I have formerly included GPS with auto rental in Europe, but if you drop auto in different location than where you rented it you'll be hit with at least an extro 50 Euros drop fee, in addition to upgrade costs for the auto. Also, some locations in Italy (my experience in Florence) will not permit return of GPS unit to a separate location. And, they remind you that if you lose the unit you'll incur at approximately $300 fine!
I took the time to download "Western Europe" navigation map on my portable "Tom Tom" Model 340-SXL unit, which cost approximately $60 and took some five hours to download, but it saved me $100. Now, I, and my other family members, can use this on other trips throughout Europe. If you consider same, suggest you back up your GPS on computer before downloading new maps, as most units do not have sufficient memory (storage) for additional maps that might have come with the unit.
This is great information fschumpert for anyone traveling via automobile and thanks for sharing. There are so many things I've learned reading these type of posts, well done all Insiders.
I remember reading one of your posts regarding driving to the Renaissance in Tuscany and using a GPS so I looked at my map app on my phone and input the address and it gave me a route and directions from Milan right to the place. Now it if will only work during our trip later this summer all will be fine!
I rent a car each year in Europe while on vacation. I always pick up at one location and drop the car at a different location at the end of my trip. I have never paid a 'drop' fee for dropping the car at a different location. I do pick up and drop within the same country. If you pick up in one country and drop in a different country, you will experience the 'drop' fee.
I rent through kemwel.com or autoeurope.com who are brokers based in Maine (and sister-companies). I seem to get the best prices through them. My cars have been mostly with Europcar but sometimes with Avis, etc. They will beat any better prices that you find.
I bring my own GPS. It has European maps loaded, there is no learning curve, it speaks my language, and it doesn't cost me anything.
When we traveled to Italy in 2011, I brought my Garmin but instead of downloading the maps for Italy, I bought the SD card. It was about the same price as the download, but as soon as I got home I put it on eBay and immediately sold it for about 2/3rd of what I paid for it.
I would prefer using my smartphone, but it depends on the country and the fees for data.
During my last trip to UK and Europe in 2012, the cost of renting a GPS was more than going to the store and buying one. So that is what I did--and the model I got has free map upgrades for the life of the unit. The guy at the rental desk told me where to find the closest store to purchase it. It will be passed among family members, when we take vacations. I'd like to use my iPhone for directions, but I didn't check on how to do this inexpensively.