a light jacket is advisable.
Q: PORSCHES are not known for their luggage space. What do I do with my luggage?
A: 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 tour, 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.
Q: What are the hotels like? Do they have modern amenities?
A: All the hotels we stay in are luxurious and modern. All have hair dryers, so there is no need to pack one. And all the hotels offer basic internet access; premium internet packages, if you select one, may be an extra charge billed separately.
Q: Can I plug in my curling iron, laptop, etc.?
A: 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.
Q: What if I need to cancel my tour reservation?
A: 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.
Q: Can I pay for the tour with a credit card?
A: We currently do not accept credit cards as a form of payment for our tours, only for initial deposits. The card companies’ fees in the 3% -5% range are simply too high for a small company. We only accept personal checks or wire transfers. 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.
Q: The dates for your tours don’t align with my vacation dates. Do you have other options for me?
A: 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.
Q: Does the tour price include airfare?
Q: Will I need to pay for anything once I’m on tour?
A: The tour is all-inclusive, so you only need money for incidentals, bar tabs, souvenirs, etc. We advise that you plan on $100 per day cash in Euros for incidentals. Almost all stores and restaurants in Europe accept Visa or Master Cards with the new chip technology. American Express and Discover have less of an acceptance level in the smaller establishments, but all hotels, major stores, etc. accept them gladly. However, be aware that credit card companies may tack on an “international transaction” fee up to 2%. IMPORTANT: We also advise that you call your credit card company before you depart and let them know you will be traveling in Europe. Alerting them to your travel plans will prevent your card transactions from being denied in Europe because of possible international fraud.
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.
Q: What if I get sick or injured while on tour?
A: 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.
Q: What should I pack to wear while on tour?
A: 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.
Q: What is the time difference from where I live to Germany?
|Eastern Daylight Time||+6 hours|
|Central Daylight Time||+7 hours|
|Mountain Daylight Time||+8 hours|
|Pacific Daylight Time||+9 hours|
Q: What PORSCHE will I drive?
A: 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.
Q: Are there any additional expenses relating to the PORSCHE?
A: 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.
Q: Do we have to drive together?
A: The simple answer is “No.” However, if you decide to leave the group and drive on your own and not with the group, you may incur additional excess kilometer charges plus you may have to fill up at a gas station on your own. In addition, our guides are trained to take you on the most exciting and scenic routes possible; if you are driving on your own, you may miss some spectacular drives. We do, however, have an occasional guest who has friends or relatives who live near our routes; these guests then leave the group for a few hours to visit with their family or friends. IMPORTANT: If you do decide to drive on your own, please let your guide know before you depart so we don’t send out emergency alerts looking for a lost driver!
Q: What happens if we get separated from the group?
A: 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.
Q: If gasoline is included, how do we fill up?
A: Gasoline in Germany is now a reasonable $8.75/gallon (down from $12.85 several years ago!). 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).
Q: What if I have a flat tire or something breaks down on the PORSCHE?
A: 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.
Q: Do I need an International Driver’s License:
A: 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!
Q: I’m concerned about the speed we’ll be driving. How does it work in a group?
A: Our tours are guided by experienced PORSCHE driver guides who pace the speed based on your abilities, comfort and, above all, safety. We’ve had participants up to 86 years old doing just fine. Our average travel speed on the Autobahn is approximately 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.
When you sign up for our tours, we ask if you have prior PCA or other driver’s training. 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.
Q: Can my 18-year-old son drive the PORSCHE too?
A: 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.
Q: I’ve never been through Customs before. What happens if I want to bring back items I’ve purchased in Europe to the U.S.?
A: 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.
Q: I’d like to bring my sales team on one of your tours as an incentive. Can you handle a group like this?
A: 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.